The Dodgers are probably right behind the Yankees in terms of well-known baseball franchises. Spending their entire history in the two biggest markets in the United States is definitely a big part of that, but so is the success they've had.
The Dodgers are one of the oldest teams in the league, forming in 1884 as the Brooklyn Atlantics. Throughout their history, they've won six World Series titles and had plenty of successful seasons. That made them one of the tougher teams when it came time to decide their best season.
I feel like a lot of the decisions I've made in this series have been more recent teams, and I don't want to seem like I have any sort of recency bias. The Dodgers have had tons of success spread all across their history, from a 101-win season in 1899 to a 105-win season in 1953, to a 106-win season in 2019.
Their last World Series title came during the 1988 season, which was noteworthy for plenty of reasons, but they only won 94 games during the regular season. (I say only like that's not impressive, but when you're talking about the Dodgers, there are far more impressive seasons.)
So I want to make it clear, there is no recency bias here at all. I am trying my best to figure out which Dodgers season saw the best product put on the field. The goal is to figure out which group of players was the best at any given time.
And with that in mind, I have to go with the 2019 Dodgers as the best season in franchise history.
The 2019 squad went 106-56, winning the most games in team history. They won their seventh-straight division championship. Although they weren't able to get far in the playoffs - losing to the Nationals in the first round - their regular season was among the best in history.
Last year's Dodgers team feature their second MVP in the decade as Cody Bellinger took home the National League award. The 24-year-old outfielder hit .305/.406/.629 with 47 home runs and 115 RBIs last year. He finished the season with 9.1 wins above replacement, the most by a Dodgers player since Zack Greinke in 2015.
The Dodgers' bats were great last year as the team hit .257/.338/.472 with 279 home runs. But it was their pitching where they really shined.
Three Los Angeles starters finished in the top 10 of NL Cy Young voting - Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. Their pitching staff led the league with a 3.37 ERA. The next-best was 3.65 by Tampa Bay. That's a huge difference, and it really shows how dominant the Dodgers' pitching staff was.
The team sent five players to the All-Star Game in Cleveland - the three pitchers, Bellinger and Max Muncy.
I know it seems like I'm choosing a lot of recent teams for this series, but the fact is that as technology and training methods advance, teams are only getting better. And the Dodgers are at the forefront of that movement. They have had three dominant seasons in a row, and with the team they have put together right now, they'll be dominant for years to come.
I've said before that I am really susceptible to good marketing. I like retro. I like Southern. And I'm a big fan of classics. I like when companies reference local landmarks in their marketing. So if a brand does all of that, it's a pretty good bet I'll like their product.
Enter the Richmond Lager from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond.
The retro stubby bottle, the font (which is kind of reminiscent of the script on a baseball jersey), the depiction of the ACL Railroad bridge over the James River. All of it makes me want to drink this beer.
The description on Hardywood's website reads "Here in Richmond, we're not afraid of doing things the hard way. We are a community of artists, creators and innovators. We respect time honored tradition, craftsmanship and quality over quantity. We go the extra mile, and when the job is done, we know we've earned the right to kick back and enjoy a cold one. For a hard day's work, and whatever follows, we give you Richmond Lager."
I agree with all of those things. I work hard, and you're damn right I want a cold beer at the end of the day. I like tradition, and quality over quantity.
Everything about this beer makes it my favorite, and we haven't even talked about the beer itself yet.
The Richmond Lager is exactly what it sounds like, a classic American lager. There's nothing too special about it. It's better than a Budweiser or Coors, but it's just a regular old pale lager. And it's fantastic.
But does it pass the real test - could you drink it at a baseball game?
Absolutely. it's crisp and refreshing, and perfect for a hot day at the ballpark. Every Minor League, summer league and college team in the central Virginia area should have the Richmond Lager in stock at their ballparks.
Untappd Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Man, the NL West is full of some young teams. Yesterday we looked at the Arizona Diamondbacks and determined their best season, and today we're looking at the Colorado Rockies. Both teams have played less than 30 seasons.
But, like the Dbacks, the Rockies have seen some success in their short time. While they've never won a division title, they have made five playoff appearances and won a National League pennant in 2007. That makes it pretty easy to decide which season is the best in franchise history.
The 2007 team won 90 games, and while they have won more in other seasons, it's not by much. The Rockies won 91 games in 2018 and 92 in 2009. But if you factor in the fact that 2007 was just their second postseason appearance ever and they managed to win a pennant, that has to take the cake as the better season.
Let's take a look at some of the stats, too. The 2007 Rockies batted .280/.354/.437. They hit 171 home runs throughout the course of the season. For comparison, the 2009 Rockies batted .261/.343/.441 with 190 home runs. While the 2009 team did put up a better slugging percentage and more home runs, the 2007 squad has the better on-base plus slugging at .791.
Each team only had two All-Star representatives, and none of them started in their respective games. When it comes to awards voting, here's another spot where the 2007 team comes out on top.
The Rockies had players finish in the top 10 of both NL MVP and NL Cy Young voting in 2007. Matt Holliday placed second for the MVP while Jeff Francis came in ninth in Cy Young voting.
The 2009 team had just one player finish in the top 10 for either award - Troy Tulowitzki placed fifth in MVP voting.
Matt Holliday's 2007 season was actually insane, and I'd be willing to bet the only reason he didn't win the MVP award is because of the Coors Field effect. He finished the season hitting .340/.405/.607 with 36 home runs and 137 RBIs. Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins won the award with a slash line of .296/.344/.531 with 30 home runs and 94 RBIs.
There's no reason Holliday shouldn't have won that award.
But it is what it is, and the Rockies still had a great season in 2007. They've matched that win total twice since but neither time has resulted in as much postseason success as when they went on to their first World Series in franchise history. Of course, they lost in four games to the Red Sox, but overall, it was still a great season.
We've got a few news items for you to look over on this Friday morning, so grab your next cup of coffee and take a look at what's going on right now in baseball.
Hundreds of Minor Leaguers cut
ESPN's Jeff Passan reported yesterday that hundreds of minor league players had been cut from their teams, with many more cuts expected in the coming days and weeks. His sources said many of these players would have been cut at the end of Spring Training, but the large amount of players being released now signals the worst for MiLB.
Minor League teams have wondered when or if they will have a 2020 season, and Passan reports that many have started laying off front office workers in anticipation of the season being canceled. Meanwhile, players who have not been released yet are anxiously waiting news from their club.
All of this comes just days after the Oakland A's decided to no longer pay their Minor League players.
Minor League Baseball may never look the same as MLB still plans to reduce the number of teams by contracting 42 franchises. Suffice it to say MiLB is in a really tough spot right now.
CPBL games face rainouts upon rainouts
If you listened to my interview with Mark Buckton of the Taiwan Times last week, you heard him say that it's currently the rainy season in the country. Due to that, the CPBL has struggled to get any games on the field recently.
Every game except for two was postponed last week, and they've had to postpone three so far this week. For a league that is trying to keep the momentum and popularity that it has gotten so far this year, that's not good.
With the KBO on ESPN these days and the NPB in Japan starting next month, the CPBL needs all the help they can get to keep viewers' attention, including help from Mother Nature.
ICYMI: New Jersey brewery takes dig at the Astros with new beer
If you didn't see my story on this yesterday, check it out here. A New Jersey brewery is releasing a new beer that makes fun of the Astros' cheating scandal, and fans can't get enough of it.
The Houston Astros are probably not too upset that the baseball season has been put on hold. All the talk has shifted from their cheating scandal to speculation on when the season will return and whether or not there will be baseball in 2020.
One craft brewery in New Jersey is trying to bring the Astros' talk back by releasing a new beer taking shots at the team's cheating ways.
Departed Soles in Jersey City released Trash Can Banger this week, an IPA obviously named after the way the Astros relayed incoming pitches to their batters. In a social media post full of Astros puns, the brewery unveiled the can, which is reminiscent of Houston's 1970s rainbow jerseys.
"Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little to Marwin the day, so we're up and at 'em a little earlier than we should be getting a new Hazy IPA in cans Justin time for a surprise Sunday release," the brewery posted on Instagram.
"Some of you may have gotten the Signs that this was coming today, but beer releases are like a pitcher's arsenal, and you never really know what's coming and when...unless, of course, you cheat."
If the beer name, can design and social media post weren't enough, the brewery announced that the new beer is dry hopped with 2017 grams per barrel of Galaxy and Strata hops. 2017 of course is the year in which the Astros won the World Series while operating their sign-stealing operation.
Even with all the craziness in the world right now, at least we can all still come together to take digs at the Astros.
We've gone through the NL East and NL Central in our Best Seasons series so far, so it's time to move on to the NL West. We'll start things off today with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Dbacks have a pretty short history as they entered the league as an expansion team in 1998. They made an immediate impact though, winning 100 games in 1999. Two years later, they won their first and so far only World Series over the New York Yankees.
Those two seasons are the obvious contenders for the best Dbacks season of all-time, but only one can take the crown. As I've said before, winning the World Series is not a criteria for a team's best season. I'm looking at the team that was on the field, and the best team doesn't always win the World Series.
So with that in mind, I'm taking 1999 as the best Diamondbacks team in history. Their 100-62 record is the best the team has ever had. The '01 team won 92 games for comparison.
The '99 team also performed better at the plate, batting .277/.347/.459 with 216 home runs. In '01, the Diamondbacks hit .267/.34`1/.442 with 208 home runs.
Everyone knows the 2001 Diamondbacks for their pitching prowess that consisted of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. The two aces finished first and second in Cy Young voting, respectively. They also won co-World Series MVP for their performances against the Yankees in the postseason.
Despite their successes on the mound in 2001, the 1999 team was slightly better. The Diamondbacks finished the 1999 season with a 3.77 ERA compared to a 3.87 ERA in 2001.
Curt Schilling wasn't yet with the team in '99, but Randy Johnson was, and his dominant season led to his second Cy Young Award. Johnson finished the 1999 season with a 2.48 ERA and 364 strikeouts.
The 1999 team had four All-Stars - Jay Bell, Matt Williams, Johnson and Luis Gonzalez - compared to three on the 2001 squad.
Any way you look at it, the 1999 team looks better than the 2001 Dbacks. Although the team clinched a championship in 2001, the product that was put on the field was better in 1999. And for the Diamondbacks to perform that well in just their second season of existence really says something about the management of the team.
MLB's economic proposal to the players union on Tuesday was not well received, with multiple players speaking out about the proposed pay cuts and the union saying that the proposal was discouraging.
The situation seems grim as it is getting harder to see how the two sides will come to an agreement. According to World Series champion pitcher Max Scherzer, it seems the league and the players are at an impasse.
"After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there's no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there's no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received," Scherzer said on Twitter.
"I'm glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB's economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information."
MLB is notorious for keeping its books private, which means it's impossible for the players, or anyone other than the owners, to know just how much MLB is bringing in, and how much the players should earn in a revenue-sharing system.
Unfortunately for fans, it looks more and more like the 2020 season is in danger of being entirely scrapped. Hopefully we'll see some progress in the negotiations soon, but nothing is for certain.
We wrap up our look at the best seasons by teams in the NL Central with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals, like multiple other teams in this division, have a long and storied history in Major League Baseball. Unlike the other NL Central teams, the Cardinals have been more successful.
St. Louis has the second-most World Series wins in MLB with 11 championships. That made it a little difficult to determine which of those seasons was the best in franchise history, but the decision came down to two seasons.
The Cardinals' two winningest seasons were 1942 and 1944, in which they won 106 and 105 games, respectively. They also won the World Series in both seasons, so either could have been selected as the best season in team history.
The selection came down to one player: Stan the Man Musial.
Musial played his first full season for the Cardinals in 1942, but it was 1943 when he started to become the legend that he is today. His 1943 season included his first of 24 All-Star selections and first of three NL MVP awards.
He followed that up with another MVP-worthy performance, batting .347/.440/.549 with 12 home runs and 94 RBIs in 1944. He led the league in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, hits and doubles. Musial earned his second All-Star appearance and placed fourth in MVP voting. (He should have won the award, but that's a whole other story.)
His 1944 season was one of his best, but he wasn't the only one. The entire Cardinals team played better in 1944 than 1942. If you compare the two seasons, the Cardinals had a higher batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in 1944. The team hit 100 home runs in 1944 compared to 60 in 1942.
The Cardinals had six members selected to the All-Star game in each season. The 1944 Cardinals received more awards recognition, however, with four players finishing in the top 10 of MVP voting. While I personally think Musial had a fantastic season and should have won the 1944 MVP, the award ultimately went to his teammate Marty Marion, who batted .267/.324/.362 with six home runs and 63 RBIs. (See what I mean? How did Musial lose out on the award to Marion? Musial's batting average was almost as high as Marion's slugging percentage.)
Along with those two, Walker Cooper and Mort Cooper also finished in the top 10 of MVP voting.
The Cardinals finished the season 105-49 and with 16 more wins than the next-best team, who happened to be the St. Louis Browns. In the all St. Louis World Series, the Cardinals prevailed 4-2, giving Musial his second of three World Series championships and cementing that year as the team's best in franchise history.
We put out a new episode of the podcast this morning, but due to the nature of podcasting, our recording schedule and the 24-hour news cycle, plenty of news has happened since we put together the episode. To get you caught up on everything you need to know, here are some morning news bullets.
MLBPA not happy with MLB's proposal
The MLB owners gave the players union their first real economic proposal yesterday, and suffice it to say the players are not happy. After weeks of rumors that the owners wanted revenue sharing, the plan they submitted includes the highest-paid players taking the most significant pay cuts.
See these tweets from ESPN's Jeff Passan for an explanation on how that would be put into effect.
Multiple reporters on Twitter have said that the players are not happy with this idea, with the New York Post's Joel Sherman saying "MLBPA sees what MLB offered today as massive paycuts on top of the half-of-year pay lost already. The union is discouraged by the offer."
Multiple reporters also mentioned that this is only the first proposal in a week full of negotiations, so fans shouldn't lost all hope yet.
Oakland A's to stop paying Minor Leaguers
As if the reduced paycuts suggested by the owners aren't bad enough, the Oakland A's have decided to completely stop paying their Minor League players, according to an email sent out by A's general manager David Forst.
In addition to the announcement that A's minor leaguers will no longer be paid, the email also says that they are still under contract with the team and are not permitted to perform baseball services for any other club. The whole thing is disgraceful, but that last part really drives it home. The A's will have a tough time coming back from this from a PR standpoint.
CPBL attendance limits to be lifted
The CPBL has been allowing fans at games for weeks now, starting with 1,000 fans per game and working up to 2,000 fans. Soon, teams will be allowed to have full attendance at games.
According to CPBL Stats on Twitter, the Taiwan CDC will lift gathering limitations on June 7. Taiwan has had 441 cases of COVID-19 with 416 recoveries and seven deaths. The country has gone 44 days with no new cases.
This is great news for the CPBL and the game of baseball, as it is another step back towards normality.
We're shifting gears today to talk about a team that's had a little more success. Yesterday's post took a look at the Milwaukee Brewers, and although they've had some good seasons, they still haven't clinched a World Series victory.
The Pirates, on the other hand, are one of the oldest teams in baseball and have had significantly more success than the Brewers. Pittsburgh has won nine National League pennants and five World Series titles since the team started play in 1882.
Despite their lack of recent success - the Pirates have only made the playoffs three times since 1993 - the team has a winning history. Unfortunately for them, most of that winning was done over 100 years ago. Of the Pirates 16 seasons with a .600 winning percentage or higher, nine of those seasons took place before 1920.
So you could say it's been a while since the Pirates have really been one of the best teams in MLB, which means it's also been a while since their best season in franchise history. That season took place in 1909, when the Pirates won 110 games and the World Series, their first championship in team history.
That Pirates team ranked third in batting average (.260), second in on-base percentage (.327) and first in slugging percentage (.353) during the 1909 season. They were second in the league in total home runs with a whopping 25 dingers. They also led the league in doubles (218) and triples (92). By that days standards, this was a high-powered offense.
The pitching staff wasn't as dominant, but they did post a 2.07 ERA, good for fourth in the league.
The MVP award wasn't around yet, but if it was, Honus Wagner would have been a contender. The Hall of Fame shortstop hit .339/.420/.489 with five home runs and 100 RBIs. He trailed only fellow Hall of Famer Ty Cobb in most categories that season, but he did lead the league in doubles with 39.
They finished the season 12 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, who they would go on to beat 4-3 in the World Series.
Now, there's no doubt that today's players are bigger, faster, stronger and all around better than at any point in history. It's a fair argument to say that any team today could beat the 1909 Pirates. If you put the 1909 Pirates on the field against, say, the 1991 Pirates, the '91 team would likely win that matchup.
But it's all relative to the respective era. If the players from the past had the knowledge, training and resources that modern players have, they would still be the all-time greats. You have to respect the players and teams of the past, and that's why the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates are the best team in franchise history, and they will be until another Pirates team wins more than 110 games.