On September 29, 2019, the Los Angeles Dodgers, undefeated in the final week of that regular season, claimed their 106th win, breaking the franchise’s 66-year record. On October 3, 2021, following another furious late-season winning streak, they matched it. And on September 28, 2022, with their 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres, they set a new mark with their 107th victory, adding to what had already been an unprecedented race. No team has ever gone through three full seasons in a row with more than 106 wins — until the 2019-22 Dodgers, who have done so every year except for the abbreviated 2020 COVID-19 season (when they won 43 of 60 regular season games, sailed at a winning pace of 116 and won) Ultimately a championship).
Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ chief of baseball operations, saw a mention of the record on social media last week and couldn’t believe it much.
“My hope, and our shared goal, is not just to win championships, but to look at this period as the golden age of baseball Dodgers, which really says something about the franchise,” Friedman said. “Seeing some of these things helps put them in context over the past few years. We obviously have a lot of work to do, but I’ve found some of them quite amazing.”
The current Dodgers wouldn’t contend for regular season wins with a record 116, but they were still on track to become the sixth team in major league history to reach 111. The running difference plus 322 is already the fourth-highest team since 1920; Only the New York Yankees of 1927, 1936, and 1939 did better.
Dating back to 2013, when the Dodgers began a 10-year stint of nine divisional titles, the Dodgers won 927 major games in the regular season, 72 more than the second-place Yankees. The gap is larger in recent years. The Dodgers are 362-177 years old since the start of the 2019 season, 29 1/2 games ahead of the second-placed Houston Astros. The running differential during this stretch is a 1,000 plus. The closest team, the Astros, are over 701.
It is a historically overwhelming march of success. However, these Dodgers are not necessarily considered a breed, at least not in the traditional sense, because their regular season prowess rarely extends into October, when trophies are won and legends are created.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts thinks that might be shortsighted.
“We don’t take anything away from winning the world championship; the world championship is the ultimate prize,” he said. “But I will say the way to get there these days is more difficult than it has ever been. So being able to get through a tough season with all the things you have to go through, staying consistent and winning baseball games — that’s a lot to be proud of. But you’re always measured by trophies. , and this tape, is what it is.”
Major League Baseball, which hosts nearly twice as many NBA games and nearly 10 times as many NFL games, focuses more on regular season results than other sports. But only teams that win trophies are remembered though. And when it comes to success in the final matches, the Big Four sports are not much different when it comes to winning their best teams. In this century, teams with at least a share of the best regular season record have won the championship only six out of 22 times in MLB. The NFL produced the same total. In the NBA, she was seventh. In the NHL, four.
But that doesn’t explain why post-baseball season feels so random.
“It’s a little cliched, but baseball is the only sport where you can’t control the ball when you’re playing with it,” said third-player Dodgers. Justin Turner He said. “I think that’s what makes it a great game, and that’s what makes it one of those things where it doesn’t matter what you say on paper, as it usually does in other sports. Usually the best team in other sports wins paper, but in baseball, whatever One day you have a guy who goes out and performs really well on the hill and you lose a game. You go into the playoffs and you play in this short series, the five-game series, a three-game series — one pitcher can change the post-season momentum.”
The Dodgers know this better than any modern baseball franchise, having been eliminated by the eventual world champions in four of the past five years (the other being the season they won themselves). Three of these series — versus the 2017 Astros, 2019 Washington Nationals, and 2021 Atlanta Braves — are separated by nothing more than a run. This does not absolve them of blame, of course. Along the way, there were script changes that went awry, existing decisions backfired, entire offenses going cold, and teams that were simply powerless when it mattered most.
Post-season expectations for this year’s Dodgers are as high as they should be, as they should be. They have a lead of 21 games in their league, 9 1/2 games for the No. 1 seed in the National League and 5 1/2 games for the top record in a major. Their pitchers boast the lowest tier of their era, and their pitchers boast the highest level of operations.
But they are not without concerns.
Despite their dominance, the Dodgers will enter October with what amounts to a patchwork cast. Walker Buhler Too wounded to be an ace and Craig Kimbrel It was too ineffective to be closer to them. Dustin May was put on the injured list on Saturday with a severity in his lower back. Tony Gonsulin, forearm stress nursing since late August; And the Blake Traininwho has spent all year dealing with a troublesome right shoulder, are major questions heading toward her. Julio Urias And the Clayton Kershaw are locks for fixing the swivel; The show plan that bypasses them seems remarkably vague.
Friedman has consistently expressed confidence that the Dodgers will deliver what amounts to an elite cast, no matter how it changes. But they’ll obviously be creative in how to take advantage of it, with shooters starting to gain each other and any number of boosters finishing games.
The question is: Can this strategy sustain itself throughout the entire post-season?
“It happened in ’20,” Friedman noted.
The Dodgers finally triumphed that year, breaking a 32-year drought to produce what was hitherto the only title of this historic race. Organization members often claim that winning the tournament was more difficult than any other, and it’s not hard to see an advantage in this argument – that post-season was played in a bubble, with no in-series rest days, few fans in the stands and bigger concerns. From real life it surrounds everything. But it was also unconventional. Another title, to crown a traditional season, would go a long way toward validating a Dodgers race that has seen several promising seasons end in disappointment.
“I hear you, and I understand that,” said Roberts, who is best known for securing the Dodgers’ 2022 World Championship titles six months ago. “We’re not going to run away from that. I just know how hard it will be to win in October.”
Turner found himself in COVID protocol when the Dodgers scored the final in 2020, then famously and controversially breached it for gathering on the field with his teammates for a photo. Since then, it has been driven not so much by narrative construction as by the spoils of traditional heroism – champagne celebration, parade, public interaction with fans, all of which was unreal at the time.
“I think it leads a lot of men into this room,” he said.
Roberts wants to win everything as badly as anyone else. But he believes his Dodgers have established themselves “perfectly” as a breed regardless, citing the difficulty of the regular season for baseball and the added difficulty of winning it all while MLB continues to expand its playing field. He considers the ’90s Dynasty Braves to be a dynasty too, although their annual run for division titles has only produced one championship. Good or bad, the Dodgers have gone down a similar path.
“Fans and the media saying ‘If the Dodgers or the Yankees don’t win the World Series, it’s a lost season,’ I think it’s unfair and it’s a lazy process,” Roberts said. “They don’t appreciate the ride. What the real fans do is they appreciate the whole ride. They also understand how hard it was. That was one of the messages I got last year when we lost to Atlanta. I said, ‘We lost against a very hot team, and anyone who says it was A lost season or a lost year has no idea what it’s like to wear this uniform. I stand by that.”