All-Time Single-Season Teams: The American League simulation

Ty Cobb was the best of the best in our simulated all-time single-season league.
Ty Cobb was the best of the best in our simulated all-time single-season league. (Getty)

ALL-TIME SINGLE-SEASON TEAMS: CHC | STL | MIL | CIN | PIT | CHW | DET | KCR | CLE | MIN | ARI | COL | SD | LAD | SF | SEA | HOU | LAA | TEX | OAK | BOS | NYY | BAL | TOR | TBR | MIA | NYM | ATL | WAS | PHI | AL & NL | By the numbers | Worst team


Over the last few weeks, we've been looking at the best all-time single-seasons at each position for all 30 clubs. That is the best season by a catcher, the best season by a first baseman, the best season by a second baseman, so on and so on. The results for every team is linked above, ditto our combined AL and NL squads.

So, now that we have all those teams put together, we had to simulate a season, right? Of course we did. We used the Diamond Mind Baseball system ( with the help of Dream Time Baseball's Michael Cimilluca ( He did all the grunt work, so give him thank you and a big round of applause.

In a perfect world we would simulate about a thousand seasons and post the averages, but that really wasn't practical for us. We simulated only one season, so the data is more subject to randomness. That makes it kind of fun, in my opinion. The simulation was run using present day divisions and ballparks, and the rosters were filled out with "others," meaning the guys who were honorable mentions in each post. Injuries were turned off so the starters played pretty much all game, every game. Got all that? Good.

This post will wrap up the American League regular season. The National League results are linked above and the postseason simulation results will be posted later today. Let's dive into the AL results.


American League Standings
East W L Pct GB RF RA
Boston Red Sox 101 61 .623 - 982 756
New York Yankees 92 70 .568 9 973 859
Baltimore Orioles 92 70 .568 9 858 827
Toronto Blue Jays 74 88 .457 27 810 820
Tampa Bay Rays 37 125 .228 64 578 956
Central W L Pct GB RF RA
Cleveland Indians 111 51 .685 - 1046 718
Detroit Tigers 90 72 .556 21 1002 928
Minnesota Twins 78 84 .481 33 781 881
Chicago White Sox 77 85 .475 34 843 904
Kansas City Royals 69 93 .426 42 805 876
West W L Pct GB RF RA
Oakland Athletics 95 67 .586 - 964 843
Seattle Mariners 85 77 .525 10 752 711
Houston Astros 84 78 .519 11 754 742
Texas Rangers 69 93 .426 26 869 961
Los Angeles Angels 61 101 .377 34 665 900

So, how about those Indians? They had both the best record and run differential (+328) in the simulation and it wasn't all that close either. The Red Sox finished second in both categories. The (Devil) Rays, on the other hand, had by far the worst record and run differential (-378). They won 37 games and no other team in the simulation won fewer than 60. Ouch.

The three division races really weren't races at all. The Red Sox, Indians and Athletics all won their divisions easily. We used the old single wild-card playoff system, so the Yankees and Orioles tied for the final postseason spot. Our tiebreaker was head-to-head record, which New York won in the simulation. If this had been real life, the Yankees and O's would have played a one-game tiebreaker. Baltimore got hosed, but it's nothing compared to what happened in the NL Central. Make sure you click the NL link at the top of the post for that mess.

Here are the AL postseason matchups:

ALDS 1: Yankees (WC) at Indians
ALDS 2: Athletics at Red Sox

Those are best-of-5 series while both the ALCS and World Series are best-of-7 series. Now let's dive into the individual player results.


American League Batting Leaders
Player AVG
Ty Cobb, DET .418
Nap Lajoie, CLE .415
Frank Baker, OAK .351
Nap Lajoie, OAK .351
George Brett, KC .348
Home Runs
Player HR
Babe Ruth, NYY 63
Jeff Bagwell, HOU 62
Jim Thome, CLE 61
Roger Maris, NYY 55
Travis Hafner, CLE 54
Runs Batted In
Player RBI
Frank Thomas, CHW 167
Ted Williams, BOS 159
Jim Thome, CLE 150
M. Cabrera, DET 149
Danny Tartabull, KC 148
Player H
Ty Cobb, DET 307
Nap Lajoie, CLE 257
Nap Lajoie, OAK 245
Frank Baker, OAK 242
Ichiro Suzuki, SEA 235
On Base
Player OBP
Ted Williams, BOS .477
Nap Lajoie, CLE .459
Norm Cash, DET .459
Ty Cobb, DET .457
George Brett, KC .419
Player SLG
Babe Ruth, NYY .700
Nap Lajoie, CLE .679
Ty Cobb, DET 677
George Brett, KC .626
Lou Gehrig, NYY .623
Stolen Bases
Player SB
Ty Cobb, DET 77-13
H. Baker, OAK 55-22
Henderson, OAK 47-17
C. Cedeno, HOU 46-17
R. Alomar, TOR 46-19
Player 3B
Ty Cobb, DET 40
George Stone, BAL 17
Devon White, TOR 16
Norm Cash, DET 14
Joe Jackson, CHW 14

Yes, Ty Cobb actually had 307 hits, including 241 against right-handed pitchers. Forty of those 307 hits were triples while 53 were doubles. He also stole 77 bases in 90 attempts and had a 34-game hitting streak at one point. That's what happens when you post a .454 BABIP. Ridiculous.

Babe Ruth unsurprisingly tops the home run, extra-base hit (118) and slugging percentage leaderboards while Ted Williams took home the walks (160) and on-base percentage crowns. Tris Speaker had the most and second most doubles -- he doubled 66 times with Boston and 59 times with Cleveland. Poor Jason Castro was overmatched in our all-time single-season league, striking out a record 250 times.

Make sure you click through for the full AL batting leaderboard for all sorts of stats, including splits. Bret Boone managed to hit .431/.520/.719 against left-handed pitchers, for example. Reggie Jackson was intentionally walked 43 times. Danny Tartabull drove in 126 runs against righties. Fun!


American League Pitching Leaders
Player W-L
P. Martinez, BOS 21-6
M. Mussina, BAL 21-6
R. Clemens, BOS 19-6
D. McLain, DET 19-7
A. Joss, CLE 17-7
Earned Run Average
Player ERA
R. Johnson, SEA 3.00
J. Santana, MIN 3.14
B. Saberhagen, KC 3.43
R. Halladay, TOR 3.50
L. Tiant, CLE 3.63
Player K
P. Martinez, BOS 275
R. Johnson, SEA 268
Y. Darvish, TEX 228
M. Scott, HOU 227
H. Iwakuma, SEA 217
Player S-BS
J. Papelbon, BOS 41-5
J. Putz, SEA 37-7
J. Mesa, CLE 36-4
R. Myers, BAL 36-6
H. Wilhelm, CHW 34-8

I'm kind of bummed the pitching numbers are so ... normal. Pedro Martinez going 21-6 with a 3.83 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 275 strikeouts in 251 2/3 innings is pretty believable. The ERA might be high, but this is a league where a guy had 307 hits. Randy Johnson and Johan Santana have a real nice lead in ERA over everyone else while Yu Darvish's 12.3 K/9 was two full strikeouts better than anyone else.

My favorite quirky stats: David Robertson led the league in balks (seven) despite only throwing 83 2/3 innings, Tim Hudson led in ground ball double plays (43) and Larry Dierker had the lowest BABIP (.219). The Big Unit held left-handed hitters to a .162/.242/.294 batting line, which is actually better (in terms of OPS) than the actual .199/.278/.294 line they put up against him during his career. Again, make sure you click through for the full AL pitching leaderboards.


We can't really hand out a Rookie of the Year award and a Manager of the Year is pretty pointless, but we can name an MVP and a Cy Young winner. You bet we can.

MVP: Ty Cobb, 1911 Tigers. Had to be the Georgia Peach and not just because of that insane hit total. He led the league in hits, batting average (.418), runs (184), triples (40), steals (77), total bases (497) and runs created (230.6) while ranking top four in on-base percentage (.457), slugging percentage (.677), extra-base hits (112) and OPS (1.134). Do all that while playing a premium up-the-middle position (center field) and you're getting my MVP vote. Nap Lajoie, the 1904 Indians version, would be my runner-up.

Cy Young: Pedro Martinez, 2000 Red Sox. This was a tough choice. Randy Johnson, Johan Santana and Roger Clemens all had excellent seasons as well. Ultimately, I went with Pedro because he led the league in wins (21), strikeouts (275), on-base percentage against (.273), innings (251 2/3) and WHIP (1.04) while also finishing top 10 in ERA (3.83), batting average against (.216), hit rate (7.2 H/9), walk rate (2.2 BB/9) and strikeout rate (9.8 K/9). Yeah, he did lead the league with 50 home runs allowed, but that's a function of his home ballpark and throwing so many innings more than anything. Like I said, this was a close call, but Martinez gets my vote for the Cy Young.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for,,,... Full Bio

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