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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 11 Hottest Teams Starts in MLB History: Where do the Rays rank?

Top 11 Hottest Teams Starts in MLB History: Where do the Rays rank?

Hottest starts to a season!
Publish Date: 04/17/2023
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Top 11 Hottest Teams Starts in MLB History

The Tampa Rays just ended their record-setting win streak to start the season ending in a tie for first at 13-0. Where do the Rays always rank when discussing the greatest starts in MLB History?

11) 1969 Baltimore Orioles: 20-8

The Orioles jumped out to a respectable 20-8 record in ’69, but how they finished the year is all the more impressive. They ended the year with 109 wins and made it all the way to the big show, but they couldn’t pull it out, as they lost the Mets in five games.

Again, Boog Powell and Frank Robinson were the two major power threats in Baltimore’s lineup. Powell crushed 37 home runs and drove in 121. Robinson drilled 32 home runs and drove in an even 100 RBI.

Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally led the team in wins with 23 and 20, respectively. Cuellar sported a spectacular 2.38 ERA. Also, Jim Palmer won 16 games at age 23. Were side-tracked by the miracle Mets in the world series, but still a hot start and a great season.

Video: 1969 Red Sox - highlights of various games (EDITED) Includes season-opener vs. Orioles in Baltimore

1969 Red Sox – highlights of various games (EDITED) Includes season-opener vs. Orioles in Baltimore

10) 1970 Cincinnati Reds: 22-6

The Big Red Machine got off to an impressive start in the 1970 season, as they won 22 of their first 28 games. They made it all the way to the World Series by winning the National League West with a 102-60 record, but they ultimately lost to the Baltimore Orioles.

Catcher Johnny Bench led the team with an impressive 45 home runs and 148 RBI on the season, while third baseman Tony Perez smashed 40 home runs of his own and drove in 129 on the year.

Jim Merritt and Gary Nolan were the two breakout pitchers for the Reds in ’70. Merritt was the only 20-game winner on the team, while Nolan finished with 18. Wayne Simpson started out the year unhittable. Unfortunately, an arm injury short-circuited his season after the all-star break.

Video: Cincinnati Reds vs New York Mets @ Crosley Field June 6, 1970

Cincinnati Reds vs New York Mets @ Crosley Field June 6, 1970

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9) 1998 New York Yankees: 23-6

The 1998 Yankees put together the second-best record in MLB history as they won 114 games and dropped only 48. At the time, they set an American League record for wins in a season.

Although there was not one breakout star in the Yankees lineup, first baseman Tino Martinez posted the best numbers. He smashed 28 home runs while posting 123 RBI. Six of their nine starters hit 19 or more home runs, and eight of the nine finished with 17 or more. David Cone led the Yankees with 20 wins that season. Another David (Wells) finished second on the team with 18 wins, and Andy Pettitte came in third with 16 on the year. All five starters finished with at least 12 wins.

This was an all-around great team, who dominated the Padres in the world series. They could beat you in almost every way a baseball team could beat you.

Video: The Season Of Their Lives - The 1998 NY Yankees

The Season Of Their Lives – The 1998 NY Yankees

8) 1939 New York Yankees: 29-7

Considered one of the greatest teams of all-time the 1939 Yankees got off to a very strong start, as they won 29 of their 36 contests in April and May. They went on to win the American League pennant and headed to the World Series, where they squared off against the Cincinnati Reds and swept them out of October.

Joe DiMaggio led the Yankees as he racked up 30 home runs and 126 RBI, both team highs. Joe Gordon knocked 28 home runs and finished second on the team with 111 RBI.

Pitching-wise, Red Ruffing won 21 games with a 2.93 ERA. Although the next-highest win total was only 13 games, each of the six starters finished the year with double-digit wins.

Video: A Championship Legacy: 1939

A Championship Legacy: 1939

7) 2001 Seattle Mariners: 20-4

The Mariners got off to a 20-4 start and finished the year tied for the most single-season wins with 116. They made it to the ALCS but lost to the Yankees in five.

Second baseman Bret Boone led the charge in Seattle that year, as he broke out and delivered 37 home runs while setting another career-high with 141 RBI. Designated hitter Edgar Martinez hit 23 home runs but was able to drive in 116.

Jamie Moyer was the only 20-game winner on the team; however, four of their five starting pitchers won at least 15 games. At 38, Moyer only lost six games on the year and sported a 3.43 ERA.

No doubt this was a great season, but in the end, their failure in the postseason will be what defines this team.

Video: 2001 Mariners

2001 Mariners “Sweet 116”

6) 1986 New York Mets: 20-4

The Mets got off to a very hot start as they won 20 of their first 24 games. They went on to win the National League East with a 108-54 record. They defeated the Mets in a classic world series, so unlike some others on this list they finished the season as they started it, strong.

Offensively, we all remember outfielder Darryl Strawberry, both for his on- and off-field antics. Strawberry smashed a team-high 27 home runs, while catcher Gary Carter drove in 105 runs to lead the team.

Bobby Ojeda led the Mets in wins in 1986 with 18 and sported a low 2.57 ERA. The 21-year-old Dwight Gooden notched 17 wins and earned a 2.84 ERA. All five of the Mets starters won 10 games or more, while four of them won at least 15.

Video: Mets 1986 - A Year to Remember

Mets 1986 – A Year to Remember

5) 1966 Baltimore Orioles: 12-1

They earned first place in the American League East with a 97-63 record and ended up sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games in the World Series.

Frank Robinson led the Birds with 49 home runs and 122 RBI, while Boog Powell crushed 34 home runs of his own and drove in 109 on the year. Not only did they have two players hit over 30 home runs, but two more players also hit 23 each (Brooks Robinson and Curt Blefary).

The Birds’ starting pitchers really flourished during this time, as Hall of Famer Jim Palmer led the team with 15 wins and Dave McNally recorded 13 wins of his own. Two other starters won 10 games each. This is another team that finished what they started.

Video: Baltimore Orioles: WJZ TV - Spirit of 66 - 1966

Baltimore Orioles: WJZ TV – Spirit of 66 – 1966

4) 1984 Detroit Tigers: 35-5

This hot-start lasted a fourth of the season, and the Tigers never looked back, blowing through the ALCS and World Series, losing just one game.

Catcher Lance Parrish cranked 33 home runs and drove in 98 runs, as he led the team in both categories. Present-day manager Kirk Gibson jolted 27 home runs and accumulated 91 RBI in the magical season.

Pitching-wise, their top three starters won at least 17 games each, and ace Jack Morris went 19-11 with a 3.60 ERA. Dan Petry and Milt Wilcox were the other two starters with 18 and 17 wins, respectively.

You could easily make a case for this Tigers to be number one.

Video: Tigers '84: World Series Champions [1984]

Tigers ’84: World Series Champions [1984]

3) 1987 Milwaukee Brewers: 13-0

The Milwaukee Brewers burst out of the gates and won their first 13 games of the 1987 season.

Although they got off to a hot start and ended the season with a strong 91-71 record, they were unable to make the playoffs, as the competition was fierce that year and they finished in third place in their division.

Of course, most have heard the names Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. Well, this is the era when the Brewers’ magic happened. Yount hit .312 on the season, and Molitor swiped 45 bases and hit at a very impressive .353.

As for their pitching staff, Teddy Higuera, who I’m sure most have not heard of, led the team with an 18-10 mark with a 3.85 ERA. Starter Juan Nieves notched 14 wins and sported a 4.88 ERA. Can’t ignore a team that starts the season off with thirteen straight wins.

Video: Milwaukee Brewers - Easter Sunday 1987, 12-0 season start

Milwaukee Brewers – Easter Sunday 1987, 12-0 season start

 

2) 1982 Atlanta Braves: 13-0

The first team to burst out of the gates winning their first 13 games, unlike the Brewers they did make it to the NLCS, getting swept in three straight by the eventual world champions the St.Louis Cardinals.

Center fielder Dale Murphy led the charge, as he smashed 36 home runs and drove in 109 that season. Third baseman Bob Horner joined the festivities, as he knocked 32 home runs and really helped the Braves win big that season.

RHP Phil Niekro led the pitching staff with 17 wins and only four losses, a 3.61 ERA and 144 strikeouts. He surrendered 225 base hits in 234.1 innings pitched and was voted fifth in Cy Young balloting that year.

Video: “It’s a Long Way to October” The 1982 Atlanta Braves

“It’s a Long Way to October” The 1982 Atlanta Braves

1) Tampa Rays:13-0

The Rays completed a remarkable 13-0 start to tie for MLB history’s best mark, outscoring opponents by 101-30 and setting an incredible mark at 13-0 before dropping their first game against the Blue Jays and falling just short of holding the all-time record all by themselves.

As part of their impressive start, the Rays began the season against teams like Tigers, Nationals, Athletics, and Red Sox, who all began slowly; these difficulties may be attributable to playing against such an impressive Rays squad early on. While the competition wasn’t great, the Rays were more dominant than the Braves or Brewers in their streak’s.

Video: Rays win HISTORIC 13th straight off HRs from Diaz & Lowe 💥 Ties best start since 1885 | MLB on ESPN

Rays win HISTORIC 13th straight off HRs from Diaz & Lowe 💥 Ties best start since 1885 | MLB on ESPN

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