For the first time in their storied history, the Los Angeles Dodgers were crowned National League West champions a third season in a row. The club clinched the division Tuesday night thanks to a masterful performance by their leader Clayton Kershaw and an all-around team effort at the plate.
While the past two seasons haven’t ended like the team would’ve liked, this year’s club appears to be stronger in areas the 2013 or 2014 Dodgers weren’t. According to ESPN’s Mark Saxon, manager Don Mattingly pinpointed one difference between this season:
A lot more professional this year,” Mattingly said. “Our guys get ready to play. I never really worried about them being ready to play. I could trust them. They got down to business on the field, and that was a good feeling for me.”
The Dodgers won’t be able to win as many games as they did last season. However, that doesn’t seem to bother first baseman Adrian Gonzalez who put more confidence in the 2015 Dodgers when compared to last season of:
I like this team a lot better,” he said Tuesday. “It has veteran leadership, guys that have been there, guys who go hard every day. I think we’ve got the right nucleus of guys.”
Gonzalez, who had two hits and a walk in Tuesday night’s victory, has an anchor in the lineup since he came over from Boston in 2012. This season hasn’t been any different as he leads the team in every major batting category.
Although the All-Star first baseman has struggled of late due to a back injury, he’s been able to battle through the pain as he gears himself towards another postseason run.
Earlier in the year,Gonzalez credited the front office for adding depth to the roster. It has certainly been beneficial of late as he was able to sit out a few games recently in order to rest his ailing back.
Another member of the Dodgers who like Gonzalez and Mattingly who prefers this team over last year’s team is Kenley Jansen. The club’s closer echoed Gonzalez’s and Mattingly’s comments earlier this month by saying they play more as a team while focusing less on individuality.
Now that the Dodgers have won the division they can shift some focus to fighting for home-field advantage in the first round. Their NL Division Series opponent, New York Mets, began Wednesday one game ahead of the Dodgers in the standings.