Which teams won the most games in a season?

The 2022 Dodgers climbed way up the list

December 17th, 2021

For 95 years, the 1906 Cubs' record of 116 victories stood untouched.

Then along came the 2001 Mariners. That team tied the record, although the Cubs doing so during a shorter season means they still boast the best winning percentage in modern AL/NL history.

Can those records ever be broken? There have not been many serious challengers of late. The 2022 Dodgers came the closest since '01, racking up 111 victories.

Here is a look at the nine teams in AL/NL history to win at least 109 games, ranked in descending order of win total. Given that the length of the schedule has expanded over the years, we will also acknowledge every team in the exclusive .700 winning percentage club.

1 (tie). 1906 Cubs: 116-36 (.763)
Lost in World Series

No team since has come close to matching that winning percentage. This roster featured four Hall of Famers: first baseman/manager Frank Chance, second baseman Johnny Evers, shortstop Joe Tinker and right-handed pitcher Mordecai Brown. The Cubs led all of baseball in most runs scored (704) and fewest runs allowed (381) by a significant margin, with Brown posting a 1.04 ERA. Chance led Chicago to the first of four NL pennants over his five-year tenure, but the Cubs were upset by the crosstown White Sox in the World Series, 4-2.

1 (tie). 2001 Mariners: 116-46 (.716)
Lost in ALCS

Over the previous few years, the Mariners had watched franchise players Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez head out the door. But Seattle was far from doomed, thanks in large part to 2001 AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP Ichiro Suzuki, who arrived from Japan and took MLB by storm. But it was a team effort, with eight Mariners being selected for the All-Star Game in Seattle, including four starters. The M's led the big leagues in both runs scored (927) and allowed (637) while winning at least two-thirds of their games in each month.

Unfortunately for Seattle, the season came to an unceremonious end with a five-game ALCS loss to the Yankees, followed by a 20-season playoff drought that finally ended in 2022.

3. 1998 Yankees: 114-48 (.704)
Won World Series

The Yankees may have fallen two games short of the Cubs' and Mariners' wins record, but they claimed the ultimate prize -- the franchise's second of four World Series titles in a five-year span. The Bronx Bombers went 11-2 in the playoffs (giving them 125 total victories), including sweeps of the Rangers in the ALDS and the Padres in the Fall Classic. The regular season was spectacular as well, with Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre leading a star-studded roster that included Cooperstown-bound players Derek Jeter, Tim Raines and Mariano Rivera, plus many other household names. There was even a perfect game, thrown by David Wells on May 17.

4 (tie). 1954 Cleveland: 111-43 (.721)
Lost World Series

This club still holds the all-time AL record for winning percentage and was the only team to record two winning streaks of at least 11 games until the 2015 Blue Jays finally matched that feat. Cleveland's pitching staff was stacked with three Hall of Famers, in Early Wynn, Bob Lemon and Bob Feller, and its 2.78 ERA was the best in the AL or NL that season by a significant margin. Reliever Hal Newhouser and center fielder Larry Doby were also among the players on this squad who eventually reached Cooperstown. Yet none of that helped when the Giants swept Cleveland in what would be its last World Series appearance for another 41 years.

4 (tie). 2022 Dodgers: 111-51 (.685)
Lost in NLDS

Although the Dodgers were knocked out of the postseason early, the regular season represented another high point in a golden era for the club as it made the playoffs for the 10th year in a row and won its ninth NL West title in that span. The 2022 Dodgers had a high bar to clear, with their predecessors winning at least 104 games three times in the previous four full seasons. Despite losing Corey Seager and Max Scherzer to free agency (but landing Freddie Freeman), the Dodgers withstood some significant pitching injuries and pulled away from their division foes a year after the Giants won 107 games to knock them from their accustomed top spot.

5 (tie). 1909 Pirates: 110-42 (.724)
Won World Series

Despite winning three straight NL pennants from 1901-03 (losing the first modern World Series in 1903), it wasn't until 1909 that the Pirates made it back to the Fall Classic on the back of a 16-game winning streak in late September. In a highly anticipated battle between a 35-year-old Honus Wagner and a 22-year-old Ty Cobb, Pittsburgh triumphed in seven games.

Even at age 35, Wagner was still arguably the premier hitter in baseball, leading the NL in hitting (.339) and RBIs (100) to win the seventh of his eight batting titles. Rookie second baseman Dots Miller, at 22, finished third in the league with 87 RBIs, and the Pirates had a pair of 20-game winners in Howie Camnitz (25-6) and Vic Willis (22-11).

5 (tie). 1927 Yankees: 110-44 (.714)
Won World Series

No list of the greatest teams of all time would be complete, of course, without a mention of the late 1920s Yankees and the "Murderers' Row" of sluggers anchored by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in their primes. This was Ruth's legendary 60-homer campaign, the single-season record until Roger Maris broke it 34 years later. Gehrig was the league MVP at age 24, finishing second in the AL in both hitting (.373) and homers (47). The lineup featured two more Hall of Famers (Earle Combs, Tony Lazzeri) and the starting rotation boasted another two (Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock). The Yankees bashed 52 more home runs than any other team and finished the season by outscoring the Pirates, 23-10, in a World Series sweep.

8 (tie). 1969 Orioles: 109-53 (.673)
Lost in World Series

This was Hall of Famer skipper Earl Weaver's first full season at the helm, and what a season it was. In the first year of the Divisional Era, Baltimore ran away with the AL East, finishing 19 games ahead of Detroit. The lineup featured bashers Frank Robinson and Boog Powell, along with four AL Gold Glove Award winners: second baseman Davey Johnson, third baseman Brooks Robinson, shortstop Mark Belanger and center fielder Paul Blair. The rotation included AL Cy Young Award winner Mike Cuellar, 20-game winner Dave McNally and a breakout performance from the 23-year-old Jim Palmer.

Alas, after sweeping the Twins in the first ALCS, the O's were upended by the Miracle Mets in a five-game World Series. (The 1970 club would go all the way, however, after winning 108 games in the regular season).

8 (tie). 1961 Yankees: 109-53 (.673)
Won World Series

Winning the World Series was routine for the Yankees at this time. They had done that 18 times in the previous 38 seasons and would do it again the following season as well. But this type of regular season performance was much more rare, and it came along some history, as Maris' 61 homers broke the Babe's single-season record, while his more famous teammate, Mickey Mantle, hit 54 of his own. (This remains the only team in history with multiple 50-homer sluggers). On the pitching side, Hall of Famer Whitey Ford went 25-4 to capture the Cy Young Award, which back then was given to only one pitcher across both leagues. The Yankees would finish things off by beating Cincinnati in five games in the Fall Classic.

Best winning percentage in AL/NL history
In the Modern Era (since 1900)

1. 1906 Cubs: .763 (116-36)
2. 1902 Pirates: .741 (103-36)
3. 1909 Pirates: .724 (110-42)
4. 1954 Cleveland: .721 (111-43)
5. 2020 Dodgers: .717 (43-17)^
6. 2001 Mariners: .716 (116-46)
7. 1927 Yankees: .714 (110-44)
8 (tie). 1907 Cubs: .704 (107-45)
8 (tie). 1931 Athletics: .704 (107-45)
8 (tie). 1998 Yankees: .704 (114-48)
11. 1939 Yankees: .702 (106-45)

^Pandemic-shortened season