Single Season Win Records in Each Major Professional Sport
With the Los Angeles Dodgers just less than 30 wins away from the MLB’s all-time win record (116), there is a good chance that history could be broken at the end of September. With just such a record in sight, let’s look back at the record for single-season win totals in each of the four major professional sports.
1906 Chicago Cubs (116-36)
While the 2001 Seattle Mariners also finished the regular season with 116 wins, the 1906 Cubs had a better win percentage (.763) so we’ll focus our attention on this historic season.
Led by first-year manager Frank Chance, the Cubs finished the year 20 games ahead of the second-place New York Giants in the National League. The team was absolutely dominating, leading the league in runs scored and fewest runs allowed. Trotting out four future Hall of Famers — Chance, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, Joe Tinker, and Johnny Evers — the Cubs were a marvel on the field. Pitcher Mordecai Brown set a then major league record for ERA with 1.04.
Chicago was, by far, the favorite to win the World Series. However, the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox upset the Cubs in six games, shocking the world.
2015-16 Golden State Warriors (73-9)
It was a narrative for the entire season, despite some concerns before Opening Night surrounding head coach Steve Kerr and his back. Then-assistant coach Luke Walton coached the team in Kerr’s absence and the Warriors didn’t miss a beat. Golden State started the year 21-0, setting a record for the best start to a season in all the major professional sports in America.
It wasn’t until game 25 that the Warriors saw a number besides zero in the loss column. The team would see that number tick up only eight more times during the regular season, finishing the year one game better than the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10) and setting the record for most regular season wins ever in the NBA. However, this wasn’t the only record this team set. Others included:
Most road wins in a regular season
Longest home winning streak (dating back to 14-15 season)
Most three-pointers made in a regular season
Back-to-back losses in regular season (0)
Multiple losses to same opponent in regular season (0)
And about 20 other NBA team and individual player records.
Yet, through all that prosperity, the season ended in heartbreak, as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Warriors in seven games to win the NBA title.
2007 New England Patriots (16-0)
Four teams in the NFL have recorded undefeated regular seasons since the inception of the league. The 1934 Chicago Bears won all 13 of their regular season games while, nine years later, the 1942 Bears went 11-0. The 1972 Miami Dolphins went 14-0, followed by three postseason wins including Super Bowl VII to finish with the league’s only-ever perfect season.
However, it is the 2007 New England Patriots, who finished with 16 wins and no losses in the regular season. It was a season that was marred by the tragic death of 24-year-old defensive end Marquise Hill. For the entire season, the Pats wore No. 91 decals on the back of their helmets to honor him.
As the season began, it was clear that this New England team was going to be nearly impossible to beat. The Pats were coming off the shocking loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the previous season’s AFC Championship (the Colts went on to win the Super Bowl) and the team was heading into a new year with a big chip on its shoulder. Lining up newly acquired receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker gave quarterback Tom Brady one of the most dangerous receiving corps in the league, while the defense retained Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel and lined up All-Pro tackle Vince Wilfork and All-Pro linebacker Mike Vrabel.
New England simply demoralized teams, setting the single season record for most points (589) and surpassing the 30-point mark in 12 games. They also surpassed the 50-point mark twice.
When the playoffs began, the Patriots took care of the Jacksonville Jaguars and then the San Diego Chargers to punch their ticket to Super Bowl XLII. Despite being the huge favorites to win over the NFC’s New York Giants, New England gave up a late fourth quarter drive highlighted by a miraculous catch from Giants receiver David Tyree. The Giants took the lead and kept it, as the potent New England offense was not able to score.
1995-1996 Detroit Red Wings (62-13-7)
It should be noted that there the team that holds the NHL’s single-season win record is NOT the same team that holds the single-season points record. The latter belongs to the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, who tallied 132 points. However, for our purposes, we’re focusing on the former, the 95-96 Detroit Red Wings.
NOTE: This was a great year for win-loss records, as the Chicago Bulls also set the mark for the NBA’s single-season record which held true for 20 years.
The Scotty Bowman-coached Red Wings were stacked with talent. In goal, Chris Osgood finished the year with a spectacular 39 wins, while star forward Sergei Federov led the team in goals (39), assists (68), and points (107). Detroit was phenomenal on both ends of the ice, especially on offense. The Red Wings finished as the only team in the league that season to score a goal in all 82 games. It also had a fantastic goal differential (+144), scoring 325 goals and giving up just 181.
Much like each of the other teams we’ve covered so far, Detroit was the absolute favorite to win the Stanley Cup. However, the team didn’t ride its wave of regular season success into the playoffs. In the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Red Wings dropped two games to the eighth-seed Winnipeg Jets, a team that shouldn’t have been on the same ice as Detroit. In the Semifinals against St. Louis, Detroit won the first two games before losing three straight, fighting from behind to win in seven games. The lackluster play finally caught up to the Red Wings in the Conference Finals, losing three of the first four games against Colorado before ultimately dropping the series in six games.