100-win teams ... that finished 2nd

October 1st, 2023

If you win 100 games in a season, you're a powerhouse team. But you're not always a first-place team.

Twelve times in MLB history, a 100-win team has been relegated to second place by an even stronger division champion or pennant winner.

Such a thing has only happened six times in the divisional era, which began in 1969. Before that, going back to 1903, the year of the first World Series, six additional 100-win teams finished second in a pennant race.

Here's the full list of 12 -- every 100-game winner that finished in second place since the beginning of the Major League Baseball postseason.

2022 Mets: 101-61
Finished 2nd to: Braves (101-61)

The Mets got out to a red-hot start and looked like a shoo-in to take home the NL East. New York's division lead was as large as 10 1/2 games. But the Braves fought back with an even hotter final two-thirds of the season. From June 1 on (the day they started a 14-game winning streak), Atlanta went 78-33 -- the best record in baseball over that period and 11 1/2 games better than the Mets. Trailing by a game with six left on the schedule last weekend, the Braves swept the Mets to clinch the season series, 10-9, and all-but take home the division. On the second-to-last day of the season, the Braves made it official with a 2-1 win over the Marlins to complete the incredible comeback.

2021 Dodgers: 106-56
Finished 2nd to: Giants (107-55)

The Dodgers and Giants battled for the NL West title until the very last day of the season, when the Giants finally clinched over their longtime rivals with a win in Game 162. Los Angeles and San Francisco finished with the two best records in baseball, but the Dodgers, reigning World Series champions, were the ones who were sent into the winner-take-all Wild Card Game. Los Angeles won that on Chris Taylor's walk-off home run against the Cardinals -- and then got the last laugh against the Giants by beating them in a dramatic five-game Division Series.

2018 Yankees: 100-62
Finished 2nd to: Red Sox (108-54)

The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry reignited in full force in 2017, when both teams made the playoffs for the first time since 2009. In 2018, it heated up even further. Not only were the Yankees and Red Sox both playoff teams, they both won at least 100 games. But only one team could be the AL East champion, and that team was Boston. So the Bronx Bombers -- led by the slugging duo of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, star rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andújar, ace starters Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka and one of the deepest bullpens ever assembled -- had to settle for a Wild Card berth. The Yankees and Red Sox faced off in the postseason, and Boston emerged the winner on its way to a World Series championship.

2001 A's: 102-60
Finished 2nd to: Mariners (116-46)

The 2001 A's had plenty of star power -- the dynamic starting pitching trio of Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito, plus Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez powering the offense. Giambi (.342 batting average, 38 home runs, 120 RBIs) finished second in AL MVP voting, and Mulder (21-8, 3.45 ERA) finished second for the AL Cy Young Award. It took a historically great Mariners team to prevent Oakland from winning the AL West. Seattle tied the MLB regular season wins record, led by Ichiro in his breakout MLB debut. At least Oakland still made the playoffs, unlike the other teams on this list, who had the misfortune of playing before the Wild Card era. The A's lost a dramatic five-game ALDS to the Yankees.

1993 Giants: 103-59
Finished 2nd to: Braves (104-58)

In 1993, Barry Bonds, the reigning NL MVP with the Pirates, left Pittsburgh to sign with the Giants. San Francisco immediately went from a 90-loss team to a 100-win team. Bonds won the first of his five MVP Awards in San Francisco, hitting .336 with a Major League-leading 46 home runs and an NL-best 123 RBIs. While Bonds was piling up those numbers, the Giants were battling the Braves in the NL West division race. On the final day of the regular season, the two teams were tied at 103-58, and the Giants had just won 13 of 15 games to pull even. But in Game 162, the Giants lost to the Dodgers, and the Braves beat the Rockies to win the division by a single game. The Giants missed the postseason and became the only NL team in the divisional era to win 100-plus games and not win its division.

1980 Orioles: 100-62
Finished 2nd to: Yankees (103-59)

The 1980 season was the last time the Orioles reached the century mark in wins. But they ended the season with nothing to show for it. The O's were in striking distance of the Yankees entering the stretch run, just 1 1/2 games back when September began, but the Yankees never faltered. New York won the AL East by three games, even though Baltimore took the season series, 7-6. This Orioles team had more than one Hall of Famer -- a 24-year-old Eddie Murray anchored the lineup, hitting .300 with 32 homers and 116 RBIs, and a veteran Jim Palmer was still in the rotation, going 16-10 with a 3.98 ERA in 224 innings.

1962 Dodgers: 102-63
Finished 2nd to: Giants (103-62)

A thrilling pennant race between the rival Dodgers and Giants ended with the two teams tied at 101-61 after 162 games. That forced a three-game tiebreaker series to determine who would represent the NL in the World Series against the Yankees. The first two games were split -- the Giants knocked Sandy Koufax out early in Game 1, but the Dodgers pulled out a walk-off win in Game 2. In the winner-take-all Game 3, Los Angeles held a 4-2 lead entering the ninth inning, but the Giants rallied for four runs to win the pennant. Though the Dodgers' season had some high points -- Koufax threw his first no-hitter, Don Drysdale won the Cy Young Award, and Maury Wills stole 104 bases to win MVP -- there was no postseason berth waiting at the end. But Los Angeles would win the World Series the next year.

1961 Tigers: 101-61
Finished 2nd to: Yankees (109-53)

The 1961 Tigers won 101 games, but not only did they finish second in the AL, the Yankees ran away with the pennant. New York went 109-53, finishing eight games ahead of Detroit. The Tigers entered September only 1 1/2 games back, but they lost their first eight games of the month -- including a sweep at the hands of the Yanks, who won their first 12 games of September to open up an 11 1/2-game lead over Detroit. Even the star efforts of Norm Cash, who won the batting title with a .361 average and also belted 41 home runs and drove in 132 runs, weren't enough. The Yankees had MVP Roger Maris, who hit 61 homers to break Babe Ruth's single-season record, and runner-up Mickey Mantle, who hit 54 of his own.

1954 Yankees: 103-51
Finished 2nd to: Indians (111-43)

This season of 100-win misfortune came on the heels of the Yankees' record five straight World Series wins from 1949-53. In 1954, the Indians set what was then an AL record with 111 wins, breaking the '27 Yankees' mark by one. Those 111 wins delivered Cleveland the AL pennant by eight games over the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees had the AL MVP in Yogi Berra, who hit .307 with 22 home runs and 125 RBIs, and also got strong seasons from Whitey Ford (16-8, 2.82 ERA) and a young Mickey Mantle (.300 batting average, 27 homers, 102 RBIs). But they had to wait two whole years until 1956 for their next World Series title.

1942 Dodgers: 104-50
Finished 2nd to: Cardinals (106-48)

The 1942 Dodgers had a 10-game lead in the NL as late as Aug. 5, but the Cardinals mounted a comeback over the final two months of the season to top Brooklyn by two games in the pennant race. St. Louis took three of four games from Brooklyn -- two of which were walk-off wins -- in a late-August series, then won the clubs' final two meetings in mid-September to tie the Dodgers in the standings. The Cards passed the Dodgers the next day, and even though Brooklyn closed the season on an eight-game winning streak, there was little they could do because the Cardinals won 12 of their final 13 games.

1915 Tigers: 100-54
Finished 2nd to: Red Sox (101-50)

The 1915 Tigers had Ty Cobb in his prime -- Cobb had a Major League-best 208 hits and 96 stolen bases, and his .369 batting average won him his ninth straight batting title and was part of a run of 12 batting titles in 13 seasons from 1907-19. But it wasn't enough to get them to the World Series that year. The Red Sox edged Detroit by 2 1/2 games for the AL pennant, led by Hall of Famer Tris Speaker and, of course, pitcher Babe Ruth. The Babe went 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA that year. He also hit a team-high four home runs.

1909 Cubs: 104-49
Finished 2nd to: Pirates (110-42)

This was the year that started the Cubs' 108-year World Series drought. The 1909 Cubs were reigning World Series champions, and they had a stacked team that included Hall of Famer Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown (27-9 with a 1.31 ERA in 342 2/3 innings) and the Joe Tinker-Johnny Evers-Frank Chance double-play combination of poetic fame. But despite Chicago's 104 wins, the Pirates took the pennant by 6 1/2 games, winning 110 games of their own. It wasn't a particularly close race, as the Cubs never got closer than 4 1/2 games back of Pittsburgh in the final month of the season. Little did the Cubs know that their World Series title the year before would be their last for more than a century.