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Does best record really mean anything?

10/1/2012

The Washington Nationals are No. 1 in our final Power Rankings and are tied with the Cincinnati Reds for best record in the majors. It's a good reminder for this time of year that finishing with the best record is hardly a good predictor for winning the World Series. During the wild-card era, the team with the best record has won the World Series just three times in 17 years:

2011: Phillies, 102-60 (lost Division Series)

2010: Phillies, 97-65 (lost NLCS)

2009: Yankees, 103-59 (won World Series)

2008: Angels, 100-62 (lost Division Series)

2007: Red Sox and Indians, 96-66 (Red Sox won World Series, Indians lost ALCS)

2006: Yankees and Mets, 97-65 (Yankees lost Division Series, Mets in NLCS)

2005: Cardinals, 100-62 (lost NLCS)

2004: Cardinals, 105-57 (lost World Series)

2003: Yankees and Braves, 101-61 (Yankees lost World Series, Braves lost Division Series)

2002: Yankees and A's, 103-59 (both lost in Division Series)

2001: Mariners, 116-46 (lost ALCS)

2000: Giants, 97-65 (lost Division Series)

1999: Braves, 103-59 (lost World Series)

1998: Yankees, 114-48 (won World Series)

1997: Braves, 101-61 (lost NLCS)

1996: Indians, 99-63 (lost Division Series)

1995: Indians, 100-44 (lost World Series)

World Series winners and where they ranked among all teams:

2011: Cardinals*, 90-72 (8th-best record in majors)

2010: Giants, 92-70 (5th-best)

2009: Yankees, 103-59 (best record)

2008: Phillies, 92-70 (5th-best)

2007: Red Sox, 96-66 (best record)

2006: Cardinals, 83-78 (13th-best record)

2005: White Sox, 99-63 (2nd-best)

2004: Red Sox*, 98-64 (3rd-best)

2003: Marlins*, 91-71 (7th-best)

2002: Angels*, 99-63 (4th-best)

2001: Diamondbacks, 92-70 (6th-best)

2000: Yankees, 87-74 (9th-best)

1999: Yankees, 98-64 (3rd-best)

1998: Yankees, 114-48 (best record)

1997: Marlins*, 92-70 (4th-best)

1996: Yankees, 92-70 (3rd-best)

1995: Braves, 90-54 (2nd-best)

* wild-card team (five other wild-card teams reached the World Series but lost)

Average number of wins for best team in baseball: 102 (not including 1995)

Average number of wins for World Series winner: 95 (not including 1995)