The glory of their times

These were the best rosters fielded by each franchise since 1971

We’re now exactly two and a half months into the baseball season, which is long enough to discern the relative strengths and weaknesses of all 30 big-league clubs.

The ups and downs of April, May, and the first half of June have divided fans into two groups, triggering these wildly different reactions to their favorite teams:

  • We’re really good. Could we end the year with a championship celebration?

  • We’re not very good. Remember when we actually contended for titles?

Optimists and pessimists are measuring their current squads against the glory days of the past, looking for signs of future success or failure. So I decided to do the same thing. I collected data for all 1,390 clubs that played during the past half-century (1971 to 2020), searching for the peak performance by each franchise.

The following results are based on my team score (TS) formula, which allows direct comparisons of clubs from different seasons.

The formula gives equal weight to four factors: winning percentage, the differential between runs scored and allowed per game, the differential between bases per out (BPO) attained by batters and allowed by pitchers, and postseason success.

It generates a score for each club on a 100-point scale, which is equalized from year to year. That means it’s possible to say that a 1975 club with a TS of 85 was better than a 2016 team with a score of 83.

Two clubs reached their zeniths at the very start of the 50-year period. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles, who met in the 1971 World Series, achieved their highest team scores of the 50-year span that year.

At the opposite end of the timeline is another pair of World Series opponents, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays, who both reached their highest scores in 2020’s truncated season.

Each entry below gives a franchise’s best team score between 1971 and 2020, along with that particular club’s rank (both in raw number and percentage) among the period’s 1,390 teams. You’ll also see its win-loss record, postseason ledger, bases per out (achieved and allowed), runs per game (scored and allowed), and most valuable player. The latter is based solely on wins above replacement (WAR), as measured by Baseball-Reference.com.

If your club is doing well this season, feel free to assess your title chances by comparing your current squad to the peak performance listed below.

If you’re struggling, well, you can always dream about better times.


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Angels (2002)

  • Team score: 77.467 points

  • Era rank: 54 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 96.18% of teams

  • Record: 99-63 (.611)

  • Postseason: Won AL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .088 (.742 vs. .654)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.27 (5.25 vs. 3.98)

  • Team MVP: Darin Erstad, center field, 6.3 WAR

Astros (2017)

  • Team score: 84.140 points

  • Era rank: 18 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 98.78% of teams

  • Record: 101-61 (.623)

  • Postseason: Won AL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .120 (.801 vs. .681)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.21 (5.53 vs. 4.32)

  • Team MVP: Jose Altuve, second base, 7.7 WAR

Athletics (1990)

  • Team score: 89.366 points

  • Era rank: 7 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 99.57% of teams

  • Record: 103-59 (.636)

  • Postseason: Won AL title, but lost World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .106 (.708 vs. .602)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.00 (4.52 vs. 3.52)

  • Team MVP: Rickey Henderson, left field, 9.9 WAR

Blue Jays (1993)

  • Team score: 82.767 points

  • Era rank: 23 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 98.42% of teams

  • Record: 95-67 (.586)

  • Postseason: Won AL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .081 (.776 vs. .695)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 0.65 (5.23 vs. 4.58)

  • Team MVP: John Olerud, first base, 7.8 WAR

Braves (1995)

  • Team score: 84.662 points

  • Era rank: 16 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 98.92% of teams

  • Record: 90-54 (.625)

  • Postseason: Won NL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .067 (.699 vs. .632)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 0.73 (4.48 vs. 3.75)

  • Team MVP: Greg Maddux, pitcher, 9.6 WAR

Brewers (1982)

  • Team score: 74.675 points

  • Era rank: 80 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 94.31% of teams

  • Record: 95-67 (.586)

  • Postseason: Won AL title, but lost World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .057 (.750 vs. .693)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.07 (5.47 vs. 4.40)

  • Team MVP: Robin Yount, shortstop, 10.5 WAR

Cardinals (2004)

  • Team score: 81.249 points

  • Era rank: 33 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 97.70% of teams

  • Record: 105-57 (.648)

  • Postseason: Won NL title, but lost World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .130 (.788 vs. .658)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.21 (5.28 vs. 4.07)

  • Team MVP: Scott Rolen, third base, 9.2 WAR

Cubs (2016)

  • Team score: 92.166 points

  • Era rank: 5 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 99.71% of teams

  • Record: 103-58 (.640)

  • Postseason: Won NL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .161 (.755 vs. .594)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.56 (4.99 vs. 3.43)

  • Team MVP: Kris Bryant, third base, 7.3 WAR

Diamondbacks (2001)

  • Team score: 81.168 points

  • Era rank: 34 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 97.62% of teams

  • Record: 92-70 (.568)

  • Postseason: Won NL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .088 (.757 vs. .669)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 0.87 (5.05 vs. 4.18)

  • Team MVP: Randy Johnson, pitcher, 9.5 WAR

Dodgers (2020)

  • Team score: 94.085 points

  • Era rank: 4 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 99.78% of teams

  • Record: 43-17 (.717)

  • Postseason: Won NL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .245 (.811 vs. .566)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 2.27 (5.82 vs. 3.55)

  • Team MVP: Mookie Betts, right field, 3.6 WAR

Giants (2002)

  • Team score: 77.832 points

  • Era rank: 50 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 96.47% of teams

  • Record: 95-66 (.590)

  • Postseason: Won NL title, but lost World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .128 (.767 vs. .639)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.03 (4.83 vs. 3.80)

  • Team MVP: Barry Bonds, left field, 11.7 WAR

Indians (1995)

  • Team score: 87.220 points

  • Era rank: 10 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 99.35% of teams

  • Record: 100-44 (.694)

  • Postseason: Won AL title, but lost World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .158 (.835 vs. .677)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.61 (5.83 vs. 4.22)

  • Team MVP: Albert Belle, left field, 7.0 WAR

Mariners (2001)

  • Team score: 81.959 points

  • Era rank: 27 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 98.13% of teams

  • Record: 116-46 (.716)

  • Postseason: Made playoffs, but did not win AL title

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .187 (.811 vs. .624)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.85 (5.72 vs. 3.87)

  • Team MVP: Bret Boone, second base, 8.8 WAR

Marlins (1997)

  • Team score: 73.229 points

  • Era rank: 89 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 93.66% of teams

  • Record: 92-70 (.568)

  • Postseason: Won NL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .035 (.720 vs. .685)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 0.44 (4.57 vs. 4.13)

  • Team MVP: Kevin Brown, pitcher, 6.8 WAR

Mets (1986)

  • Team score: 94.962 points

  • Era rank: 3 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 99.86% of teams

  • Record: 108-54 (.667)

  • Postseason: Won NL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .114 (.714 vs. .600)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.26 (4.83 vs. 3.57)

  • Team MVP: Keith Hernandez, first base, 5.5 WAR

Nationals (2019)

  • Team score: 76.595 points

  • Era rank: 61 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 95.68% of teams

  • Record: 93-69 (.574)

  • Postseason: Won NL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .097 (.787 vs. .690)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 0.92 (5.39 vs. 4.47)

  • Team MVP: Anthony Rendon, third base, 7.2 WAR

Orioles (1971)

  • Team score: 83.333 points

  • Era rank: 21 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 98.56% of teams

  • Record: 101-57 (.639)

  • Postseason: Won AL title, but lost World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .145 (.717 vs. .572)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.35 (4.70 vs. 3.35)

  • Team MVP: Brooks Robinson, third base, 6.0 WAR

Padres (1998)

  • Team score: 70.298 points

  • Era rank: 121 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 91.36% of teams

  • Record: 98-64 (.605)

  • Postseason: Won NL title, but lost World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .058 (.707 vs. .649)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 0.70 (4.62 vs. 3.92)

  • Team MVP: Kevin Brown, pitcher, 9.1 WAR

Phillies (2008)

  • Team score: 78.344 points

  • Era rank: 47 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 96.69% of teams

  • Record: 92-70 (.568)

  • Postseason: Won NL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .061 (.762 vs. .701)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 0.73 (4.93 vs. 4.20)

  • Team MVP: Chase Utley, second base, 9.0 WAR

Pirates (1971)

  • Team score: 87.094 points

  • Era rank: 11 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 99.28% of teams

  • Record: 97-65 (.599)

  • Postseason: Won NL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .096 (.693 vs. .597)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.16 (4.86 vs. 3.70)

  • Team MVP: Willie Stargell, left field, 7.9 WAR

Rangers (2011)

  • Team score: 78.226 points

  • Era rank: 49 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 96.54% of teams

  • Record: 96-66 (.593)

  • Postseason: Won AL title, but lost World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .135 (.774 vs. .639)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.10 (5.28 vs. 4.18)

  • Team MVP: Ian Kinsler, second base, 7.0 WAR

Rays (2020)

  • Team score: 77.699 points

  • Era rank: 51 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 96.40% of teams

  • Record: 40-20 (.667)

  • Postseason: Won AL title, but lost World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .107 (.748 vs. .641)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.00 (4.82 vs. 3.82)

  • Team MVP: Brandon Lowe, second base, 2.4 WAR

Red Sox (2007)

  • Team score: 85.711 points

  • Era rank: 13 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 99.14% of teams

  • Record: 96-66 (.593)

  • Postseason: Won AL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .137 (.797 vs. .660)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.29 (5.35 vs. 4.06)

  • Team MVP: Josh Beckett, pitcher, 6.5 WAR

Reds (1975)

  • Team score: 90.713 points

  • Era rank: 6 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 99.64% of teams

  • Record: 108-54 (.667)

  • Postseason: Won NL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .123 (.748 vs. .625)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.57 (5.19 vs. 3.62)

  • Team MVP: Joe Morgan, second base, 11.0 WAR

Rockies (2007)

  • Team score: 75.518 points

  • Era rank: 70 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 95.03% of teams

  • Record: 90-73 (.552)

  • Postseason: Won NL title, but lost World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .059 (.772 vs. .713)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 0.63 (5.28 vs. 4.65)

  • Team MVP: Troy Tulowitzki, shortstop, 6.8 WAR

Royals (2015)

  • Team score: 75.761 points

  • Era rank: 67 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 95.25% of teams

  • Record: 95-67 (.586)

  • Postseason: Won AL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .021 (.680 vs. .659)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 0.51 (4.47 vs. 3.96)

  • Team MVP: Lorenzo Cain, center field, 7.0 WAR

Tigers (1984)

  • Team score: 97.109 points

  • Era rank: 1 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 100.00% of teams

  • Record: 104-58 (.642)

  • Postseason: Won AL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .141 (.747 vs. .606)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.15 (5.12 vs. 3.97)

  • Team MVP: Alan Trammell, shortstop, 6.7 WAR

Twins (1991)

  • Team score: 82.261 points

  • Era rank: 25 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 98.27% of teams

  • Record: 95-67 (.586)

  • Postseason: Won AL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .055 (.717 vs. .662)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 0.77 (4.79 vs. 4.02)

  • Team MVP: Kevin Tapani, pitcher, 6.8 WAR

White Sox (2005)

  • Team score: 75.291 points

  • Era rank: 72 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 94.89% of teams

  • Record: 99-63 (.611)

  • Postseason: Won AL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .054 (.710 vs. .656)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 0.59 (4.57 vs. 3.98)

  • Team MVP: Mark Buehrle, pitcher, 4.8 WAR

Yankees (1998)

  • Team score: 96.123 points

  • Era rank: 2 of 1,390 teams (1971-2020)

  • Era percentile: Better than 99.93% of teams

  • Record: 114-48 (.704)

  • Postseason: Won AL title and World Series

  • BPO: Beat opponents by .174 (.823 vs. .649)

  • Runs per game: Beat opponents by 1.91 (5.96 vs. 4.05)

  • Team MVP: Derek Jeter, shortstop, 7.5 WAR