The Dodgers are in rarified air. But it's the regular season. And that's not enough to satisfy the Dodgers.So yes, it's encouraging to know that on Tuesday, they became only the fifth team in the expansion era to reach 70 victories in the first 101 games of a season. Sure,
The Dodgers are in rarified air. But it's the regular season. And that's not enough to satisfy the Dodgers.
So yes, it's encouraging to know that on Tuesday, they became only the fifth team in the expansion era to reach 70 victories in the first 101 games of a season. Sure, it's exciting to have opened up a 12-game lead in the National League West. And any team would welcome a stretch like the Dodgers are enjoying; heading into Wednesday night's game against the Twins, they have won 35 of their past 41 games.
Come Oct. 2, however, there is no carryover into the postseason. In the past 28 seasons -- since they stunned the A's to win the 1988 World Series title -- the Dodgers have won nine division titles and claimed one Wild Card berth, including the NL West title the past four seasons.
And not one of those times did they make it back to the World Series. They have been eliminated in the NL Division Series six times, including in 2014 and '15, and beaten in the NL Championship Series the other four, including 2013 and '16.
The Dodgers are the poster team for the challenges that the expanded postseason has created for teams, a challenge the Dodgers and Astros are facing in their bid for a championship this October.
While the expanded postseason has created more opportunities for teams to advance into October, it has not proved a benefit for teams who have dominated during the regular season.
In the World Series era from 1903-68, the postseason consisted of a maximum seven games (except for a brief period when the World Series was expanded to a best of nine games).
In 1969, with the advent of divisions and the addition of a best-of-five LCS in both leagues, teams faced the possibility of as many as 12 postseason games.
That grew to 14 games when the LCS was expanded to a best-of-seven series in 1985.
In 1995, three divisions were created in each league, leading to the addition of a Wild Card and a best-of-five Division Series, which meant a potential 19 postseason games, which then became 20 games in 2012 with the addition of a second Wild Card spot.
The grind has taken a toll.
The Dodgers (70-31) and Astros (67-33) became the 30th and 31st teams to win at least 62 of their first 100 games in a season since the advent of the Wild Card in 1995. Of the previous 29 teams, only three teams (10.3 percent) -- the 1995 Braves, '98 Yankees and 2005 White Sox -- won the World Series, and only six others (20.7 percent) even advanced to the World Series: the 2004 and '13 Cardinals, '06 Tigers, 1998 Padres, '96 Braves and '95 Indians. Sixteen others (55.2 percent) did win a division title and two (6.9 percent) earned Wild Card spots, but didn't win the league title. And two teams, the 1995 Angels and 2011 Red Sox, didn't reach the postseason.
In the 25 seasons when there were only League Championships and the World Series (1969-93), 22 teams won at least 62 of their first 100 games of the season, but only five (22.7 percent) won the World Series: 1986 Mets, '84 Tigers, '75 Reds, '71 Pirates and '70 Orioles. There were six others (27.3 percent) that lost in the World Series -- 1990 A's, '69 and '79 Orioles, '74 and '77 Dodgers and '70 Reds -- and six were eliminated in the LCS: the 1985 Blue Jays, '80 Yankees, '76 Phillies, '71 and '75 A's, and '70 Twins. Five of the 22 teams didn't even advance to the postseason: the 1993 Giants, '78 and '79 Red Sox, '73 Dodgers and '69 Cubs.
Prior to 1969, when there was just the World Series, 72.6 percent of the teams (74 of 102) that won at least 62 of their first 100 games advanced to the World Series, and 37 (36.3 percent) won championships. The expanded postseason has added excitement to pennant races.
It has given Major League Baseball a bigger postseason profile.
However, it has provided "a brand new season." What happened in the previous 162 games becomes secondary.
The Dodgers have learned that the hard way.
Tracy Ringolsby is a national columnist for MLB.com.