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Dodgers’ turnaround from 10 games under .500 complete with World Series trip

From 16-26 to the Fall Classic

League Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Milwaukee Brewers - Game Seven Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers are back in the World Series, which is what many prognosticators thought way back in February and March. But the Dodgers’ ride to the Fall Classic was anything but smooth, and they joined select company in their in-season comeback.

The Dodgers are just the sixth team ever to reach the World Series in a season in which they were 10 or more games under .500 at any point, and the first to do so since the 2005 Houston Astros.

May 16 saw the Dodgers reach their low point of the season, just 16-26 (.381), and were 8½ games back in the National League West.

There are a multitude of factors that contributed to the Dodgers’ rise since then, a 76-45 (.628) run that paced the National League for the remainder of the season. But the most obvious boon to their success was the return of Justin Turner, who missed the first 40 games of the season with a fracture in his left wrist.

The club also saw literally the entire starting rotation hit the disabled list at some point during May, and lost All-Star shortstop Corey Seager at the end of April after Tommy John surgery.

But manager Dave Roberts remained confident that his team would rebound, predicting at the end of the season’s first month — April 29, Roberts recalled with perfect clarity months later — that the Dodgers would win the division despite trailing by seven games at the time. It was a belief he repeated throughout the summer.

“It’s the consistency in how you approach each day, and as a by-product we started winning baseball games. I think that for me it’s such a long season,” Roberts said earlier in the NLCS. “I think the biggest compliment for all of us is that we stayed the course.”

The Dodgers remained under .500 until as late as June 6. The latest any of these teams that were 10 or more games under still had a losing record was in 1973, when the New York Mets were still under .500 on Sept. 20, with just eight games left to play. The Mets finished 82-79 and got all the way to the seventh game of the World Series before succumbing to the swinging Oakland A’s.

The most stunning comeback of all the teams at least 10 games under .500 was the 1914 Boston Braves, dubbed the “Miracle Braves” because of their late surge. At their worst they were 12-28 (.300), and were still 10 games under .500 as late as July 15, halfway through the season. They were a stunning 61-16 after that, and rode that hot streak into the World Series, where they swept the Philadelphia A’s for the Braves’ first championship, and their only one in Boston.

The farthest those Braves trailed in the standing in 1914 was 15 games back. This year’s Dodgers trailed by as many as nine games, the last time on May 8.

Of the five previous teams to reach the World Series after falling 10 games under .500, two have won it — the Miracle Braves, and the 2003 Florida Marlins.

The Dodgers get their crack at the World Series beginning on Tuesday, with the first two games of the Fall Classic at Fenway Park against the Red Sox.

From under .500 to the World Series

Team Most games under .500 Last date under .500 Final record WS result
Team Most games under .500 Last date under .500 Final record WS result
1914 Braves 16 July 31 94-59 (.613) won 4-0 over A's
2005 Astros 15 July 18 89-73 (.549) lost 4-0 to White Sox
1951 Giants 10 May 25 98-59 (.624) lost 4-2 to Yankees
1973 Mets 10 September 20 82-79 (.509) lost 4-3 to A's
2003 Marlins 10 June 29 91-71 (.562) won 4-2 over Yankees
2018 Dodgers 10 June 6 92-71 (.564) TBD vs. Red Sox