Three-quarters of the way through MLB's regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers are on a record-setting pace, and they're only going to get better as they head down the stretch.
The postseason chase is alive and well with 19 teams within five games of a playoff spot, but that kind parity is nowhere to be found among the game's elite ranks. Los Angeles is currently 85-34, with 11 more wins than the Houston Astros and 18 more than their closest pursuers in the NL West, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies.
That's not just dominance – it's a potentially historic season. The Dodgers are on pace to win 116 games, which would smash the NL record for most wins in a 162-game season, currently held by two of the greatest teams of all time: the 1975 Cincinnati Reds and 1986 New York Mets.
Top to bottom, the Dodgers roster is the stuff baseball dreams are made of. It features budding superstars like shortstop Corey Seager and first baseman Cody Bellinger, as well as surging veterans like Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig. It has a breakout star in Chris Taylor, a slugging backstop in Yasmani Grandal and a ridiculously good closer in Kenley Jansen. The rotation, anchored by stalwarts Yu Darvish and Alex Wood, has been solid all year long.
Their dominance can be seen on both sides of the ball. They're fifth in the league in total runs scored, second in on-base percentage, and third in OPS (on-base plus slugging). They're even scarier on the mound, boasting MLB's best ERA and the lowest balls batted in play percentage.
As if that wasn't enough, the Dodgers haven't even been operating at full strength. They've gone the last four weeks without Clayton Kershaw, the three-time Cy Young Award winner who's sporting a league-leading ERA of 2.04 this year. The superstar lefty is expected to be activated from the disabled list before the end of this month, which would bring the most imposing staff in baseball back to full strength as it prepares for the stretch run.
That has to be a terrifying thought for the rest of MLB. After all, it's not like the Dodgers have been any worse since Kershaw went on the mend – they're a sizzling 17-3 since July 24.
That's a big reason why the Dodgers are currently 2-1 favorites to win the World Series, improving from 10-1 at the start of the year. But while the team has a shot at a record-setting total in the wins column, it isn't as concerned with the results as it is with playing the game the right way.
"I don't even like talking about wins and losses, because that's not really what it is for us at the end of the day," said starting pitcher Rich Hill, according to ESPN's David Schoenfield. "It's really about the effort we give out on the field and the consistency of that effort. If you look at this team, there is something different, and it's that intensity all 25 guys bring every single night."
Only time will tell if that intensity can lead to a date with the Commissioner's Trophy. At the moment, it almost seems like a foregone conclusion.
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