The Best MLB Teams Of AllTime According To Elo

–LAD1905Brooklyn Superbas143146 –NYY1939New York Yankees1623✓1 –STL1942St. Louis Cardinals1605✓8 –LAA2002Anaheim Angels1576✓81 Although that Philadelphia team lost in the division series, it still rates as the best Phillies squad in history. Here’s every franchise’s best team ever: FRANCH.TEAMCOMP. ELOWON WS?RANK AMONG BEST TEAMS EVER –PHI1942Philadelphia Phillies14004 –ATL1998Atlanta Braves158642 –KC2005Kansas City Royals143771 –CHW1917Chicago White Sox1579✓68 –CHC1962Chicago Cubs144194 –DET2003Detroit Tigers13972 –MIL1982Milwaukee Brewers1558246 –LAD1953Brooklyn Dodgers158640 –SEA1978Seattle Mariners142940 After the Yankees dynasty declined, MLB’s best teams started to be a lot less good. The 1960s were understandably weak — with just two teams in the Elo top 100 — because MLB expanded by eight teams during this span. The 1980s don’t have the same excuse, and the decade’s best squad — the 1986 Mets — rates as only the 62nd-best team ever. The first six seasons of the 2010s were similarly middling; of the teams from those years, the 2011 Phillies rank the highest on the all-time list, at No. 76. –NYY1908New York Highlanders1449136 –OAK1916Philadelphia Athletics14025 One hundred and 10 years ago, the Chicago Cubs ended the regular season with a 116-36 record. That .763 winning percentage is the best in modern baseball history by a comfortable margin, but the Cubs went on to drop the World Series to the White Sox in six games. Might they still be the greatest team in baseball history?We recently calculated historical Elo ratings for every team after every game as part of our Complete History Of MLB interactive graphic. (We’ve done the same for the NBA and NFL.) Elo ratings are one of our preferred metrics at FiveThirtyEight, because their simple inputs make them useful for comparing the relative strengths of teams across the entire history of a league. We can also use Elo to calculate season ratings for every MLB team since 1903, when the first modern World Series was played.1Our interactive goes back a little further, to 1871. The quality of 19th-century baseball teams was pretty uneven — meaning the top teams from that time would dominate historical rankings — so to focus on more recognizable franchises, this piece is looking only at seasons since 1903. We arrived at an overall season rating — what the table below calls “composite” Elo — by blending each team’s peak, average and final Elo for each season. This lets us take into account a team’s highest level of performance, its sustained performance throughout the season and, broadly, how well it did in the postseason.2Elo ratings are carried over from season to season, which means that most of a team’s rating at the start of a season is based on its previous season. This is useful when trying to estimate a team’s quality early on, but for assessing individual seasons, it unfairly dings teams that rose to greatness after a terrible year. For our season calculations, “average” and “peak” Elo calculations start at game 40.So who comes out on top? The 1906 Cubs have the highest peak Elo, but because of their World Series loss, they rate as the second-best team since 1903, behind the 1939 New York Yankees. We ranked all 2,374 team-seasons from 1903 to 2015 — you can explore them below: –MIN1933Washington Senators157774 –NYM1986New York Mets1580✓62 –DET1935Detroit Tigers1585✓43 –OAK1911Philadelphia Athletics1607✓7 –KC1977Kansas City Royals1560213 –CIN1934Cincinnati Reds143669 –TB2002Tampa Bay Devil Rays144296 –TEX2011Texas Rangers1568141 GRAPHIC: We calculated Elo ratings after every game in MLB history — more than 400,000 ratings in total. Explore every team’s history » –TB2012Tampa Bay Rays1558237 –HOU1998Houston Astros1572110 –PHI2011Philadelphia Phillies157776 –PIT1909Pittsburgh Pirates1609✓4 –ARI2002Arizona Diamondbacks1564166 –CLE1915Cleveland Indians1451156 Every MLB franchise’s best season, 1903-2015 –CIN1976Cincinnati Reds1595✓23 –SF1985San Francisco Giants1461251 * 1994 World Series was not played –CLE1954Cleveland Indians159424 Our Elo ratings find that the league was a bit more top-heavy in its earlier decades. If you scan through the top of the list, you’ll notice that most of the best seasons since 1903 happened more than 50 years ago — in fact, 71 of the 100 best seasons fall before 1960. The New York Yankees’ insane dominance in the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s is responsible for a lot of this imbalance. Twenty-five of the 100 best seasons are Yankees seasons from those decades: –SEA2001Seattle Mariners159034 –BOS1912Boston Red Sox1584✓46 –NYM1962New York Mets1398✓3 –STL1908St. Louis Cardinals143251 –BOS1932Boston Red Sox141412 –WSH1994Montreal Expos1561*208 –SD1969San Diego Padres1419✓23 –BAL1911St. Louis Browns141715 –SD1998San Diego Padres1543480 –CHW1932Chicago White Sox143561 –CHC1906Chicago Cubs16202 –WSH1969Montreal Expos1421✓25 FRANCH.TEAMCOMP. ELO1ST YEAR?RANK AMONG WORST TEAMS EVER The 2003 Detroit Tigers lost 119 games, winning five of their last six to avoid the 120-loss modern record set by the 1962 Mets in their first season as a franchise. Elo isn’t fooled, though — the 2003 Tigers had a slightly worse run differential than the 1962 Mets and have a slightly lower rating here. The 1904 Washington Senators, now the Twins, were even more terrible according to Elo, going 38-113 (the equivalent of a 121-loss modern 162-game season). Angels fans probably don’t look back on the 91-loss 1969 season too fondly, but, compared with the other franchises’ lousiest seasons ever, it’s not a bad low point, ranking just 279th-worst.So what will come in 2016? The Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds have had a rough start and could make a run at new Elo lows for their franchises. But the real team to watch is the Chicago Cubs, who have started the season at 24-6 with an incredible +102 run differential. It’s a hard pace to keep up, but if they do, the Cubs could make a run at becoming one of the greatest teams of all time.See the complete history of every MLB team.Check out our latest MLB predictions. –COL1993Colorado Rockies1444✓105 –MIL1969Seattle Pilots1443✓103 –TEX1973Texas Rangers143144 –MIA1993Florida Marlins1449✓146 –BAL1970Baltimore Orioles1600✓19 –HOU2013Houston Astros142535 –ARI2004Arizona Diamondbacks1449143 –SF1905New York Giants1601✓13 –PIT1953Pittsburgh Pirates141819 –ATL1911Boston Rustlers14149 –LAA1969California Angels1464279 –MIA2003Florida Marlins1537✓601 –MIN1904Washington Senators13871 The 1939 Yankees and 1906 Cubs are in a league of their own, more than 10 Elo points ahead of the other franchises. The Marlins have only been around since 1993, but it’s still sort of sad that their best team ever (World Series champions no less!) is just the 601st-best team ever. The Colorado Rockies, a franchise that was also born in 1993, are about as sad, but without the World Series rings. The San Diego Padres have had a much longer commitment to mediocrity; the franchise’s best team in its 47 seasons of existence comes in at No. 480. Fans of the Braves, Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Twins and Phillies may also be disappointed by their team’s position in this list. All seven franchises go back to 1903, but none of their teams in the last 113 seasons have come close to cracking the top 25.But great seasons aren’t the only way to be an exceptional baseball team. Here’s every MLB franchise’s worst squad ever: –TOR1979Toronto Blue Jays141922 –TOR2015Toronto Blue Jays1565161 Every MLB franchise’s worst season, 1903-2015 –COL2007Colorado Rockies1537596

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