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The Dodgers, 100 wins, and the race to the top

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2017 is becoming an historic season for the Dodgers

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers have an off day on their nine-game road trip today, so what better time to take stock of how absurd their 2017 season has been, and what could come.

With a thorough pasting of the Mets on Sunday night to complete a season sweep of New York, the Dodgers at the moment are 79-32, which doesn’t seem like a real record no matter how many times I see it.

The franchise record for wins is 105, set by Brooklyn in 1953, back when the schedule was just 154 games. The 2017 club needs to finish just 27-24 to finish with 106 wins, a target that seems eminently doable.

By winning percentage, the 1953 team is second-best in Dodgers history (.6818), trailing only the 1899 squad that finished 101-47 (.6824). Topping that would require 111 wins in 162 games, meaning a 32-19 finish (.627) for the 2017 club. Again, a reachable target.

The club’s current winning percentage is .712, putting them on pace for 115 victories, one shy of the major league record, set by the 1906 Cubs (116-36) and 2001 Mariners (116-46).

The projected standings for the rest of the season at FanGraphs have the Dodgers finishing with 109 wins, while Baseball Prospectus has them at 110.

The Dodgers haven’t won 100 games in a season since 1974, when they won 102 games en route to the World Series. The Dodgers only have to finish 21-30 to reach triple digits in victories this season, which drives home just how special this season is. The club hasn’t had a 51-game stretch that bad since 2013.

Since the American League switched to a 162-game schedule in 1961 — the National League did the same one year later -- there have been 56 major league teams to win at least 100 games, an average of exactly one per season.

The Dodgers have won 100 games six times — 1899, 1941, 1942, 1953, 1962 and 1974.

pee-wee-reese-gil-hodges-getty
Pee Wee Reese (right), with GIl Hodges, was the starting shortstop for three of the Dodgers’ six 100-win teams.
Photo credit: Getty Images

No NL team has won more than 108 games since the Pirates (110-44) in 1909.

Best Dodgers run differential

Year Run diff. Record
Year Run diff. Record
1953 +266 105-49
1974 +237 102-60
1942 +230 104-50
1949 +228 97-57
1941 +219 100-54
2017 +204 79-32
1900-present

With the Dodgers’ 8-0 win on Sunday, they have now outscored their opponents by 204 runs this season, 34 runs better than the next-best team in the majors this season (Astros). Since 1900, the Dodgers have outscored teams by 200 or more runs five times, topped by the +266 mark set by the aforementioned 1953 Brooklyn team.

Four of the five teams (1941, 1949, 1953, 1974) reached the World Series, and the 1942 team won 104 games but finished second to the Cardinals.

Notes

The Dodgers have an eight-game lead over the Astros for best record in baseball, a margin larger than three of the six divisions in MLB.

LA leads the Nationals by 13 games for the best record in the National League.

The Dodgers’ magic number for clinching their fifth straight National League West crown is 36 (both the Rockies and Diamondbacks have 48 losses at the moment), which seems absurdly low for Aug. 7. The earliest clinch date in Dodgers history is Sept. 8, in 1955. Since moving to Los Angeles, the earliest clinch date is Sept. 19, in 2013.