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Finally their year? Dodgers looking unstoppable

@RichardJustice
June 26, 2019

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the greatness of these 2019 Dodgers. So let’s offer a toast to something that is as close to perfection as just about any team can achieve in Major League Baseball. To review: the Dodgers reached the halfway mark of the season on Tuesday by winning

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the greatness of these 2019 Dodgers. So let’s offer a toast to something that is as close to perfection as just about any team can achieve in Major League Baseball.

To review: the Dodgers reached the halfway mark of the season on Tuesday by winning for the 55th time with a 3-2 victory over the D-backs. This does not mean the Dodgers will win the World Series or that the Dodgers are headed for 110 wins.

It just means that for the past three months the Dodgers have been a work of art. Their plus-131 run differential is 21 more than any other team (Twins). They’ve got the deepest rotation. They’ve scored the second most runs in the National League.

If the season ended today, the Dodgers would have the NL MVP (Cody Bellinger), Cy Young Award winner (Hyun-Jin Ryu) and a legit Rookie of the Year candidate (Alex Verdugo). Dave Roberts would be the NL Manager of the Year for the second time in four seasons.

The Dodgers are on their way to winning a seventh straight division championship, and since Opening Day 2013, they’ve won 32 more regular-season games than any other team (620), with the Indians next at 588.

It means that if the Dodgers are your team, you’ve walked out of the ballpark or turned off the television at night thinking about all the things that went right. That Bellinger crushed another home run or that Ryu tossed another masterpiece or that some new kid -- Verdugo maybe or Will Smith or Matt Beaty -- delivered a big blow. That when it was winning time, the Dodgers found a way.

Fifty-five.

Roll that number around in your mind for a moment. Fifty-five is symbolic of so much. To win 55 times in half a season is a reminder that the Dodgers have been expertly constructed, smartly managed and that they’ve got that certain intangible vibe that special teams have.

In the 61 seasons of the Los Angeles Dodgers, they’ve never won more than this. They make winning seem routine. To sustain this kind of success over a long period of time is the hardest thing there is to do in sports.

You may have read that Dodgers rookies hit walk-off home runs three days in a row last week. Their 55th win featured four rookies in the starting lineup. That’s an indication of so much more. As Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said, “Great culture created by our veteran guys that anybody can come up and feel like an important part of the team.”

Friedman is obsessive about not trading his prospects. That’s how he ends up with homegrown stars all over the field -- Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Corey Seager, Bellinger, Verdugo, etc.

Friedman gets ripped at times for this. In fact, the storyline of the past offseason was that Friedman hadn’t done enough to improve a team that had won the NL West six straight times and been to the World Series in both 2017 and '18.

But the Dodgers hadn’t won a World Series. Come on, Andrew, go for it. All he did was assemble a club that’s scary good in terms of depth, resilience and staying power.

Here are some highlights of Dodger dominance:

• Since April 25, the Dodgers' rotation is 40-15 with a 2.64 ERA. Opposing hitters are batting .213.

• Opponents are hitting .190 against the Dodgers entire staff this month, and according to research by STATS LLC, that's the franchise’s lowest in the live ball era (1920).

• Bellinger has reached base in 72 of 74 starts. He’s leading the Majors in FanGraphs’ version of WAR (5.4), batting average (.354) and on-base percentage (.450). He’s third in MLB in home runs (25).

• Infielder Max Muncy, released by the A’s in 2017, has reached base in 34 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Dodger in six seasons.

• Dodgers rookies are hitting .302 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs.

This franchise is having the greatest run since the Braves finished first 14 straight times between 1991 and 2005. Like these Dodgers, the Braves weren’t always appreciated. That’s why Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz would gather his staff each spring and raise a toast.

“What you are doing has never been done before,” he said in the second half of the streak. “I want you to understand that.”

Here’s to the Dodgers.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.