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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Honus Wagner, star of the 1902 Pittsburg Pirates. (Photo by Photo File/Getty Images)
Honus Wagner, star of the 1902 Pittsburg Pirates. (Photo by Photo File/Getty Images) /

1902 Pittsburg Pirates, 103-36, .741

.700 Club rank: 2

As good as the 1909 Pirates were, the 1902 team may have been better. Back in the days when the city still spelled its name without an “h” on the end, the Pirates swept through the National League season, winning by a record 27 and one-half games.

More than a century later, that remains the record for largest margin of victory.

Also managed by Clarke and led by Wagner, that Pirates team made a mockery of the National League race. Assuming first place for good 10 days into the season, Pittsburg built a double-digit lead by mid-June.

The Pirates won 10 straight in early May, reeled off another eight straight in early July, and won a final eight straight in late September, by which time the pennant had long since been decided.

In fact the Pirates clinched the pennant when they beat Brooklyn 5-3 on September 2, more than a month before the season’s scheduled end.

Nobody gave the Pirates any trouble. They rolled up winning percentages of .650 or better against all seven of their National League competitors, their most defeats — seven in 20 games — coming at the hands of Chicago.

Almost unbeatable in Pittsburg, where they were 56-15 nearly outscoring opponents two-to-one, they were almost as good on the road. The Pirates won 46 of their 67 road games, outscoring their hosts by a cumulative 365-233.

Wagner batted .330, but teammate Ginger Beaumont won the batting title at .357. Clarke hit .316.

Jack Chesbro, a Hall of Fame right-hander, won 28 times against just six defeats with a 2.17 ERA in 286 innings. Deacon Phillippe and Jesse Tannehill also won 20 games.

Unfortunately, this great team did not get a chance to prove itself in a World Series as that event would not be established for one more season.