Are the 2018 Dodgers the best team in franchise history?
The Dodgers capped off a 25-10 run to end the season with a win over the Rockies in Game 163 while grabbing the NL West division title. They carried that momentum into the NLDS, where they easily defeated the Braves in four games to advance to the NLCS against the Brewers.
It's been a winding road for the defending National League champions, but they seem to be hitting on all cylinders at the perfect time. So, before the Dodgers take on the Brewers for a chance to return to the World Series, it's time to ask: Are the 2018 Dodgers the best team in the history of the franchise? We've listed some contenders, but it's up to you to decide which team was best.
2018: (92-71, ???)
The 2018 Dodgers largely returned the 2017 team that won 104 games and took the Astros to seven games in the World Series. Shortstop Corey Seager suffered an elbow injury early in the season, so the team traded for four-time All-Star Manny Machado to replace him. Yu Darvish was essentially replaced in the rotation by rookie phenom Walker Buehler, who delivered a 2.62 ERA. 2018 also saw the unexpected emergence of Max Muncy, who slugged 35 home runs in his first full season of playing time at 27 years old.
The rest of the cast remained mostly the same -- a year older or more seasoned, depending on your perspective. Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Alex Wood are still anchors in the rotation. Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger were still big contributors on offense. That continuity has led to the emergence of some fun relationships on the team, most notably the father-son bond between Chase Utley and Enrique Hernandez.
Happy Father's Day to all those heroes/role models! I'm pretty fortunate to have two pretty amazing father figures in my life!! It was wasn't for my dads I wouldn't be where I am right now!! Te amo papi! @Kike20Hndz- Enrique Hernández (@kikehndez) June 17, 2018
Love you dad! 🦊 pic.twitter.com/UUvwF44DpZ
This iteration may not have won as many games as the 2017 version, but they arguably find themselves in a healthier and more enviable position than that squad was in a year ago.
1988: The Kirk Gibson Homer (94-67, won World Series)
This season is remembered for Gibson's hobbling trot around the bases in Game 1 of the World Series, so it's easy to forget just how good he was during the regular season, hitting 25 home runs and stealing 31 bases for the Dodgers. He was named NL MVP for the season, so, yeah, he did a lot more than that one epic pinch-hit dinger.
On the pitching side, Orel Hershiser took home the Cy Young after posting arguably the best season of his career with a 2.26 ERA and a 23-8 record in a league-best 267 innings pitched. From Aug. 30 to Sept. 28, Hershiser recorded 59 consecutive scoreless innings, breaking the previous record of 58 2/3 set by former Dodger Don Drysdale.
Somehow though, he got even better in the postseason, giving up just five earned runs across 42 2/3 innings. His performance earned him both NLCS and World Series MVP honors.
1963: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale (99-63, won World Series)
Between Drysdale (the '62 Cy Young Award winner) and Koufax (the '63 Cy Young Award winner and MVP), this team had one of the best 1-2 punches of all-time. They were no slouches on offense, with power threats in outfielders Tommy Davis and Frank Howard complemented by the baserunning acumen of 1962 NL MVP Maury Willis.
Oh, yeah. This team also swept the Yankees in the World Series, thanks in no small part to Koufax. In two complete games, Koufax gave up only three runs while striking out 23 Yankees. His 15-strikeout performance in Game 1 of the World Series lives on as one of the greatest performances in postseason history.
1955: The Boys of Summer (98-55, won World Series)
The first Dodgers squad to win a World Series, this was the team that finally broke through after the Dodgers had lost in the World Series in four of the previous eight seasons. They mostly ran back the 1953 group that won a franchise-record 105 games. Roy Campanella and Duke Snyder finished 1-2 in MVP voting while right fielder Carl Furillo and first baseman Gil Hodges added, respectively, 27 and 26 home runs of their own. 36 year-olds Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese held down the left side of the Brooklyn infield.
The 1955 squad was bolstered by the addition of pitcher Don Newcombe, who was now back in form in his second season back from military service in the Korean War. He won 20 games for the team, becoming the first black pitcher to reach that single-season milestone.
Oh, and about that World Series that they won: You probably remember it because of Jackie Robinson's iconic steal of home in Game 1.
So, who's No. 1: 2018, 1988, 1963 or 1955? You decide: