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Most Dominant Postseason Teams Of Wild Card Era

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Alex Cora and Nathan Eovaldi (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Some fans lament the introduction of the wild card in 1995 because it cheapens the regular-season standings and enables weaker teams to upset stronger ones in a short series.

That's one way to look at it.

The flip side: Winning three short series rather than one or two requires a higher degree of skill, concentration or—quite possibly—luck. Regardless, it's easier to win one playoff series, as was the case through 1968, than it is to navigate two rounds or now three rounds of playoffs and exit the tournament as World Series champions.

We now have 24 years of data for the three-round postseason format, and because the 2018 Red Sox won at such a high rate—including an 11-3 romp through the postseason—we decided to see where they stood. So we ranked the top 10 most dominant postseason teams of the Wild Card Era.

Our criteria were simple. First, a team must win the World Series to be considered. Then, we used three factors to determine each team's dominance: (1) regular-season winning percentage, (2) postseason winning percentage, and (3) postseason opponents' winning percentage during the regular season.

Postseason opponents are listed with regular-season win totals.

(1) 1999 Yankees
Season Record: 98-64 (.605)
Postseason Record: 11-1 (.917)
Postseason Opponents: Rangers, 95; Red Sox, 94; Braves, 103 (.601)

This Yankees team won 16 fewer regular-season games than the more famous 1998 edition, but the 1999 team shined brighter in the postseason. They lost only once—Game 3 of the ALCS to the Red Sox—while defeating three quality opponents.

(2) 2005 White Sox
Season Record: 99-63 (.611)
Postseason Record: 11-1 (.917)
Postseason Opponents: Red Sox, 95; Angels, 95; Astros, 89 (.574)

Perhaps the most overlooked great team of the Wild Card Era, the 2005 White Sox swept the defending-champion Red Sox in the ALDS, then dropped the ALCS opener to the Angels before reeling off eight straight wins.

(3) 1998 Yankees
Season Record: 114-48 (.704)
Postseason Record: 11-2 (.846)
Postseason Opponents: Rangers, 88; Indians, 89; Padres, 98 (.566)

The 1998 Yankees set a since-broken AL record with 114 wins, but the Indians put a scare into them in the ALDS by taking a two-games-to-one lead. The Yankees ultimately advanced to the World Series, where they met a Padres team that had defeated 100-win Astros and Braves teams in the NL playoffs.

(4) 2018 Red Sox
Season Record: 108-54 (.667)
Postseason Record: 11-3 (.786)
Postseason Opponents: Yankees, 100; Astros, 103; Dodgers, 92 (.606)

The Red Sox capped a season in which they set a franchise record with 108 wins by cruising through the playoffs. They took one loss in each round and knocked off a pair of 100-win teams in the AL playoffs, including the defending-champion Astros.

(5) 2004 Red Sox
Season Record: 98-64 (.605)
Postseason Record: 11-3 (.786)
Postseason Opponents: Angels, 92; Yankees, 101; Cardinals, 105 (.613)

The 2004 Red Sox are famous for breaking the franchise's 86-year World Series championship drought and also for overcoming a three-games-to-none deficit against the Yankees in the ALCS. They remain the only team ever to dig out of an 0-3 hole in Major League Baseball playoff history.

(6) 1995 Braves
Season Record*: 101-61 (.625)
Postseason Record: 11-3 (.786)
Postseason Opponents*: Rockies, 87; Reds, 96; Indians, 113 (.582)

Featuring Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz at the peak of their powers, the 1995 Braves were the best run-prevention team in baseball. They defeated the Indians, the best run-creation team in baseball, in a six-game World Series, providing the dynastic 1990s Braves with their lone title.

* Records prorated to 162 games. The 1995 season was shortened to 144 games because of the players' strike.

(7) 2007 Red Sox
Season Record: 96-66 (.593)
Postseason Record: 11-3 (.786)
Postseason Opponents: Angels, 94; Indians, 96; Rockies, 90 (.575)

Like the 2004 team, the 2007 Red Sox overcame adversity in the ALCS, where they trailed the Indians three games to one before reeling off three straight wins in which the allowed just five runs to Cleveland. A World Series sweep of the 90-win Rockies was anticlimactic.

(8) 2008 Phillies
Season Record: 92-70 (.568)
Postseason Record: 11-3 (.786)
Postseason Opponents: Brewers, 90; Dodgers, 84; Rays, 97 (.558)

A homegrown Phillies core began to find its footing in the 2008 postseason, which they cruised through by losing only once in each round. Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were joined by third-year lefthander Cole Hamels, who claimed MVP honors in the NLCS and World Series by going 4-0, 1.80 in five postseason starts.

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(9) 2009 Yankees
Season Record: 103-59 (.636)
Postseason Record: 11-4 (.733)
Postseason Opponents: Twins, 87; Angels, 97; Phillies, 93 (.569)

The 2009 Yankees cruised to a major league-leading 103 wins, then leaned on a three-man rotation of CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett to carry them through October. Free agent imports Sabathia, Burnett and Mark Teixeira helped the franchise's "core four" of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Pettitte make one last World Series title run.

(10) 2002 Angels
Season Record: 99-63 (.611)
Postseason Record: 11-5 (.688)
Postseason Opponents: Yankees, 103; Twins, 94; Giants, 95 (.605)

The Angels needed seven games to defeat the Giants in the World Series, but they cruised through the AL playoffs, dropping only one game apiece to the Yankees and Twins. They receive bonus points for playing a rigorous slate of postseason opponents, including the Yankees, who won the AL pennant in every other season but this one between 1998 and 2003.

(11) 2010 Giants
Season Record: 92-70 (.568)
Postseason Record: 11-4 (.733)
Postseason Opponents: Braves, 91; Phillies, 97; Rangers, 90 (.572)

Winning the World Series isn't as easy as the 2010 Giants' remarkable rookie battery of Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner made it look. This Giants team had the highest postseason winning percentage of the decade until the 2018 Red Sox went 11-3 in October.

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