MLB Rankings: Team Nicknames

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When a sport has been around as long as baseball, every team has had a chance to be successful. These MLB rankings will look at some of the fun team-wide nicknames that have graced the sport.

10. The Swingin’ A’s

The Oakland A’s were the best team in baseball in the early-70s and from 1972-1974 won three consecutive World Series championships. What made the team fascinating was the colorful personality of the players in contrast to the more traditional owner Charlie Finley. The team was led by long hair and mustaches and star players including, Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Vida Blue, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Bert Campanaris, and Joe Rudi. The collection of the eccentric ball players led to the team’s nickname.

9. The Whiz Kids

Despite starting play in the late-1800s, the Phillies had only one National League pennant going into the 1950 season. However, in 1949, the team had their first winning season since 1932 and would look to take the next step the following season, despite having the lowest average age in baseball at 26.4. Due to their youth, the team became known as the Whiz Kids and stormed out of the gates. Led by Richie Ashburn, Del Ennis and MVP closer Jim Konstanty the team would make it all the way to the World Series before falling in 4 games to the Yankees. This team would rank higher if they incorporated cheese whiz.

8. The Gashouse Gang

The 1934 Cardinals are perhaps the most interesting team in these MLB rankings. The team could best be described as scrappy while Wikipedia labels them as “rough and tumble.” Despite the name one uses for their tactics, they are probably better known for their appearance. The team would commonly arrive at games in unwashed and dirty uniforms striking fear into the hearts of their opponents, mainly through the nose. The team’s appearance reminded fans and opponents of the smelly local gas houses responsible for providing gas for the cities. Led by MVP Dizzy Dean who won 30 games that year, the team would defeat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

7. Murderers Row

The 1927 team is the first of two Yankees’ teams to make these MLB rankings. The 1927 version would go down in history as one of the best hitting teams in baseball, especially when compared to their peers. Led by Babe Ruth, the Yankees would crush 158 home runs that season, 102 more than any other team in the American League. Ruth led the way with 60, which by itself was 2 more than the second-place Philadelphia Athletics. Ruth would be joined by Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Tony Lazzeri, Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock as Hall of Fame players from the team, which would win the World Series over Pittsburgh in 4 games.

6. The Idiots

The 2004 Red Sox would become the first team to come back from a 3-0 deficit, winning 4 straight over the rival Yankees on their way to breaking the 86-year curse of the Bambino. The team thrived on countering the Yankees culture with shaved heads and handlebar mustaches. Johnny Damon said it best when he said “We got guys just acting like idiots, and I think the fans out there like it.”

5. The Family

Out of all the teams in these MLB rankings, only one team incorporated a Sister Sledge song; the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. The team, led by Willie Stargell, David Parker and John Candelaria would win 98 games during the regular season before defeating the Orioles in a 7-game classic World Series. Most notably, the team rallied around “We are Family.”

4. Harvey’s Wallbangers

On June 1st, 1988, the Milwaukee Brewers found themselves making the difficult decision of firing their manager, Buck Rodgers, after a 22-23 start to the season. Expectations were high in Milwaukee and the team turned to hitting coach Harvey Kuenn to lead the team. The team, led by Robin Yount, Rollie Fingers, Gorman Thomas, and Ben Oglivie, responded to the change and would eventually lead the league in home runs and rallied to win the AL Pennant before falling in the World Series to the Cardinals in 7-games. Due to their penchant for the long ball, the team was nicknamed after the popular cocktail.

3. The Bronx Bombers

The Yankees make their second appearance in these MLB rankings with their nickname that is still used at times today. The nickname was allegedly originally used for the 1936 team which was led by Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Bill Dickey. The team, like most Yankees teams, was known for their offensive abilities and would score 18 times in Game 2 of the World Series. The team would eventually defeat the Giants in 6 games and start a streak of 4 straight titles.

2. The Amazin’ Mets

Since the creation of the Mets in 1962, they were one of the worst teams in baseball. No team has lost more games than the debut team and the franchise had failed to finish any higher than 9th (out of 10 teams) in the National League. The Amazin’ Mets, also known as the Miracle Mets, would shock the baseball world and win the newly created NL east by 8 games over the Chicago Cubs. The team, led by Cleon Jones, Tom Seaver, Ron Swoboda, and fan-favorite Art Shamsky won the World Series over Baltimore in 5 games.

1. The Big Red Machine

In the 1970s, the Cincinnati Reds were the best team in baseball, winning 6 division titles, 4 NL Pennants, and 2 World Series championships. The nickname was a play on the U.S.S.R’s Red Machine which was a common nickname for the dominant hockey team from the Soviet Union. The team was led by the “Great 8” of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo, and Ken Griffey Sr.

Special Addition – The Chicago Black Sox

The 1919 Chicago White Sox didn’t make these MLB rankings due to their permanent ban from baseball. The team became more known for their off-the-field actions instead of their on-field ability. Despite winning the 1917 World Series, the team felt they were being underpaid by owner Charles Comiskey. Disappointed in their lack of funds, eight players on the team would turn to gamblers who were willing to pay the team if they threw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. 8 players were eventually banned from baseball for their roles in the scandal. Notably, the sport lost Shoeless Joe Jackson whose involvement is still debated.

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Stephen Leonardi is a passionate Yankees, Jets, Devils and Nets fans. He is an avid writer covering his favorite teams and interesting topics around his favorite sports.