No matter the year baseball's championship, the World Series, never disappoints. There are always hard-to-believe storylines, award-winning players, and a lot of stress for two fan bases.
But, in an event that has taken place nearly every season since 1903, what are the best matchups ever?
What JustBats means is, what World Series' matchups were the absolute best at pitting the best MLB National League team against the best American League team in retrospect? So, regardless of the outcome of the Fall Classic, which matchups were the best at delivering the best talent and teams. We compiled our list:
#9. 1942 World Series
Do you like dynasties? Model franchises? Hall of Fame players? The 1942 Fall Classic matchup had 10 future Hall of Famers, a 106-win St. Louis Cardinal squad, and a 103-win New York Yankees team. Enos Slaughter, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio, and Phil Rizzuto and the Yankees had won eight Series since 1926, even sweeping five of them.
The result: Despite winning Game 1, the Yankees lost to the Cardinals in five games. In 1943, the teams would meet again with the Yankees coming out the victor.
#8. 1998 World Series
The 1998 New York Yankees are considered to be one of the top teams in baseball history. They won the AL East by 22 games, finished with 114 wins, and a .704 winning percentage. But, the San Diego Padres were no pushover. Manager Bruce Bochy, who later captured World Series rings with the Giants, guided the Padres to a 98-64 record behind Tony Gwynn, Greg Vaughn, Trevor Hoffman, Kevin Brown, and Andy Ashby.
The result: The Yankees swept the Padres. They’re 125 wins (including the postseason) remain the record and this was the first of three straight championships for the Yanks.
#7. 1969 World Series
The New York Mets won 100 games behind the young arms of Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver and swept the Braves in the NLCS and quickly became known as the “Miracle Mets”, due to their quick rise to relevance after a number of bad seasons. Conversely, the Baltimore Orioles swept the Twins in the ALCS after winning 109 games in large part because of Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, and Frank Robinson, and were the team with no flaws.
The result: In what is often cited as one of the biggest upsets in sports history, the expansion Mets beat the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles would bounce back the next season to win the World Series over the Reds.
#6. 1986 World Series
This Fall Classic will forever be remembered for Bill Buckner, but--really--this was the matchup everyone wanted. The Red Sox were an impressive team with Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Jim Rice, as well as young flamethrower Roger Clemens. The Red Sox barely got past the Angels in the ALCS after posting a 95-66 mark during the season. Meanwhile, the Mets had won their division by 21.5 games (108-54 record) and were as entertaining on the field as they were off the field with Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, and Lenny Dykstra. A team looking to end a long, cursed championship drought versus a young New York squad that rubbed people the wrong way equals matchup heaven.
The result: Curse giveth, curse taketh away. Ball goes through Buckner’s legs in Game 6 and Boston blows the Series in seven games. New York Mets win the title.
#5. 1927 World Series
This was a dream matchup. The New York Yankees were at their peak with Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth in their prime; they had led the AL in every important offensive category. The Yankees finished the season 110-44, 19 games ahead of their division counterparts. The Pittsburgh Pirates, meanwhile, won their division with a 94-60 record, but led the NL in runs and batting average thanks to MVP Paul Waner.
Really, recent success (Pirates were 1925 Champions and the Yankees--well--this was their fifth appearance in seven seasons.
The result: The Yankees lineup was so revered it was known as “Murderers Row”. They proved it by scoring 23 runs in a four game sweep of the Pirates.
#4. 1910 World Series
Two esteemed franchises? Check. 11 future Hall of Famers? Check. Great matchup? Check. The 102-48 Philadelphia Athletics met the 104-50 Chicago Cubs in this Fall Classic. The 1910 club is considered the Cubs’ best and both teams won their divisions by impressive margins.
The result: The Athletics earned their first championship and the Cubs were only starting their championship drought.
#3. 1954 World Series
The New York Giants were great, winning 97 games and boasting the likes of Willie Mays, Monte Irvin, and Hoyt Wilhelm. But, make no mistake, the Cleveland Indians were a powerhouse in 1954. They finished the season 111-43, fought off the 5-time defending champion Yankees, and led the AL with a 2.72 ERA and 77 complete games.
The result: This Fall Classic featured “The Catch”, Willie Mays famous running catch in Game 1. Almost just as amazing was the Giants four game sweep of the heavily favored Indians, who would end up not making the playoffs again until 1995.
#2. 1975 World Series
Cincinnati Reds finished the season at 108-54 and won the division by 20 games. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox won the AL East by 4.5 games with a 95-65 record. The Big Red Machine had Johnny Bench, George Foster, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose and the Red Sox countered with Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, and Carlton Fisk. In total, seven future Hall of Famers played a part in this matchup. Naturally, both teams swept their way to the Fall Classic.
The result: One of the most iconic Fall Classics ever, as Carlton Fisk hit his famous homer and the Reds won in seven games.
#1. 1995 World Series
1995 was a strike shortened year, but that didn’t stop the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians from steamrolling their respective Leagues. The Braves were destined to finally take advantage of their Hall of Fame rotation (Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz) and the Indians were looking to end Cleveland’s championship drought with Eddie Murray, Albert Belle, and Manny Ramirez. The Braves won their division by 21 games with a 90-54 mark and the Indians won by 30 games with a 100-44 record.
The result: The Series ended up going six games, with five of the games being decided by one run. Ultimately, the Braves pitching delivered a championship over Cleveland’s intimidating lineup.
There it is. The best match-ups that have ever met in the World Series. What do you think? Which Fall Classic would you include and why?