The 2022 Los Angeles Dodgers won 111 games during their regular season, a campaign that ended with an October victory against the 89-win San Diego Padres.
The sudden and shocking end to the season for the Dodgers proved that the MLB regular season is no longer relevant. Yes, you have to win to get to October (sorry, Pittsburgh Pirates fans), but it doesn’t matter how many wins you rack up anymore.
So for the 2023 season, the Dodgers should take a page from college basketball. March madness, and adopts the mantra: “Survive and Advance”.
The 162-game season is still a grueling grind that can be like a war of attrition, but thanks to the watered-down postseason, surviving through October requires more luck than manpower these days.
Last year, the Padres and eventual National League champion Philadelphia Phillies missed their superstar players for a significant amount of time. Meanwhile, a fairly healthy Dodgers team navigated the entire season.
Yet when October rolled around, it was the 87-win Phillies and 89-win Padres who sipped the champagne, as opposed to the apparent giant Dodgers. This season, the Dodgers will look significantly different without Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and pitcher Tyler Anderson, all contributors to last year’s record breaking season.
To survive through October, the Dodgers will need newcomers Jason Heyward, Miguel Rojas and JD Martinez to pick up where the players left off. Prospects James Outman and Miguel Vargas will also take starting roles. If 88 wins is still the magic number, then a collective effort of newcomers and rookies will be part of the equation.
It may still be March, but when it comes to the Dodgers, it’s never too early to talk about October. In the past 10 seasons, no major league team has won as many games as the Dodgers in the regular season (931).
Players have come and gone, different coaches and different front office staff have created winners at will. Yet for all their regular-season glory, October has been nothing but misery, resulting in a World Series victory that will be in question at every turn.
Expectations in 2023 should be no different; is “October or bust”. The leading players that make up the new “Core Four” — Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy and Will Smith — will dictate how far this team will go in the fall. If the Dodgers want to advance and collect the Commissioner’s Trophy, look to those four to lead the way.