Ranking the 2009 Yankees

11/6/09 in MLB   |   WhatIfSports   |   7 respect

The New York Yankees are the best team in baseball - for the 2009 season (as we predicted in our World Series Preview). But is this one of the best teams in baseball history? Is it even one of the best teams in Yankees history? What about this decade?

This is where WhatIfSports steps in with the answers. As the 2009 MLB season comes to its end, we set out to rank all 27 previous Yankees World Series winners as well as to order the ten champions of the 2000s. To do this in as fair a manner as possible, in separate studies, we "played" all 27 Yankees teams against all of the other Yankees championship teams and each of the most recent ten champions against all of the other most recent champions in neutral ballparks 30 times each so that the top three starting pitchers get 10 chances in every series. Teams are then ranked by winning percentage from those games.

Ranking the 27 Yankees World Series Champions

Rank Season Win % WS MVP
1. 1927 59.5% Babe Ruth*
2. 1939 58.2% Charlie Keller*
3. 1998 55.4% Scott Brosius
4. 1943 55.1% Spud Chanlder*
5. 1961 55.1% Whitey Ford
6. 1928 54.4% Lou Gehrig*
7. 1937 53.8% Lou Gehrig*
8. 1932 53.5% Babe Ruth*
9. 1923 51.3% Babe Ruth*
10. 1952 50.7% Mickey Mantle*
11. 1953 50.3% Billy Martin
12. 2009 50.2% Hideki Matsui
13. 1950 50.0% Gene Woodling*
14. 2000 49.1% Derek Jeter
15. 1962 48.8% Ralph Terry
16. 1978 48.8% Bucky Dent
17. 1958 48.5% Bob Turley
18. 1936 48.1% Jake Powell*
19. 1941 48.1% Charlie Keller*
20. 1947 47.8% Joe DiMaggio*
21. 1999 46.9% Mariano Rivera
22. 1956 46.3% Don Larsen
23. 1938 45.6% Bill Dickey*
24. 1951 45.3% Phil Rizzuto*
25. 1949 45.3% Jerry Coleman*
26. 1996 42.2% John Wetteland
27. 1977 41.8% Reggie Jackson

*MVP was not awarded at the time. It was chosen by WhatIfSports.com based on performance in that year's World Series.

The 2009 version is just better than the average Yankees World Series champion (winning just 50.2% of the time against the others). The team can be characterized by overall balance, yet lacking of dominating players like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Whitey Ford. It's probably not a surprise to many to see the 1927 "Murderers' Row" Yankees with career years out of Ruth, Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Earle Combs, Bob Meusel, Waite Hoyt and Urban Shocker, atop this list, but it may be notable that the 1977 team ranks last. Reggie Jackson's World Series performance from 1977 is memorable, but the team's regular season was not exceptional. Among everyday players, just Reggie Jackson eclipsed an .850 OPS and a pitching staff prone to giving up homeruns.

Ranking the World Series Champions of the 2000s

Rank Team Win % WS MVP
1. 2004 Boston Red Sox 59.7% Manny Ramirez
2. 2009 New York Yankees 58.2% Hideki Matsui
3. 2008 Philadephia Phillies 54.8% Cole Hamels
4. 2000 New York Yankees 52.3% Derek Jeter
5. 2007 Boston Red Sox 50.8% Mike Lowell
6. 2003 Florida Marlins 48.6% Josh Beckett
7. 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks 48.3% Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson
8. 2002 Anaheim Angels 43.9% Troy Glaus
9. 2005 Chicago White Sox 41.9% Jermaine Dye
10. 2006 St. Louis Cardinals 41.6% David Eckstein

The 2009 Yankees may only be the 12th best champion in franchise history, but they are the second-best since the turn of the millenium. This probably speaks more to the parity (or mediocrity) of the top teams in recent history, than to the dominance of this season's champion or the 2004 Red Sox that rank first. In fact, the best world champion of the decade was a wild card team that had to battle back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS just to make the World Series.

And lastly, this Yankees team would rank 51st among the 105 World Series winners in Major League history. The 1975 Cincinnati Reds just edge the 1927 Yankees as the best champion all-time, while the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals barely better the 1987 Minnesota Twins, who come in as the worst World Series winner ever.

Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in free mlb matchup analysis and baseball sim leagues. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!

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11/6/09   |   ML31   |   3673 respect

Anyone who would rank the 2004 Red Sox as the best team of the decade thus far is deranged.

11/6/09   |   ataqwx   |   39 respect

The turn of the century was 9 years ago. Whoever wins next year will have the greatest world series since the turn of the decade.