Named for the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization that consists of thirty teams. To play in MLB, players must be on a major league roster and meet specific criteria. The MLB season starts in April and continues until October, with the winners of the American and National Leagues meeting in November to compete for the World Series title. 

Below is a list of great MLB teams throughout history based on several factors: championships won, playoff appearances, rivalries with other teams, popularity among fans, and players’ salaries. This subjective and informal survey may not sit well with modern fans. 

What Makes a Baseball Team one of the Best?

For this article, the Best MLB Teams will be ranked according to success in postseason play. Since one of (if not) the most critical factor for any professional sport is winning championships, teams that have won many titles over time will be considered top contenders. Although other factors such as salary and popularity also contribute to how the teams rank. 

It is not a secret that those teams with the higher average salaries are usually more successful. Success also leads to a more great fan following. However, some groups have a more passionate following than others. 

As an example, the St. Louis Cardinals are currently one of the most successful teams in MLB, with eleven World Series Championships (tied for first). The Los Angeles Dodgers with six championships (second) and the New York Yankees with twenty-seven championships (fourth) are also among the top contenders. All three of these teams sport some of the highest player salaries in MLB. In contrast, the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics have lower player salaries and are not as successful.

The Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers started as the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1883. The Dodgers have won the World Series six times, their last being in 1988. They have also played in 18 postseasons, making it to the final round eight times. Their rivalry with the New York Yankees has been considered one of ESPN’s most significant rivalries in sports history. One player who made a lasting impact on Dodgers’ history was Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play for any MLB team and was named Rookie of the Year in his first year.

The New York Yankees

The Yankees are one of the most successful teams in MLB history. They have won the World Series 27 times, their last being in 2009. They have also played in 41 postseason appearances making it to the final round 22 times. Their rivalry with the Boston Red Sox is also considered one of the greatest rivalries in sports. Some of the most famous players in Yankees’ history include Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Derek Jeter.

The Boston Red Sox 

The Boston Red Sox was established as one of the American League’s eight charter franchises in 1901. The Red Sox have won the World Series three times, their last being in 2013. They have also played in seventeen postseason appearances making it to the final round eight times. Their rivalry with the New York Yankees has been considered one of ESPN’s most significant rivalries in sports history. One player that made a lasting impact on Red Sox’s history was Ted Williams, who became a member of the MLB All-Century Team.

The Chicago Cubs 

The Cubs started as the Chicago White Stockings in 1870 and became the Chicago Cubs in 1902. The Cubs have won two World Series. The last one was in 1908. They have also played in five postseason appearances making it to the final round three times. The Cubs’ rivalry with St. Louis Cardinals is considered one of ESPN’s most significant rivalries in sports history. One player that impacted Chicago Cubs history was Ernie Banks, who was named Rookie of the Year in 1953 and Most Valuable Player in 1958.

The St Louis Cardinals 

The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the oldest teams in MLB and were initially known as the Brown Stockings. The Cardinals have won the World Series eleven times, their last being in 2011. They have also played in 36 postseasons, making it to the final round nineteen times. The Cardinals have one of the most heated rivalries in all sports with the Chicago Cubs, which is documented in ESPN’s “The Rivalry.”

Oakland Athletics

The Oakland Athletics have been in MLB since 1901. They have won the World Series three times, their last being in 1989. They have also played in 16 postseason appearances making it to the final round six times. Their rivalry with the San Francisco Giants is considered one of ESPN’s most significant rivalries in sports history. Rickey Henderson, who set several MLB records, made a lasting impact on Athletics’ history.

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