After reconstructing their roster and coaching staff over the winter, the Los Angeles Dodgers entered the 2019 season with the same championship expectations that have been attached to them in recent years.
The club, despite falling short in back-to-back World Series appearances, maintained confidence that their group was talented enough to finally get over the hump in 2019.
Looking to avoid a second World Series hangover in as many years, the Dodgers proved their skeptics wrong with an excellent 20-12 showing in March and April. They additionally were the first team in the Majors to 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 wins.
As the Dodgers were well on their way to a seventh consecutive National League West title, manager Dave Roberts boldly predicted that the difference between this year’s club and previous two was going to be a World Series championship, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“Well, the difference is this team is going to win a championship. And the other two teams just fell short. I know that’s the goal.”
The Dodgers went on to clinch the division title at the earliest point in franchise history, both by date and games played, and set a new organization record with 106 wins. This year’s team additionally avoided the late skid that the 2017 club endured, and last season’s sluggish start.
Though, all it ultimately led to was a disappointing loss to the Washington Nationals in the NL Division Series. It marked the Dodgers’ earliest postseason exit since losing to the New York Mets in 2015, which also was in five games of the NLDS.
L.A. joined the list of teams that failed to reach — or win — in a third year after back-to-back consecutive defeats in the Fall Classic.
Prior to the Dodgers beginning their NLDS matchup with the Nationals, Roberts proclaimed his 2019 roster to be the best team the franchise has ever assembled. He also was hesitant to subscribe to the notion the season was essentially World Series or bust.
Cody Bellinger and Kiké Hernandez readily admitted the year was a failure in the aftermath of losing the NLDS, but both were also among the players to voice confidence about the organization’s future and direction.
It is expected to include Roberts, who despite mounting criticism for his decision-making in Game 5, is projected to remain as manager heading into the 2020 season. Roberts signed a four-year contract last December.