Weakest World Series Winners since WW II
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History broke favorably for St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Minnesota over Boston, Chicago, and Detroit.

Weakest World Series Winners since WW II:

This is not necessarily a ranking of how weak the teams were. The 1947 Yankees would probably be no. 2 on this list, if that were the case. That is based on my rule of thumb that typically a 95 game winning team in year X is only as good as an 94 game winning team in year X+1. The teams ranked 2nd and 3rd here are the teams that should be considered the weakest if you think one game a year in the standings is too strong of a downgrade from one year to the next. They stand out as the luckiest champions in their time. I do consider expansion to temporarily reverse that yearly progress, though not strongly enough in my opinion to include the 1962 Yankees or the 1969 Mets.  This is more of a ranking of the strength of the reasoning behind their selection as worse post war World Series winners.

1.       1946 St. Louis Cardinals 98-58 regular season / 4-3 in the World Series – because baseball still hadn’t integrated. Also, players had just returned from the war. I haven’t heard of any stars still in their prime who went to war and didn’t make it back in full health, but there may well have been some young otherwise future stars we will never know about who didn’t make it back in one piece, if at all. Baseball skills have progressed tremendously over the years. The Cardinals four pitchers with the most starts averaged only 3.9 strikeouts per 9 innings – and 3.0 BB/9 – a staff that would be pulverized by today’s hitters. 1946 was Boston’s best opportunity for a World Championship between Babe Ruth’s 1918 team and their 2004 team. They won 104 games in 1946, but were the slowest team in the Majors to integrate. Ted Williams was never in another World Series.

2.       1959 Los Angeles Dodgers 88-68 / 4-2 – though not from an era as ancient as the ’46 Cardinals, this was a team that averaged a game over .500 the two seasons before their championship and 85 wins after their championship. With two wins, two saves, and a 0.71 ERA, their World Series MVP was a semi-obscure spot starter/ relief pitcher named Larry Sherry. The hitting star of the series was a utility infielder Charlie Neal having his career year. Based on the number of runs scored and runs against (Bill James’ Pythagorean formula as reported in Baseball Reference), these Dodgers were lucky to have won more than 82 games against 74 losses. Koufax and Drysdale helped win this for the Dodgers, but they hadn’t matured into the consistent stars they became. The Chicago White Sox lost out on their best opportunity for a single championship between 1917 and 2005 – other than their 1919 scandal.

3.       1987 Minnesota Twins 85-77 / 8-4 in the post season – averaged just under 80 wins in the four years surrounding this championship. Only the 2006 Cardinals have a championship with a worse record, but they had won over 100 games in both 2004 and 2005. In 2006, the Cardinals had a large number of injuries to key players who were healthy in time for the championship. The ’87 Twins won because their team was better designed for the post season than the regular season. They had two aces (Viola and Blyleven) and a fine closer (Reardon). You could argue that having a injury risky team is a weakness the ’06 Cardinals were lucky to overcome – and that the Twins’ roster construction enabled them to win it all, but that still doesn’t negate the Cardinals were the better team surrounding their allegedly fluke championship. 1987 was much longer ago, too, so the competition was much weaker. Furthermore, these Twins actually gave up 20 more runs than they scored during the regular season. The Pythagorean formula pegs them as a 79-83 ball club. Many clubs could argue they were better than the Twins in 1987, especially Detroit, Toronto, and St. Louis.


John Carter