The Dodgers they were just one game away from winning their ninth consecutive NL West title, yet a few surprises San Francisco Giants the pennant was taken from them after a great campaign. But his 2021 season remains one of the best of a defending World Series champion in the last times.
Los Angeles won its 106th game on Sunday to close out the regular season, finishing with a .654 winning percentage and the best regular season record of a reigning division champion in the divisional era (since 1969).
It’s already easily the best record the Dodgers have had in a season after winning the World Series. Here’s a look at his regular season record and final result after his previous six titles.
- 1989: 77-83, .481 (lost playoffs)
- 1982: 88-74, .543 (lost playoffs)
- 1966: 95-67, .586 (World Series lost)
- 1964: 80-82, .494 (lost playoffs)
- 1960: 82-72, .532 (lost playoffs)
- 1956: 93-61, .604 (World Series lost)
Los Angeles became the 11th team with 100 wins to fail to finish first, meaning it will host the Cardinals in the NL Wild Card Game win or go home on Wednesday (8 ET, TBS). That means his chances of repeating as a World Series champion for the first time in franchise history are much more difficult. The Dodgers also set records for the most wins by a second-place team in the divisional era and the most wins by a wild-card team.
But the possible lack of a division crown shouldn’t detract from the historic level of success the Dodgers have had in 2021. While MLB has seen its share of repeat champions over the years, there haven’t been many teams that have been so dominant from cable to cable immediately after a title, at least since 1969.
You were more likely to see seasons like this of defending champions in the first half of the 20th century, when there were fewer teams and clubs played fewer games. The 1931 Philadelphia Athletics, for example, had a .704 winning percentage (107-45) after winning it all in ’30. No defending champion has surpassed that since the first modern World Series in 1903, though the ’39 Yankees were close, with a 106-45-1 (.702) record after winning it all at ’38.
In all, there were 15 seasons prior to 1969 (eight for the Yankees) in which the reigning champion had a winning percentage of .640 or better. Since the beginning of the divisional era? None, until the Dodgers finished at .654 in 2021. They finished at the top of this list of the best regular-season defending champs in the divisional era.
- 1971 Orioles: .639 (101-57)
- 1990 Athletics: .636 (103-59)
- Astros 2018: .636 (103-59)
- 1976 Reds: .630 (102-60)