clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2021 Dodgers season in thirds: The final 54 games

New, 12 comments

LA had MLB’s 5th-best 54-game finish since 1901

San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Now that the regular season is over, we can look back at the season split into three chunks.

After winning 32 games in the first 54 games, then winning 32 games in the middle 54 games, the Dodgers kicked into overdrive over in the final stretch, with a 42-12 record buoyed by one of the most impactful trade deadline moves ever, acquiring Max Scherzer and Trea Turner.

The Dodgers’ 42-12 finish was tied for the fifth-best final 54 games in MLB’s modern era (since 1901), behind only the 1906 Cubs (47-7), 1942 Cardinals (44-10), 2001 A’s (44-10), and 2017 Cleveland (43-11).

Dodgers 2021 season in thirds

2021 W-L Runs for Runs against Run differential BA/OBP/SLG wRC+ ERA ERA-
2021 W-L Runs for Runs against Run differential BA/OBP/SLG wRC+ ERA ERA-
1st 54 games 32-22 282 209 +73 .242/.338/.414 112 3.25 86
2nd 54 games 32-22 278 189 +89 .247/.331/.428 109 3.17 80
3rd 54 games 42-12 270 163 +107 .243/.319/.446 106 2.69 66

You can see the improvement as the season wore on. The offense, at least as a whole, was fairly consistent in each third of the year, but the pitchers really kicked it into overdrive in the final 54 games.

Now let’s look at the catchers, which shows steady improvement, and more relative playing time, for Will Smith as the season progressed.

Final 54 games - catchers

Player GS AB R H 2B HR RBI BB PA BA OBP SLG OPS wRC+
Player GS AB R H 2B HR RBI BB PA BA OBP SLG OPS wRC+
Smith - 1st 54 37 140 27 38 9 5 18 21 168 0.271 0.375 0.457 0.832 132
Smith - 2nd 54 38 136 19 34 5 9 30 16 162 0.250 0.358 0.500 0.858 134
Smith - 3rd 54 40 138 25 35 5 11 28 21 171 0.254 0.363 0.529 0.892 134
Barnes - 1st 54 21 79 9 20 5 2 14 12 93 0.253 0.359 0.392 0.751 117
Barnes - 2nd 54 16 68 12 13 2 2 3 7 78 0.191 0.295 0.309 0.604 71
Barnes - 3rd 54 14 53 7 10 1 2 6 1 54 0.189 0.204 0.321 0.524 39
Ruiz - 1st 54 0 7 1 1 0 1 1 0 7 0.143 0.143 0.571 0.714 90
Totals - 1st 54 226 37 59 14 8 33 33 268 0.261 0.363 0.438 0.801
Totals - 2nd 54 204 31 47 7 11 33 23 240 0.230 0.338 0.436 0.774
Totals - 3rd 54 191 32 45 6 13 34 22 225 0.236 0.324 0.471 0.796

Smith is simply one of the best catchers in baseball.

Final 54 games: position players

Player GS AB R H 2B HR RBI SB-CS BB BA/OBP/SLG OPS wRC+
Player GS AB R H 2B HR RBI SB-CS BB BA/OBP/SLG OPS wRC+
J.Turner - 1st 54 44-0-4 188 33 51 9 9 28 0-0 25 .271/.356/.463 0.819 131
J.Turner - 2nd 54 48-0-0 180 28 58 7 11 37 0-0 19 .322/.411/.544 0.956 162
J.Turner - 3rd 54 43-0-0 165 26 39 6 7 22 3-0 17 .236/.310/.400 0.710 94
Taylor - 1st 54 9-35-0 164 40 46 7 7 28 6-0 27 .280/.401/.488 0.889 151
Taylor - 2nd 54 45-6-0 201 38 57 12 10 32 4-1 20 .284/.353/.502 0.855 133
Taylor - 3rd 54 7-30-0 142 14 26 6 3 13 3-0 16 .183/.263/.289 0.551 52
Muncy - 1st 54 50-0-1 172 38 48 7 13 30 1-0 43 .279/.436/.558 0.995 175
Muncy - 2nd 54 36-0-0 137 23 37 10 9 32 1-0 21 .270/.371/.540 0.911 147
Muncy - 3rd 54 49-0-0 188 34 39 9 14 32 0-1 19 .207/.296/.489 0.785 109
Betts - 1st 54 0-42-0 174 27 43 16 5 18 5-3 27 .247/.365/.437 0.802 128
Betts - 2nd 54 2-36-0 150 38 44 9 10 23 2-0 22 .293/.384/.580 0.964 156
Betts - 3rd 54 3-33-0 142 28 35 4 8 17 3-2 19 .246/.345/.444 0.789 117
Pollock - 1st 54 0-24-0 94 13 26 5 4 17 2-0 8 .277/.333/.457 0.791 118
Pollock - 2nd 54 0-42-0 170 22 54 15 9 23 3-0 10 .318/.368/.565 0.932 151
Pollock - 3rd 54 0-32-0 120 18 34 7 8 29 4-1 12 .283/.356/.558 0.914 142
Seager - 1st 54 36-0-0 147 20 39 7 4 22 1-0 19 .265/.361/.422 0.783 123
Seager - 2nd 54 3-0-0 13 2 3 1 0 0 0-0 2 .231/.375/.308 0.683 103
Seager - 3rd 54 51-0-0 193 32 66 14 12 35 0-1 27 .342/.420/.611 1.031 174
T.Turner - 3rd 54 51-0-0 207 41 70 17 10 28 11-2 15 .338/.385/.565 0.950 153
Lux - 1st 54 41-0-0 154 20 38 5 5 25 1-1 11 .247/.298/.403 0.700 95
Lux - 2nd 54 34-0-0 124 19 25 5 1 12 2-0 20 .202/.317/.282 0.599 76
Lux - 3rd 54 2-16-0 57 10 18 2 1 9 1-0 10 .316/.426/.439 0.865 136
Bellinger - 1st 54 0-7-0 29 5 4 1 0 2 0-0 5 .138/.265/.241 0.506 53
Bellinger - 2nd 54 2-36-0 147 23 25 1 5 19 2-0 19 .170/.262/.293 0.554 56
Bellinger - 3rd 54 0-34-0 139 11 23 7 5 15 1-1 7 .165/.209/.324 0.533 41
Pujols - 1st 54 9-0-0 38 3 9 2 3 10 0-0 1 .237/.275/.526 0.801 121
Pujols - 2nd 54 20-0-0 100 11 28 1 5 19 1-0 6 .280/.324/.440 0.764 107
Pujols - 3rd 54 8-0-0 51 6 11 0 4 9 0-0 4 .216/.268/.451 0.719 86
Beaty - 1st 54 4-16-1 85 15 24 3 2 23 0-1 10 .282/.378/.388 0.766 123
Beaty - 2nd 54 11-10-0 83 13 18 0 2 7 1-0 9 .217/.330/.313 0.643 87
Beaty - 3rd 54 1-2-0 36 7 13 1 3 10 1-1 1 .361/.410/.639 1.049 182
McKinstry - 1st 54 4-12-0 63 7 16 5 3 14 0-0 3 .254/.294/.476 0.770 109
McKinstry - 2nd 54 12-11-0 94 12 18 4 4 15 1-1 7 .191/.245/.382 0.607 66
McKinstry - 3rd 54 0-0-0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0-0 0 .000/.000/.000 0.000 -100
Raley - 1st 54 0-9-0 44 3 8 1 1 2 0-0 2 .182/.280/.273 0.553 60
Raley - 2nd 54 0-4-0 15 0 2 0 0 0 0-0 0 .133/.133/.133 0.267 -28
Raley - 3rd 54 0-2-0 7 2 2 0 1 2 0-0 0 .286/.286/.714 1.000 162
McKinney - 2nd 54 0-10-0 36 3 7 1 0 3 0-0 6 .194/.310/.222 0.532 61
McKinney - 3rd 54 1-10-0 46 5 5 1 1 4 0-0 8 .109/.250/.239 0.489 37
Souza - 2nd 54 0-5-0 24 2 4 0 1 2 0-0 2 .160/.250/.360 0.610 69
Souza - 3rd 54 0-3-0 8 0 1 1 0 1 0-0 0 .125/.125/.250 0.375 -5
Neuse - 1st 54 9-3-0 58 6 10 1 3 4 0-1 1 .172/.186/.345 0.531 47
Neuse - 2nd 54 1-0-0 7 0 1 0 0 0 1-0 0 .143/.143/.143 0.286 -22
Tsutsugo - 1st 54 0-6-0 23 2 3 0 0 2 0-0 3 .130/.231/.130 0.361 16
Tsutsugo - 2nd 54 0-0-0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0-0 3 .000/.600/.000 0.600 165
Reks - 2nd 54 0-2-0 10 2 0 0 0 0 0-0 0 .000/.000/.000 0.000 -100
Burns - 2nd 54 2-0-0 11 2 3 1 0 0 0-0 3 .273/.467/.364 0.830 147
Ríos - 1st 54 10-1-0 51 4 4 0 1 1 0-0 7 .078/.217/.137 0.354 17
Peters - 1st 54 0-7-0 26 5 5 2 1 4 0-0 8 .192/.382/.385 0.767 96
Totals - 1st 54 1510 241 374 71 61 230 16-6 200 .248/.347/.429 0.776
Totals - 2nd 54 1505 238 384 67 67 224 18-2 169 .255/.339/.443 0.782
Totals - 3rd 54 1502 234 382 75 77 226 27-9 155 .254/.329/.465 0.794

Trea Turner proved to be dynamic from the jump for the Dodgers, who also enjoyed an injection of a healthy Corey Seager, looking every bit like the player who captured NLCS MVP and World Series MVP last October.

Different players carried the offense for stretches in 2021.

In the first 54 games it was Max Muncy and Chris Taylor on fire, with a healthy dose of Justin Turner. The middle third saw Justin Turner, AJ Pollock, and Mookie Betts take charge, with Muncy right behind. Down the stretch it was Seager, Trea Turner, and Pollock carrying the load.

Final 54 games: starting pitchers

Pitcher GS Record QS IP H R ER BB SO ERA WHIP FIP
Pitcher GS Record QS IP H R ER BB SO ERA WHIP FIP
Buehler - 1st 54 10 3-0 8 64.3 47 20 19 11 62 2.66 0.902 3.56
Buehler - 2nd 54 12 8-2 11 77.3 49 17 15 23 82 1.75 0.931 2.67
Buehler - 3rd 54 11 5-2 8 66.0 53 24 23 18 68 3.14 1.076 3.20
Urías - 1st 54 11 7-2 6 67.3 55 29 27 9 75 3.61 0.950 2.97
Urías - 2nd 54 11 6-1 4 62.3 56 25 22 16 64 3.18 1.155 3.83
Urías - 3rd 54 10 7-0 3 56.0 40 13 12 13 56 1.93 0.946 2.44
Scherzer - 3rd 54 11 7-0 7 68.3 48 17 15 8 89 1.98 0.820 1.96
Kershaw - 1st 54 12 7-4 7 70.3 55 27 26 13 77 3.33 0.967 3.04
Kershaw - 2nd 54 6 2-3 4 36.0 30 15 14 6 50 3.50 1.000 2.80
Kershaw - 3rd 54 4 1-1 0 15.3 18 9 8 2 17 4.70 1.304 3.04
Gonsolin - 2nd 54 10 2-1 0 35.7 26 11 11 26 42 2.78 1.458 4.48
Gonsolin - 3rd 54 4 2-0 0 17.7 12 6 6 6 21 3.06 1.019 4.02
Price - 2nd 54 4 0-1 0 17.0 14 8 7 6 13 3.71 1.176 4.43
Price - 3rd 54 5 0-1 0 21.7 17 11 11 6 13 4.57 1.062 4.00
Jackson - 3rd 54 2 0-1 0 8.7 6 1 1 6 7 1.04 1.385 5.13
White - 3rd 54 4 1-3 1 19.7 16 9 9 7 22 4.12 1.169 3.98
Gray - 2nd 54 2 0-0 0 8.0 7 6 6 5 13 6.75 1.500 7.94
May - 1st 54 5 1-1 2 23.0 16 8 7 6 35 2.74 0.957 3.24
Bauer - 1st 54 12 6-3 10 76.3 40 22 19 23 96 2.24 0.825 3.83
Bauer - 2nd 54 5 2-2 4 31.3 31 14 12 14 41 3.45 1.436 4.31
Starters - 1st 54 50 24-10 33 301.3 213 106 98 62 345 2.93 0.913 3.32
Starters - 2nd 54 50 20-10 23 267.7 213 96 87 96 305 2.93 1.154 3.66
Starters - 3rd 54 51 23-8 19 273.3 210 90 85 66 293 2.80 1.010 2.96

Scherzer and Julio Urías were excellent in the final third of the season, and Walker Buehler even with a downturn from his mid-season peak was still excellent. The starters as a group had sub-3.00 ERAs in each 54-game stretch, and a FIP under 3.00 in the final third of the year.

I counted bulk relief outings on at least four days rest with the starters, trying to separate out true relief outings.

Final 54 games: relief pitchers

Pitcher G Record Sv-BS IP H R ER BB SO ERA WHIP FIP
Pitcher G Record Sv-BS IP H R ER BB SO ERA WHIP FIP
Jansen - 1st 54 21 0-2 12-2 22.3 7 8 5 16 27 2.01 1.030 3.43
Jansen - 2nd 54 20 1-2 10-3 18.0 19 8 8 12 21 4.00 1.722 3.75
Jansen - 3rd 54 28 3-0 16-0 28.7 10 5 4 8 38 1.26 0.628 2.26
Treinen - 1st 54 22 1-1 2-0 20.7 19 9 7 6 25 3.05 1.210 3.11
Treinen - 2nd 54 24 1-4 1-0 25.0 14 6 4 6 25 1.44 0.800 2.43
Treinen - 3rd 54 26 4-0 4-0 26.7 13 5 5 13 35 1.69 0.975 3.09
Kelly - 1st 54 8 1-0 0-0 7.0 10 7 7 2 6 9.00 1.714 5.97
Kelly - 2nd 54 21 1-0 1-0 21.0 11 5 3 5 26 1.29 0.762 1.86
Kelly - 3rd 54 19 0-0 1-0 16.0 7 4 4 8 18 2.25 0.938 3.23
Vesia - 1st 54 9 0-1 0-1 9.7 4 9 7 11 13 6.52 1.552 8.18
Vesia - 2nd 54 10 1-0 0-0 11.0 4 1 1 2 11 0.82 0.545 1.74
Vesia - 3rd 54 22 2-0 1-0 19.3 9 7 2 9 30 0.93 0.931 3.33
Bickford - 1st 54 5 0-0 0-0 4.0 3 1 0 1 6 0.00 1.000 1.61
Bickford - 2nd 54 26 1-1 1-1 24.7 18 9 8 10 28 2.92 1.135 2.83
Bickford - 3rd 54 25 3-1 0-0 21.7 13 6 6 7 25 2.49 0.923 3.95
Knebel - 1st 54 8 1-0 2-0 6.0 3 3 3 3 9 4.50 1.000 1.61
Knebel - 3rd 54 19 3-0 1-1 19.7 13 5 4 6 21 1.83 0.966 3.12
Graterol - 1st 54 3 0-0 0-0 1.3 3 3 3 2 1 20.25 3.750 6.11
Graterol - 2nd 54 7 1-0 0-0 7.7 6 4 3 1 5 3.52 0.913 2.28
Graterol - 3rd 54 23 2-0 0-0 23.3 24 11 11 9 20 4.24 1.414 3.73
Bruihl - 3rd 54 21 0-1 0-0 18.7 13 7 6 7 11 2.89 1.071 3.65
Gonzalez - 1st 54 23 2-0 1-0 18.7 13 5 5 9 18 2.41 1.179 3.65
Gonzalez - 2nd 54 19 1-1 0-0 14.3 18 9 9 10 14 5.65 1.953 4.93
Gonzalez - 3rd 54 2 0-0 0-0 2.3 1 0 0 0 1 0.00 0.429 2.31
Nelson - 1st 54 16 1-1 0-1 18.7 11 6 5 11 30 2.41 1.179 1.83
Nelson - 2nd 54 12 0-1 0-0 10.3 3 2 1 2 14 0.87 0.484 1.93
Price - 1st 54 11 1-0 1-0 16.3 18 7 6 4 19 3.31 1.347 3.91
Price - 2nd 54 13 3-0 0-0 12.3 20 5 5 4 10 3.65 1.946 3.27
Price - 3rd 54 6 1-0 0-0 6.3 10 4 4 6 3 5.68 2.526 6.64
White - 1st 54 8 0-0 0-2 9.3 10 10 3 5 7 2.89 1.607 4.61
White - 2nd 54 7 0-0 0-0 14.7 12 9 7 5 18 4.30 1.159 3.53
White - 3rd 54 2 0-0 0-0 3.0 0 0 0 0 2 0.00 0.000 1.84
Cleavinger - 1st 54 8 1-3 0-1 6.0 8 6 3 4 9 4.50 2.000 6.45
Cleavinger - 2nd 54 13 1-0 0-0 11.7 11 3 2 7 12 1.54 1.543 5.42
Cleavinger - 3rd 54 1 0-1 0-0 0.3 1 2 1 1 0 27.00 6.000 3.17
Uceta - 1st 54 6 0-2 0-0 10.7 11 8 5 4 12 4.22 1.406 4.43
Uceta - 2nd 54 6 0-1 0-0 7.0 7 10 10 7 8 12.86 2.000 5.33
Uceta - 3rd 54 2 0-0 0-0 2.7 1 0 0 1 5 0.00 0.750 0.54
Alexander - 1st 54 12 0-2 0-0 11.7 7 4 3 1 5 2.31 0.686 3.89
Alexander - 2nd 54 5 0-0 0-0 3.7 8 2 2 3 3 4.91 3.000 6.74
Núñez - 2nd 54 5 0-1 0-0 7.3 7 6 5 2 8 6.14 1.227 7.14
Núñez - 3rd 54 1 0-0 0-0 0.3 1 2 2 2 0 54.00 9.000 21.17
Phillips - 3rd 54 7 1-1 0-0 10.3 8 5 4 5 9 3.48 1.258 2.88
S.Greene - 3rd 54 9 0-0 1-0 6.7 3 3 3 5 7 4.05 1.200 6.62
Féliz - 3rd 54 3 0-0 0-0 3.0 1 0 0 0 1 0.00 0.333 2.50
Vasquez - 3rd 54 2 0-0 0-1 1.7 1 1 0 0 3 0.00 0.600 -0.43
C.Greene - 3rd 54 2 0-0 0-0 2.0 2 0 0 0 2 0.00 1.000 1.17
Jackson - 3rd 54 1 0-0 1-0 3.0 4 2 2 0 3 6.00 1.333 1.17
Gonsolin - 3rd 54 1 0-0 0-0 2.3 3 3 3 2 2 11.57 2.143 9.60
Quackenbush - 3rd 54 1 0-0 0-0 0.3 3 1 1 0 1 27.00 9.000 -2.83
Turner - 3rd 54 1 0-0 0-0 1.0 2 0 0 0 0 0.00 2.000 3.17
Reed - 2nd 54 6 0-0 0-0 5.3 5 3 2 2 5 3.38 1.313 4.32
Sherfy - 2nd 54 4 1-1 0-0 4.3 3 3 2 0 3 4.15 0.692 5.50
Ramírez - 2nd 54 1 0-0 0-0 2.0 0 0 0 1 2 0.00 0.500 2.69
Burns - 2nd 54 1 0-0 0-0 1.0 3 2 2 0 1 18.00 3.000 14.19
Jones - 1st 54 4 0-0 0-0 4.3 2 3 2 0 2 4.15 0.462 5.19
Jones - 2nd 54 4 0-0 0-0 4.3 6 6 6 2 5 12.46 1.846 11.27
Santana - 1st 54 16 0-0 0-0 15.0 18 11 10 11 8 6.00 1.933 4.85
Kickham - 1st 54 1 0-0 0-0 2.0 5 3 3 1 2 13.50 3.000 10.61
Bullpen - 1st 54 181 8-12 18-7 183.7 152 103 74 91 199 3.63 1.323 3.89
Bullpen - 2nd 54 202 12-12 13-4 206.7 176 93 80 82 220 3.48 1.248 3.63
Bullpen - 3rd 54 224 19-4 25-2 219.3 143 73 62 89 237 2.54 1.058 3.37

Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen were both used more often in the final third than previously in the season, and both were incredibly effective down the stretch. Bullpen usage clearly delineated a group of six high-leverage relievers who got the most work: Jansen, Treinen, Joe Kelly, Corey Knebel, Alex Vesia, and Phil Bickford.

That’s the Dodgers season, one third at a time.