Dodgers Set Sights on Back-to-Back World Series Appearances

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Clayton Kershaw
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Clayton Kershaw /

History has shown that there’s a good chance the Dodgers repeat as NL Champions. Using historical precedents set by other back-to-back World Series participants, let’s explore the statistical indications that Los Angeles will do it again in 2018.

As the Dodgers now know all too well, there are many questions about a team after it wins the World Series. Most of them are focused on the following season: Will they have a World Series hangover? Will they have the drive to repeat? Will they upgrade the lineup or pitching staff?

What about teams that lose the World Series? Quite often, teams overreact to a World Series loss: “We need a middle-of-the-order bat.” “We need a top-of-the-rotation starter.” “We need to upgrade the bullpen and bench.”

The Dodgers’ front office has pretty much kept the status quo after their World Series loss nearly three months ago. Los Angeles will return a nearly identical team from its 2017 World Series club.

The Dodgers have made a couple of trades, shed (a lot of) salary, added a few bullpen arms, allowed a few players to leave via free agency, and made some adjustments to their 40-man roster.

So, do the Dodgers have what it takes to make a repeat World Series appearance? Let’s see what the numbers say.


There have been a total of 113 World Series’ played since the inaugural Fall Classic in 1903. The Series was not played in 1904 because the National League champion New York Giants decided not to play the American League champion Boston Americans (it figures), nor was it played in 1994 because of the players’ strike.

Of the 113 World Series losers, 15 of them came back the following year and won the World Series. That’s 13.3 percent. Or, one about every seven or eight years.

Understand, however, that from 1903 to 1961, there were only eight teams in the National League, and from 1903 to 1960, there were only eight teams in the American League. Six of those losers-turned-Series-winners were Yankees teams between 1922 and 1960.

During that time, teams merely had to finish first to reach the World Series.

(Imagine if the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s Yankees had to get through a Division Series and a Championship Series every year to get to the World Series. The bet here is that they wouldn’t have won 18 championships during a 38-season stretch.)

Since both leagues expanded to 12 teams in 1969, only four teams have lost the World Series and returned to win the following year: the 1969-70 Baltimore Orioles, the 1976-77 New York Yankees, the 1988-89 Oakland Athletics and the 2014-15 Kansas City Royals.

The ’70 Orioles returned completely intact in the field, and almost completely intact on the mound. The ’77 Yankees added Bucky Dent and Reggie Jackson, but were otherwise nearly identical.

The ’89 Bash Brothers A’s inserted catcher Terry Steinbach, second baseman Tony Phillips, and outfielders Rickey Henderson and Dave Parker into the starting lineup.

The ’15 Royals added Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales into the starting lineup and added Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto to the starting rotation.

Many pundits are saying the Dodgers are trying to be the Kansas City Royals, who returned from a devastating Game 7 defeat to win the title the next season.

Hear this: The Dodgers are not trying to be the Royals. They are aiming much higher. Three of the Royals’ best players – first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and outfielder Lorenzo Cain – are all free agents this season.

The Dodgers are younger than any of the above teams were when they repeated, and they’ve either locked up their talent, or they have control over it because of age.

Like it or not, the Dodgers’ front office is building for now AND the future, which sometimes hurts because fans want that J.D. Martinez bat or Cole Hamels arm at the trade deadline. The Dodgers, however, have deemed those costs far too prohibitive.

And that’s a good thing. Imagine if the Dodgers had traded Corey Seager for Hamels. (I’ll wait while you ponder that one for a moment).

Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi have struck gold with several draft picks over the past few years, and there’s no reason to think their current Top 5 prospects won’t contribute in a big way very soon, some possibly as early as Opening Day.

Losers-turned-losers … again

Of the 113 World Series losers, 12 (10.6 percent) came back and lost again the following year.

Again, though, eight of those 12 were when there were only eight teams per league, so let’s focus on the post-1969 divisional era (of course, it’s always fun to look at the entire list and see the Giants losing three straight World Series’ from 1911-1913).

Only three times in the divisional era has a team lost back-to-back World Series’ – the 1977-78 Dodgers, the 1991-92 Atlanta Braves and the 2010-11 Texas Rangers.

Like their Loser/Winner counterparts, two of these three teams returned nearly intact. The ’78 Dodgers, who lost to the Yankees, were identical to the ’77 team that also lost to the Yankees. One minor addition was a kid by the name of Bob Welch, who did this to Reggie Jackson out of the bullpen to win Game 2.

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The Braves of the 90s were expected to win multiple titles with future Hall of Fame pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, and Hall of Fame lock Chipper Jones anchoring the roster throughout the decade. Atlanta appeared in five World Series’ in the 1990s, but won only once (1995).

Of the above seven teams most relatable to the Dodgers current situation, the 2011 Texas Rangers were the only team to have made sweeping changes after the first of their back-to-back title losses.

After their 2010 loss, the Rangers entered 2011 with new starters at catcher, first base, third base, center field and DH. Texas also replaced three-fifths of its starting rotation prior to 2011.

Texas went from 90 wins in 2010 to 96 victories in 2011, but their World Series fate remained the same.

So, what can we glean from all this? Pretty much nothing. No two teams are ever the same, whether they win back-to-back World Series’ or lose back-to-back World Series’, whether they make wholesale changes or stand pat.

Next: LA's 25-Man Roster Right Now

The Dodgers have as good a chance to make a repeat appearance as any team in the last two decades. They are young, they are deep, and they can pitch.

It all adds up to a lethal combination.