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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, June 22, 2024

Extra Innings: The greatest teams of the 21st century

Which teams have already put themselves in the history books?

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We all love a good underdog story, and both the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks had one this year. But we also love to witness greatness — teams that dominate, break records and win awards. These teams, the five greatest of the 21st century, did just that.

5. 2019 Houston Astros (10755)

The only team on this list not to win the World Series, the ’19 Astros came just one win short of winning their second title in three years. Still, their regular season success is undeniable. Their +279 run differential was the best of 2019. Gerrit Cole had a dominant season with 326 strikeouts and 21 double-digit strikeout starts, and he somehow came in second in American League Cy Young voting to his teammate, Justin Verlander. The Astros also scored 920 runs to go with that dominant starting pitching.

4. 2009 New York Yankees (10359)

A formidable offense headlined by Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Robinson Canó and Mark Teixeira powered the Yankees to their 27th World Series ring and 40th pennant in franchise history. Their team OPS of .839 was easily the best in baseball that year, and they finished the regular season six games ahead of the field. After breezing through the Minnesota Twins in the division series, they took out the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies in six games each to win the title.  

3. 2022 Houston Astros (10656)

If they were overshadowed by the 111-game-winning Los Angeles Dodgers in the regular season, the Astros showed out in October, sweeping both the Seattle Mariners and Yankees to reach the World Series undefeated in postseason play. They ended the Phillies’ Cinderella story, beating them 4–2 in the series and no-hitting them in game four for only the second no-hitter in World Series history. Justin Verlander won his third Cy Young as an Astro to lead an elite pitching staff which allowed just 518 runs in the regular season.

2. 2016 Chicago Cubs (103581)

After a surprise run to the National League Championship Series the year prior, the 2016 Cubs seemed to be a team of destiny. They were the best team in baseball wire-to-wire, finishing eight-and-a-half games clear of the field with a +252 run differential. The Cubs’ team Earned Run Average of 3.15 was more than a run lower than the league average of 4.18, while NL MVP Kris Bryant and 109-Runs Batted In first baseman Anthony Rizzo led the offense. They clawed their way back from a 31 hole in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians to claim the franchise’s first World Series in 108 years.

1. 2018 Boston Red Sox (10854)

No World Series champion in the 21st century had a better regular season record than the 2018 Red Sox. Led by the vicious one-two punch of AL MVP Mookie Betts, who scored a league-leading 129 runs in just 136 games, and J.D. Martinez, who drove in 130 runs, Boston was dominant all season long — their worst month was a 15–11 September. That dominance carried over into October, as they lost only three games in the playoffs despite running into the 100-win Yankees and 103-win Astros en route to the title.

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