3. 1963 Yankees
The 1963 Yankees, buoyed by an amazing rotation, got swept in Los Angeles.
Without Mickey Mantle for much of the season, you could carefully assume the 1963 Yankees were their generation’s outlier. A swan dive would only be natural.
Nope. New York blitzed to their highest win total outside of ’61 and racked up 104 victories, even though Mantle broke a metatarsal in his foot by climbing the wall in an attempt to rob Brooks Robinson of the Orioles and missed two months. He played only 65 total games, thanks to a few different maladies.
This team struggled on offense (Roger Maris played only 90 games and hit 23 homers), and stalwart Yogi Berra largely faded into the background, but Elston Howard and a 22-year-old Joe Pepitone picked up a good portion of the slack. Their strength was the rotation, though — nobody in the Yanks’ power-packed fivesome of Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry, Jim Bouton, Al Downing, and Stan Williams had an ERA above 3.22.
When it came time for the World Series, though, none of that mattered — the NYY got absolutely buzzsawed by Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, losing Games 3 and 4 1-0 and 2-1, with Koufax winning both the first and final contest. Tommy Davis hit .400 for the Dodgers; Mantle hit .133. Defected Yankee Moose Skowron hit .385 for LA; Maris went 0-for-5 in the despondent dugout.
Ultimately, elite pitching beat acceptable hitting. Can’t win ’em all.