Thursday, April 07, 2005

Baseball Records since 1954

Earlier this week, I noted that in the early to mid 1980s, I had heard that the Orioles had the best record in baseball since 1954 (the year they moved to Baltimore from St. Louis). I had wondered if this were still the case. (See below: it turns out never to have been the case). Alas, it’s not. Here are the win percentages for all teams 1954-2004 with a winning record.

1. New York Yankees .563
2. Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland Athletics .545
3. Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers .542
3. New York/San Francisco Giants .542
5. Cincinnati Reds .526
5. Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins .526
6. Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves .525
7. Boston Red Sox .523
8. Baltimore Orioles .522
9. St. Louis Cardinals .520
10. Chicago White Sox . .514
11. Arizona Diamondbacks .507

I used the raw data under team pitching statistics at If you really care about this, you should probably check my math. And a statistician might also point out that the differences between the Reds, Twins, Braves, Red Sox, Orioles, and Cardinals are not statistically significant. (A statistician might also point out that this is an entirely pointless exercise.)

Then I wondered. Was my mid-‘80s memory correct or just a bit of Orioles mythologizing? Here’s the same check for the period 1954-1984. The Orioles look a lot better but apparently I was wrong. All those good years in the ‘50s were still carrying the Yankees and the Dodgers over the Orioles.

1. New York Yankees .563
2. Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers .556
3. Baltimore Orioles .550
4. Cincinnati Reds .540
5. Kansas City Royals .523
6. Detroit Tigers .520
7. Pittsburgh Pirates .518
8. New York/San Francisco Giants .517
9. Boston Red Sox .516
10. Chicago White Sox .515
11. St. Louis Cardinals .514
12. Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves .511

Also note that the Pirates and the Royals are on the 1984 list and drop of the 2004 list. Remember Willie Stargell and George Brett? The Pirates just missed the 2004 cut-off at .499 and the Royals slipped to .494. The newcomers on the 2004 list were the Twins and the A’s who went from .477 (Twins) and .460 (A’s) on the 1984 list.

(By the way, if you want to see all records going back to the end of the 19th century, check here: Saddled with the legacy of the St. Louis Browns, the Orioles don’t do so well on this list.)

Lessons learned:
--Memory is slippery.
--The A’s win “most-improved” since 1984.
--Since 1954, only 10 teams of the ones that have played the entire time have winning records.
--The Diamondbacks are the only post-1954 team with a winning record.
--You just can’t beat the d*** Yankees.

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