History says slumping Dodgers need not fret

September 7th, 2017

No, Dodgers fans. The sky, though blue and white, is not falling, despite the recent struggles at Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers have lost six in a row and 11 of 12 in a run that's put a bit of a damper on their potentially historic season.
Los Angeles can no longer catch the 2001 Mariners or the 1906 Cubs, and it can't finish with the most single-season wins in MLB history -- a feat that appeared within its grasp before this stretch. But the Dodgers still lead the National League West by 10 1/2 games over the streaking D-backs, a margin that would look insurmountable in a normal year. Despite their recent struggles, the Dodgers can still clinch a postseason berth Thursday with a win over the Rockies, a Cubs loss to the Pirates and a Cardinals loss to the Padres.
The only reason the Dodgers' situation looks more dire than it actually is? Because as they've stumbled, the D-backs have surged. How do you surrender 9 1/2 games in the standings in two weeks? Lose 11 of 12, while the second-place team wins 13 in a row. That's what happened this time, but such extreme polarity is rare and impossible to sustain on either end.
All of which is to say the Dodgers should still win the NL West and still be considered heavy favorites heading into October. And if history is any guide, they shouldn't fret. Plenty of eventual World Series winners went through stretches like this -- or worse -- during their championship seasons.
MLB.com takes a look back at the seasons of those 22 Fall Classic winners, from 1995-2016, to put the Dodgers' current slide in perspective.
Longest losing streak
2006 Cardinals: eight games (twice, from July 27-Aug. 4 and June 20-27)
You might remember the 2006 Cardinals team for its dramatic seven-game win over the Mets in the NL Championship Series, when struck out looking to send St. Louis to the World Series. There, the Cards rolled through the Tigers in five games.
But before , Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and Co. earned their ring, they went through two long midseason losing streaks -- both of which put sizable dents in the Cardinals' division lead. During the first of those, they were swept by the Tigers. History didn't repeat itself.
2011 Cardinals: seven games (June 10-17)
2010 Giants: seven games (June 26-July 2)
2005 White Sox: seven games (Aug. 12-20)
2000 Yankees: seven games (Sept. 25-Oct. 1)

The Dodgers would have to lose to the Rockies on Thursday with on the mound to equal that of these four World Series champs to post an unlucky seven on their way to a crown. And there were some good ones among them.
The 2010 Giants team started their even-year magic thanks to the likes of , and a young and . The '05 White Sox brought home the team's first World Series title in 88 years. Even the dynasty Yankees weren't immune, losing the final seven games of the regular season before going on to win the Subway Series Fall Classic against the Mets.
Worst 15-game stretch
2000 Yankees: 2-13 (Sept. 17-Oct. 1)
Remember, this team ended up with a three-peat; the Yankees won the World Series in 1998, '99 and 2000. But in that third year, they closed out the regular season about as badly as they could have. New York held a 7 1/2-game lead in its division on Sept. 17 before dropping 13 of its final 15 games (including its last seven), and the lead was cut to 2 1/2 games by the end of it. Of course, the Yanks turned it on in October. So much for momentum.
2014 Giants: 3-12 (June 13-29)
2011 Cardinals: 3-12 (June 10-26)
2006 Cardinals: 3-12 (multiple spans in June/July)
2002 Angels: 3-12 (April 8-23)

The Dodgers have a chance to match what these four teams went through before winning the Fall Classic. On the list, again, are the Cardinals' two World Series teams, which went through tough times around their long losing streaks (see above). The 2014 Giants went from eight games up to a half-game up in the NL West in two weeks in June, later making the playoffs as a Wild Card and beating the Royals in an incredible Game 7 of the World Series thanks to Bumgarner's heroics.
The 2002 Angels won the franchise's only World Series in seven games over the Barry Bonds-led Giants, a magical ending that was even more remarkable when considering the fact that they were already 10 1/2 games back in their division in late April.
Worst 20-game stretch
2016 Cubs: 5-15 (June 20-July 9)
2014 Giants: 5-15 (multiple spans from mid-June to early July)
2000 Yankees: 5-15 (multiple spans in September-October)

The Cubs' World Series win last year was one of the most memorable in recent history -- it's hard to top shattering the longest World Series drought ever, winning your first title in more than a century and doing it in an instant-classic extra-innings Game 7 win. This Cubs team won 103 games in the regular season, the most in the Major Leagues, but it also went through a stretch where it lost 15 of 20 toward the end of the first half. That was just a blip on the radar, though -- and the Dodgers' current struggles could be, too.
Again, the 2014 Giants and 2000 Yankees have the dubious distinction of going on some of the worst regular-season runs of any World Series champion of the past two decades. For the Giants, that didn't stop them from becoming the most dominant team of this decade, with a third World Series title in five seasons. They got into the playoffs via a Wild Card berth before beating the Pirates, Nationals, Cardinals and, finally, the Royals to get their title, with Bumgarner cementing his status as a postseason legend on the way.
The Yankees were already a dynasty by the 2000 season, but one more championship just added to their legacy. Those Yanks had started off September on a roll, including a sweep of the rival Red Sox, but by the end of it, they didn't much look like a team that was about to win a third straight championship. After postseason wins over the A's, Mariners and Mets, that's exactly what they'd done.