The Washington Nationals had a great run in 2012 before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series. It's amazing they went that far, considering the Nats finished in third place in the N.L. East with a record of 80-81 last season.
Now imagine if the Nationals had won the World Series. It wouldn't have been unprecedented. There have been several shocking World Series winners in the history of Major League Baseball. Here's a look back at five of them dating back to 1960. Can you think of any others?
2003 Florida Marlins -- The 2003 Marlins, who finished the previous season with a record of 79-83, started the year 16-22 under manager Jeff Torborg. He was replaced by Jack McKeon, who led the team to a record of 75-49 the rest of the way. The red-hot Marlins went on to beat the San Franciso Giants and Chicago Cubs in the playoffs before slaying the mighty New York Yankees in the World Series.
2002 Anaheim Angels -- It must have been divine intervention. The 2001 Angels finished with a record of 75-87 and in third place in the American League West. But the Halos 2002 went 99-63, a 24-game improvement, before overpowering the Yankees and Minnesota Twins in the playoffs. They completed a storybook season by defeating the San Francisco Giants in the World Series in seven games.
1987 Minnesota Twins -- The 1986 Twins finished 20 games under .500 (71-91). One year later, they went won the A.L. West before defeating the Cards in seven games to win the Fall Classic. How'd they do it? Well, the Twins' lineup featured Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett and a rotation led by Frank Viola. Plus, they were immortal at the hitter-friendly Metrodome with a regular season record of 56-25.
1969 New York Mets -- The 1968 Mets finished in ninth place in the National League with a record of 73-89. One year later, they went 100-62, a stunning, 27-game turnaround. There was no stopping the "Miracle Mets" from there, as they swept the Atlanta Braves to win the N.L. pennant and defeated the powerhouse Baltimore Orioles in five games for the franchise's first World Series title.
1960 Pittsburgh Pirates -- Baseball fans remember (or have read about) Bill Mazeroski's walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series to beat the heavily-favored Yankees. But did you know the Pirates were one of the worst teams in baseball during the mid-50s? They weren't very good the year before they won their third World Series either. The Buccos were 78-76 in 1959.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who roots for the New York Mets (and any team that is playing the New York Yankees). An avid fantasy baseball player and fan of Major League Baseball, his games of choice growing up were Strat-O-Matic and MicroLeague Baseball.
- Sports & Recreation
- Major League Baseball
- Major League Baseball
- Minnesota Twins