Dynasties come around unexpectedly, and when they do, there is an undeniable fascination with those teams that exist above the fray. In the midst of yet another postseason, let us look back at a few of the greatest dynasties in baseball history and remember the qualities that guided them in their quests to conquer the Fall Classic.
1 title, 6 World Series appearances
The Dodgers' success began in the front office, where a trio of Hall of Fame executives led the way. Larry MacPhail helped lay the groundwork, dealing for shortstop prospect Pee Wee Reese in 1939. But in 1942, MacPhail ceded control to Branch Rickey, who created a player-development program and made the trailblazing decision to sign African-American players. Under Rickey, the team acquired Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe, while developing Duke Snider and Gil Hodges in the Minors.
It was no coincidence, then, that Brooklyn's dynasty coincided with Robinson's 10-year big league career.
"When Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers in 1947, there was no better player in the league," Giants infielder Bill Rigney recalled.
The final member of the triumvirate was part-owner Walter O'Malley; although O'Malley would later move the Dodgers out of Brooklyn, he also brought the borough its only world title in 1955.
Dodgers pitcher Ed Roebuck, a rookie in '55, said, "It was very emotional for the older players who had lost in past years."
2 titles, 4 World Series appearances
Back in 1910, the idea that the Cubs might go a century without winning another World Series was unthinkable. Not only had they been the most dominant team since the National League was founded in 1876, but they also had captured four of the previous five pennants. The architect of the early Cubs dynasty was Hall of Fame manager Frank Selee, who had developed three-fourths of a stellar infield -- Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance -- plus star pitchers Ed Reulbach and Mordecai Brown.
For much of his career, the latter was simply referred to as "Three Finger," a nickname born from a childhood farming accident. It gave Brown a unique grip, plus the ability to throw a curveball. Ty Cobb called him "the most devastating pitcher I ever faced."
Brown never recorded an ERA higher than 1.86 over that five-year period, and his 2.06 career mark ranks fifth in modern history.
4 titles, 6 World Series appearances
With Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams alongside catcher Jorge Posada, the Yankees' lineup featured an impressive assemblage of homegrown stars. But the foundation of this dynasty was actually an incredible pitching staff.
During their pennant run, the rotation at various times boasted eight pitchers who'd go on to win at least 185 career games -- Roger Clemens, David Cone, Dwight Gooden, Jimmy Key, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Kenny Rogers and David Wells -- plus a ninth, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who won 126 in Cuba before adding nearly 100 more in the Majors.
"They all have ability to turn it up a notch," catcher Joe Girardi told the New York Times in 1998, the year the Yanks won a then-AL record 114 games and posted a collective 2.42 ERA in the postseason.
And we can't forget Mariano Rivera, who retired with 141 innings, an 8-1 record and a 0.70 ERA in the postseason. When he reached 34 postseason saves, it was more than double anyone else's total, and he fittingly finished his career with 42.
3 titles, 4 World Series appearances
A 21-year-old Stanley Musial played his first full season in 1942 and batted .315; it would be one of just two times that his average dipped below the .320 mark in his first 12 big league seasons. Despite the outfielder's growing pains, Stan the Man helped propel a 106-win Cardinals team to a five-game World Series victory over the Yankees.
"In '42, we played together and fought together," Musial later said. "We had that Cardinal spirit -- we thought we could beat anybody, and we did."
Over the next four years, Musial would win two National League MVP Awards, and St. Louis would win two more championships in three return trips to the Fall Classic. The Cardinals likely would have reached four straight World Series, had Musial not left in 1945 to serve in World War II.
From 1942-46, St. Louis won at least 95 games, largely thanks to right fielder Enos Slaughter, a 10-time All-Star, and Mort Cooper, the 1942 NL MVP and staff ace. The rotation, which also featured Max Lanier and Howie Pollet, led the league in ERA in each year but '45.
2 titles, 4 World Series appearances
During a decade in which they won six division titles and four NL pennants, the Big Red Machine's offense led the NL in runs, homers, OPS and stolen bases. While other baseball dynasties achieved greatness with superlative pitching and balanced hitting, the Reds' success was linked to their everyday lineup, which featured four players who took home a total of six MVP Awards: Johnny Bench (1970 and '72), future hits king Pete Rose ('73), Joe Morgan ('75-76) and George Foster ('77).
The middle of the Reds' batting order also featured Tony Perez, the Cuban first baseman who averaged 27 homers and 104 RBIs from 1969-76, three-time All-Star Ken Griffey Sr., and Gold Glove winners Davey Concepcion and Cesar Geronimo.
Their quirky, Hall of Fame manager, Sparky Anderson, put it best: "I'm not going to sit here and tell you that [we were] the greatest of all time. But if somebody else has a better [team], I want to sit and watch it."
3 titles, 3 World Series appearances
Few teams have thrived in the face of turmoil better than the Athletics of the 1970s, which featured numerous flashy stars and perhaps the most eccentric owner of all time in Charles O. Finley. The team's central figure was temperamental outfielder Reggie Jackson, and in 1973, the future "Mr. October" won the first of his two World Series MVP Awards when he tied for the team lead in hits and home runs while leading the club in RBIs in its Fall Classic win over the Mets.
Top to bottom, the A's roster was stocked with stars. Catfish Hunter won at least 20 games four years in a row. Bert Campaneris led the league in steals six times. Joe Rudi and Sal Bando were consistent power hitters. Even the bullpen was fearsome, headed by future Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, who sported not only a handlebar mustache, but also a ledger of eight postseason saves and an impressive 1.55 ERA during Oakland's three-year title run.
Eric Enders is a contributor to MLB.com.