Are this year’s Dodgers the best Dodgers team ever?
At 94-42, the Dodgers are miles ahead of everyone in the league and are playing some of the best baseball I’ve ever seen.
I’m calling it: This is the best Dodgers team I’ve ever seen.
It was hard to envision that coming into this season. After squeaking into last year’s playoffs and losing to the Braves in the NLCS, the team responded by shedding longtime closer Kenley Jansen, letting midseason acquisition Max Scherzer walk, letting World Series MVP Corey Seager walk, and doing nothing to replace Trevor Bauer, an expensive ace who basically got kicked out of baseball. The Freddie Freeman signing kept them in the winning game, but the Justin Turner and Clayton Kershaw re-signings felt more like thank-yous than competitive moves.
In short, it was easy to think that this year’s Dodgers team would regress, and maybe even cede ground to the Giants and the upstart Padres. Well, that didn’t happen.
At 94-42, the Dodgers are currently miles ahead of everyone in the league and currently playing some of the best baseball I’ve ever seen. I’ve only been alive long enough to witness one Dodgers title run, and this is clearly the best Dodgers team I’ve ever seen. But in this franchise’s 139-year history, it’s worth asking if this is the greatest Dodgers team of all time.
Dodgers eliminating teams left and right, you love to see it 🥰 pic.twitter.com/Ypx6Fs3irZ
— Mexican Rug Dealer (@DealinRugs) September 8, 2022
Dodgers missing a lot of talent
Excluding the shortened 2020 season, the team’s current .691 winning percentage marks the best winning percentage in franchise history. The 2022 Dodgers are on pace to reach 112 wins, which would eclipse the franchise mark by six games (from both 2019 and 2021) and mark the fourth-highest win total of all time. In order to reach the single-season record of 116 wins, the Dodgers would only need to play a little better than they’re currently playing. That’s absurd.
What’s even wilder is how the Dodgers are doing it without some of their best talent. Walker Buehler, who last year led the team in rWAR, only pitched in twelve games this season before a diagnosis prepped him for Tommy John surgery. Former MVP Cody Bellinger has continued his three-year regression and is basically now a league-average outfielder. Former cornerstones Kershaw, Turner, and Max Muncy have been fine. Their most-used pitcher is a 32-year-old journeyman who has never won more than seven games in a season. So how are they doing it??
Even with all the injuries, aging, and underperformance, they still have a more talented roster than anyone in the league. Before Buehler went down, they legitimately had a starting rotation filled with number-one options, especially with Tony Gonsolin and Julio Urías sustaining their breakouts. Both Freeman and Mookie Betts are playing at an MVP level. And while star closer Craig Kimbrel hasn’t exactly brought his shutdown stuff, breakout star Evan Phillips has more than made up for it, giving the Dodgers the third-best bullpen ERA in the majors.
In terms of the big names, no, this is not the most talented Dodgers team of all time. They’re hurt, aging, underperforming, or straight-up not available. But the miracle of the Dodgers organization is that none of this matters, because someone like a Gonsolin, or a Phillips, or a Tyler Anderson is there to play at an All-Star level in their place.
Nothing matters until the playoffs
Of course, I can’t really proclaim this to be the greatest Dodgers team of all time until the last game is played. I remember Sports Illustrated calling the 2017 Dodgers the best team of all time, before they immediately lost sixteen of seventeen games and then the World Series. Neither the 2019 nor the 2021 Dodgers, who both set the franchise win mark, won the World Series. The Dodgers could win 162 games and it wouldn’t matter if it doesn’t finish with a ring.
So I’ll pump the brakes a bit. The National League has a gauntlet of playoff teams to run through, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Dodgers aren’t standing on top in November. But if they do, the call will be even easier. This will indeed be the greatest Dodgers team of all time.