Kiké Hernandez: Dodgers Have ‘Every Right To Celebrate’ After Clinching 7th Consecutive NL West Title

With the Arizona Diamondbacks dropping their series opener against the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Dodgers enter Tuesday in position to formally clinch a seventh consecutive National League West title.

A win against the Baltimore Orioles will allow the Dodgers to celebrate at Camden Yards, but should they fall short, a Diamondbacks loss would also punch their ticket to the postseason. Regardless of how it comes to fruition, the long-anticipated conclusion will become a reality this week.

Division titles have largely become a footnote for the Dodgers at this point. They splashed around in the pool at Chase Field in 2013 but recent celebrations have been much calmer. An exception to that was last season, when the Dodgers needed a Game 163 to be crowned NL West champions.

While winning the division is an expectation for most, Kiké Hernandez reasoned a celebration remains worthwhile because of both the accomplishment and younger players on the Dodgers roster this season, as seen on SportsNet LA:

“There’s some guys that have never done it before. As you can see throughout the division, that’s why only team wins the division every year. Being able to do it year after year is not an easy feat. Our goal going into Spring Training is to win a World Series, but we can’t win a World Series without winning the division or Wild Card to get into the playoffs. It’s a 162-game season, so if you win the division you have every right to celebrate winning the division, because that’s just step one of the big picture.”

Eight players made their MLB debut with the Dodgers this season, and of those, Matt Beaty, Tony Gonsolin, Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Josh Sborz and Will Smith remain on the active roster. So too is A.J. Pollock, albeit a veteran, but someone who has been on the wrong end of the Dodgers’ reign.

While L.A. has long been poised to win another NL West title, their focus has also gone to getting healthy in time for the postseason and jockeying for home-field advantage through the World Series.

At present time they would only have such through the NL playoffs. Though, even the Dodgers’ lead in the league standings has been cut into due their recent slide coinciding with the Atlanta Braves’ hot streak.

Multiple players have highlighted the importance of homefield, and so has Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, but as a result of play on the field. “That’s certainly something you’re eyeing to increase your chances of winning a championship,” he acknowledged.

“But that is a byproduct of playing good baseball. You’re playing against yourselves and challenging yourselves to pitch well, to catch the baseball, take good at-bats, play the game the way fans expect you to play. I think we do a very good job of that as far as our intent every single night.

“We’re very competitive ourselves. I think if you look at it from that lens, it’s easier to move forward regardless of the standings or who we’re playing. And I say that because our goal is to go out there and play a clean baseball game every night.

“Pitch well, catch the baseball, take quality at-bats and run the bases. When we do that, regardless of opponent, it shouldn’t matter where we’re at in the standings or how many games of a lead we have. When you have that mindset, there’s always room to get better, room for improvement.”