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Past World Series Champions


wdm1219inpenna

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Being a novice baseball historian, I was wondering where the 2010 San Francisco Giants fall as far as being one of the most improbable World Series champions in history...

1903 Red Sox upset the Pirates 5 games to 3, since the Red Sox were from the "new" American League...

1906 White Sox defeating the 116 win Cubs

1914 Braves who were in last place in July of that year, and they swept the mighty Philadelphia A's who had won it all in 1910, 1911 & 1913

1924 Senators finally winning it all, over the very veteran & post-season tested New York Giants

1954 New York Giants who swept the 111 win Cleveland Indians

1955 Brooklyn Dodgers who finally were able to win a World Series, and vs. the Yankees no less...

1960 Pittsburgh Pirates outlasting the Yankees in 7 games, the Mazeroski Home Run in the bottom of the 9th of game 7...

1966 Baltimore Orioles upsetting & sweeping the prior year's champs, the Los Angeles Dodgers

1969 New York Mets overcoming the mighty Baltimore Orioles, after finishing 9th in the N.L. the prior year (I think this has to be THE most unlikely ever!!!)

1983 Baltimore Orioles vs. the Phillies who were laced with an almost who's who, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Mike Schmidt

1988 Los Angeles Dodgers winning in just 5 over the vaunted "Bash Brother" Oakland A's

1990 Cincinnati sweeping that same vaunted A's team

1997 Florida Marlins - A 5 year old expansion team & wildcard team upending the nearly 100 year old Indians

2003 Florida Marlins - Again as a wildcard, upending the mighty New York Yankees

So I've listed 15 "upsets", with the '69 Mets still being #1. Cincy in 1990 I think is #2, I'm thinking this 2010 Giants team must rank within the top 5 of this list. Consider that with a week to go in the regular season, even the last day, they were fighting just to qualify for post-season. Then to defeat the Braves in 4, the Phillies in 6, and the heavy hitting Rangers & Cliff Lee in 5 games, very very improbable. Then again, it wasn't too probable that the Rangers were going to be in it either at the start of the season...

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I strongly disagree. The Giants beating Texas may not even be considered an upset to some people. They had home-field advantage and a great pitching staff. The fact that they got in on the last day of the season isn't important. The Twins, for example, clinched 10 days before the playoffs, but they were underdogs heading into the playoffs. The NL West was a tough division this year, in contrast to the AL Central, explaining the Giants late-clinch.

Even if you would consider it an upset, it most definitely is not a Top 5 upset. If they had beaten the Yankees, it would have qualified as an upset. Any team from New York will always be the favorite, it is a law of physics. Therefore, a Giants victory over the Yankees may have qualified as a Top 15 upset. However, it probably would not break the Top 5 barrier.

Not to be a homer, but wouldn't the 1987 Twins victory be considered a Top 5 (or at least Top 15) upset? Minnesota finished that year with only 85 wins, the least of the 4 playoff teams. In addition, they beat the heavily favored Detroit Tigers in the '87 ALCS. In the World Series, they defeated a 95-win St. Louis team in 7 games. In fact, they were down 3-2 at one point and were then heavily favored to lose the series, even though the final two games were at home. Those reasons should justify my claim that the Twins upset over St. Louis should be in your Top 15 list, if not the Top 5.

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It has to be the 2001 Diamondbacks, period. The Yankees were coming off three straight World Series wins, while the D-Backs had only existed for three seasons prior to their win. The D-Backs won slightly less games than the Yankees and needed that Luis Gonzalez bloop single (one of the greatest plays in World Series history) to win.

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I would have to take the 1960 World Series, the summary of it on the Wikipedia entry pretty well explains what happened.

The Pirates were grossly outmatched against the Yankees, who had won their tenth pennant in twelve years. Indeed, the Bronx Bombers outscored the Pirates 55–27 in this Series, outhit them 91–60, outbatted them .338 to .256, hit ten home runs to Pittsburgh's four (three of the latter's coming in Game 7), got two complete game shutouts from Whitey Ford—and lost. The Pirates' inconsistent pitching resulted in the peculiar combination of close games and routs. Law and Ford were both excellent for their teams. Pirates relief pitcher Elroy Face was a major factor in several games.
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I'd give an honorable mention nod to the '26 Cardinals. Don't know if they're one of the most unlikely winners, but they did beat the Yankees (the year before Murderer's Row) in 7 with a washed up Alexander.

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People who think that the number of years a team has been in the league for affected the World Series they play in aren't looking at that team's respective season. The 1997 Marlins won six more games than the Indians. The 2001 Diamondbacks, I never once thought were the worst team to win the World Series (same goes for the Marlins).

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I had considered the 87 Twins, since they beat the Cardinals who had won it all just 5 years before, and lost a really bad way in '85.

The 2001 D'Backs I didn't consider an upset because of Schilling & Johnson pitching for them.

The 91 Twins I didn't consider only because while they went from worst to first, so too did their opponent, the Atlanta Braves (Hard to fathom that was almost TWENTY years ago already!!!!)

1926 Cards is a good one too.

As for the 2010 Giants being improbable winners, I reckon part of my reasoning was that at the start of the season, NOBODY had them going, but it's also true NOBODY had the Texas Rangers going either. Makes for interesting conversation and I always love reading the feedback on here, especially the alternate points of view. Helps me to learn more!

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Also, the 03 Marlins were a pretty stacked team, we just didn't know it at the time. Look at how many of those guys went on to become pretty big names later down the line. Josh Becket, Miguel Cabrera, Juan Pierre, Derek Lee, AJ Burnett, Dontrelle Willis, Alex Gonzalez, Juan Encarnacion, Brad Penny, Carl Pavano, Luis Castillo, Ugueth Urbina. They had some stars in Mike Lowell and Pudge Rodriguez and veterans like Jeff Conine, Todd Hollandsworth and Lenny Harris. That was only a surprising team because we didn't yet know who those guys were. If you look at that team now then it becomes pretty apparent why they were the world series champions.

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1991 is a good modern example, this year was too in terms of the postseason futility of the teams involved though the Giants had at least been in World Series in recent memory. The Marlins in '97 and D-Backs were truly free agent championship clubs and I don't know how you can measure them against teams of different eras fairly.

Interesting question to be sure.

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The question in the subject line was most unlikely champion, but this seems to really be "biggest World Series upset." Those are two different questions. For example, while this Giants team, coming into the year, througout the year, and heading into the postseason, may not have been considered likely, by the time they got to the World Series vs. Texas, I don't think it was really an upset.

My first thought was "1987 Twins." They are the only World Champ to be outscored during the regular season. They did have a potent offense, but really only two reliable starters all year. Their #3 starter was a 28 year old rookie named Les Straker who was under .500. And while they were the clear underdog going into the ALCS vs. the Tigers, a better team, most thought the Series, vs. St. Louis, could have gone either way. So "unlikely team", but not "big World Series upset."

In my memory:

  • Most unlikely team: 1987 Twins or 1997 Marlins
  • Biggest Upset: 1988 Dodgers or 2001 D-Backs

The 1991 Twins are an interesting one...based on coming into the year, they'd be unlikely, but by June's 15-game winning streak, they were the best team in baseball, imo. They ended the year with the best record in the AL (one game behind the Pirates in MLB) and I honestly think, for that year, they were the best in baseball (thanks to some career years by such people as Shane Mack, Chili Davis, Mike Pagliarulo, and Scott Leius).

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Being a novice baseball historian, I was wondering where the 2010 San Francisco Giants fall as far as being one of the most improbable World Series champions in history...

So I've listed 15 "upsets", with the '69 Mets still being #1. Cincy in 1990 I think is #2, I'm thinking this 2010 Giants team must rank within the top 5 of this list. Consider that with a week to go in the regular season, even the last day, they were fighting just to qualify for post-season. Then to defeat the Braves in 4, the Phillies in 6, and the heavy hitting Rangers & Cliff Lee in 5 games, very very improbable. Then again, it wasn't too probable that the Rangers were going to be in it either at the start of the season...

Let's take a look at three that I think you really missed the boat on.

1955 Dodgers: I don't see that one as an upset. It was more a matter of the Dodgers finally getting over the hump. They won the NL Pennant four times in the 50's. They also had four hall of famers and some other really good ball players. That team didn't come out of nowhere to surprise everyone by winning the World Series. They were the best team in the NL. The Yankees weren't really that much better than the Dodgers if they were better at all. I could argue that the Dodgers were more talented. The Yankees had Berra and Mantle but after that they weren't filled with star players. The Dodgers had Snider, Reese, Campanella, Hodges, and Jackie Robinson. Side by side the Dodgers sure look to have had the better every day lineup.

1966 Orioles: Here's another one that really wasn't an upset. Both teams won 97 games that season. The '66 Orioles had three hall of famers and another bunch of really good players. When you compare their lineup with LA's I think the real upset would have been if the Dodgers had won that series. LA had good pitching but Baltimore easily had the better hitting lineup.

1983 Orioles: Yes, Philly had a "who's who" lineup but it was an old and past their prime "who's who." Baltimore's lineup matched up very well with the Phillies and the Orioles had a pretty big advantage in pitching. If memory serves, the Phillies surprised everyone by making the series that year and I'm pretty sure the Orioles were the favorites. This was hardly an upset. Baltimore was clearly the better team.

A couple other notes: The Mets won 100 games in 1969. They were a very solid ballclub. Yes, their win over the Orioles was an upset but if we're talking nothing but talent vs. talent the 1969 Mets weren't quite the shocker everyone remembers them to be. My definition of a "huge upset" is when the team that is clearly and substantially inferior to their opponent wins. The 1969 Mets don't meet that criteria in my opinion. If you want to talk about a Mets team "upsetting" their way to a World Series you need to look at the '73 Mets. They lost to the A's but they really had no business being there at all. They were far more "shocking" than were the '69 team. The '69 team gained all it's notoriety because of the past history of the franchise. It's hard to call a team that won 100 games huge underdogs. No doubt they weren't the favorite but it wasn't like they were some 87 win team knocking off the Orioles either.

The biggest upset in "modern" World Series history has to be the '88 Dodgers. They had Orel Hershiser and a bunch of guys named Mickey Hatcher. The only other serious threat they had was Kirk Gibson and he batted once in the entire series. Oakland had McGwire and Canseco, Dave Henderson, former batting champ Carney Lansford, and Don Baylor. Their pitching staff had a one two punch that was probably the best in the game at the time with Bob Welch and Dave Stewart. Storm Davis also had a very solid season for Oakland in '88. Then there was Eckersley coming out of the pen. They also had guys like Gene Nelson and Rick Honeycutt pitching relief. The truth is it was a miracle the '88 Dodgers even made the World Series let alone win it.

Finally, the 2010 Giants don't belong anywhere on your list.

No offense but you don't become a "baseball historian" by one day deciding to read some books. It really helps if you've been immersed in the game your whole life and from the sounds of it you haven't. There's more to this than playoff seedings and stuff you read in a book.

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It has to be the 2001 Diamondbacks, period. The Yankees were coming off three straight World Series wins, while the D-Backs had only existed for three seasons prior to their win. The D-Backs won slightly less games than the Yankees and needed that Luis Gonzalez bloop single (one of the greatest plays in World Series history) to win.

To add to the Yankees winning those prior championships, I felt as though most Americans were pulling for them to win with 9/11 only being 6-7 week prior. That series was a roller coaster...AZ wins first 2, Yanks win next 3, AZ wins game 7 in crazy fashion.

We still had an amazing team, but I consider it an unlikely win due to the emotions carrying over from 9/11 with a NY team playing plus being the quickest expansion franchise in any sport to win a championship.

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Sorry, but for sheer upsets you just cannot top the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates. They pulled off a Rocky Balboa, Buster Douglas-like upset, getting their proverbial asses kicked but managing to pull it out. Go look at the stats from that series - you'd swear the Yankees won it 4 games to 2 and won each game by 15+ runs.

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