The Los Angeles Dodgers clinched a fifth consecutive National League West title and are in the NL Championship Series for a fifth time in the past decade. It’s arguably their most successful stretch since relocating from Brooklyn.
On Monday, Los Angeles added to their historic year by completing a three-game sweep over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL Division Series. The Dodgers’ performance was indicative of the team that paced the Majors with 104 wins.
It did not include Andre Ethier for much of the year, as he remained sidelined for the first five months while recovering from a herniated disc in his lower back. Ethier, the longest-tenured Dodgers, has been with the team for their previous successes and shortcomings.
Echoing what others within the organization have expressed, Ethier said this year’s Dodgers team is separated from previous renditions by their closeness and confidence, per Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times:
“This team is different from our other ones because of our confidence in each other,” said veteran Andre Ethier, who has played on all five consecutive division title squads. “There was never a doubt. Even coming to Arizona, we knew we would figure out a way.”
The Dodgers, who lost their final six games in Arizona during the regular season, displayed that confidence in Game 3 and sealed the deal at Chase Field despite struggling there for most of the year (1-8 record prior to the NLDS).
Dating back to his rookie season in 2006, Ethier has been a part of eight different Dodgers teams that qualified for the playoffs — accumulating 131 plate appearances over 44 games during that timeframe.
Since 2013, Los Angeles has been eliminated four times in the postseason — twice times in the NLDS and twice in the NLCS. The club, seeking its first World Series appearance in 29 years, hopes to reverse that trend this year.
Unlike recent seasons, this year’s Dodgers team is guaranteed home-field advantage through the Fall Classic. That could be the difference maker, as seven of the previous 10 World Series winners had the home-field edge.
As for Ethier, this season may be his last with the Dodgers. He was included on the NLDS roster as a left-handed bat off the bench, and walked in his only plate appearance against the Diamondbacks.