The Los Angeles Dodgers are finally on top of the proverbial mountain. For the first time since 1988, they are the World Series champions. And for the first time ever, they sit atop our final season power rankings. I haven't tracked this nor do I care to go back and look, but the guess is they've been number one more than any other team since at least the start of the 2017 season, maybe even going back further. They had just previously failed in the playoffs.
- In 2013, they were unable to recover after a 13-inning loss in Game 1 and a 1-0 loss in Game 2 of the NLCS.
- In 2014, the Cardinals came back from a 6-1 deficit in Game 1 of the NLDS and closed things down in Game 4 with a Matt Adams three-run homer off Clayton Kershaw.
- In 2015, they ran into Jacob deGrom. Daniel Murphy also morphed into Babe Ruth.
- In 2016, they lost three straight to the Cubs after a 2-1 series lead.
- In 2017, the Astros took them down in an epic seven-game World Series.
- In 2018, the Red Sox pretty well throttled them.
- In 2019, the Nationals stunned them in Game 5 of the NLDS with clutch homers.
The Dodgers flipped the script this year. They trailed the Braves three games to one in the NLCS and won three straight. They never trailed or faced elimination in the World Series, bouncing back in a big way from every setback -- with the best example being scoring in just two batters in the first inning of Game 5 after that catastrophic ending to Game 4.
And now Dodgers fans forge an unfamiliar path into the offseason. Instead of hand-wringing on how the team can finally get over the top in the playoffs, it'll be wondering how they can remain champions. I would say it'll be easier, but that's not true in this era. There hasn't been a repeat champion since the Yankees won three straight 1998-2000. There have been some powerhouse teams that failed to repeat, too. I wouldn't bet against these Dodgers, but it's awfully tough to win one -- just ask them -- let alone two in a row.
To be clear, below are the final 2020 rankings, not those looking forward to 2021 just yet. We have the most unpredictable offseason in baseball history coming.
|Now the big question: Retain free agent Justin Turner? He's been part of the heart-and-soul of this club along with Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, but he's also heading to his age-36 season.||--||43-17|
|Has one person's stock ever changed as much in a month as Randy Arozarena's? Amazing run.||--||40-20|
|They are very well setup to contend for the foreseeable future behind a talented young core both on the pitching and position-playing side, but are the Dodgers in the way? We haven't seen the last of those two teams doing battle in October.||3||35-25|
|I really wish we could've seen a seven-game series between this team and the Dodgers with a fully operational Padres' pitching staff (Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger at 100%). Alas, it wasn't meant to be.||1||37-23|
|Surely they'll retain free agent D.J. LeMahieu, right? Being a high-average, high-contact guy in this climate should be heavily valued.||6||33-27|
|I'll admit it actually got fun for a quick second seeing them embrace the villain role, especially Carlos Correa. Now they need to move forward with George Springer hitting free agency and so many other questions.||8||29-31|
|Marcus Semien and Liam Hendriks hit free agency while Matt Chapman and Matt Olson start to get expensive? Uh oh.||2||36-24|
|"We've only just begun ... "||1||35-25|
|At this point, the playoff losing streak is going to be a mental block on the players until some group (2004 Red Sox, 2005 White Sox, 2016 Cubs) is mentally tough enough to overcome. Here we thought it was the Yankees and then the under-.500 Astros sweep them.||5||36-24|
|It'll be very interesting to see how they build on 2020 here in the offseason, but there are some intriguing, young, power arms.||5||31-29|
|They ran it back one last time with the 2016 World Series championship core. It worked for a division title, but that was mostly due to the 13-3 start. A shake-up is now needed.||4||34-26|
|And now, all eyes are on superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor, who is one year away from free agency and is coming off the worst offensive season of his career.||4||35-25|
|This season only scratched the surface with what the exciting offensive nucleus is capable of doing.||3||32-28|
|They finally got their act together down the stretch, winning 11 of their last 14, but then forgot how to hit and now are set to lose Trevor Bauer.||2||31-29|
|Have we seen the last of Yadier Molina in a Cardinals uniform as a player? Surely not, right?||2||30-28|
|So much went wrong for the Brewers, especially on the offensive side, but man, what happened with Christian Yelich? He walked and homered, but he also hit just .205 with 76 strikeouts in 200 at-bats.||--||29-31|
|The only players with a better OPS+ in the NL than Mike Yastrzemski were Juan Soto, Freddie Freeman, Marcell Ozuna and Dom Smith.||--||29-31|
|Juan Soto, at age 21, lead the league in average, on-base percentage and slugging. That's ridiculous. Oh, and the Nationals were sixth in runs and seventh in OPS among the 15 NL teams. Maybe get him some help.||--||26-34|
|From Aug. 23-Sept. 4, the Phillies went 10-1. Other than that, they were 18-31.||--||28-32|
|Is this the offseason when Kyle Seager finally gets traded?||--||27-33|
|Amazingly, the Royals were only really inept against teams from the small radius encompassing Chicago and Milwaukee. When the Royals didn't play the Brewers, Cubs or White Sox, they went 24-19.||--||26-34|
|See the Giants' comment. Go Dom! Quite a year. Also, let's tip our caps to Jacob deGrom. I don't think he wins his third straight Cy Young but he's right in the conversation. Beyond impressive.||--||26-34|
|Here's one: The Red Sox led the AL in batting average this year. Oh, and they were fifth in runs.||--||24-36|
|Look at the above comments on the A's and Astros. There might be a totally wide open AL West race. Let's hope whoever takes over in the front office can piece something together because Mike Trout continues to waste away.||--||26-34|
|I'm not sure any team had as much go wrong this season between players underperforming expectations and injuries. It was a disaster. The front office is talented, so it'll be interesting to see how they proceed.||--||25-35|
|Mid-prime Nolan Arenado just posted an 84 OPS+. It was 129 in his previous five seasons, on average. Hashtag 2020, right?||--||26-34|
|They were better than expected, but it's still hard to see this team contending -- especially in seasons longer than 60 games -- within the next two years.||--||25-35|
|The Rangers hit 27 homers in 30 games at home this season. The Dodgers hit 27 in the NLCS and through Game 5 of the World Series (so 12 games).||--||22-38|
|In 2018 and 2019 combined, Miguel Cabrera hit just 15 homers in 706 plate appearances. This season, he hit 10 in 231. He's again a safe bet to reach 500 for his career, as he currently sits on 487.||--||23-35|
|The Pirates own the number one overall pick in the draft. Last time they did quite well, taking Gerrit Cole out of UCLA. Previous Pirates number ones were Bryan Bullington (2004), Kris Benson (1996) and Jeff King (1986).||--||19-41|