The Los Angeles Dodgers are a formidable baseball club, perhaps the best in MLB right now.
We say perhaps, even though they earned an absolutely fantastic 106-56 record in 2021, because one team fared better according to the standings.
The San Francisco Giants, against all odds, finished 107-55 to win the National League West division.
The Giants and Dodgers, historical rivals with countless exciting regular season and postseason moments, took their fight for the division to the last weekend of the season.
San Francisco ended up prevailing, sending the Dodgers to the Wild Card Game.
Congrats to the San Francisco Giants on winning the National League West. Congrats to The LA Dodgers, probably the best wild card team in the history of baseball.
— Turn Texas Blue (@Blue_Texas2022) October 4, 2021
Now, the Dodgers are favored to win and advance to the Division Series, but if they lose, their 106-win season will mean nothing more than a fine side story because they would be eliminated.
It’s fair to wonder, however, if the Dodgers are the best Wild Card team ever.
The answer seems to be yes, but they need to validate it with a World Series victory.
History Of The Wild Card
The Wild Card was introduced in 1994 as a way of injecting more excitement into the postseason race.
At first, it was one Wild Card spot per league, which went to the best record of non-division winners.
Then, starting in the 2012 season, the league started awarding two Wild Card spots per league.
The two best records that didn’t win their division would face off in a Wild Card Game, with the winner advancing to the Division Series.
The 2020 season was an anomaly because it included expanded playoffs, but for the 2021 campaign, MLB returned to the original, two Wild Card setting.
It remains to be seen if the playoff format remains the same, as the MLB and the MLBPA are set to enter negotiations to agree to a new CBA deal in the offseason.
Are The Dodgers The Greatest Wild Card Team Ever?
By record, the 2021 Dodgers are the best Wild Card team in the history of the game.
Only two additional Wild Card teams won 100 games: the 2001 Oakland Athletics (102-60), and the 2018 New York Yankees (100-62).
That would make the Dodgers significantly better than both squads.
However, there is still work to be done for the Dodgers, considering a couple of additional facts.
Six teams have gone on to win the World Series after finishing the regular season as Wild Card teams: the Florida Marlins, in 1997 and 2003; the Anaheim Angels, in 2002; the Boston Red Sox, in 2004; the St. Louis Cardinals, in 2011; the Giants, in 2014; and the Washington Nationals, in 2019.
The Dodgers have the potential to get there eventually, but right now, that would obviously be premature.
First, they have to get over the Cardinals, a squad that won 17 straight games in late September.
The Dodgers are clearly better on paper: St. Louis finished 16 games behind Los Angeles.
Additionally, the Cardinals had a +34 run differential, whereas the Dodgers led the league with +269.
Dave Roberts says that Muncy will likely be out for the wild card and division series, at the least.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 3, 2021
The Dodgers may be the best Wild Card team ever, but they still have things to prove.NEXT: Dodgers Need Cody Bellinger To Step Up Fast