They say the MLB season is a marathon and not a sprint, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to get off to a fast start. But what team had the best MLB season start in baseball history?
That got us thinking about the hottest season starts in MLB history and whether or not it paid off for those teams in the long run.
After all, having the longest MLB winning streak in April or May doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in September or October. Did some of the best MLB teams of all time even get off to a fast start in April?
Best MLB season start
We can’t promise to answer all of these questions, but we did manage to put together a list of the 10 hottest season starts in MLB history. These are the teams that came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, positioning themselves for a special season.
Let’s take a look back at the MLB teams that started a new season better than anyone else in history and what happened to them by season’s end.
10. Yankees, 1998 (23-6)
The Yankees have had some of the best MLB teams of all time, but they’ve rarely had a better April and May than the one they did in 1998. Ironically, they lost four of their first five games of the season.
But this roster was absolutely loaded, and by early May, they had put together two separate eight-game winning streaks and a six-game winning streak to get to 23-6 overall. Ultimately, they set an American League record with 114 wins, although the Mariners would beat that record just a few years later.
Nevertheless, the 1998 Yankees had too much, going 11-2 during the postseason, including a four-game sweep of the Padres in the World Series to win their first of three straight titles.
9. Red Sox, 1946 (23-4)
Thanks to the Curse of the Bambino, we know the Red Sox didn’t win the World Series this year. However, they did have one of the hottest season starts in MLB history. Ted Williams won MVP this season, batting .342 with 38 home runs and helping Boston win 15 in a row early in the season to get the Red Sox to 23-4 by the middle of May.
They would win 104 games during the regular season and would take a 3-2 lead over the Cardinals in the World Series, only to lose Games 6 and 7 in St. Louis, spoiling such a brilliant start.
8. Mariners, 2001 (20-4)
You don’t tie an MLB record with 116 wins without arguably the best MLB season start ever. Bret Boone and Edgar Martinez both had amazing seasons while Ichiro Suzuki won both Rookie of the Year and MVP in his first season in the big leagues.
They went 20-4 to start the season and won the AL West by 14 games despite Oakland winning 102 games that season. However, the upstart Mariners perhaps weren’t ready for the postseason, losing to the Yankees in the ALCS, diminishing somewhat an otherwise historic season.
7. Mets, 1986 (20-4)
While this team got a little lucky during the World Series, the 1986 Mets showed early in the season that they were indeed one of the best MLB teams of all time. Before the season, they knew they were better than everyone, and they proved it with a 20-4 start that led to 108 wins during the regular season.
They basically had the NL East won by June, ultimately winning the division with a 21.5-game cushion. Of course, the Astros and Red Sox both pushed them hard in the postseason, but the Mets were able to prevail and finish the season with a world championship after their amazing start.
6. Tigers, 1984 (35-5)
Detroit’s hot streak at the start of the 1984 season lasted longer than any other on our list. Frankly, they were hot all season, although winning 35 out of 40 games out of the gate was beyond impressive after starting the year 9-0.
They could pitch, they could hit, and Sparky Anderson knew how to push the right buttons.
The Tigers ended up with 104 wins and the AL East crown before sweeping the Royals in the ALCS and coasting past the Padres in the World Series in five games to win the fourth championship in franchise history.
5. Red Sox, 2018 (17-2)
It’s no surprise that this team eventually won the World Series because the Red Sox had the best MLB season start we’ve seen in recent years. They actually lost on opening day but then rattled off nine straight wins before another eight-game winning streak in April to start the new season 17-2 under new manager Alex Cora.
Boston would eventually win 108 games during the regular season, winning the AL East by eight games, before beating the hated Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers to win the World Series, going 11-3 during the postseason.
4. Dodgers, 1955 (22-2)
Compared to some of the hottest season starts in MLB history, the Dodgers had a streak that lasted longer than most. Behind Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, MVP winner Roy Campanella, and others, they won 10 straight to open the season and 22 of their first 24 games.
Even for a team that had won the pennant four times in the previous eight seasons, it was an impressive way to start a season. In one of their last seasons in Brooklyn, the Dodgers won the National League with a 13.5-game cushion and then managed to take care of the Yankees in seven games to capture their first World Series.
3. Orioles, 1966 (12-1)
The 1966 Orioles are the perfect example of a team that started fast and kept it going all season. They won 12 of 13 to begin the season, getting a jump on the rest of the American League that eventually helped them win the division with a nine-game cushion. Frank Robinson and Boog Powell both hit over 30 home runs that season with Robinson winning the Triple Crown and MVP honors to lead the way.
Perhaps more importantly, the Orioles were unbeatable late in the season, sweeping the Dodgers in the World Series to win the first championship in franchise history while also kicking off a golden era in Baltimore that would last 20 years.
2. Braves, 1982 (13-0)
The Braves made history in 1982 by becoming the first team to win 13 in a row at the start of the season. It was an unprecedented run that was led by Dale Murphy, who ended up winning MVP honors that year.
It turns out, Atlanta would need every one of those 13 wins at the start of the season, as the Braves held off the Dodgers by one game and the Giants by two games to win the NL West. Alas, things fell apart for them in the playoffs, as they got swept in three games by the Cardinals in the NLCS.
1. Brewers, 1987 (13-0)
In 1987, the Brewers became the second team in big league history to start off the season with 13 straight wins, tying the longest MLB winning streak to begin a season.
Oddly enough, the Brew Crew was able to recover from that and finish with a respectable 91-71 record. But that only turned out to be good enough to finish third in the AL East, seven games off the pace, so they couldn’t turn one of the hottest season starts in MLB history into a playoff spot.