Ask 100 baseball fans who the most successful team is, and they’ll all give different answers – usually based on who their favorite team is. Looking at the statistics, however, gives us some other ideas of what a successful baseball team might look like. Is it the team that has won the most World Series competitions, or the most pennants? Is it the team that has the highest valuation, the most fans, the most players and coaches in the Hall of Fame, or the best playing record of the last decade? Not many people would claim the Atlanta Braves are the biggest in the world but their impressive performances have resulted in them being the favorites to win this year’s World Series in the MLB odds, they’re hoping to win the championship for just the fifth time in their history.
While the most successful MLB team in terms of World Series wins is the New York Yankees – but they have little to no chance of glory this year. They’ve won it 27 times in 121 years, 16 more times than the next most successful team. But is that all there is?
Let’s take a look at the top four teams listed as World Series winners, to see if there is something magic about them.
New York Yankees
The Yankees are top of the pile when it comes to World Series wins, with 27 over the years.
They are also probably the most recognizable and valuable sports brand in the world, valued in 2022 at an estimated $6 billion – but they haven’t won the World Series since 2009.
The New York Yankees were established in 1903 under the name the New York Highlanders, when Frank Farrell and Bill Devery bought the franchise rights to the defunct Baltimore Orioles (no relation to the current MLB team). Renamed the Yankees in 1913, their logo has become synonymous with New York, and with the USA in general when it comes to fashion.
- 20 American League East Division Titles
- 40 American League pennants (ALCS Wins)
- 27 World Series wins.
55 players and managers that played for the Yankees have been inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame.
St. Louis Cardinals
As well known for the antics of their mascot (Fredbird) as they are for their baseball record, the St. Louis Cardinals team was established in 1881, making them one of the oldest clubs involved in the MLB. They were originally known as the Brown Stockings and renamed the St Louis Browns to join the American Association baseball league. They joined the MLB National League in 1892 and were renamed the Cardinals in 1900.
One of the things that sets the Cardinals apart is the strong fan support – playing home games at the stunning Busch Stadium that has housed them since 2006. They might not have as many players and managers in the Hall of Fame, but their win record is pretty impressive:
- 7 NL Central titles
- 23 NL pennants (NLCS Wins)
- 11 World Series wins.
Boston Red Sox
Playing at Fenway Park since 1912, the Boston Red Sox were a dominant force in the newly created AL, winning more often than not. They were established in 1901, and the team rivalry between them and the Yankees is one of the most famous in the world – made all the worse when the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1918, which is what popular theory tells as the reason for the 86-year poor form drought that saw them without a World Series win (the longest in MLB history).
Still, the Red Sox were still an entertaining team despite not winning for a while; Enos Slaughter’s Mad Dash in 1946, and the so-called ‘Impossible Dream’ of 1967 kept fans interested. They last won a World Series in 2018.
While they might not have all the titles of the other teams, their fans are the reason that they hold the record for selling out all tickets for their home games between May 2003 and April 2013.
- 10 AL East Division titles
- 14 AL pennants
- 9 World Series wins.
Oakland Athletics, known colloquially as the Oakland A, might be the team that is most famous for moving around. Although they currently play at the Oakland Coliseum in California, that isn’t where they started.
Philadelphia Athletics was founded in 1901, and then moved to become Kansas City Athletics in 1955 before heading to Oakland in 1968.
While this might not have anything to do with the success of the team, it is interesting to note that they are planning a move to Las Vegas this year. The Oakland Athletics 2002 season was the focus of a book that became a Hollywood film called Moneyball starring Brad Pitt.
- 17 AL West Division titles
- 15 AL pennants
- 9 World Series wins.