Where do the Red Sox stack up against recent 100 win teams?
Last night the Boston Red Sox won their 100th game of the season. This is Boston’s fourth 100 win season in franchise history. The next best team in the MLB this year is the Astros with 92 wins (who also will likely eclipse 100 wins). Boston is tearing up the league and they still have 16 games to play. We are witnessing one of the best regular seasons of all time. That’s why I’ve decided to take a look at where the Sox place in among the last ten teams to win 100 games in the regular season.
10. 2008 Los Angeles Angels (100-62)
This team benefited immensely from playing the bulk of their schedule against a weak AL West division where the 79-83 Texas Rangers were the next best team. Of the last ten 100 game winning squads, the 2008 Angels had the worst run differential of +68 and only made it to the AL Divisional series in the 2008 playoffs.
While compared to the rest of the elite company in the 100 win club they may seem underwhelming, but this Angels team was legitimately awesome. The bats hinged on the heart of the order where Torii Hunter, Valdimir Guerrero and Mark Teixeira absolutely raked.
On the mound Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders and John Lackey held sub-4 ERAs and 25 year old Jered Weaver started to come into his own. The bullpen was anchored by Fransisco “K Rod” Rodriguez who broke the single-season saves record with 62. By all accounts this was a very good team, just not as good as the others on this list.
9. 2015 St. Louis Cardinals (100-62)
It’s been three years since the Cardinals were still considered a “great” franchise. They’ve been in the Wild Card hunt every year since 2015, but “the Cardinal way” was about continued dominance over the National League Central through drafting and development.
The team had its stars. Jason Heyward was one of the best all-around outfielders in the game, infielders Jhonny Peralta and Matt Carpenter were tearing the cover off the ball and Yadi was still an elite presence behind the plate when he was healthy.
The starting pitching was the real driving force behind this team. Michael Wacha had the highest ERA among the starting five with a 3.38 which is just absurd. The Cardinals rode career years from 36 year old John Lackey and Jaime Garcia’s 2.44 ERA to a dominant regular season.
This team only made it as far as the NLDS, but considering the early injuries to key pieces like staff ace Adam Wainright, All Star left fielder Matt Holliday and Molina, the season could’ve easily been a write-off. Yet the Cardinals turned it into one of the best regular seasons in franchise history.
8. 2005 St. Louis Cardinals (100-62)
41 home runs while slashing .330/.430/.609? Albert Pujols in his prime was awesome. Apparently at age 25 “Fat Albert” led the Cardinals with 16 stolen bases which is pretty impressive for a first baseman.
Rounding out the rest of this 100 win squad was ace Chris Carpenter and his 2.83 ERA, slugging outfielders Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker and an impressive middle infield in Mark Grudzielanek and David Eckstein. This team was just two games away from making it to the World Series in that 2005 playoffs that saw the White Sox snap an 88 season championship draught.
7. 2011 Philadelphia Phillies (102-60)
Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and 23 year old Vance Worley (3.01 ERA across 131.2 innings pitched) is one of the best starting rotations of all-time. As a team the Phillies had a 3.02 ERA and it seems criminal that this version of the Phillies never won a World Series. It would’ve been awesome to see Halladay, Lee and Oswalt win a World Series.
6. 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers (104-58)
This team was one game shy of winning the World Series, but fell short to an all-time great Astros team. Clayton Kershaw and his 2.32 ERA headlined the National League’s best rotation consisting of Yu Darvish, breakout star Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Kenley Jensen led all MLB relievers with a 3.6 fWAR with the rest of the bullpen falling in line with the MLB’s fourth lowest ERA of 3.38.
Any other year this team, consisting of a healthy Bellinger, Turner, Seager backed by some of baseball’s best pitching, would be good enough to win it all. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, the 2017 playoffs were loaded with legitimate title contenders.
5. 2017 Cleveland Indians (102-60)
2017 saw some awesome teams fall short of winning the World Series. Of the ten 100 win-teams on this list, the Indians had the best run differential of +254. Now the 2017 Indians did benefit from playing in a weak AL Central division. But across the board they had the makings of a championship team. Fransisco Lindor was the best shortstop in the league, Jose Ramirez was an MVP finalist, Cy Young winner Cory Kluber headlined the best pitching staff in the MLB and their bullpen had the lowest ERA in the MLB with a crazy 2.89.
4. 2009 New York Yankees (103-59)
Check out this lineup:
Studs. From top to bottom. Studs.
This team would rank higher if it weren’t for a 4.26 team ERA. Without a 28 year-old CC Sabathia holding the staff together with his 3.37 ERA, this team may have fallen short of realizing its obviously high potential.
3. 2018 Boston Red Sox (100-46)*
I’m tentatively putting the Sox at 3 on the list, but with 16 games left and an entire October of playoff baseball left, this could be one of the best teams of all-time. Period.
The Red Sox likely won’t catch the 2001 Mariners and 1906 Cubs record of 116 regular season wins (although it is technically still in play), but neither of those teams won the World Series. If Boston reaches the 110 win plateau and win a World Series, I would place them in the pantheon with the ’98 and 27 Yankees in the pantheon of best championship teams of all-time.
Top to bottom, the Red Sox are just a juggernaut. Barring a major upset, Betts is more than likely going to win the AL MVP this year by slashing .340/.433/.627 with elite defense and 28 stolen bases. JD Martinez is in the thick of the AL home run race with 40 bombs. Chris Sale all but has the AL Cy Young locked up with a 1.96 ERA and 13.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. Former Cy Young winners David Price and Rick Porcello and 25 year-old Venezuelan hurler Eduardo Rodriguez round out a formidable playoff pitching staff.
I’m excited to see how far this team can go, but with the Yankees, Astros and Indians all populating the top of the American League, it will be a dogfight to even get to the World Series when October rolls around.
2. 2017 Houston Astros (101-61)
Throughout last year this was one of the most impressive looking rosters in baseball. They led the league in runs scored with 896 with the next best team 38 runs behind. With 2017 MVP Jose Alutve with Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez filling in the holes, the Astros had the best infield in the bigs.
If they had a chink in the armour the pitching, while above average, was far from elite. But things only ramped up when the Astros picked up ace Justin Verlander at the trade deadline which solidified the rotation and bolstered the bullpen by pushing starters like McCullers and Peacock into reliever roles.
1. 2016 Chicago Cubs (103-59)
Of the ten teams on this list, the Cubs had the second-best run differential with +252 and the highest of the three World Series winners. The Cubs had seven players with WAR higher than 4: Kris Bryant (7.4), Anthony Rizzo (5.5), Jon Lester (5.5), Kyle Henricks (5.2), Jake Arietta (4.5), Addison Russell (4.1) and Dexter Fowler (4.1). Of all of the teams on this list, the 2016 Cubs had the best combo of hitting, defence, starting pitching and (once they acquired Aroldis Chapman) relief pitching). I would contend that the 2011 Phillies had better starting pitching, the 2017 Indians had the best bullpen, and both the 2017 Astros and 2009 Yankees had a better collection of hitters. But the Cubs were just the best overall team…
That being said, depending on how they closeout the season, the Boston Red Sox have a chance to be the best team on this list.