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The Dodgers-Giants NLDS is exactly what we need

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Two rivals at their best, battling for a trip to the NLCS

San Francisco Giants vs Los Angeles Dodgers Getty: Set Number: X163727 TK1

Moments after the postgame clubhouse celebration after Chris Taylor’s walk-off home run to win the National League wild card game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was already looking ahead to the NLDS.

“I think it’s great,” Roberts said. “It’s what baseball wants. Dodgers-Giants, one of the great rivalries in sports, and it’s happening.”

Game 1 of the National League Division Series is Friday night at 6:37 p.m. PT at Oracle Park in San Francisco, with Walker Buehler opposing Logan Webb on the mound.

One hundred and thirty years together in the National League is a long time, but this year sees both Los Angeles and San Francisco at their best. The Giants won a franchise-record 107 games, while the Dodgers matched their franchise best with 106 victories. Both teams had a handful of years with better winning percentages but in a shorter schedule, but it’s extremely rare to see both teams this good and at the same time.

It’s rare to see any two teams this good playing each other in the postseason. No series has ever featured two teams with 105 or more wins. Since the advent of divisional play in 1969, this is just the ninth postseason series with two 100-win teams.

100-win postseason matchups in divisional era

Year Series Team 1 Team 2 Total wins
Year Series Team 1 Team 2 Total wins
2021 NLDS Giants (107) Dodgers (106) 213
2019 ALCS Astros (107) Yankees (103) 210
2018 ALCS Red Sox (108) Astros (103) 211
2017 World Series Dodgers (104) Astros (101) 205
1977 ALCS Royals (102) Yankees (100) 202
1976 NLCS Reds (102) Phillies (101) 203
1971 ALCS Orioles (101) A's (101) 202
1970 World Series Orioles (108) Reds (102) 210
1969 World Series Orioles (109) Mets (100) 209

Accounting for shorter schedules — and discounting last year’s 60-game sprint — the last postseason series with two winning percentages this good was nearly seven decades ago:

  • 1953 World Series: Brooklyn Dodgers (105-49, .682) vs. New York Yankees (99-52, .656)
  • 2021 NL Division Series: Giants (107-55, .660) vs. Dodgers (106-56, .654)

The thing about the Dodgers and Giants is they are rarely good at the same time. The last time they both won even 90 games in the same year was 2004. It’s only happened six total times since both moved west: 1962, 1965, 1966, 2002, 2004, and 2021.

Both teams playing so well makes this matchup even more special than the usual rivalry business.

You have the Dodgers seeing their eight-year streak of winning the National League West snapped, wanting to prove they are still the team to beat in the division. Meanwhile, the Giants have the best record in baseball, they beat the Dodgers in 10 of 19 matchups, and have earned home field advantage in this best-of-five series.

The regular season games were already entertaining and memorable. A few highlights:

But with their first-ever postseason series upon us, more memories will surely be made. The Dodgers and Giants didn’t even play each other for the first seven weeks of 2021. But they are making up for it on the back end, with an NLDS we’ve been waiting on for some time.

The Dodgers got past those pesky Cardinals to get what they wanted: another chance at the Giants.

“We did what we had to do,” Justin Turner said. “Now we’re looking forward to this series with those guys.”

So are we.