Dodgers History: World Series Repeats Are Rare
2021 World Series logo

Despite the pandemic and shortened season, 2020 was a big year for Dodgers fans. The team’s World Series win was the first in more than 30 years, though it seems to have been on the cards for a few years 7-straight division titles and back-to-back World Series appearances in 2017 and 2018.

Given the Dodgers’ dominance of last year’s regular season and the playoffs, sportsbooks had them the odds on favorite for the 2021 season by a large margin over the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, and Houston Astros.

For the most part, the faith that oddsmakers put in the boys in blue has been justified. Heading into September, the Dodgers sit second in the National League West division, with an 82-49 record, just one game behind the Giants. Currently, the Tampa Bay Rays are the only other team that’s close to matching that record.

Fighting History

There is one factor that the Dodgers need to overcome to match the bookie’s expectations – history. The last team to repeat as champions were the 2000 Yankees who won three in a row beating the San Diego Padres 4-0 in 1998, the Atlanta Braves 4-0 in 1999, and the New York Mets 4-1 in 2000. Since then, no World Series champion has been able to defend their title and win back-to-back championships, nor has any winner returned to the World Series the following year.

At present, the Dodgers are still the clear favorite among almost all bookies with the best MLB betting odds at +285 for the World Series. The Houston Astros are the second favorite at +425, with the Chicago White Sox trailing behind in third at +750.

San Francisco Making it Difficult

The Giants have led the National League West since mid-May and have proven a real threat to win the National League West for the first time since the 2012 season when they went 94-68. Since then it’s been all Los Angeles with 8-straight division titles.

San Francisco boasts a balanced attack with the team having the fourth-best batting average on the National League, the second-lowest ERA, and third-best defensive fielding percentage. They’ve also been winning the intangibles, playing three games above their expected wins total.

According to Tankathon, the Giants close with a relatively easy schedule, with two series against the Colorado Rockies, and one against both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs.  Though the difference may be the ten games they have left with the San Diego Padres who are in a dog fight with the Cinncinati Reds for the last wild card spot.

Nobody Wants the Wild Card

With about 30 games to play, we can expect both the Giants and the Dodgers to play out the rest of the season with the division title in mind. No team wants the uncertainty of a one-game winner-take-all play in, but that’s almost certainly the fate of one of these two teams who are both comfortably ahead of the Padres and Reds.

Talent Depth and Pitching

The Dodgers play the Giants three more times in San Francisco beginning next week, and while that series probably won’t decide the division, it could set the tone down the stretch. The Dodgers were the better team in August by a slight margin, and have been riding the best pitching in the league since the All-Star break.

Los Angeles signed a string of great pitching talent, including Trevor Bauer, Tommy Kahnle, and Blake Treinen before the season, but lost starters Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin to injury early in the season. Currently, the Dodgers are without ace Clayton Kershaw who sits on the injured reserve having not pitched since early July, and will probably be without Bauer for the remainder of the season due to his ongoing legal issues.

The bullpen, which manager Dave Roberts likes to use heavily has been outstanding, and the addition of Max Scherzer ahead of the MLB trade deadline and the continued dominance of Cy Young candidates Walker Beuhler and Julio Urias who have consistently gone deep into games has vaulted Los Angeles up the standings.

Additionally, adding Trea Turner to the top of the order and getting back Mookie Betts from injury has only made the best offensive team in the National League more potent.

World Series Repeat in the Cards

Things don’t look as great as they did back in February and March, but the Dodgers are certainly a strong team still. They seem long past their Spring struggles and seem to be finding their groove at the right time. While repeats are rare, it will be tough to bet against this team in October.