Giants’ string of World Series wins deepens my appreciation for Yankee history

1 11 2014

How great have the Yankees been through baseball history?

Only one other National League team has ever done what the San Francisco Giants just did, winning their third championship in five years. That team was the St. Louis Cardinals of 1942, ’44 and ’46. So that’s two National League teams ever with three championships in five years.

In the American League, the Oakland A’s won three in a row from 1972-74. The Boston Red Sox won three World Series in four years, 1915, ’16 and ’18. And they won three in five, on the other end of that pair: 1912, ’15 and ’16. The Philadelphia A’s also won three World Series in four years, 1910, ’11 and ’13.

That’s it, twice by the A’s, two overlapping sets of three championships in five or less years for the Red Sox and once each by the Cardinals and Giants. That’s six times it’s happened in baseball history, five if you count the Red Sox only once. The Red Sox are the only team with more than three championships bunched closely enough to have two overlapping sets of three wins in five years.

Then there are the Yankees:

  • Four championships in five years: 1996, ’98, 99 and 2000. No other franchise ever did that.
  • Three championships in five years: 1958, ’61 and ’62.
  • Three championships in five years: 1952, ’53 and ’56.
  • Overlapping with the stretch above, five championships in five years: 1949-’53. Again, no other franchise ever did that.
  •  Overlapping with that stretch above, four championships in five years: 1947, 1949-51.
  • Three in five years: 1939, ’41 and ’43.
  • Overlapping with one of the years above, four a row, only topped by the later Yankee stretch of five in a row: 1936-39.

Interestingly, the Babe Ruth Yankees won four World Series, but never three in five years. They won three in six years twice, each set including their 1927-28 back-to-back titles.

If you count overlapping stretches of three crowns in five years, the Yankees have had seven stretches and the rest of baseball has had six. If you don’t count overlapping stretches separately, the Yankees still have four. And all of them but the ’58-’62 stretch won more than three in a stretch of years that never counted less than three in five years:

  • Four titles in five years from ’96 to 2000.
  • Seven titles in 10 years from ’47 to ’56.
  • Six titles in eight years from ’36 to ’43.

None of those periods of dominance was matched by any other franchise. The closest any other franchise has come to matching any of those stretches of dominance, besides that early-1900s stretch when the Red Sox won four championships in seven seasons, was the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers with four titles in 11 years from 1955 to 1965. Next would be the St. Louis Cardinals with five in 16 years from 1931 to 1946 or four in 13 years from 1934 to 1946.

And, if we’re going to count stretches as long as 10 years, we need to include the Babe Ruth team with four titles in 10 years from ’23 to ’32, which only that Red Sox franchise matched. (The David Ortiz Red Sox won three in 10 years, from 2004 to 2013.)

And if you’re going to stretch your measure of dominance into double digits, here’s the measuring stick: The Yankees won 11 titles in 14 years from 1947 to 1962.

The Giants have to win the next two years to match the reign of the Derek Jeter/Mariano Rivera Yankees.

And that list of Yankee championship clusters doesn’t include the 1977-78 Yankees. Their achievement of back-to-back championships was exceeded among non-Yankee teams only by the  1972-4 Oakland A’s and matched only by these other teams:

  • 1992-3 Toronto Blue Jays
  • 1975-6 Cincinnati Reds
  • 1929-30 Philadelphia A’s
  • 1921-22 New York Giants
  • 1915-16 Boston Red Sox
  • 1907-8 Chicago Cubs

That’s it. The sixth-best period of dominance in Yankee history was never matched in the proud histories of the St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates or Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, not to mention lots of other teams with less-proud histories.

Congratulations to the Giants. They have achieved a level of sustained excellence that’s rare in baseball history. This was a disappointing season to be a Yankee fan. But the Giants deepened my appreciation for what the Yankees have done for their fans through the generations.

Source note: Facts for this post came from the post-season records of Baseball-Reference.com.

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