I recently downloaded Rally's Historical WAR database, so I thought I'd share some results I derived from it. First I thought I would add the WAR for each player on each team to find WAR for each team in each season. This approach is one way to determine the greatest teams of all-time. Typically in such discussions the 1927 "Murderers' Row" Yankees or 1998 Yankees lead the discussion. Among teams that did not win the World Series, the 1906 Cubs and 2001 Mariners both get a lot of attention as both won a record 116 regular season games. Perhaps unsurprisingly then all four of those teams are among the top 5 in WAR, but none are #1 on the list. That honor belongs to the 1939 Yankees at 70.1 WAR. That comes as a bit of a surprise to me, as Babe Ruth was long gone by that point and Lou Gehrig was a non-factor (he played in only 8 games and retired in the middle of the season due to his illness). The top Pirates squad (from 1902) came in at #7 overall, but that season came before the World Series (the Pirates played in the first World Series in 1903). The World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates of 1909 appear on the list at #20 overall.
I then thought it might be interesting to see which teams have compiled the most WAR of all-time. Unsurprisingly the Yankees top this list as well. In a bit of a surprise though, the #2 slot belongs to a team without a World Series Championship for over a century (the Cubs). The #3 spot then belongs to my beloved Pirates who just set the record for most consecutive losing seasons. I must add the huge caveat that WAR is an accumulation stat so teams that played more games will have an edge. That said, it's nice to be reminded that the Pirates have not always been terrible and in fact the Honus Wager teams of the early 20th century were some of the greatest of all-time.
I should note that I did not do any adjustments for length of season. The 162 game schedule did not arrive until 1961, so that could affect some results. I also did not combine teams that might have used different IDs in my databases for different seasons. For instance the Angels of late have an ID of "ANA" but previously they were "CAL." Ideally I should have corrected for this but no obvious quick fix presented itself for now.
Click here for the original post that includes links to the derived data.