Who Won the 90s?

I don’t care what ESPN says, the Braves were the team of the 90s.  That crown was placed on the collective heads of the Yankees at the end of the decade as they won their third World Series.  Yes, that’s impressive, and as much as it pains me to say it,those Yankee teams were great teams.  Those were the days before George Steinbrenner decide to “make it rain” with huge contracts for big time free agents.  But I digress…..


The world series titles are a compelling argument, and it would seem as if the debate comes down to simple math: Yankees won three titles, the Braves won one.  But if you’re going strictly by championships, that means the second most successful team in the 90’s was the…..wait for it….Toronto Blue Jays.   The Blue Jays won back to back championships in ’92 and ’93 and won 90+ games three seasons in a row. But from 1994-1999, they only had a .477 winning percentage.  I’ve never heard anyone argue that the Blue Jays should be considered runner up for bragging rights in the 1990s.  So perhaps the decision should be made with more evidence than just the titles. 


With that in mind, let’s look at some stats for both the Yankees and Braves from 1990-1999.   




Winning %

Playoff Appearances

Division Titles

League Pennants

WS Titles















The Braves have better numbers than the Yankees in each of those categories except the World Series Championships.  Critics will also point out that that the Braves lost to the Yankees in both of their postseason matchups, compiling only a 2-8 record in the two series.  But most players will tell you that it’s harder to win over a 162 games season than it is to win a best of 7 series.


As I said before, the Yankees had some great teams and there’s no doubt they had historic success in the last half of the decade.  But the Braves won more games, won their division every year, and made it to five of the eight World Series played in the 1990s.  Their success each year became assumed. 


That’s dominance. 


They may not have the rings, but they have the stats.  They were the team of the 90s. 


10 Responses to “Who Won the 90s?”

  1. But if you asked players what they would prefer – solid regular season records or championships – which do you think they would choose? I’d guess the latter.

  2. NathanJZacharias Says:

    And if you were to ask them if they would prefer to have a shot at 3 world series or 5, they would say 5. The continual solid seasons is what makes that possible. But ultimately the issue of which they would prefer is besides the point. I’m not saying they were the best team of the decade because of what the players said, I’m saying they were the best team statistically. I just used what players said as a way of illustrating how much harder it is to make it to the playoffs every year then it is to win once you’re there. Rock Chalk Wolgie.

  3. Chris Kent Says:

    This line of thought would lead us to believe that the Buffalo Bills were the team of the 90’s for the NFL. 4 consecutive Super Bowls but no rings.

  4. NathanJZacharias Says:

    No, it would make the 49ers the team of the 90s because while winning only one championship, they made it to the playoffs 8 times and won an NFL best 113 games from 1990-1999. That’s 12 more wins then the Cowboys, who I’m sure most people would consider the team of the 90s.

    But here’s the thing, that example is more different then you think because the Cowboys and 49ers are at least statistically close throughout the decade. For one thing, they both had the same number of playoff appearances. But the Yankees didn’t show up in the playoffs until 1995. By that point the Braves had won 3 divisions and made it to two World Series. They won the most games and had the most playoff appearances from 1990-1999. They had four 100+ win seasons that decade. The Yankees had one. As I pointed out, the Braves have the Yankees beaten statistically in every category but the World Championships.

    The point I’m trying to make is that winning the most championships shouldn’t automatically crown the a team the team of the decade because the best team does not always win. And like I said, if you base your decision on that, then you have to say the Blue Jays were the second most successful team of the decade. You have to look at all of the information, not just one stat.

    Take the 2006 Cardinals, for example. They got hot at the right time and played great baseball in the playoffs. The Tigers got cold after breezing through the first two rounds. The Cards won the Series handily, but no one would say they were the better team. Anything can happen in the playoffs.

    To me, when looking at success in a decade, you have to look at the team that gave themselves the most opportunities to win it all by winning during the season. There’s no question that in the 1990s, the Braves were that team in baseball. Sometimes that team is the one that goes on to win the most championships. In the Braves’ case, that unfortunately didn’t happen.

  5. Chris Kent Says:

    I will concede that statistically your assertions are true. From a business owners standpoint, successful teams regardless of championships still draw crowds and generates revenue. However, teams of the decades will always be counted by championships because that is the ultimate goal of every team at the beginning of every off season is to win championships, not a shot at championship, not winning more games, but winning at the right time. The NY Giants are a perfect example. They are champions because they won when it counted even though statistically they were the inferior team when you look at the entire season.

  6. In response to Chris – yeah, the G-men got hot, but no one will call them a dominant team or the team of a decade. That title will go to the Patriots for their ability to control both the regular season, their division, their conference and ultimately the Super Bowl. Their dominance is complete – start to finish – and is one of the best examples of a true TOD.

    And the only reason the Yankees are considered the team of the decade is A) Yank-o-centric East Coast Media bias and B) Derek Jeter and other assorted pretty boys that the Yank-o-centric East Coast Media fell in love with.

    Oh, yeah – they also play in New York, which automatically makes them better than everyone else.

  7. nathanelwell Says:

    Ah the Patriots are brought into discussion… Jason, the real question for you is, would the Patriots be as dominant if they wouldn’t have consciously cheated for so many years? The other Nate will have something to say about that in a few days…

  8. Chris Kent Says:

    Stats are good for filling seats and earning a spot in the Hall of Fame (Barry Sanders). It’s more accurate to say that the team that wins the “Team of the Year” (i.e. Wold Series champions) the most in a decade should also be named “Team of the Decade.” Otherwise it starts to look like the BSC Rankings.

    My point with the Giants wasn’t that they are going to be a team of the decade, however they were the “Team of the Year” because they won when it counted in games it counted (against a statistically better team who also cheated), not because they had better stats.

  9. My money’s on the Expos and the Lions. I’ll (no, we’ll) be waiting for a post on that, Nates.

  10. Hey Nate – as the saying goes, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.” Actually, there’s no way to answer that question. I think the judge of the Patriots legacy will be how they perform this year. If they continue to dominate the league this year, then I think the question will be answered. Should there be an asterisk next to their tainted little legacy? Darn tootin’.

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