Well, it’s not as if we didn’t see this coming.
The Los Angeles Dodgers won 104 games in 2017 and a franchise-record 106 games in both 2019 and 2021. When they added Freddie Freeman in the offseason, they were already widely assigned a place among baseball’s all-time teams even before taking the field.
Turns out that the predictions might have been understating the case. The Dodgers are, as San Diego Padres owner Peter Seidler recently called them, a dragon. And there seems to be no stopping them as they consume everything in their wake.
The Dodgers’ 12-game winning streak did come to an end Sunday in Kansas City. They fell a game short of matching the L.A. franchise record after failing to score for the first time in 40 games in a 4-0 shutout loss against the Royals. But this was no ordinary win streak — they won all 12 games by multiple runs, something no team has done in 100 years (a feat last achieved by the 1922 Pittsburgh Pirates).
Since the All-Star break, the Dodgers have been virtually unbeatable. Pitching, hitting, defense — in all facets of the game — they are dominating with a baseball-best 19-4 record.
The Dodgers have an MLB-best ERA of 2.68 in that stretch, and their pitchers are holding opposing hitters to a .209/.273/.321/.594 slash line with only 14 home runs allowed, the fewest in baseball. Offensively, their second-half OPS of .851 tops everyone, and their 33 home runs are just two fewer than the MLB-leading Yankees and Cardinals. Since the break, Mookie Betts has a team-leading .953 OPS and six home runs, one more than Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy. And L.A.’s defensive efficiency of .723 is the best in the National League, just behind the Houston Astros’ majors-leading .724.
For the season, the Dodgers have outscored the opposition by 247 runs, a pace that puts them on track to finish with a run differential of 354, a number last exceeded by the 1927 New York Yankees of Ruth and Gehrig. L.A. also is on pace to finish with 113 wins, just three short of the all-time record of 116 set by the 1906 Chicago Cubs and matched by the 2001 Seattle Mariners.
“The thing that stands out most about this group is just the intent to show up each day to win a ballgame,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters after Sunday’s loss. “It’s as good a team offense as I’ve seen, and as far as preventing runs, whether it be the starter or the guy coming out of the pen, they’ve all done a fantastic job.”
Whether this all translates to postseason success remains to be seen. The L.A. Dodgers have won 100 or more games five times in their history (1962, 1974, 2017, 2019, 2021), and none one of those teams won the World Series. For now, though, they hold a five-game lead over the New York Mets for best record in the NL and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
And here’s something to think about when wondering how the Dodgers can keep topping themselves — picture Shohei Ohtani playing in Dodger Stadium.
They went hard after the Los Angeles Angels two-way star when he first came over from Japan, and he was very impressed by their presentation, although at the time there was no designated hitter in the NL. That’s not the case anymore. So file that away for future reference.
For the second straight week, the Dodgers were voted the unanimous No. 1 team in our MLB Power Rankings. Let’s take a closer look.
MLB Power Rankings
Rankings are determined by staff vote
Records and statistics are through August 14
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (79-34, Last week: 1): Freddie Freeman has 37 doubles, putting him on pace for 53, one more than the franchise record of 52 set by Johnny Frederick in 1929. The L.A. franchise record of 49 was set by Shawn Green in 2003. Freeman hit a career-high 44 doubles for Atlanta in 2018 when he led the NL.
2. New York Mets (75-40, LW: 2): Daniel Vogelbach has more than filled the hole at DH since being acquired from the Pirates on July 24. He has reached base in 15 of the 16 games in which he has played multiple innings, posting a .308/.429/.558/.987 slash line with three home runs and 11 RBIs.
3. Houston Astros (75-41, LW: 4): Lance McCullers Jr. gave the already-loaded Astros a huge lift Saturday, when he pitched six scoreless innings against Oakland in his first start of 2022 after missing the season’s first four months with a flexor tendon strain. He joins a rotation that leads the majors with 68 quality starts.
4. Atlanta Braves (70-46, LW: 5): Michael Harris, the 21-year-old center field phenom, was promoted to a starring role direct from Double A. Now, with second basemen Ozzie Albies and Orlando Arcia sidelined by injuries, the Braves are looking for big things from 21-year-old infielder Vaughn Grissom, who has played 17 games above Class A and homered over Fenway Park’s Green Monster in his major-league debut. Grissom and Tigers rookie Riley Greene were teammates in suburban Orlando at Hagerty High.
5. New York Yankees (72-43, LW: 3): They are just 3-11 in their last 14 games decided by a single run since July 9, losing four in a row before edging the Red Sox 3-2 on Saturday.
6. San Diego Padres (65-52, LW: 7): It was striking to hear both general manager A.J. Preller and several Padres players address the topic of greater accountability from Fernando Tatis Jr., who was suspended by MLB for 80 games following a positive PED test. This has been a wasted season for the 23-year-old shortstop, whose expected imminent return from a fractured wrist resulting from a motorcycle accident was sabotaged by the positive drug test. Winning back the trust of the organization and the clubhouse will be no easy task.
7. Philadelphia Phillies (63-51, LW: 6): Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez deemed the Phillies unwatchable because of their porous defense. They have actually tightened up their glove work in the last couple of months, but it was their 2-for-21 hitting with runners in scoring position that led to two losses in three games against the Mets in their weekend showdown. Help may be on the way: Bryce Harper is expected to take batting practice on the field Monday for the first time since fracturing his left thumb. A Sept. 1 return may be realistic, barring any setbacks.
8. St. Louis Cardinals (63-51, LW: 9): Albert Pujols’ two-homer game Sunday, his first multi-homer game at Busch Stadium since June 4, 2011, could not have come at a better time for the Cardinals, who won a series against the Brewers for the first time this season after splitting three four-game series. Pujols’ multi-homer game was the 63d of his career, tying Willie Mays for fifth all time.
9. Cleveland Guardians (61-53, LW: 15): The Guardians gave up on Franmil Reyes, who hit 37 home runs in 2019 and 30 last season and was their Opening Day cleanup hitter in 2022. The club was not happy with his conditioning after the lockout, and he never recovered from a dreadful April (10 for 74, .135, 35 strikeouts). He had nine home runs and 104 strikeouts in 70 games before he was DFA-ed by Cleveland and picked up by the Cubs.
10. Milwaukee Brewers (61-52, LW: 10): They have lorded over AL opponents in interleague play by going 14-4. The Brewers and the Dodgers (15-5) have baseball’s best records in interleague play this year.
11. Toronto Blue Jays (61-52, LW: 8): With center fielder George Springer intermittently battling elbow issues this season — he’s currently on the injured list — signing Jackie Bradley Jr. after his release by the Red Sox made sense for Toronto. He hasn’t hit for two seasons, but Bradley’s glove and arm still play. He also gives the Blue Jays some flexibility. Newcomer Whit Merrifield, an infielder by trade, has been starting in Springer’s absence.
12. Seattle Mariners (62-54, LW: 12): This is where, after facing the Yankees and Astros seemingly every day after the All-Star break, the Mariners were supposed to take advantage of a soft schedule. That didn’t work out so well over the weekend, as they dropped two of three against the Rangers. They have a chance to get back on track this week against the Angels and Athletics.
13. Tampa Bay Rays (60-53, LW: 11): Last year, the Rays had 10 players with 10 or more home runs, led by Brandon Lowe’s 39. This year, they have two with Randy Arozarena (15) and Isaac Paredes (14).
14. Baltimore Orioles (59-55, LW: 13): They’re no longer AL East patsies. Last season, the Orioles went 20-56 against division opponents, including losing 18 of 19 games against Tampa Bay. This season, the surprising O’s have held their own, going 23-27 against the AL East including 9-10 against the Rays.
15. Minnesota Twins (58-55, LW: 14): They are looking at uncertain futures for two of their top prospects, outfielder-first baseman Alex Kirilloff and shortstop Royce Lewis, both of whom were expected to be contributors this season. Kirilloff, who tore a ligament in his right wrist last May and was shut down twice this season with wrist issues, underwent season-ending surgery last Tuesday to shorten the ulnar bone in the wrist. He sat out all of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Lewis is off crutches after tearing the ACL in his right knee for the second time in two years. They’re both expected back next season, but can they reach the heights once projected for them?
16. Chicago White Sox (59-56, LW: 16): Shortstop Tim Anderson’s finger surgery is expected to keep him out for the next six weeks, meaning there will be just two weeks left in the season when he returns. He had struggled since returning from a groin injury on June 20, batting just .245 with one home run in 39 games. His absence continues a nightmarish string of injuries to front-line starters. The only White Sox stars untouched by injury are ace Dylan Cease and first baseman Jose Abreu.
17. Boston Red Sox (57-59, LW: 17): Tommy John surgery, rib cage fracture, fractured left pinky, fractured right wrist — it’s been one thing after another for Chris Sale, whose hope of returning to pitch this season ended when he fell off a bicycle and fractured his wrist. Since signing a five-year, $145 million contract extension at the start of the 2019 season, Sale has pitched 57 1/3 innings, including just 5 2/3 innings this year.
18. San Francisco Giants (57-57, LW: 18): The Giants’ three-game sweep of the Pirates leaves them six games out of a wild-card spot. A four-game set at home against Arizona, followed by three in Colorado, could prove a springboard back into playoff contention.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks (53-61, LW: 19): D-backs first baseman Christian Walker has driven in 21 runs in 22 games since the All-Star break, with 10 extra-base hits (five doubles, five home runs).
20. Texas Rangers (51-63, LW: 20): They claimed back-to-back wins against the Mariners over the weekend, ending a nine-game losing streak against Seattle, the Rangers’ longest single-season skid against any opponent.
21. Los Angeles Angels (51-64, LW: 22): Mike Trout took batting practice both Saturday and Sunday and is expected to face live BP at some point this week, as the Angels’ leading man seeks to put to rest speculation that his back issues will remain a chronic concern going forward.
22. Colorado Rockies (51-66, LW: 23): The Rockies have three hitters in the NL’s top five in batting average since the All-Star break. Second baseman Brendan Rodgers leads the league with a .370 average in that span, shortstop Jose Iglesias is third at .358 and outfielder Randal Grichuk is fifth at .350.
23. Miami Marlins (50-65, LW: 21): The Marlins, who were swept four straight by Atlanta, have scored three runs or fewer in each of their last 15 games. That matches the 1979 Cubs for second longest such streak in MLB history. The longest streak of 17 was set by the 1969 Angels.
24. Chicago Cubs (47-66, LW: 25): Ian Happ became the first Cub in franchise history to hit 10 or more home runs in each of his first six seasons in the big leagues.
25. Kansas City Royals (48-68, LW: 27): Rookies accounted for 42 of the 57 runs driven in by the Royals during a season-long 11-game homestand in which the club went 7-4, including a 4-0 shutout win over the Dodgers that ended L.A.’s 12-game winning streak.
26. Cincinnati Reds (45-68, LW: 24): First baseman Joey Votto has now played in more games than any Canadian-born player in history. He played in his 1,989th game Sunday, one more than Hall of Famer Larry Walker.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates (45-70, LW: 26): Rookie shortstop Oneil Cruz has nine home runs. When he hits his 10th, the Pirates will have three rookies with 10 or more homers for the first time in franchise history (Jack Suwinski has 14, Diego Castillo 10). Cruz went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts Sunday and is in a 4-for-33 slump.
28. Detroit Tigers (43-73, LW: 29): Seven years after the Tigers cut ties with Dave Dombrowski as president and GM and promoted Al Avila, his assistant, Avila experienced the same fate. His 20-year-run as a Tigers executive came to a sudden but not surprising end last week. Avila had bet big that Detroit was prepared to be a contender this season, but nothing worked out as planned, especially the high-end signings of free agents Javier Baez and Eduardo Rodriguez. What’s worrisome is that first baseman Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, has yet to recover from his dreadful half season in the big leagues (.197, five home runs). He’s batting just .179 for Triple-A Toledo.
29. Oakland Athletics (41-74, LW: 28): They have now dropped eight in a row, two losses shy of their season-long 10-game losing streak from May 30 to June 10, and they appear almost certain to lose 100 games for the second time in franchise history. Oakland would have to win 22 of its last 47 games to avoid 100 defeats.
30. Washington Nationals (38-78, LW: 30): The Nationals will get their first look at 21-year-old shortstop C.J. Abrams, one of the highly regarded prospects acquired in the Juan Soto trade. Abrams, the sixth player taken in the 2019 draft, is expected to join the Nats on Monday for their series against the Cubs in Chicago.