Since 2015: Who is the best?

Today’s post is a bit of self-subscribed homework for your loyal servant. Which team has been the best in baseball since 2015? Choosing 2015 coincides with the Astros Renaissance, so if you don’t like that cut-off….please read elsewhere. I chose to chart the teams that were the most consistently good during this period, even if they have fallen on hard times (e.g. Nats).

The Royals had a WS title in that time, and the Phillies had this year’s WS experience, but those are the only playoff appearances for those two teams between 2015 and 2022. I could have included the Mets and their three playoff appearances, but I thought if I left them off, they might offer me a few million bucks to include them…….

For each team, I charted out some simple things – their yearly records, if they made the playoffs – which round they lost (unless they won the WS). I also threw in, which team had players who had won Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, or MVP awards in a specific season.  

Team Astros Dodgers Yanks Braves Red Sox Rays Cards Brewers Nats
2015 86-76 92-70 87-75 67-95 78-84 80-82 100-62 68-94 83-79
  L- ALDS L-NLDS L-ALWC ——– ——– ——– L-NLDS ——– ——-
  CY / ROY               MVP
2016 84-78 91-71 84-78 68-93 93-69 68-94 86-76 73-89 95-67
  ——— L-NLCS ——– ——- L-ALDS ——– ——– ——— L-NLDS
    ROY     CY       CY
2017 101-61 104-58 91-71 72-90 93-69 80-82 83-79 86-76 97-65
  W-WS L-WS L-ALCS ——– L-ALDS ——– ——– ——— L-NLDS
  MVP ROY ROY           CY
2018 103-59 92-71 100-62 90-72 108-54 90-72 88-74 96-67 82-80
        ROY MVP CY   MVP  
2019 107-55 106-56 103-59 97-65 84-78 96-66 91-71 89-73 93-69
  CY / ROY MVP              
2020 29-31 43-17 33-27 35-25 24-36 40-20 30-28 29-31 26-34
        MVP       ROY  
2021 95-67 106-56 92-70 88-73 92-70 100-62 90-72 95-67 65-97
            ROY   CY  
2022 106-56 111-51 99-63 101-61 78-84 86-76 93-69 86-76 55-107
  W-WS L-NLDS L-ALCS L-NLDS ———- L-WS L-NLWC ———- ———
  CY   MVP ROY     MVP    

My old boss in Arkansas used to say about simple engineering problems, “It doesn’t take long to look at a horseshoe.” Taking even a cursory look tells you this is at the most a 3 team race. The Yanks and Astros have been in the playoffs for 7 of those 8 seasons, while the Dodgers have made the playoffs each of those 8 seasons.

Let’s take a deeper dive into those three teams….

Yankees. The Pinstripes between 2015 and 2022 have a W-L record of 689-505 – third among these top three. They made it within one step of the World Series three times in this time frame, losing to…..the Houston Astros all three times. And, of course, the baby Astros in 2015 knocked the Yanks out in the one-game Wild Card round. The Yanks have a Rookie of the Year (2017) and MVP (2022) in that time frame, and it is one player – Aaron Judge.

Dodgers. If the question was – who is the best regular season team in this timeframe, this examination would be over right now. Between 2015 and 2022, the Blue Men had a regular season WL record of 745-450, 34 games better than the #2 Astros. And while they have been in the playoffs all eight seasons, they have “failed” early in a number of them. Three times they were picked off in the divisional series, including the 111-win 2022 team and the 106-win 2019 team. Twice they fell in the NLCS. They made the World Series three times (no slouch) and won one time against the Rays in 2020 while losing to the Astros in 2017 and the Red Sox in 2018. The Dodgers had consecutive Rookies of the Year in 2016 (Corey Seager), and 2017 (Cody Bellinger), and Bellinger was the MVP in 2019.

Astros. The Astros’ 711-483 regular season record over the last eight seasons is very impressive. But what they have done in the playoffs has been even more impressive. The only early failure was with their youngest and least experienced team in 2015 to the Royals in the ALDS. And remember that they were within a handful of outs of moving on to the ALCS in that series. Between 2017 and 2022, they have done what no other team has ever done and advanced to the ALCS in six straight seasons. They then made the World Series four times in those six seasons, taking home the crown in the first and last year. In the 8 seasons, Astro pitchers Dallas Keuchel (2017) and Justin Verlander (2019 and 2022) have taken home 3 Cy Young awards. Carlos Correa (Should we call him Carlo$?) in 2015 and Yordan Alvarez picked up ROYs and Jose Altuve won the 2017 MVP.

Looking closer, the contest for the best team is down to the Dodgers and the Astros. The Dodgers and their fans will claim they should have two World Series championships, and the Astros would have only one if the Astros had not cheated. Of course, the Astros could claim that the cheating Red Sox robbed them of a chance for that 2018 WS against the Dodgers and that the Dodgers’ one championship was pretty shaky in the 60-game 2020 COVID-shortened season.

The Dodgers and the Astros have been in 18 playoff series since 2015. The Dodgers have won 11 of them, and the Astros an impressive 14 series. This unbiased reviewer (where is my sarcasm font) says the Astros have been the better team since 2015. If the Dodgers want to fight about it – quit getting bounced out of the playoffs by inferior teams.


31 comments on “Since 2015: Who is the best?

  1. All I know is that in my lifetime I’ve never before gotten to root for a team that has remained so absolutely relevant for such a lengthy period of time. And going forward, I don’t expect this to change as long as our present ownership keeps control of the club. Whether the Astros are # 1 is besides the point. They are the only group of guys I want to root for. And I’m definitely not moving to LA or NY any time soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with what he wrote.

      I do take a pass on Pena being one of his 4 MVP possibilities. He hasn’t mastered the strike zone yet, he has a long way to go. I’m really to lazy today to spend anytime on fangraphs looking it up – but I would bet his average on pitches outside the zone is higher than most people – he is a strong kid and even when he is fooled he seems to try and stay on it and still put some e-velo on it. The problem is he is still fooled too much.

      Alvarez or Tucker either one should be getting some preseason press. I expect both to add to their averages with the new shift rules.

      I saw a graphic yesterday that said the Astros lost the most hits to the shift in the last two years at 207. Kinda bounces off what I mentioned a few days ago teams that make more contact are going to benefit the most. If Brantley’s shoulder is at 100%, and he plays 140 games, he could win a batting title.

      I’ve been saying for months that Javier is the best pitcher on this staff in any given at bat. I don’t think he is actually a better pitcher than Framber – mainly because he stays just out of the zone enough to keep his pitch counts up, not get through 6, and leave it to middle relievers to get to the leverage guys. Framber just gets to the 7th or 8th more often, getting the ball to leverage guys more and accounting for more decisions in his own W-L.

      The breakdown that Smoltz did in the WS about Framber having the highest GB rate in the bigs and Javier having the highest FB rate in the bigs and why it helps both of them to be in the extremes was phenomonal. Smoltzy can be a bit homerish at times for the guys he supports but he really gets it. One of the best baseball minds out there.


  2. LMJ and Jose Altuve have been there for the entire run. Kudos to them for being the core of the Astros successful years.
    As others move on, they have spent their entire careers as Astros.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As the year 2022 drifts to an end, these sports things got my attention:
    * The semi-announcement of JJ Watt’s retirement. His current team said they didn’t have a clue.
    * The ludicrous rumor that James Harden might want to return to the Rockets. The beast who devoured the organization would be invited back to dinner?
    * Derek Carr’s announced disappearance.
    * Aaron Rodgers’s mouth skills overtaking his QB skills.
    * The Ronaldo family/ Manchester U divorce in a sport I cannot tolerate.
    * Professional golf deteriorates into a catfight.


    • I can’t stand Harden. A little basketball on the baseball blog – I hope he is never back but lets be real the Rockets have a history of star chasing and if he really wants to be back, I think he will be. James Harden is never winning a title though as the Alpha/Batman/whatever sports writers want to call it. He had his shot. Paul’s hamstring took it away. That was it. He is no longer that player.

      And if he wants to come home and retire a Rocket, he will eat into the chemistry and playing time that young backcourt is building right now. The Rockets should not even humor Harden’s agent. But let’s be honest, Fertitta is not a patient man. He may not want to wait on 5 players 23 and under to develop and hope for at least one star. He should just have dinner with Crane and let Crane tell him how painful it was to lose 100+ games for 3 straight seasons, be the laughing stock of baseball, only to now be the guy with the last laugh.


  4. How in the world does a rookie SS have a season long .253/.289/.426/.715 slash line and then morph into the .345/.367/.638/1.005 monster in the playoffs against premium pitching? It is wild!


    • My guesses OP
      1) He learned a lot during that prolonged slump in July and August that he applied in September – October – November
      2) Some guys are just clutch – when the lights come on they excel
      3) He really seemed to concentrate much harder in the playoffs. He wasn’t taking more than the usual walks, but he was taking pitches he would have flailed at earlier in the season and moving the count in his favor
      4) I think he is special and I think we will learn more about that as we watch him mature
      5) Anybody can get hot for a few weeks in baseball

      I think I will go with 1)thru 4) and ignore 5)

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Derek Carr went to high school for a short while here when his brother was in town and led my sons’ high school to one of their rare playoff appearances. They knocked off a few teams in the playoffs, until….they played Katy and were plowed under – I think it was 45-0.
    The JJ Watt situation is quite odd in that apparently the Cards found out about it at the same time we did. I have a soft spot for JJ – he worked insanely hard for the club, he was a great off the field leader for the team raising all that money after Hurricane Harvey and he came from Peewaukee (west of Milwaukee) where I went to first grade many decades ago.
    Harden is a weird one for sure. Big stats, could carry you to a lot of regular season wins, but disappeared in big games in the playoffs. I hated his yo-yo holding on to the ball style of play.
    Golf – I enjoy watching it, but this is a tough civil war to stomach.
    Aaron Rodgers – liked him talking in the State Farm commercials – not much else
    Ronaldo? Anyone who is a one named phenom rubs me the wrong way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How does everyone feel about those teams and their chances of making the playoffs?

      Mets: likely wild card
      Yankees: Should win division, lose in playoffs as usual
      Padres: 50/50 they win the division.
      Phillies: We have 3 wild cards now? With Harper out I see as longshot
      Braves: Should easily win division
      Blue Jays: Probably miss playoffs by a couple games
      Dodgers: 50/50 they win division because of San Diego dysfunction
      Rangers/Angels/Cubs/Red Sox/Astros/Giants/White Sox: Astros should win the division if healthy. The other teams should be watching from their couches in October


  6. Steven –
    Some good stuff above – I’m hopeful that Fertita keeps building up from the bottom – not trying a short cut that proved itself a fail back when Harden was a top player. And I agree with you on Smoltz – he is a little subdued (bored) sounding at times, but if you listen to what he is saying he has great insight.
    On Javier…..if Framber can go from a control mess to pinpoint control, I’m hoping Cristian will improve his control too. But if he doesn’t I will still take his stingy pitching even if he falls short of six innings most times.

    Daveb (Uncleknuckle) – yeah, Harden is a rat

    Old Pro / Zanuda – yeah, they are the best – believe it


  7. And so it is 2023. The next big scheduled thing for our team is the international free agent signing period which starts on Jan 15th.
    After this event, all the prospect experts will be renewing their top prospects lists and we will get a refreshed look at how our minor league system stacks up.
    Wondering what our catcher position will end up looking like on opening day.
    Wonder if Chas is our starting CFer and if the lack of a shift will alter his radical closed batting stance.
    Also wondering if pitchers in their mid-to-late 30’s will have the same stamina if they are required to not take a minute between pitches.
    How will guys like Tucker and Altuve be able to handle staying in the batters box and losing their dumb routine between pitches? How will batting gloves work if you cant adjust them after every pitch?
    Will catchers be able to keep up with the frantic pace of the game?
    What’s with all the umpires retiring after last season? Do they know something we don’t?
    Am I right thinking that the best addition the Rangers made was Bochy?
    There is always something to think about with baseball, even on the slowest days.


  8. My only worry here is that these guys had the Dodgers #1 for most of last season and see where that got them. It is amazing that the Dodgers have fallen to #7 in this poll. 111 wins with an early fall-out in the playoffs – I guess the early fall-out trumps it, but also because they didn’t spend a gazillion dollars on a free agent (that I can recall) this off-season.


    • In overly simplistic terms, I see it this way:

      – Verlander
      + McCullers
      + Brown
      + Abreu

      Of course we’ll have injuries. And we’ll have regression. But a guy or two will step up play a role. And a guy like Tucker will have a career year. And I still think whomever is in charge will get the lefty Dusty has always wanted. What other surprises are lurking? Regardless, we have rung in the New Year with a whole bunch of positive Astro thoughts.

      Meanwhile, up in New York, Mets fans seem to be doing mostly hand wringing over their silent drama, the latest from our old friend Carlos. You know when the Astros offered 5 at 160 way back in the fall of 2021? Armed with more medical records than anyone else had, the Astros made the correct offer. He should have taken that deal. And if still healthy at 32, he could have had a chance at five more years from someone else.


  9. Rotation pieces: Valdez (LHP), Javier, McCullers, Garcia, & Urquidy.

    Bullpen pieces: Abreu, Brown, Neris, Maton, B. Taylor, S. Martinez, Stanek, Montero, & Pressly – with Blanco, France, Bielak, Paredes, Mushinski (LHP), Dubin, and maybe even Forrest Whitley (hey, hope springs eternal this time of year) waiting in the wings.

    Catching corps: Maldonado, Y. Diaz, and Korey Lee.

    Infield: Bregman (3B), Pena (SS), Altuve (2B), Abreu (1B) – reserves Gurriel and Hensley?

    Outfield: Brantley/Alvarez (LF/DH), McCormick (CF), & Tucker (RF) – reserves Myers & Dubon?

    What is not to like?


    • Mr. Bill, you’re only allowed to have have 26. Don’t be trying to pull a fast one on us. Knowing Dusty, I’m resigned to being stuck with Frenchy, but I’m not sure if there is room for Yuli, as much as he is liked.


  10. In my defense, Dave … though I admit math has never been my strong suit, I did put question marks after naming the possible reserves due to the 26-man limitation. Some of those I have named will make the 26-man; some will fall under the ‘dot’ of the question mark. If the brass likes Hensley and Dubon, and wants to keep both Lee and Diaz on the 26-man as well, you are probably right – Yuli probably doesn’t fit -and neither does Myers.


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