Sometimes, there are seasons when one team absolutely has another team’s number. In 2021, the Rays posted an 18-1 record against the Orioles with a plus-79 run differential. Depending on your parameters, that may be one of the most dominant seasons by one team against another in the Divisional Era (since 1969).
Here’s a subjective look at some of the most dominant seasons for teams against a single opponent since divisions were established in '69.
1) 1974 Dodgers (vs. SD): 16-2 (.889), +82 runs
To say the '74 Dodgers (102-60 overall) dominated the Padres (60-102) would be an understatement. Not only did they win 16 of 18 games against them that season, the Dodgers won each of the first 13 meetings between the two teams. That’s right, the Padres didn’t defeat the Dodgers in 1974 until Sept. 21. Overall, the Dodgers scored more than 10 runs three times against the Padres and scored five or more in all but four of the matchups.
2) 1993 Braves (vs. COL): 13-0 (1.000), +56 runs
The Braves’ 13-0 mark against the inaugural-season Rockies is the best undefeated record of any team against another in a season in the Divisional Era (since 1969), minimum 10 head-to-head games. And the Braves (104-58) didn’t just win when they played Colorado (67-95), they did it to the tune of a plus-56 run differential. The teams played three one-run games, all of which Atlanta won, of course, and everything else was all Braves. The Braves had double-digit runs in six of the 13 games they played against the Rockies that year.
3) 2021 Rays (vs. BAL): 18-1 (.944), +79 runs
The Rays became the latest division rival to beat up on the Orioles in 2021, dropping just one of their 19 matchups. As a team, the Rays launched a total of four grand slams off Orioles pitching, a single-season franchise record for Baltimore, all while hitting .290/.362/.530 with 36 home runs, twice as many as the Orioles' 18, as Rays pitching held their opposition to a measly .226/.286/.372. The lopsided 18-1 season became the best record the Rays have ever posted against a single divisional opponent, topping a 15-3 run in 2018 -- also against the Orioles.
4) 2019 Indians (vs. DET): 18-1 (.944), +78 runs
The Indians lost the second matchup they played with the Tigers back on April 10, but didn't lose after that. Their 17 straight wins against the Tigers tied the franchise's longest winning streak against a single opponent in a season -- they won 17 straight against the Orioles in 1954. And the Tribe also became the first team in the Divisional Era to tally 18 wins against a single opponent.
5) 2019 Astros (vs. SEA): 18-1 (.944), +61 runs
The Mariners raced out to a 13-2 record to begin the season, but the Astros put that to a halt with a three-game sweep in Seattle. That began a trend; the Astros didn't lose to the Mariners until their sixth meeting of the year, and then Houston stepped on the gas, winning three straight games by a single run (including two straight walk-offs) and later scoring a 21-1 drubbing over their divisional rivals in early September. Houston's final victory saw starter Zack Greinke take a no-hitter into the ninth inning, encapsulating the Astros' domination in the season series.
6) 2016 Cubs (vs. CIN): 15-4 (.789), +74 runs
Perhaps the biggest question here is how the Cubs (103-58) managed to lose four games to the Reds (68-94), in a season where they outscored them by 74, scoring 143 to the Reds’ 69. One of the bigger contributors to that run differential? A 16-0 win in Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter on April 21.
7) 2019 Yankees (vs. BAL): 17-2 (.895), +68
The Yankees’ dominance of the Orioles in 2019 can be summed up quite simply with Gleyber Torres’ numbers against Baltimore. He hit .394 with a .467 OBP and 1.045 slugging percentage against the O’s, with 13 homers. Torres had five multi-homer games against the Orioles. And it isn’t like the rest of the Yankees were offensively complacent -- the team as a whole hit 61 home runs against the Orioles, 13 more than any other team against a single opponent in Major League history.
8) 2001 Cardinals (vs. PIT): 14-3 (.824), +74 runs
Albert Pujols hit .339/.448/.661 against Pittsburgh that year, knocking in 14 runs. Teammate J.D. Drew put up 14 RBIs himself, too, with a .627 slugging percentage against the Pirates. The high-offense Cardinals (93-69) were just too much for the Pirates (62-100), whose three wins were all by three runs or fewer.
9) 2002 Red Sox (vs. TB): 16-3 (.842), +69
The crowning display of the Red Sox's (93-69) dominance over the Rays in 2002 (55-106) was a 22-4 victory at Fenway Park in the first game of a doubleheader on July 23. That game featured a 10-run third inning by the Red Sox to rebound from an early 4-0 deficit. Manny Ramírez drove in 25 runs total against Tampa Bay that year, and Nomar Garciaparra added another 21. The defining moment of this season series was Derek Lowe’s no-hitter against the Devil Rays on April 27 -- which the Red Sox won, 11-0.
10) 1998 Yankees (vs. KC): 10-0 (1.000), +56
The 1998 Yankees (114-48) were a strong team across the board, so it figures that they’d find their way onto this list. They went 10-0 against the Royals (72-89), who were not even in their division, outscoring them by 56 runs. The first matchup between the two teams that year ended as a 2-1 Yankees win. The Yankees then scored 12 runs in the next game and 10 in the one after that, showing more what this season series would look like. Bernie Williams led the way with 13 RBIs and a .769 slugging percentage against KC.
11) 1996 Indians (vs. DET): 12-0 (1.000), +51
2019 is not the first time that the Indians have had lopsided success against the Tigers. In 1996, the Indians (99-62) swept the season series and outscored Detroit (53-109) by 51 runs. Albert Belle and Jim Thome each hit seven homers against the Tigers, with Belle tallying 19 RBIs as well.
12) 2004 Braves (vs. MON): 15-4 (.789), +73
The Braves (96-66) had three games with double-digit runs against the Expos (67-95) in 2004 and eight games with at least 10 hits. Andruw Jones hit nine homers against the Expos that year, and Drew tacked on six of his own. Jones had 22 RBIs against the Expos that year, which was at the time the most by any Braves player against a single opponent in the Wild Card era. He’d go on to knock in another 22 against the franchise, then in Washington as the Nationals, in 2005.
13) 2003 A’s (vs. TEX): 15-4 (.789), +68
Miguel Tejada drove in 19 runs for the 2003 A’s (96-66) against the Rangers (71-91), and Scott Hatteberg added another 17. The A’s actually dropped their third game of the season series against the Rangers, and even lost two in a row to Texas in late June, but ultimately finished with 15 wins and just four losses against the divisional rival. They scored 12 or more runs against the Rangers three times.