LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Dodgers today clinched the 2013 National League West Division Championship and will play postseason baseball for the first time since 2009. Los Angeles has won 12 N.L. West titles since the advent of divisional play in 1969 and will play "October Baseball" for the 18th time since moving to Los Angeles and the 27th time in the history of the Dodger franchise.
Don Mattingly will manage in the postseason for the first time in his third season as Dodger manager, while General Manager Ned Colletti assembled his fourth postseason-bound club in eight seasons since 2006. Under Colletti, the Dodgers reached the National League Championship Series after winning division titles in 2008 and 2009 and qualified for the postseason as the N.L. Wild Card in 2006.
This season is the earliest by calendar date that the Dodgers have qualified for postseason play since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. By games played, it was third-quickest that the club clinched behind the 1977 Dodgers (game 151) and the 1995 Dodgers, who wrapped up the division in 143 games in a 144-game, strike-shortened season.
The Dodgers became just the fourth all-time club to finish the season in first place after being in last place on July 1 or later. Though they were just 3.5 games out of first place following their 81st game of the season (38-43) on that date, the Dodgers joined the 1995 Mariners (last place on July 16, Game No. 73), 1973 Mets (Aug. 30, Game No. 132) and 1914 Braves (July 18, Game No. 78) as the only clubs to pull off such a quick turnaround. (Source: Elias Sports Bureau).
The Dodgers have gone 58-23 since trailing the D-backs by 9.5 games on June 22, marking the largest deficit that the club has ever overcome to win a division title. This is the second consecutive season that an MLB club has come back from a 9.5-game deficit to win the division following the turnaround by the 2012 Oakland Athletics.
The Dodgers reached the postseason in 1959, their second season in Los Angeles, and continued that success in the 1960s with postseason appearances in 1963, 1965 and 1966. In the 1970s, Los Angeles played October baseball in 1974, 1977 and 1978. The club qualified for postseason play four times in the 1980s, in 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1988, but following their 1988 championship, the Dodgers reached postseason play only twice, 1995 and 1996, in the next 15 years, including an L.A. franchise-high drought of seven consecutive years from 1997-2003 before their 2004 N.L. West title.
The Brooklyn Dodgers won pennants four times in five years (1952, 1953, 1955, and 1956), the best five-year stretch in franchise history. They also won three (1949, 1952, 1953) in a five-year period. Note that the 1951 playoff versus the Giants concluding with Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" is not included as postseason play.