And just like that, here we are. The Los Angeles Dodgers are once again Champions of the NL West, and poised for another World Series run. And once again, Dodger fans know that what happened in the regular season doesn’t mean much if they still don’t get that elusive ring.
The Dodgers finished the regular season with a 43-17 record, which extrapolates to a 116 win season. They won the most games in the majors by three games and only lost one series the entire season. Their run differential is plus 136, which is 52 more than the next closest teams. They lead the NL in runs scored, home runs, and runs allowed. They also lead the majors in team ERA, wins, WHIP and batting average against, while also allowing the least amount of walks and earned runs against them.
But Dodgers fans are used to their team leading in multiple categories and still not winning the World Series (except for 2017, which we all know they should have won for reasons other than bullpen mis-management).
The playoffs is where it all resets. What happened in the regular season no longer matters aside from where it places you in the playoff hierarchy.
Since the Dodgers did so well, they are the number one overall seed, and will face off against the Milwaukee Brewers in the Wild Card round. The Brew Crew slide into the playoffs with a 29-31 record, a less than .500 team in a year of expanded playoffs. But in this year, in this format, the playoffs become even more of a crap shoot.
All the Brewers need to do is steal the first game and then the Dodgers are back on their heels and the Dodgers playoff lives flash before all their fans eyes because been there, done that.
But somehow, I don’t think this is the year the Dodgers fall prey to those pitfalls. Because this team is that good, and have been there, done that. 2019’s failure is still fresh in the their mind. And 2017 is also fresh in their minds, thanks to all of the revelations about that playoff run and World Series over the winter.
This team is probably the best team the Dodgers have had during these last eight seasons. That 2017 was fantastic, and yet this team has a chance to be better. It’s not all up to Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen this year, and not should it be left up to them (looking at you, Dave Roberts).
This team is solid one through nine in the lineup, even if someone like Max Muncy continues to slump. Will Smith is hitting so well they’re going to carry three catchers so they can have Smith DH and Austin Barnes behind the plate. Chris Taylor has had such a great season he’s worked himself into a starting second baseman job. Mookie Betts speaks for himself, he and Justin Turner will be the calm leaders this team can depend on. And the bullpen is full of pitchers who can help ease the load of Jansen, and it won’t be just one other guy to have to help him like Brandon Morrow in 2017.
I had a good feeling about ‘17 until it was literally stolen from the Dodgers, and I have a good feeling about this year too. They are the best team in baseball, and they have all the experience and failure in the past to propel them to playing like it this season. No, the regular season doesn’t count now that the playoffs have started. The past playoffs do, and I believe the Dodgers will use all that to win the World Series this year.