Thursday, October 4, 2012

Baseball's Division Champions, 1969-2012

For this list, I am counting, even if Major League Baseball does not do so officially:

* The split-season Divisional Champions of 1981.

* The teams that had the best overall record in each Division in 1981, even if they didn't make the Playoffs under the format in place that year.

* The teams that were in first place when the Strike of 1994 hit.

* The Montreal Expos' 1981 achievement as that of the Washington Nationals.  Ordinarily, I wouldn't include separate-city achievements, but, this time, I do.

* The teams that won Pennants as Wild Cards.  They may not have finished first in the regular season, but they were the last team standing in their League when it was all over.

1. New York Yankees, 19: 1976, '77, '78, '80, '81 (1st-half and overall winners), '94 (led when strike hit), '96, '98, '99, 2000, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '09, '11, '12.  All in AL East.

2. Atlanta Braves, 16: 1969, '82, '91, '92, '93 (in NL West, afterward in NL East), '95, '96, '97, '98, '99, 2000, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05.

3. Oakland Athletics, 15: 1971, '72, '73, '74, '75, '81 (1st-half and overall winners), '88, '89, '90, '92, 2000, '02, '03, '06, '12.  All in AL West.

4. Cincinnati Reds, 12: 1970, '72, '73, '75, '76, '79, '81 (aggregate winners but didn't lead in either half), '90 (in NL West, afterward in NL Central), '94 (led when strike hit), '95, 2010, '12.

5. St. Louis Cardinals, 12: 1981 (aggregate winners but didn't lead in either half), '82, '85, '87 (in NL East, afterward in NL Central), '96, 2000, '02, '04, '05, '06, '09, 11 (won Pennant as Wild Card).  All ties in this ranking are broken by most recent finish.

6. Philadelphia Phillies, 12: 1976, '77, '78, '80, '81 (1st-half), '83, '93, 2007, '08, '09, '10, '11.  All in NL East.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers, 12: 1974, '77, '78, '81 (1st-half and overall winners), '83, '85, '88, '94 (led when strike hit), '95, 2004, '08, '09.  All in NL West.

8. Minnesota Twins, 10: 1969, '70, '87, '91 (in AL West, afterward in AL Central), 2002, '03, '04, '06, '09, '10.


9. San Francisco Giants, 9: 1971, '87, '89, '97, 2000, '02 (won Pennant as Wild Card), '03, '10, '12.  All in NL West.


10. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 9: 1979, '82, '86, 2002 (won Pennant as Wild Card), '04, '05, '07, '08, '09.  All in AL West.

11. Pittsburgh Pirates, 9: 1970, '71, '72, '74, '75, '79, '90, '91, '92.  All in NL East, have not won since moving to NL Central.

12. Houston Astros, 8: 1980, '81 (2nd-half winners), '86 (in NL West, afterward in NL Central), '97, '98, '99, 2001, '05 (won Pennant as Wild Card).  Will move to AL West next season.

13. Baltimore Orioles, 8: 1969, '70, '71, '73, '74, '79, '83, '97.  All in AL East.

14. Boston Red Sox, 7: 1975, '86, '88, '90, '95, 2004 (won Pennant as Wild Card), '07.  All in AL East.

15. Cleveland Indians, 7: 1995, '96, '97, '98, '99, 2001, '07.  All in AL Central, never won while in AL East.

16. Kansas City Royals, 7: 1976, '77, '78, '80, '81 (2nd-half winners), '84, '85.  All in AL West, have not won since moving to AL Central.

17. Detroit Tigers, 6: 1972, '84, '87 (in AL East, afterward in AL Central), 2006 (won Pennant as Wild Card), '11, '12.

18. Texas Rangers, 6: 1994 (led when strike hit), '96, '98, '99, 2010, '11.

19. Chicago White Sox, 6: 1983, '93 (in AL West, afterward in AL Central), '94 (led when strike hit), 2000, '05, '08.

20. New York Mets, 6: 1969, '73, '86, '88, 2000 (won Pennant as Wild Card), '06.  All in NL East.

21. Arizona Diamondbacks, 5: 1999, 2001, '02, '07, '11.  All in NL West.

22. Chicago Cubs, 5: 1984, '89 (in NL East, afterward in NL Central), 2003, '07, '08.

23. San Diego Padres, 5: 1984, '96, '98, 2005, '06.  All in NL West.

24. Toronto Blue Jays, 5: 1985, '89, '91, '92, '93.  All in AL East.

25. Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, 3: 1981 (2nd-half and overall winners), '94 (led when strike hit), 2012.  All in NL East.

26. Milwaukee Brewers, 3: 1981 (2nd-half winners), '82 (in AL East, thereafter in  NL Central), 2011.

27. Seattle Mariners, 3: 1995, '97, 2001.  All in NL West.

28. Tampa Bay Rays, 2: 2008, '10.  Both in AL East.

29. Colorado Rockies, 2: 2007, '09.  Both in NL West.

30. Miami Marlins, 2: 1997, 2003 (both times, won Pennant as Wild Card).  Both in NL East.

Leading their respective Divisions are: In the American League, the Yankees, Minnesota and Oakland; in the National League, Atlanta, Cincinnati and the Dodgers.

However, if we count only titles won within those Divisions -- both before and after realignment -- then we get a different picture:

The AL leaders remain the same, but Philadelphia surpasses Atlanta for the NL East lead (the Braves were in the NL West until 1993), St. Louis now leads the NL Central (Cincinnati was in the NL West until 1993), and Cincinnati and the Dodgers share the NL West lead.

In any case, the Yankees are Number 1 on this list, as they are on so many others.