Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dodgers win wild West League in 2015

The Dodgers rallied through the final two months of the 2015 West League season, while the Houston Astros faltered on the road. Thus, the Dodgers overtook the Astros to claim the West League championship.

Adrian Gonzalez led the Dodgers' batting order through a championship campaign during the 2015 West League season (Keith Allison/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license).

The Dodgers looked finished in the West League after the Houston Astros swept them three Aug. 21-23 in Houston, starting with a no-hitter for Houston hurler Mike Fiers in the Friday night opener.

After that series, the Astros were 42-26, four games up on the Dodgers, who wallowed at 37-29 second place. 

But the road took a toll on the Astros in the final month, as two three-city trips through the circuit yielded combined results of 4-15. 

The better seasoned Dodgers campaigned on their big road trip, a Sept. 3-13 three-city swing through San Diego, Anaheim and Arizona that went 7-3, one loss in each location.

By the time the Astros took a 2-8 beating going through Oakland, Anaheim and Arlington, TX, Sept. 7-17, the Dodgers were in command.

The Dodgers went to the final week of the season with a two-game lead on the Astros and a three-game lead on the Angels and San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers then split four in San Francisco before sweeping three at home against the San Diego Padres to secure a 5-2 week, which no one else surpassed and only the Astros matched.

Ending the regular season, the Dodgers remained two up on the Astros. The Dodgers, Astros and Rangers remained alive in the Major League playoffs. Though the Rangers won the American League West at 88-74, two games ahead of the Astros and three ahead of the Angels, they were also-rans in the West League.

The Rangers finished 47-49 in the West League, sixth out of 10 clubs. So, the Rangers didn't hold up very well against their regional competition, but they were 41-25 outside the West League. The Astros were 32-34 outside the West League. The Dodgers were 36-30 outside the league

As the playoffs began, the possibility existed that the Astros and Rangers could meet again for the World Series berth, also giving the Astros one last run at the Dodgers in the West League. But the Astros couldn't get past the Kansas City Royals and the Rangers couldn't get past the Toronto Blue Jays.

Thus. the Dodgers prevailed in the first year of playing out the West League, which will next play out when the interleague divisions align for it in 2018. Meanwhile, it has been decided here to track a different disalignment in the next two seasons, based on whether clubs are original or expansion franchises. If we applied it to the 2015 season, the results are quite surprising.

With their league win, the Dodgers also claim the title in the league's South Division. In the North Division, the Giants prevailed by one game over the Arizona Diamondbacks.