Thursday, March 23 2023

By Rowan Kavner
FOX Sports MLB Writer

After tallying 106 wins in 2019 and ’21, this year’s Dodgers have already done one better. 

The Dodgers set a franchise record with their 107th win of the year Wednesday, a 1-0 victory appropriately guided by the top pitching staff in baseball. They recorded the milestone victory with seven games to go.

“To know we’ve made our mark on Dodgers history is pretty remarkable,” manager Dave Roberts said. “A lot of people have their hands in this — not just this year but just kind of building to where we’re at right now.”

While they won’t challenge the major-league record of 116 wins — a feat most recently accomplished by the 2001 Mariners — the Dodgers’ consistency is something never before seen. They became the first Major League Baseball team ever to record three straight full seasons with at least 106 wins (not including the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when they went 43-17 with a franchise-record .717 winning percentage).

But even considering their extraordinary string of success, this year’s team stands alone, on pace to win more than 110 games despite a number of hits to the rotation and a bullpen in flux.  

“That’s a lot of wins, if you really think about it,” Freddie Freeman said after the record-setting victory in San Diego. “A lot of good things have to happen from a lot of guys, not just 26 guys. It has to be 40-to-45 guys that have to contribute to be able to do that.”

Here are five stats that help explain how the Dodgers got here.  

2.81: Team ERA  

The Dodgers are on pace to become the first team since the 1981 Houston Astros to post an ERA under 2.90 for a full season.  

This year’s Astros are the only team within striking distance of the Dodgers’ 2.81 mark. Houston has a 2.92 team ERA. The closest National League team to the Dodgers is the Braves, at 3.43.  

It’s an especially striking statistic considering that pitchers Walker Buehler and Daniel Hudson were lost for the season in June, Craig Kimbrel has been demoted from his closer role after a season-long struggle, Clayton Kershaw was out for two month-long stints, NL Cy Young Award contender Tony Gonsolin hasn’t pitched this month, and high-leverage weapon Blake Treinen has played in just five games this season. The injuries seem endless, yet the zeroes continue stacking up.  

The Dodgers have a major-league-leading 10 pitchers who’ve thrown at least 30 innings with an ERA under 3.00. The next-closest NL team is the Braves, at seven. The Dodgers also have the lowest batting average against (.208) and hard-hit percentage (34.2%) in the majors.

All-Star Tyler Anderson has provided stability to the Dodgers’ rotation. He ranks fifth among qualified starters in ERA, while Julio Urías ranks first. Kershaw, now healthy again, is 10-3 with a 2.42 ERA in an All-Star season. In the bullpen, Yency Almonte and Evan Phillips are MLB’s top two ERA leaders among pitchers who’ve thrown at least 30 innings this season.  

Wednesday marked the 15th time this season and fourth time this month that the Dodgers shut out their opponent. Urías, Almonte and Phillips were among the contributors in the win.  

“If you think about it, it’s the pitching,” Freeman said after win No. 107. “Our pitching has been absolutely phenomenal all season long. They give us a chance.”

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322: Run differential  

Hello, again, 2001 Mariners.  

The Dodgers haven’t been particularly good in one-run games this year (16-14), but those come around sparingly. Usually, the Dodgers dismantle their opponents.

The Dodgers currently boast a plus-322 run differential on the season. The next team is the Yankees, at plus-235. The last team to post a run differential of plus-300 or better was the 2001 Mariners, and only 10 teams in MLB history have done so.

No team has more runs scored (816) or fewer runs allowed (494) than the Dodgers. Because of that, their expected win-loss record (111-44) is actually four games better than their actual record.  

.779: OPS  

Whichever all-encompassing statistic you prefer to use, the Dodgers’ offense has been the best in baseball.

Their offense leads the majors in weighted runs created plus (120), weighted on-base average (.338), on-base percentage (.334), slugging percentage (.445) and OPS (.779). The only slash-line category in which they’ve fallen behind is batting average, in which they rank fifth at .257. They’re doing it all while chasing less than any other team in baseball.

Since the loss of Corey Seager in free agency, Freeman has stepped in and given the Dodgers one of the most formidable top trios in baseball alongside Mookie Betts and Trea Turner. Freeman has set career highs in hits (192) and doubles (46) while leading the majors in both categories, as well as batting average (.327). Freeman and Turner (187) are the top two hit leaders in baseball this season and could each make a run at 200.

Betts, meanwhile, has a career-high 35 homers and leads the NL with 113 runs scored. The top three in the lineup is supported by cleanup hitter Will Smith, who has the best OPS in baseball among qualified catchers (.816).

While the series in San Diego hasn’t shown it, the Dodgers have also been the best in baseball when they get opportunities to score. They’re slashing .271/.364/.459 with a major-league-best .823 OPS with runners in scoring position. Seven players who’ve logged at least 150 at-bats for them have an OPS of .750 or better on the year.

.725: Winning percentage vs. NL West 

The Dodgers’ eight-year NL West reign came to an end last season at the hands of the 107-win Giants. L.A. made sure that wouldn’t happen again this season.  

Taking care of business against their division, the Dodgers have compiled a 50-19 record thus far against the NL West. Most notably, they’re a combined 28-9 against the second-place Padres and third-place Giants.  

The Dodgers’ .721 winning percentage against the NL West is the best in franchise history. The 1974 club (.700) is the only other Dodgers team to post a winning percentage of .700 or better within the West.

After wrapping up their series against the Padres on Thursday, the Dodgers will host the Rockies for six games to conclude the regular season.

Dodgers set franchise wins record with victory over Padres

The Los Angeles Dodgers set a franchise record with their 107th win of the season, a 1-0 victory over the Padres in 10 innings Wednesday.

4-by-4: Hitters/pitchers worth 3+ bWAR  

The Dodgers couldn’t have gotten to this point without their depth of talent.  

They are the only major-league team with four hitters (Betts, Freeman, Turner, Smith) and four pitchers (Anderson, Gonsolin, Kershaw, Urías) worth at least three wins above replacement.  

Boasting the top offense and the top pitching staff in baseball is a fine way to compile the most wins in franchise history.  

“For us to have that title,” Roberts said, “no one can take it away from us.”

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. He previously was the Dodgers’ editor of digital and print publications. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner.

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