The MLB postseason is the most exciting time of the year for every baseball fan. It’s fascinating because hyped teams from the AL and NL finally clash in a bid to make it to the World Series. But there are always outliers and freak outcomes during the Wild Card round and later stages of the playoffs.
This is partly what makes the MLB postseason so interesting and exciting. Yet not every team that went into the postseason with excitement and hype lived up to that billing. So today we took a look at some hyped teams that failed to live up to expectations. These teams crashed out when fans thought that they had a chance of going all the way. Check out the list below via Bleacher Report.
25. New York Yankees (2021)
Yankees fans have some of the highest expectations in MLB. They’re easily one the most recognizable franchise in the sport but this hasn’t translated into success over the past 12 years. After a frustrating 92-70 season, they entered the Wild Card round of the postseason. The Bronx Bombers met the Boston Red Sox in a highly-anticipated game and were favorites to win (via SBNation).
But they flopped and lost 6-2 on a humiliating performance. A number of factors contributed to their defeat. First, Gerrit Cole was atrocious as he gave up three runs and two home runs. Meanwhile, they went through periods of no-hitting which didn’t help them in their pursuit of glory. It was a rough end to a bad season. Meanwhile, their fans were disappointed after another hyped team crashed out.
The Giants were a force to be reckoned with in 2000 as they finished with the best record in MLB. They went 97-65 and it looked like Barry Bonds would finally get his World Series ring. The team also had the likes of Jeff Kent and Ellis Burks on their roster. These players all hit double digits for home runs and their fans believed that the Giants were set for glory (via ESPN).
Of course, they wouldn’t be on this list if they were successful. The hyped Giants fizzled out in the postseason against the Mets. They lost two out of three games in extra innings as they failed to live up to expectations. For all of their individual talent and regular-season success, they were unable to sustain it. Looking back it’s probably a good thing they didn’t win because of the sheer number of drug cheats on the team.
The Red Sox were out for revenge in 2004 after heartbreak the year before. Aaron Boone’s dominance ended their World Series dream. It looked like the hyped Yankees would beat their rivals again as they took a three-game lead in the ALCS. Game Three saw the Red Sox receive a harrowing 19-8 beatdown. It looked like the series was already over but Boston still had gas left in the tank.
They trailed 4-3 in Game Four before they sparked into life. David Ortiz’s home run gave the Red Sox a lifeline as they entered Game Five of the series. Then, they won Game Five in the 14th inning. Finally, the Red Sox ousted their fierce foes by winning the next two games to claim the series. It was a harsh lesson for the Yankees because they thought that they were home and dry (via Bleacher Report).
Thanks to Brad Pitt’s ‘Moneyball,’ this is one of the most famous baseball seasons in history. After taking an analytical approach to the game, Oakland soared to prominence. They went on an iconic 20-game win streak that made them one of the most hyped teams in the nation. Fans and analysts wondered if their innovative approach would bring them postseason glory.
The Athletics won the AL West with a 103-59 record (via Sports Illustrated). They faced the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS after losing to the franchise earlier in the season. Unfortunately, Oakland’s brilliance fizzled out against the Twins. However, this remains one of the most fascinating and significant runs in MLB history. It also vindicated the team’s General Manager Billy Beane.
The Phillies had an amazing opportunity to win the World Series in 2010. However, they showed that franchises must take advantage of the moment or face impending irrelevance. After back-to-back World Series appearances, it appeared as though they were finally set to win the coveted prize. The passionate Philly fans believed that their hyped team had finally put the pieces together.
But this wasn’t the case. Things looked good after a 97-65 regular season. Amazingly, they achieved the best record in baseball for the first time in franchise history (via Bleacher Report). They built on this momentum by sweeping the Reds in the NDLS. Then, it was onto the NCLS. But this was where their journey came to an end as the San Francisco Giants taught them a cruel lesson.
It was a case of too much too soon for the Reds in 1970. This hyped young team had all of the tools to win a World Series but lacked experience. They had greats like Pete Rose and Johnny Bench on their impressive roster. The latter had 45 home runs while Tony Perez had another 40 (via Cincinati.com). This was a gung-ho team and they clearly had the makings of a potential dynasty.
Cincinnati crushed the Pirates in the NLCS and it looked like they were unstoppable. But they definitely weren’t. They took on the Baltimore Orioles but this was too much of a hurdle for the young team to overcome. The Reds gave up leads in three games as they lost the five-match series. However, this was a great learning curve for the franchise as they moved forward to win four World Series titles.
A 94-60 record might not appear to be very impressive compared to some of the others on this list. But the White Sox played in a very tough and even American League where they were clearly the best side. Nellie Fox won the AL MVP award after his electrifying exploits for the franchise. He was just one of several players to star throughout the season and guide the White Sox to the postseason.
The hyped White Sox bullied their way into the World Series against the Dodgers. It looked like they were the best team in the nation but they faltered at the worst possible time. After winning their first game 11-0, nobody gave the Dodgers much hope (via SABR.org). But the Dodgers bounced back and proved that it was a mistake to count them out. Meanwhile, the White Sox joined the ranks of great teams who failed to win.
St. Louis was out for revenge in 2005 after a heartbreaking World Series appearance. The Boston Red Sox put them in their place but they were determined to bounce back. It looked like the experience hadn’t left any scars because they tore up the regular season. An excellent 100-62 record made the Cardinals one of the most hyped teams in MLB. In particular, Albert Pujols was magnificent as he won the NL MVP award (via ESPN).
Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. Well, that’s not entirely true because the Astros broke the heart of St. Louis. After the Cardinals crushed the Padres in the NDLS, they met Houston. The Astros came into the postseason as wildcards and posed no threat to St. Louis earlier in the year. But the playoff mentality changed their tune and they beat the Cardinals in six games.
The Yankees had another hyped team in 2001 but met their end at the hands of the Diamondbacks. After sailing past the Seattle Mariners in the ALCS, the New York franchise faced Arizona in the World Series. But their journey ended after Mariano Rivera threw their hopes away. The D-Backs won the first two games of the series before the Yankees came screaming back into contention.
In the end, the Yankees didn’t have enough left in the tank. Their team had great players like Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens but couldn’t get the job done when it counted. Depending on the strengths of the two leagues, the two best teams don’t always make the World Series. But the Yankees found themselves fighting against a dangerous Arizona with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling (via Daily Advocate).
The Rangers were the most fun team in MLB in 1995 as they ran rampant through their AL rivals. They achieved their 95-67 record by going out guns blazing. It was all about the offense in Arlington because it was a lot of fun to watch them. Ivan Rodriguez won the AL MVP award for his contribution. Meanwhile, Rafael Palmeiro had a 47 home run season as they reached the playoffs.
But their approach didn’t translate to long-term success. They came up against the savvy Yankees in the ALDS (via Sports Illustrated). Fans hyped up the Rangers’ chances of blowing New York away but that wasn’t what happened. Instead, the Yankees used their pitching prowess to overwhelm their Texan adversaries. They were a much more balanced team than the top-heavy Rangers, who crashed and burned.
The 1984 season was a great one in a lot of ways for the Cubs. However, the hyped franchise fell short when it counted against the San Diego Padres. The two teams played each other in the NLCS and the Cubs took an early lead (via ESPN). They won the first two games of the series but failed to see it through. San Diego bounced back to take over and win the final three games.
This could have been a World Series year for the Cubs but they failed to meet their full potential. After a 96-65 season, they were the dominant force in the National League. Ryne Sandberg won the NL MVP award while Rick Sutcliffe also claimed a Cy Young award. As wasted opportunities go, this was up there with the biggest. The Cubs still look badly sadly at this missed chance.
The Braves had a tremendous roster in ’96 with the likes of Greg Maddux and Chipper Jones at their disposal. But they failed to take full advantage of their weapons. On paper, this was one of their greatest rosters during the most dominant era in their history. However, there’s still a sense that this hyped unit underachieved. They had the talent to win a World Series but fell short.
John Smoltz came into the postseason as a Cy Young winner while Jones and Ryan Klesko had more than 30 homers each. Despite this, they stumbled through the postseason and narrowly made it out of the NCLS (via Fansided). But they blew the Yankees away in the first two games of the World Series with 16 home runs to New York’s one. Unfortunately, they fizzled out and scored just 10 more in total.
This technically wasn’t a true postseason game but it is close enough. The Red Sox were dominant throughout the ’78 season and took a 14-game lead into July over their AL East rivals. But their old rivals, the Yankees remained dogged and consistent. They had an unbelievable August while the Red Sox faltered. It came down to their games toward the end of the season and New York destroyed the Red Sox.
This tied the two teams as AL East champions with 99-63 records (via SBNation). As a result, they played a tiebreaker to see who would progress to the playoffs. However, the Yankees had Boston’s number and ran through them again. Bucky Dent inspired his team to victory in the one-game playoff. In the end, the Yankees won the World Series while the hyped Red Sox watched sadly from home.
The Cardinals suffered major highs and lows throughout the 2009 season. After an alarming dip during the regular season, they bounced back to win the NL Central. Their pitchers were sublime throughout the year with players like Chris Carpenter delivering for the franchise. Needless to say, their chances were hyped up, but they just couldn’t live up to them (via SBNation).
They moved on to face the Dodgers in the NLDS. Unfortunately, this was a bridge too far for the Cardinals. They hoped for an exciting postseason run but they failed to deliver. The Dodgers swept them in three games as St. Louis offered little resistance. It was disappointing after Albert Pujols won the Silver Slugger award and an MVP award. He deserved better but the franchise couldn’t achieve it.
The Yankees have always been one of baseball’s biggest franchises but the ’50s were something else. They won five straight titles from 1949-1954. After missing out the next year, they returned with a vengeance in ’55. Furthermore, they had a who’s who of iconic Hall of Famers on their roster. We’re talking about legends like Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and Whitey Ford.
All of these players had unbelievable years with Berra winning the AL MVP award. They faced the Dodgers in the World Series but it looked like the hyped Yankees had too much firepower. Also, the Dodgers lost four World Series against their rivals. They were out for blood and finally achieved it as they took the victory (via L.A. Times). The Yankees won the first two games but fizzled out as the Dodgers took over.
The Indians were one of the most hyped teams ever. This was mainly because of their awesome offense with five players posting more than 20 homers. Meanwhile, six stars batted over .600 as they cruised through their division with 100 wins. Expectations were high because of outstanding performers like Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle. But of course, they fizzled out.
They looked like an unstoppable force but then they ran into one of the teams of the decade. The Atlanta Braves stood between the Indians and World Series glory. However, there could only be one winner and for all of their firepower, Cleveland didn’t have enough. Finally, Atlanta won the six-game series 4-2 as they overwhelmed their opponents. It was a tough break for Cleveland and their fans (via AJC).
The Mets have always been in the Yankees’ shadow but it looked like this was their time. Darryl Strawberry finished second in the NL MVP voting after an excellent season. They entered the postseason with a dominant record of 100-60 as they took over the NL East. Suddenly, they became one of the most hyped franchises in the nation. But they couldn’t sustain it.
Strawberry and co. took on the L.A. Dodgers in the NLCS but couldn’t beat their West Coast foes. Ron Darling had one of the worst displays of his life in the final game of the series. Meanwhile, Orel Hershiser unloaded against the Mets with a complete game shutout. Then, he went onto the World Series and won the MVP award. In the end, the Mets let their fans down again (via NY Daily News).
Oakland was phenomenal in 1990 with 103 regular-season wins. They blazed through the postseason and made it all the way to the World Series. Even more impressive was the fact that this was their third World Series appearance in a row. The hyped Athletics carried the favorites tag into the series but that’s as good as it got. Their hopes of glory faded after four tepid showings against the Reds.
Cincinnati shouldn’t have won this series because Oakland had an unbelievable roster. They had the likes of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco as well as Rickey Henderson (via SF Gate). But it just goes to show that the biggest names don’t always guarantee success. Oakland stumbled at the final hurdle and the Reds brought home the glory. But everyone loves an underdog story.
It’s rare that a record-breaking season ends with a bitter taste. But that was exactly Seattle’s experience after a heartbreaking end to 2001. They broke the AL record for most wins in a season with a remarkable 116. It appeared as though they were invincible and fans had high hopes for the hyped franchise. They won the ALDS before facing the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS.
In reality, the Mariners were an overrated team. The majority of their players overperformed throughout the season and failed to reproduce the same numbers in other years. We’re talking about the likes of Freddy Garcia and Aaron Sele who played important roles (via CBS Sports). But they did have genuine star power in Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Boone. In the end, the Indians brought their postseason to a close.
The Orioles stormed through the American League with a glorious 102-57 record. Ken Singleton had the year of his life with 35 home runs while Earl Weaver was his usual brilliant self. Their power hitting was a sight to behold as they became one of the most electrifying teams in the Major Leagues. Soon fans hyped their chances of winning a World Series and it looked like they’d deliver.
After smashing their way through the playoffs, Baltimore faced Pittsburgh on the biggest stage of them all. They had smashed the Angels in the previous round and expected to blitz the Pirates (via Sporting News). The early signs were good as they took a 3-1 series lead. But then they capitulated and melted down as Pittsburgh took control. Disappointingly, this attacking force only scored two home runs in their final three games.
There’s no doubt that Atlanta underachieved in 1993. After going 104-58, there were high hopes that this was their year. The hyped Braves were heavy favorites to win the World Series. When they brought in Greg Maddux it felt like they had brought an army tank to a pistol shooting range. Nobody gave the Phillies a chance of beating the Braves because they had such a great roster.
But the Phillies refused to allow the Braves to intimidate them in the NLDS. They went toe-to-toe with Atlanta and stunned them in Game One. This seemed like a blip because Atlanta bounced back to win the next two matches (via Sporting News). However, Philadelphia regained their focus and blazed their way through the next three games to clinch the series. But they lost the World Series against the Blue Jays.
The Yankees came into 2020 as joint-favorites to win the World Series. However, unlike the Los Angeles Dodgers, they were unable to live up to preseason hopes. After adding Gerrit Cole, there were genuine hopes that they could be a contender. But the New York franchise suffered a lot of injuries throughout the year. The likes of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge missed a lot of game time.
Analysts hyped them before the season but it soon became apparent that all was not well. They finished second in the AL after finishing with a 33-27 record and limped into the postseason. Then, they crashed out after defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS (via Sports Illustrated). Fans were very disappointed to see their team drop out of the playoffs at such an early stage.
An 88-74 record isn’t the most impressive on this list, but the Tigers carried a lot of momentum in the 2012 postseason. Their run was dramatic for both good and bad reasons. After making it into the ALDS, they overcame Oakland in a hard-fought series. Immediately, MLB fans praised the Tigers for their fortitude and hyped up their chances of going all the way.
Then, they swept the Yankees in the Championship Series (via The Guardian). It appeared as though they had exploded into life at the perfect moment but this wasn’t the case. The San Francisco Giants destroyed the Tigers in the World Series as their hope of glory fizzled out. They had a great chance of winning and carried a lot of media attention into the finals but they couldn’t live up to it.
The 2017 World Series winners came into the new season as the team to beat. Now that everybody knows that they cheated, it’s a wonder they didn’t secure back-to-back titles. However, the heavy favorites still had an impressive regular season. They went 103-59 as they secured successive hundred-win seasons for the first time in franchise history (via SBNation). No wonder fans hyped them up so much.
After winning the AL West they cruised past the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. Next up was a meeting with the Boston Red Sox. However, this series didn’t go to plan for the Astros. Somehow, they managed to fall short and lost across five games. It was a miserable ending to their year because they should have made it to the World Series again. Looking back, it’s a wonder they failed.
The Cubs love to say ‘This is the season.’ But it usually isn’t the season. This was the case again in 2008 because they definitely didn’t win the World Series. The trouble with this franchise is that they court expectations. Their hyped teams find themselves in tricky situations because they drive their fans into a frenzy. Then, when they inevitably flop, their fans’ passion reflects back onto them.
After a 97-64 season, the Cubs faced the Dodgers in the NLDS. They had the likes of Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, and Derek Lee on their roster. Meanwhile, they had the best record in the entire National League (via Fansided). They believed that this was finally their season but it wasn’t. They capitulated against the Dodgers as the West Coasters swept them across the series.