In recent years, the Los Angeles Dodgers have made one thing clear— they are bound and determined to win a World Series title by any means necessary. That essentially means that they are not going to let money play a significant role in stopping them, and they have spent liberally.
Since 2013, their payroll has been the highest in the game five times (2013-17) and in the top four the other two (2018-19). In those years, they have lost in the NLDS twice, the NLCS twice, and in the World Series twice.
However, with the way things are going this season, 2019 could be the year where they finally break through and win it all. With 75 games under their collective belt, the Dodgers are 50-25 and have a ten-game lead on the Colorado Rockies in the NL West.
According to Betway.com (as of June 20), their odds to win the World Series are +325, second only to the Houston Astros (+300). With the best odds to win the World Series of all the NL teams, it only makes sense that they are favored to win their division (-10000) and the NL (+150).
While those are encouraging signs, with so much baseball left to be played, some fans are bound to be skeptical. They have all heard the stories about the team that dominated for most of the season only to fold down the stretch. What’s to say that will not be the Dodgers this season?
Cody Bellinger and Hyun-Jin Ryu, that’s who.
The dynamic duo of the Dodgers is having a fantastic season so far, and both are considered favorites to win a major award; Bellinger the MVP and Ryu the Cy Young. Should that happen, history favors them winning their division and/or the NL.
Since 1957, there have been 18 teams that had a player win the MVP and another the Cy Young in the same season. Of those 18 teams, 17 of them went on to finish first in the league or division. The 18th team, the 1962 Dodgers, but lost the NL Pennant to the Giants after losing a three-game playoff.
Of the 17 teams, 11 of them went on to play in the World Series and five won, the last being the Dodgers in 1988 (Kirk Gibson won NL MVP and Oral Hershiser the Cy Young).
So—can Bellinger and Ru pull it off?
Through 75 games, Bellinger has made an incredible case for himself. He is hitting .359 on the season with 24 home runs and 60 RBIs. His OPS, while excellent at home (1.260) has been impressive on the road as well. His closest competitor, Christian Yellich, can’t say the same (home OPS- 1.606; away- .886).
It has the appearance of a very close race, but if Bellinger can maintain his level of production, he should have a great shot at taking home the hardware.
However, the case for Ryu to win the NL Cy Young, while good, isn’t quite as cut and dry. While the stat line is important—and Ryu’s is excellent – voters showed last season by naming Mets ace Jacob deGrom the winner that stats are not all that matters.
While that argument could diminish the value of Ryu’s case, it could also bolster it.
Many will look at his ERA (1.26 through 14 starts), his 9-1 record, and .82 WHIP and say he should win it. Others will look at his WAR of 3.7, and while it is excellent, there are two guys with a higher one in the AL– Max Scherzer and Mike Minor.
Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander, who is also having a great statistical season, is just a tenth of a point lower (3.6).
So, much like Bellinger, Ru is a tremendous candidate for his award. But he is not the only tremendous candidate. While his odds are definitely the best, Scherzer and Verlander are not too far behind. More than likely, who wins the Cy Young will come down to who can maintain or improve their current level of excellence over the remainder of the season.
If the Dodgers can have two guys win both awards, it will be a good indicator of their chances to make the World Series. However, since six of the 11 teams that did have two guys win the Cy Young and MVP made the World Series and failed to win, don’t count on the Dodgers winning this season.