102018-19*New York JetsNFL133244 RankSeasonTeamSportElo RatingRelative Rank Since 2000 82017-18Phoenix SunsNBA127721 RankSeasonTeamSportElo RatingRelative Rank from bottom 92018-19*Clemson TigersCFB210618 62017-18Golden State WarriorsNBA174511 32018-19*Alabama Crimson TideCFB22293 22018Houston AstrosMLB15982 32018Miami MarlinsMLB143015 72018-19*New Orleans SaintsNFL173011 92018-19*Arizona CardinalsNFL132639 62018-19*UTEP MinersCFB93219 52017-18Alabama Crimson TideCFB22116 102017-18Philadelphia EaglesNFL171818 12018Boston Red SoxMLB16101 In terms of pure Elo rating, the most dominant pro team of 2018 was the Golden State Warriors, who finished their own championship season with a 1745 mark. That was enough for us to anoint them the NBA’s greatest-ever dynasty, since it was their third title in four years. That said, the 2018 Warriors were also a victim of their own previous success. One reason they ranked “only” 11th in the NBA in Elo since 2000 was that three previous Golden State teams rate among the top 10 (the 2016-17 team came in first, the 2014-15 team was second, and the 2015-16 team was ninth). Also, their high raw Elo doesn’t earn them as high a rank as it would in other leagues because the best NBA teams tend to have much larger Elo ratings than their counterparts in other sports, which we adjust for by measuring each team relative to the best teams in its own sport.Perhaps surprisingly, the Villanova Wildcats’ NCAA championship season ranks ahead of the Warriors by this accounting. That’s because ’Nova — on the heels of its second national championship in three years — was more dominant relative to other recent champs. Other than Villanova’s own 2015-16 team (which ranks second-best among college basketball teams since 2000 by Elo), no other college team this decade cracked the top seven in Elo. By contrast, a number of recent NBA teams finished their seasons with better Elo marks than Golden State.You’ll notice a few teams listed above are still in the middle of their seasons. The Alabama Crimson Tide are rewriting their own considerable record books this season, currently forging the third-best college football Elo season since 2000. And although the New Orleans Saints are far from a Super Bowl lock, they have separated themselves from the pack more than we might be inclined to think, with a more than 80-point lead over the No. 2 Chiefs.Before we move on to the worst teams, I want to at least acknowledge a big omission in the rankings above: hockey! (We don’t have Elo ratings for hockey.) No 2017-18 NHL team was especially dominant,4According to SRS. but I’d be curious where the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning would stand in Elo. According to goal differential, they’re currently off to the league’s sixth-best 37-game start to a season since 2000, and they have an SRS score of +1.20 — a mark no team has matched over a full season since 1996.Worst team of 2018Baltimore Orioles (6th-worst season in MLB since 2000)If it wasn’t already apparent that MLB was an unbridled tankfest in 2018, the table below should underscore just how terrible this season’s crop of bad MLB teams were (mostly by design). Five of the 21 worst MLB seasons by Elo since 2000 all came in 2018, and none of this year’s teams were worse than the 47-win disgrace that played out the summer in Baltimore. Although my colleague Travis Sawchik and I concluded that the O’s could probably beat a bunch of minor leaguers, it wasn’t totally clear-cut — and that’s a ridiculous thing to be able to say about a major league ballclub. The 2018 Orioles were nothing more than a soul-crushing exercise in total futility, and it earned them the honor of our worst team of 2018. 22018Detroit TigersMLB142812 42017-18Villanova WildcatsCBB22075 * Current season still in progressTeams qualified if their season either started or ended in 2018. Among teams in MLB, the NFL, the NBA, NCAA football and NCAA men’s basketball.Source: ESPN * Current season still in progressTeams qualified if their season either started or ended in 2018. Among teams in MLB, the NFL, the NBA, NCAA football and NCAA men’s basketball.Source: ESPN 72018Kansas City RoyalsMLB143821 A cross-sport ranking of the crummiest teams of 2018Bottom 10 teams of the 2018 calendar year, based on end-of-season Elo rating relative to the worst teams in the same sport since 2000 The 2018 calendar year has been pretty incredible for sports fans. We saw a Winter Olympics and a World Cup, with Norway setting a new record for medals in the former and France’s young stars bursting onto the scene in the latter. In America’s professional ranks, some teams won their first-ever championships, while others kept winning so much we wondered if they’d broken their sport. And in college, the usual suspects continued to dominate.In commemoration of all the athletic feats we witnessed this year, we wanted to highlight the good (and the bad) of 2018 from a statistical perspective — to put everything into one bucket and see which performances, regardless of sport, will really stand out 10 or 20 years from now. I’ll mainly be sticking to the sports for which we have game-by-game Elo ratings and predictions, so that means a focus on men’s pro and college football and basketball, plus Major League Baseball. (Unfortunately, our club soccer data only goes back to 2016, so it’s difficult to put those numbers into historical context.)Even using Elo, it isn’t easy to judge teams across sports. In baseball, an Elo rating north of 1600 makes you an all-time great club; in the NBA, it makes you the sixth-best team in the Western Conference. So, to put all the teams on a similar scale, I gathered end-of-season1Or, for current seasons, the latest number available before publication. Elo marks for every team going back to 2000,2A period when the major pro leagues have all been roughly their current sizes in terms of teams and player pools. then ranked how 2018’s crop (any team whose season began or ended in this calendar year)3That means basketball and football schools and franchises can have two 2018 teams in our data set, since the previous season ended in the early part of this year and the current season began this fall. ranked relative to their sport’s best of the millennium.That process forms the basis of my best and worst team calculations. We also derived the best players of 2018 using a similar approach and determined the best upsets in the same manner, but we’ll save both of those groups for a follow-up article. OK, here goes … (Note: All data is as of Dec. 25, 2018.)Best team of 2018 Boston Red Sox (No. 1 season in MLB since 2000)As we noted after the Red Sox won the World Series in October, Boston’s championship squad belongs squarely in the conversation about the best teams in baseball history. They won 108 regular-season games, then stormed through the playoffs with an 11-3 record against a pair of 100-win American League opponents and a 92-win Dodgers team in the Fall Classic. The Red Sox’s year-end Elo rating of 1610 was easily the highest achieved by any baseball team this millennium, coming in 12 points ahead of the No. 2 team, this year’s Houston Astros — who Boston just happened to defeat in the ALCS. (Yes, it was a banner year for dominant baseball teams in 2018.) 42018Chicago White SoxMLB143417 82017-18New England PatriotsNFL172416 A cross-sport ranking of the best teams of 2018Top 10 teams of the 2018 calendar year, based on end-of-season Elo rating relative to the best teams in the same sport since 2000 52017-18Alabama A&M BulldogsCBB90817 12018Baltimore OriolesMLB14156 The UTEP Miners’ nightmarish football season is over,5They team is marked as “in progress” because while UTEP is finished, the college football season isn’t. with the Miners having somehow beaten Rice in early November to stave off a second consecutive 0-12 campaign. The 2017-18 Phoenix Suns are done too, having put the finishing touches on a 21-win season that earned them the top pick in this summer’s draft. (They took DeAndre Ayton, who seems like the real deal even if his team’s record is still horrific.)That leaves this season’s Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets, who are racing to the bottom of the NFL’s Elo rankings, as the only epically bad teams still playing. Arizona is in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft; despite their dismal play, the Jets aren’t even currently in line for the second overall pick because they are narrowly behind in a strength-of-schedule tiebreaker with the San Francisco 49ers.That does it for the teams; we’ll be back before New Year’s with a look at the best individual players and most amazing upsets of 2018.