Can the Dodgers finish with MLB’s best record?
It is that time of the year again when the MLB regular season begins its home stretch. With just a little under two months to go until the regular season concludes, all types of permutations and calculations are doing the rounds.
Plenty of discussions about potential MLB World Series winners, division champions, and pennant winners in both leagues are obviously taking place. And there will be a lot more of that before the current campaign comes to a close.
With regards to the league’s best record, plenty of sides have made a massive impact this season. One of those are the Los Angeles Dodgers. After losing the last two World Series in a row, they are looking good to make it to MLB’s showpiece series once again. A lot of people are predicting that they will end the campaign with the MLB’s best record too. This is how strong they are looking right now.
Will they be able to pull it off? We take a look at what the Dodgers have got going for them so far this year.
Rating the Dodgers’ Chances
The Los Angeles Dodgers have dominated most of the stats this season. Currently having the best winning percentage in the MLB, they are on course to clinch yet another West Division crown in the National League. And just as it was the case in 2017, the Dodgers are eyeing the year’s best record in professional baseball.
During that historic year, the side from the City of Angels finished the regular season 104-58. Apart from being the best in the league, the Dodgers’ 2017 regular season stats were also the best in the history of Los Angeles as well as the third-best in franchise history.
A fifth consecutive NL West Division title was secured on the back of those numbers. This time, the Dodgers are looking at a seventh West Division championship in a row. And going by what we have already seen so far this season, few would bet against them.
The six-time World Series winners are sitting comfortably atop the West Division standings and there is clear daylight between them and the chasing pack. At the time of writing this piece (August 7, 2019), the Dodgers have won 20 games more than the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This is a bigger lead than the one they had during that epic run to the divisional title two years ago. Back then, Cody Bellinger and co. were ahead by some 14 games in the first week of August. So, it will need a collapse of epic proportions for the Dodgers to miss out on the West Division title for the 7th year running.
Elsewhere in the National League, the Atlanta Braves are the Dodgers’ closest challengers for the league’s best record. As of right now, the Dodgers have 9 more wins than the side from The Big Peach. They also have a 3-0 advantage over the Braves in their head-to-head series play this season.
The two teams are scheduled to meet again in a couple of weeks’ time. This will be the final regular season encounter between the two this campaign. Over in the Central Division, table-toppers, the Chicago Cubs have 15 less Ws than the Dodgers in the National League.
Moreover, the Dodgers’season series against the Cubs is already in the bag. And while the Saint Louis Cardinals may have had the Dodgers’ number during regular season play this year, it will probably not matter much if the two teams come across each other in the postseason.
The Best Record in the MLB
As far as the National League is concerned, the Dodgers should end up with the best record unless they suffer a monumental collapse. However, the race for the best record in the whole of the MLB is another matter altogether. The current battle is very tight and the Dodgers only have a slender advantage over their closest challengers.
In the American League, the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros have 75 wins each so far. The Minnesota Twins have come out on top in 70 of their games. With the Dodgers standing at 77 wins so far, you can expect this battle to go down to the wire.
The Yankees will be in LA later this month to take on the Dodgers on their own turf. Whoever wins this weekend series is likely to gain a tiebreaker in the event both teams are tied at the end of the season. While a loss against the Yankees won’t be a major dent in the Dodgers’ quest to post the best regular season record, it will certainly hand the initiative to the side from The Big Apple.
Given the injury crisis that has haunted the Yankees pretty much all season so far, the Dodgers will be quite confident when taking the field against them this month. And if the 6-time MLB champions can knock off the most successful franchise in professional baseball, it will certainly put them in the driving seat for the remainder of the regular season.
Then there are the Houston Astros. The 2017 World Series winners are most pundits’ hot favorites to go all the way again. They have a powerhouse offense with good strength in depth throughout the squad. So, you can expect them to fight tooth and nail with the Dodgers for the MLB’s best record.
Dodgers’ Injury and Fitness Updates
Manager Dave Roberts has been sweating over the fitness of utility players Kiké Hernández and Chris Taylor. Hernandez was seen doing agility drills earlier in the week while Taylor also had a few dry swings. Roberts expects both of them to require rehab assignments in the coming weeks.
On the other hand, corner infielder David Freese continues to target a postseason return. Roberts is hoping that Freese will be back by the end of this month or early next month. Pitcher Ross Stripling is due to begin a rehab assignment with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the coming week.
Overseas starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu is expected to make the lineup for this weekend’s series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. If not, then a return against the Miami Marlins next Tuesday is most likely.
Can the Dodgers finish with MLB’s best record?
Looking at all the stats, the Dodgers are certainly strong contenders for it. They are leading the charts in terms of wins and have left the chasing pack far behind in the National League. The only competition that they need to be wary of is likely to come from the American League.
The Astros and the Yankees are not that far behind. The Dodgers hold a slender lead at the moment but they will be confident of posting the best record. Whoever comes out on top, baseball fans are guaranteed a nail-biting finish to yet another pulsating MLB regular season.