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Monday, October 1, 2012
Does best record really mean anything?

By David Schoenfield

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)