The 2001 Mariners' 116 wins have stood the test of time. In the two decades since that historic season in Seattle, the 2018 Red Sox have come the closest to sniffing that record, with 108 wins during their World Series-winning campaign.
That Seattle club shows that a historic regular season doesn't always culminate in a World Series title but still stands as a great accomplishment in its own right. With that in mind, here is a recap of each club's season in which it compiled its most wins.
As we enter the final two weeks of 2021, at least two clubs appear poised to set new records. Both the division-leading Brewers and Rays are in great position, while the Dodgers and Giants -- battling each other for the NL West crown -- both retain at least an outside shot to do so.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Year: 1985 | Record: 99-62
The '85 Jays won the franchise's first division title as they edged the Yankees in the AL East. That sent them into an AL Championship Series matchup against the Royals. In the first year of a seven-game LCS, Toronto and Kansas City needed all seven. The Blue Jays held a 3-1 lead, but the Royals rallied to win the series in Game 7 and went on to win the World Series too.
Year: 1969 | Record: 109-53
In the first year of the Divisional Era, the Orioles rolled to a franchise-record 109 wins behind the Hall of Fame trio of Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer. They also had AL Cy Young Award-winner Mike Cuellar and the runner-up for the AL MVP Award, Boog Powell. In the inaugural ALCS, the O's swept the Twins, but they fell to the Miracle Mets in the World Series.
Year: 2008 | Record: 97-65
After a decade of being lovable losers, the Rays vaulted into contention in 2008. Under manager Joe Maddon, and with veterans like Carlos Pena and James Shields and rookies Evan Longoria and David Price, the Rays won the AL East and the AL pennant, making it to the World Series for the first time.
Year: 2018 | Record: 108-54
Under first-year manager Alex Cora, and with free-agent acquisition J.D. Martinez and AL MVP Award winner Mookie Betts leading the charge, Boston dominated its way to the AL East title by eight games. The club's success in a season loaded with juggernauts in the AL -- its division housed three clubs with 90 wins, and it defeated the 103-win Astros in the ALCS -- was all the more a testament to Boston's dominance. The Red Sox lost just three games that postseason, one in each round, while picking up their fourth title since snapping the Curse of the Bambino in '04.
Year: 1998 | Record: 114-48
Regarded as one of the greatest teams of all time, the 1998 Yankees set a then-AL record with 114 wins. Behind the Core Four of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, and with Joe Torre at the helm, they steamrolled their way to a World Series title, sweeping the Padres in the Fall Classic. An honorable mention goes to the 1927 Yankees -- another of the greatest teams in history, led by Babe Ruth (in his 60-homer season) and Lou Gehrig -- who went 110-44 and actually had a slightly higher winning percentage than the '98 team (.714 vs. .704) in a shorter season, while also sweeping the World Series.
Year: 1954 | Record: 111-43
The '54 Indians hold the AL's single-season record for winning percentage at .721. Led by Hall of Famers Larry Doby, Early Wynn and Bob Lemon, they cruised to the pennant even with the Yankees winning 103 games behind them. But in the World Series, they were swept by the Giants -- a Fall Classic that featured maybe the most iconic play in baseball history: Willie Mays' "The Catch" in center field at the Polo Grounds.
Year: 1977 | Record: 102-60
Led by Hall of Famer George Brett, the '77 Royals established a franchise record with 102 wins en route to the AL West title. They advanced to the ALCS, where they faced another 100-win team in the Yankees, who defeated Kansas City in five games before going on to win the World Series, thanks to Reggie Jackson becoming Mr. October.
Year: 1984 | Record: 104-58
The 1984 Tigers has one of the best starts ever to a season, going 35-5 in their first 40 games, and they never looked back. Detroit led the AL East wire-to-wire, set a franchise record with 104 wins and beat the Padres in five games to win the World Series. Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, who were each enshrined to the Hall of Fame in 2018, led the way in the lineup and the rotation, respectively, and reliever Willie Hernandez won both the AL Cy Young Award and MVP Award. The '84 team doesn't have the highest winning percentage in Detroit's history -- the '34 Tigers (101-53), '15 Tigers (100-54) and '09 Tigers (98-54) all edged them -- but only the '84 Tigers won the World Series out of that group.
Year: 1965 | Record: 102-60
The '65 Twins brought the franchise its first AL pennant after moving to Minnesota in '61. Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva and AL MVP Award-winner Zoilo Versalles led the Twins into the World Series against the Dodgers, but they were bested in a seven-game thriller thanks to the heroics of Sandy Koufax, who famously did not pitch in Game 1 on Yom Kippur but went on to throw shutouts in Game 5 and Game 7. The two other Twins teams of note (pre-move to Minnesota) for the purposes here were the '33 Senators (99-53) and '25 Senators (96-55), who had the two best winning percentages in franchise history.
Year: 1917 | Record: 100-54
The only 100-game winner in White Sox franchise history was the '17 team. (The World Series-winning '05 team is second with 99 wins.) Led by the dominant duo of Eddie Cicotte and Red Faber atop the starting rotation, and with the likes of Eddie Collins and Shoeless Joe Jackson in the lineup, Chicago won the AL pennant and the World Series, beating the Giants in six games.
Year: 2008 | Record: 100-62
The team with the most wins in Angels history is not the '02 World Series champion team, which won 99 games, but the '08 team, which is the Angels' only 100-game winner. Francisco Rodriguez saved 62 of those 100 wins, setting the Major League single-season saves record. With a lineup led by Vladimir Guerrero, midseason acquisition Mark Teixeira and Torii Hunter, and a rotation fronted by Ervin Santana, the Angels won the AL West before falling to the Red Sox in the ALDS.
Year: 2019 | Record: 107-55
Even after back-to-back berths in the ALCS, including the '17 title, the summer of '19 might have been the most memorable for baseball in Houston. The starting pitching tandem of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole were neck-and-neck in the race for the AL Cy Young Award all summer, Alex Bregman made a remarkable late push for the AL MVP Award and Yordan Alvarez was the AL's best rookie.
Year: 1931 | Record: 107-45
The A's were still in Philadelphia when they set their single-season wins mark. Under legendary manager Connie Mack, the '31 A's had a dominant lineup led by the Hall of Fame trio of Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Cochrane. But their best player was Lefty Grove, who won the AL MVP Award after going 31-4 with a 2.06 ERA and 175 strikeouts to win the Triple Crown for a second straight year. The '31 World Series was a rematch of the previous year -- A's vs. Cardinals -- but while the A's had won in '30, the Cardinals beat them in seven games in '31.
Year: 2001 | Record: 116-46
This is, of course, the Mariners team that tied the MLB single-season wins record. Only the '01 Mariners and the 1906 Cubs have won 116 games. The Mariners won the AL West by 14 games despite the second-place A's winning 102 games themselves. Ichiro Suzuki was the catalyst, leading the league in batting average (.350), hits (242) and stolen bases (56) in his first MLB season en route winning both the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP Awards. But Seattle couldn't turn their historic regular season into a World Series title, as they fell to the Yankees in the ALCS in five games.
Year: 2011 | Record: 96-66
The '11 Rangers were oh-so-close to winning the World Series. They were an out away from clinching a title in both the ninth and 10th inning of Game 6 before the Cardinals rallied -- a game best remembered for David Freese's game-tying triple in the ninth and walk-off homer in the 11th -- and took the series in seven games. But the '11 Rangers were a great team nonetheless, especially on the offensive side, with a deep lineup featuring Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Year: 1998 | Record: 106-56
There arguably wasn't a more consistent club in the Modern Era for as extended of a period as the Braves during their 14-year run of winning consecutive division titles from 1991-2005. In that stretch, Atlanta won 100 games or more six times, but none more than their 106 in 1998. However, as was the case with most of those Braves teams, they fell short in October, losing to the Padres in a crushing NL Championship Series defeat.
Year: 1997 | Record: 92-70
In just their fifth year of existence, the Marlins clinched their first postseason berth by claiming the NL Wild Card in 1997 behind a young, blossoming lineup that wasn't particularly powerful, but was effective nonetheless. Despite finishing 11 games back of Atlanta in the NL East standings, the Marlins went on to defeat the Braves in six games in the NLCS, then won a thrilling, seven-game World Series over the Indians.
Year: 1986 | Record: 108-54
The 1986 season remains the best in history for the Mets, and it wasn't just because of the success or the culmination of winning the World Series, but perhaps just as much its personalities that made that club so memorable. A 21-year-old taking the Majors by storm (Dwight Gooden), a polished Ivy League graduate (Ron Darling), an eccentric outfield tandem (Lenny Dykstra and Darryl Strawberry) a candid and clutch-hitting first baseman (Keith Hernandez) and more comprised a club that fans still remember fondly today.
Year: 2012 | Record: 98-64
The '12 season marked the dawn of a new era in Washington that proved to have sustained success. Bryce Harper, the club's No. 1 lived up to his lofty hype while winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award and looked to be the potential face of baseball. And with a surrounding cast of Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche to go with a pitching staff that included Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio González, the Nats began a run of six seasons in which they'd reach the postseason four times. Though the 98 wins in '12 set a club record, the franchise actually had a higher winning percentage in the strike-shortened '94 season, at .649, when they were the Montreal Expos.
Year: 2011 | Record: 102-60
One would be hard-pressed to find a more dominant starting rotation in recent memory than the '11 Phillies, who collectively compiled a 2.86 ERA and included three All-Stars: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, who all finished in the top five of the NL Cy Young voting. Alas, the Phillies, who had won two of the three previous NL pennants, were upset in the NLDS by the red-hot, eventual-champion Cardinals.
Year: 2011, 2018 | Record: 96-60, 96-61, respectively
The summer of 2011 was a special one in Milwaukee. Ryan Braun went on to capture the NL MVP Award, Prince Fielder clubbed his way to 38 home runs while playing in all 162 games and Zack Greinke, the Brewers' prized offseason trade acquisition, anchored a rotation that supplemented a dominant bullpen. In the postseason, the Brewers fell to the rival and eventual champion Cardinals in a six-game NLCS.
The Brewers' '18 season might have been even more impressive. Milwaukee began September five games back of the Cubs for first place in the NL Central, only to storm back and force a division-deciding Game 163 at Wrigley Field, which they won. Christian Yelich was the club's catalyst, putting together one of the most dominant second-half performances in history en route to winning the NL MVP Award. Milwaukee went on to sweep Colorado in the NLDS, but it fell to the Dodgers in an epic, seven-game NLCS.
Year: 1942 | Record: 106-48
The Rookie of the Year Award didn't come into existence until 1947, but had it been in place, Stan Musial might have had a strong case for the honor. Behind Musial and Hall of Fame outfielder Enos Slaughter, who finished as runner-up for the NL MVP Award, the Cards won the NL pennant by just two games over the Dodgers, leading the league in runs scored (755), batting average (.268), on-base percentage (.338) and slugging percentage (.379). St. Louis went on to defeat the Yankees in the World Series, 4-1.
Year: 1906 | Record: 116-36
To find the best Cubs team ever, at least in terms of wins, one would have to search all the way back to the pre-Wrigley Field era, when the club couldn't even boast the North Siders moniker they now bear because it would've been geographically inaccurate. The 1906 Cubs, who called West Side Park home, won 116 games, which remains tied with the '01 Mariners for most ever, yet the Cubs did so in a 152-game schedule, making their .763 win percentage the highest on record (since 1900).
Year: 1909 | Record: 110-42
Pittsburgh edged out the two-time defending champion Cubs for the NL pennant by 6 1/2 games, then went on to win its first World Series in franchise history in a thrilling, seven-game set against the Ty Cobb-led Tigers. That season, eventual Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner compiled a .339/.420/.489 slash line with 100 RBIs, all MLB highs, as the Pirates paced the Majors with 699 runs scored. The 1909 season also marked the fourth NL pennant won under manager Fred Clarke, who played left field for the club during his tenure. The Clarke-led 1902 Pirates still hold the club's highest win percentage (.741), though that was accomplished with a shorter schedule (they went 103-36).
Year: 1975 | Record: 108-54
The Big Red Machine took the Majors by storm in the mid-70s, winning back-to-back World Series in 1975-76 with a combined 210 wins. Their '75 club, led by Hall of Famers Joe Morgan, Pete Rose and Tony Perez, won the NL pennant by a whopping 20 games, then played a thrilling, seven-game World Series against the Red Sox. Morgan that year won the NL MVP Award.
Year: 1999 | Record: 100-62
The D-backs made an almost immediate impact as a mid-90s expansion team, reaching the postseason in just their second year of existence in 1999. They won the NL West by 14 games and finished behind only the Braves (103-59) for the Majors' best record. Randy Johnson, the club's blockbuster free-agent signee the offseason prior, won the first of four straight NL Cy Young Awards he would claim with Arizona, leading the Majors with a whopping 364 strikeouts and 271 2/3 innings pitched in '99, both marks that would be unheard of in today's game. The D-backs won just one playoff game that year, but their '99 season set the foundation for the World Series title they would claim two years later.
Year: 2019 | Record: 106-56
This was the Dodgers' seventh straight NL West title, and it came in dominant fashion behind NL MVP Cody Bellinger, NL Cy Young runner-up Hyun Jin Ryu and an extremely deep and talented roster. The 106 wins passed the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers' 105 for the franchise record, although the latter came in 155 games, resulting in a higher winning percentage (.682 vs. .654). But like the '53 team that lost the World Series to the Yankees, the '19 Dodgers could not reach their ultimate goal, falling to the eventual-champion Nationals in a heartbreaking, five-game NLDS. It wasn't until the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign that L.A. finally claimed its first title since 1988.
Year: 1904 | Record: 106-47
The 1904 Giants had a franchise-record 106 wins, yet have no World Series title to show for it after the Fall Classic was canceled when the Giants refused to play the AL-pennant-winning Boston Americans. According to Baseball Reference, as the 1904 season culminated, Giants brass did not sit well with the idea of playing the crosstown New York Highlanders, who lost their lead in the AL standings until the final days of the season. But by the time Boston supplanted the Highlanders, the Giants stood firm on their decision. The 1904 season remained the first break in postseason play until the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. The most wins by a San Francisco Giants club is 103, done in 1962 and 1993, neither of which led to championships.
Year: 1998 | Record: 98-64
Behind five All-Stars -- pitchers Andy Ashby, Kevin Brown, and Trevor Hoffman, and outfielders Tony Gwynn and Greg Vaughn -- the Padres surged through the NL playoffs by defeating the Astros and heavily-favored Braves before falling in the World Series to the Yankees, whose '98 club remains arguably its best in the franchise's storied history.
Year: 2009 | Record: 92-70
Fans will remember the '07 Rocktober as perhaps the best year in the franchise's young history, but the '09 team might've pulled of just as an impressive of a midseason turnaround. At 18-28 and with the clubhouse supposedly lost, Colorado fired manager Clint Hurdle and promoted Jim Tracy, who anchored a turnaround that culminated the club's third ever postseason berth. Tracy was named NL Manager of the Year.