For the QC
The bigger they are, the harder they fall. That sentiment rings true for the 2022 Los Angeles Dodgers. After having one of the greatest regular seasons of all time that saw them win a franchise record 111 games, losing only 51 games; the Dodgers mustered only one win in their postseason appearance, losing in four games to the wild card, 89 win San Diego Padres. David had slayed Goliath on a national stage, marking the first time since 1998 that the Padres would advance to the NLCS. It stings, given that the Dodgers had won 14 out of 19 regular season matchups against the Padres. A Padres team without Fernando Tatis Jr., a struggling Juan Soto, a platoon at Designated Hitter, and a starting rotation that had several question marks beat the fine tuned machine that is the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Padres took every measure they could to take home field advantage to the next level. They restricted ticket sales to certain zip codes in Southern California, blocking out the entirety of Los Angeles County. The resale market marked up ticket prices to a point that they were too expensive. The city of San Diego had an energy to it not seen since 2006, the last time the Padres played in a postseason game at home with fans in attendance. The sixteen years of buildup for this moment came to fruition, and it showed in the team’s performance.
There have been several lows in the history of the Dodgers in the postseason, most of recent memory. In 2013, Hanley Ramirez’s rib broke and it shut down a magical season dead in its tracks. In 2015 the Mets eliminated the Dodgers after a sloppy performance in Game 5. In 2017, the first world series appearance since 1988 for the Dodgers, fans saw them lose at home in a devastating fashion in 7 games. Of course, we now know the Astros had an illegal electric sign stealing operation that led to the world series title. 2019 was arguably the worst loss of the recent postseason appearances, losing to the wild card Washington Nationals in 5 games after tying the franchise record in wins at the time. 2021 was derailed by injuries at the worst possible time. But 2022? This is a new low. There are no excuses to be made for a team with four MVP winners on it, two Cy Young winners, a roster filled with all stars up and down the lineup night in and night out, and a team that wins 111 games. A team with those superlatives should not be capable of the poor performances they showed in the postseason. It is simple, they played their worst baseball of the year at the time they needed to be their best.
A let down of epic proportions, by every standard imaginable. In the regular season, the Dodgers were the best team with runners in scoring position, hitting at a .257 average as a team. In the postseason, they had an 0-20 streak with runners in scoring position spanning from the third inning of Game 1 to the third inning of Game 4. They also had the league’s best team ERA at 2.80 in the regular season, but in the playoffs they were nearing an ERA of 4, sitting at 3.71, which ranks 6th out of the 12 playoff teams. The Dodgers came out hot in Game 1, getting to pitcher Mike Clevinger early, but it would be the only game they won for the playoffs. They would go on to lose the next 3 in a row. The manager, Dave Roberts, took out Tyler Anderson in Game 4 after he threw 5 shutout innings and showed no signs of struggle getting through the Padres lineup. The Dodgers bullpen was shaky and faltered in the moments they needed them, to give them a chance at a win. Miscommunication came back to haunt the Dodgers in the decisive Game 4. Murphy’s law came in and took center stage on this Dodgers team: everything that could go wrong, went wrong. That is just a glimpse at what went wrong for this team.
Since the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates, no National League team won more than 110 games and in all of baseball history there have only been five teams to have regular season records of 111 wins or more, the most recent team being the 2001 Seattle Mariners. The Dodgers also had the 13th best run differential in all of baseball history, compiling 334 more runs than their opponents in the span of the entire season, a mark not reached since the 1939 Yankees surpassed it with a run differential of 411.
If it is of any consolation, the Dodgers were host to this year’s All Star Game and the other events that take place for All Star Weekend. It was the first time the Dodgers had hosted the All-Star Game since 1980. They also saw a few milestones set at home this year. Clayton Kershaw broke the franchise record for strikeouts, surpassing Don Sutton. In September, baseball legend and surefire first ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols hit his 700th home run of his career with the Cardinals, becoming only the fourth player ever to do so, and the first non-American born to accomplish the feat.
Now, the Dodgers sit and wait until next February with several question marks surrounding the team’s roster. Trea Turner, the Dodgers All-Star starting shortstop is a free agent and due for a high value long term contract, Clayton Kershaw is a free agent, and even Cody Bellinger could be non-tendered. The team we see next year, very likely, will not be the same.
Words cannot do justice to just how disappointing this season ended. Even third baseman Justin Turner could not explain “what the “F” happened” on his Instagram post. The expectations for this team were so great that anything less than a World Series is a failure. But this is the nature of baseball, they went from historically good, to historically bad.
Photo Courtesy of latimes.com