Is the 1998 New York Yankees club considered the best Major League Baseball team of all-time? I can't say for certainty, but ESPN's Buster Olney seems to think so. Amazingly, three Yankees clubs ranked in the top four of his "Top 10 Teams in MLB History" list.
However, Olney also ranked the 1975 Reds team as the 5th-best team in baseball history. Good choice.
Here is what the baseball guru had to say about Spark Anderson's '75 crew:
They clinched a playoff spot in early September and won the NL West by 20 games, finishing the year at 108-54. Six of the eight guys in their everyday lineup had an OPS+ of 119 or better. Each Reds player through the middle of the diamond -- catcher Johnny Bench, second baseman Joe Morgan, shortstop Davey Concepcion and center fielder Cesar Geronimo -- won a Gold Glove award. And while the Reds didn't have the league's best pitching, theirs was pretty darned good. Manager Sparky Anderson -- known as Captain Hook -- relied heavily on his bullpen. The Reds had the fewest complete games (22) in the NL, and four Cincinnati relievers threw a whole lot of innings: Rawly Eastwick (90 innings), Pedro Borbon (125), Clay Carroll (87 1/3) and Will McEnaney (91).
Of the many great numbers generated by this group, this might be my favorite: Bench was 11-for-11 in stolen bases.Cincinnati followed up that season with another World Series title in 1976. To this day, they still remain the last National League franchise to win back-to-back world championships. The Yankees (surprising, right?) were the last MLB team to win back-to-back overall. In fact, they won three straight from 1998 to 2000.
A couple of fun facts from that banner year:
+ The Reds clinched a playoff berth on Sept. 7, which is the earliest date of any MLB team in a 162-game season
+ Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall were the radio broadcasters
+ Joe Morgan was named the National League's Most Valuable Player
+ Sparky Anderson was named the Associated Press NL Manager of the Year
+ Cincy finished 43.5 games up on the last-place Houston Astros. Forty-three and half!
+ Don Gullett threw eight complete games! In comparison, Reds starters combined to throw just nine total in 2012