The best of the best: Ranking the 12 winningest teams in MLB history

NEW YORK - 1927. (L-R) Babe Ruth, outfielder, Miller Huggins, manager, and Lou Gehrig, first baseman, all of the New York Yankees, take a break at the batting cage before a game in Yankee Stadium before a game in the 1927 season. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
NEW YORK - 1927. (L-R) Babe Ruth, outfielder, Miller Huggins, manager, and Lou Gehrig, first baseman, all of the New York Yankees, take a break at the batting cage before a game in Yankee Stadium before a game in the 1927 season. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) /
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The World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates appear in a colorful team photo collage for 1909. Fred Clarke, appears in the top row, just left of center, and Honus Wagnr is in the bottom row, just left of center. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
The World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates appear in a colorful team photo collage for 1909. Fred Clarke, appears in the top row, just left of center, and Honus Wagnr is in the bottom row, just left of center. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) /

1909 Pittsburgh Pirates, 110-42, .724

.700 Club rank: 3

The Pirates of the first decade of the 20th Century are doubtless the best team nobody remembers today.

The 1909 club, the fourth Pirate champion of that decade, won a sensational pennant race over the three-time defending champion Cubs, who won 104 games. But that wasn’t enough to overcome Pittsburgh’s deep pitching plus Honus Wagner.

At 4.5 runs per game, Pittsburgh led the majors in offense in 1909. The Pirates also led the National League in defense, allowing just 2.9 runs per game.

Wagner, although well into his 30s, remained the linchpin. He batted .339 to win his seventh of an eventual eight batting titles, also leading the league in doubles (39), triples (19), stolen bases (53), RBIs (100), on base average (.420), slugging (.489), and – naturally – OPS (.909).

His mid-order cohort and fellow future Hall of Famer, player-manager Fred Clarke  hit. 287.

Top to bottom, the Pirates ran teams wild. Seven of eight regulars stole at least 10 bases, led by Wagner and Clarke (31).

But it was the pitching staff that gave Pittsburgh its edge. Howie Camnitz won 25 games, Vic Willie won 22, and Lefty Leifeld added 19, all three with ERAs below 2.50. That was nothing unusual in Pittsburgh, where the staff ERA was 2.07.

The Pirates and Detroit tigers fought evenly through six World Series games before Pittsburgh blew open the deciding seventh game. With rookie Babe Adams allowing just six hits and holding ty Cobb hitless, Pittsburgh won 8-0 to claim the city’s first World Series victory.