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Expectations are sky high for the 2021 Dodgers, but how many games will they win?

Dave Roberts: “If you look at the talent, potentially, it could be as good as any team the Dodgers have ever fielded.”

Los Angeles Dodgers v Texas Rangers Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

The Dodgers last season freed themselves of the burden of over three decades of titleless baseball weighing on their shoulders. Now they are free to simply exist as the best team in the sport. But the question is just how good can they be?

Projection systems tend to be conservative by design, yet PECOTA at Baseball Prospectus has the Dodgers winning 104 games, and FanGraphs projects LA for only decimal points shy of 100 wins.

Oddsmakers are also bullish on the Dodgers, with BetOnline tabbing them with an over/under of 103½ wins, which PR man Jim Shapiro — who has been tracking these things since 2005 — says is the highest preseason win total he’s seen. BetMGM has the Dodgers at 102½ wins.

It’s easy to see why. The Dodgers are the defending World Series champions, coming off a season with a .717 winning percentage, the best in MLB since Cleveland in 1954. Sure, it was only a 60-game season, but it’s not like this is anything new. The Dodgers won 106 games in 2019 as well, and won 302 games from 2017-19.

In the last two offseasons they have added Mookie Betts, at worst a top-five player in the sport, and Trevor Bauer, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, the latter bolstering a rotation with unmatched depth. The Dodgers having eight viable starting pitchers at the ready could be a huge advantage in a season in which every team is concerned about just how to jump from a 60-game season to 162 games.

The expectations from the outside seem sky high. Ben Lindbergh at The Ringer wondered if the Dodgers could break the MLB record of 116 wins. Bradford Doolittle at ESPN decided to run a season simulation based on his projections until the Dodgers broke the wins record. It only took four tries. Bill Plaschke at the Los Angeles Times said the 2021 Dodgers will be the best MLB team of all-time. Well then.

But the expectations from within are pretty high, too.

“We have a chance to do something really special,” manager Dave Roberts said last week. “If you look at the talent, potentially, it could be as good as any team the Dodgers have ever fielded.”

To best winning percentage over a full season in franchise history was by the 1899 Brooklyn team, winners of the National League at 101-47 (.6824), narrowly beating the 1953 team that was 105-49 (.6818). For the 2021 Dodgers team to beat that, they’d need to go 111-51 (.685).

But the Dodgers have been good for a few years now, and if they achieve their goal will be back in the World Series for the fourth time in five years, something the “Boys of Summer” Brooklyn teams did from 1952-56.

Those Brooklyn teams have the best extended runs in Dodgers history, but this year’s team has a chance to stake a new claim at several team marks over multiple seasons. Here’s what the 2021 Dodgers need to do for the best three-, four-, and five-year runs in team history.

The best extended runs in Dodgers history

Stat 2021 team needs Current best
Stat 2021 team needs Current best
Best 3-year record 98 wins 1951-53 Brooklyn (298-166, .642)
Best 4-year record 108 wins 1952-55 Brooklyn (391-233, .637)
Best 5-year record 104 wins 1951-55 Brooklyn (488-283, .633)

In case you were wondering, the 2018-20 Dodgers had a .626 winning percentage, the fourth-best three-year mark in team history. The 2017-20 run was .631, also fourth-best.

If you want to get really ambitious, the Dodgers would need a record 121 wins in 2021 for the best five-year record in major league history, by the 1935-39 Yankees (498-261, .656).

No pressure or anything.