The Los Angeles Dodgers are well on their way to a 10th straight postseason appearance. Currently boasting the best record in baseball at 92-42 and on pace for a 111-win season, no team has dominated their opposition more than the Dodgers.
The Dodgers currently hold a staggering 19-game lead in an NL West that many thought would be one of the more competitive divisions in baseball.
The San Diego Padres, who are clinging to the third wild card spot in the National League, have had a rollercoaster season that has included its fair share of disappointment, including the absence of then injured and now suspended Fernando Tatis Jr.
The San Francisco Giants have looked nothing better than a mere shell of the team that rattled off 107 wins during the regular season a year ago while edging the Dodgers out for the NL West crown.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are a couple years away from being taken seriously from a competitive standpoint, with most of their organizational talent residing in the minor leagues.
Lastly, the Colorado Rockies are still catching up to their divisional counterparts when it comes to the combination of organizational depth and talent, as they sit 17 games out of a playoff spot.
Star Power in the Lineup
It is no secret that the Los Angeles Dodgers roster is loaded with some of the premier players in the sport. From top to bottom, arguably no other starting lineup presents a threat quite like the lineup that manager Dave Roberts trots onto the filed on a daily basis.
Highlighted by former league MVPs Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, the lineup possesses a dual-threat approach that is seldom seen in today’s game. Joining Betts and Freeman among the elite hitters in the lineup this year are Trea Turner, Gavin Luz, Will Smith and Justin Turner. All six of these hitters currently hold an OPS+ of 115 or higher.
The other three players in the Dodgers everyday lineup, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Chris Taylor, have all produced at least above average offensive production at some point in their careers. Bellinger won NL Rookie of the Year in 2017 and followed it up with an NL MVP two years later. Muncy had three top-15 finishes in NL MVP voting from 2018-2021. Taylor, a super-utility man has a career .786 OPS and 109 OPS+ with the Dodgers.
The Dodgers sit at or near the top of most offensive ranks across the major leagues this season. They rank first in runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage; fourth in home runs, fifth in hits, and are tied for sixth in stolen bases.
Pitching Runs Deep
Moving on to the pitching side of things, the story remains the same. For several years now, the Dodgers have had a very deep pitching staff from the starting rotation to the bullpen.
Clayton Kershaw, who signed a one-year deal this offseason to remain in Los Angeles where he has played his entire career, has had another dominant season. In 16 starts, he has a 2.59 ERA and 2.70 FIP while averaging just over nine strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Newcomers Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney have each had career seasons in which both flash ERAs below three in over 200 innings between the two.
Julio Urias has been a model of consistency for the Dodgers rotation since entering the league in 2016. His career ERA sits just below three and his season ERA of 2.29 is his career best.
Tony Gonsolin, who is currently on the 15-day injured list with a forearm injury, has a 2.50 ERA for his career and an elite 2.10 ERA that helped reward him with his first career all-star appearance.
Walker Buehler, who was having his worst year since entering the league in 2017 yet still performed above the league average level, had Tommy John surgery recently that will keep him sidelined for at least a year. His absence makes the emergences of other Dodgers starting pitchers all the more important.
The bullpen for the Dodgers has a mix of emerging talent and experience that is needed for a postseason run. Craig Kimbrel, David Price, Chris Martin and Blake Treinen, who is set to return from injury soon, are among those who have played in their fair share of postseasons and have been put in plenty of high-leverage situations throughout their careers.
Breakout seasons from Evan Phillips, Caleb Ferguson and Yency Almonte, who all have ERAs well below two, have helped turn the bullpen into a force for Los Angeles this season.
The Chase For 8
For a team that has boasted the talent that they have for the better part of a decade now, the Los Angeles Dodgers probably feel underwhelmed with just one championship to show for it.
Before they hoisted the Commissioner’s Trophy concluding the COVID-shortened season in 2020, it was countless heartbreaking postseason exits and frustrating meltdowns that created a narrative that the Dodgers could not win in October and were simply not capable of going the distance. That narrative remains true when only considering full seasons played under traditional circumstances that the 2020 season lacked.
The regular season has once again been no issue for the Dodgers. With a lineup that can produce from top to bottom and a pitching staff that has the talent and depth to go deep into any postseason series, to go along with plenty of postseason experience, the Dodgers have the best chance of any team to win the World Series this year.
If all goes according to plan, it should be another fun and exciting postseason at Chavez Ravine that concludes with an eighth championship for the Dodgers.