The Los Angeles Dodgers recently set the franchise record for most wins in a season with 106 wins, and they’ll soon break that record. They also may soon become just the seventh team in Major League Baseball history to win at least 110 games in a season.
What makes this doubly impressive is that the Dodgers have achieved such greatness despite being one of the most injured teams in all of baseball this season. To date, the 2022 Dodgers have placed 23 players on the injured list, many of them major contributors, for a total of 1,912 days lost to injury. This number of days is the fourth largest in MLB this season. All of this, of course, is taking place against the backdrop of the golden heels of the 2021 campaign, in which Dave Roberts’ squad won 106 games.
Speaking of 2021, the Dodgers failed to win a World Series last season as the Atlanta Braves upset them in the National League Championship Series. Because baseball has so much built-in structural parity and you always have to go on the field against any one team when it comes to winning the postseason, and chances are the Dodgers won’t win the World Series in 2022 either. . Nodding in collegiate anguish, the 2001 Mariners (owners of the most wins in a season) and the 1906 Cubs (owners of the highest win percentage in a season). None of these teams have won it all. That’s how baseball works in a tiny sample of playoff baseball. Indeed, since the American and National Leagues first teamed up to compete in the World Series in 1903, only 44.4 percent of the time (52 times out of 117 World Series through 2021) did the team with the best regular season record advance to the Finals. . win a belt and a title.
This smelly scribe back in 2016 stated on the pages baseball avenue annual that it’s time for MLB to recognize the unique marvel that has prevailed over 162 games and reward the team with the best regular season record. Inspired by the excellence of the 2022 Dodgers, he is back and eager to repeat himself. So here it is: it’s time for MLB to recognize the one miracle that has prevailed over 162 games and award something like something to the team with the best record in the regular season. It’s an honor these teams deserve and it’s a celebration of the true nature of baseball. Back in it BP Annual Report 2016I named it the Weaver Trophy after the legendary Orioles manager, but that specificity matters less than that it happens in one form or another. Call it the Dusty Baker Trophy or the World Heavyweight Championship, but above all just make it so.
A completely predictable reaction to this would be something along the lines of: “We shouldn’t reward teams until they win the World Series.” (Note that this train of thought doesn’t seem to occur when a team is celebrating a division championship.) Of course, that’s one way of saying it, but another way—I also support it—is that winning the World Series becomes immediate. replace greatness, even if said greatness has not been proven within the six-month cauldron, which is the regular season. By calling a team that couldn’t even score 90 wins between April and September “great,” we’re attributing to postseason baseball what it can’t really do, which is baseball’s true greatness. Sure, great teams often win the World Series, but they’re great because of what they’ve accomplished before making the playoffs. Winning the World Series after, say, 100 regular season wins is the accomplishment of already established greatness. On the other hand, nothing that happens in October can cause a team with 85 wins to be considered truly great.
Postseason baseball is a relatively small sample of games, leading to random results, and it doesn’t require the depth of roster that is a hallmark of regular season greatness (see: Dodgers, 2022). With all the weekends on the playoff calendar, the daily routine of baseball is lost. You can succeed by letting some pitcher throw a quarter of your pitch (or more) in a critical series and relying only on your top bullpen hands. You don’t have to wonder if this battling star bat needs a day off to reset his mind and body. Your depth is not tested and revealed in the way that it is in 162. This dispersion – this huge set of games, unprecedented among major team sports – and this, again, everyday life are the defining characteristics of baseball at the highest level. . In October it all goes away and we all agreed to pretend it was more meaningful. We agreed to pretend that winning 11 or 13 games in October is more impressive than winning 100 games from April to September. I would say that it is not, but more importantly, there is room for recognition of both achievements. And, as recent models like the 2020 Dodgers, 2018 Red Sox, and 2016 Cubs are quick to remind us, it’s also possible to win both.
Nothing will reduce the victory in the World Series. There is no such thing as a regular season trophy that will spawn a bunch of dogs like a World Series trophy, but that doesn’t have to be the standard. Ever since Bud Selig, those in charge of baseball have called for the sport to move quickly from what it really is. That the playoffs have methodically grown to almost mimic the structure of the NFL playoffs is just one example. So let’s pause this trend for a bit and acknowledge the tenacity required to stand above everyone else after 162 pounds.