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Game over: The introduction of The One-Win Team

Or “A new series where we break down what went wrong with the 2022 Dodgers”

NLDS: Dodgers vs Padres Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Originally, this essay was supposed to describe my travel plans for the 2022 postseason and how one would be able to buy tickets for the later rounds. The essay concluded with the two following points: 1) my schedule did not align with any games prior to the World Series, except NLDS Game 5 in Los Angeles, which I had no interest in being at, and Games 2, 6, and 7 of a potential World Series. I did not want to go any potential Game 5 of the NLDS, because in my view if the series progressed that far, something had likely gone horribly wrong. Then I made the bold declaration that I was debating whether I would attend Game 2 in a premium seat or Games 6 and 7 in a cheaper seat.

Needless to say, that entire essay was rendered moot on October 15.

NLDS: Dodgers vs Padres
I actually was not watching the game as I was with my terminally ill father.
Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

And that was the plan. But as you all know by now, the Dodgers were eliminated in embarrassing fashion by San Diego in four games, with the added humiliation of watching the San Diego faithful rejoice on their home field. Truth be told, after an evening of annoyance, I returned to normal once I had returned after tending to my father.

If you recall from my fan guide to the now-infamous NLDS against the Padres, I said the following:

Do I expect the Dodgers to lose to the Padres in this series? Maybe a game. Probably not two. I would be quite surprised if the Dodgers lost the series.

In my view, there are four ways that the Padres win from most likely to least likely:

1.The Dodgers just don’t hit and relapse to their ways circa NLCS 2021 or the last couple of weeks of the 2022 regular season. If Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Trayce Thompson, Gavin Lux, and Cody Bellinger hypothetically go collectively 4-40 with RISP or something in a five-game series, then the Dodgers’ season is likely done, which would open them up to well-deserved ridicule. Do I expect that? No, but if the recent Cardinals/Phillies showed us if the main bats don’t hit, no runs are likely scored. The Dodgers’ bench has far more depth this year over last year’s squad. Apart from Thompson and arguably Joey Gallo, most of the Dodger regulars have been here before and should be more than ready to take care of business.

Well, it turns out that I was slightly off in my doomsday prognosis as the Dodgers were 5 for 34 (.147) with runners in scoring position in four games, rather than my proposed 4 for 40 (.100) in five games. So now what, you might ask?

Previously I had defended the 2022 Dodgers in various aspects as you can see by the related essays.

As the season is now effectively over, I must now switch roles from defender to prosecutor. I fully acknowledge that baseball is complex and that the playoffs are a sea of randomness that can sink even the mightiest of ships. And before anyone asks, I am not one of those fans who just obsesses about the postseason. After all, I have been to 48 regular season games in sixteen different cities in the past two seasons.

I had a ball watching the Dodgers in 2022, from icy perfection in April to a potential playoff preview in September. 111 regular season wins is nothing to scoff at. But just like in 2019, all those fun memories of all the walk-offs and the summer dominance ended in five games against the Washington Nationals.

Divisional Series - Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Five
Remember when this moment was the nadir of recent Dodgers’ baseball?
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

I picked the Dodgers to win the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros, a prediction that seems quite comical now. Based on the Dodgers’ regular season success in 2022, prior to the NLDS, I concluded that the team had no excuse for not clinching another pennant. I suppose I would have been annoyed if Atlanta had been able to vanquish the Dodgers in the NLCS, but sometimes the hotter team wins, and sometimes the better team beats themselves.

For me, the nightmare scenario of these playoffs was the Padres sweeping the Dodgers and then either winning or allowing Houston to win another title in some twisted reboot of the Angels-Giants World Series of twenty years ago. Either outcome in this scenario would be nausea-inducing. There is no way to spin the Dodgers’ recent failure in these playoffs as anything other than an organizational, generational-level failure.

Over the next few months, we will examine the Dodgers’ model; how four players could not replicate a single outfielder; why Cody Bellinger is likely heading out the door; among other topics.

To be clear, this series is not an excuse to scapegoat what happened. For all intents and purposes, even with the following hype reel, even with all the expectations, and bravado, even with every possible postseason advantage and a relative dearth of injuries, the 2022 Dodgers only managed to win a single game for the departed announcer, Vin Scully.

Hence, going forward discussing these Dodgers, the only proper way to refer to this current incarnation of this team is to call them by what they actually did in these playoffs. As such, they are The One-Win Team.

While some might think it unfair to call them that, but we just witnessed the most dominant Dodgers team in recent memory, but...or did we? Next time: we revisit a Fangraphs article about The One-Win Team’s unusual offensive strategy and how it was effective...until it was not.