The best team in each league resides in Los Angeles. Who is winning the Battle LA between the Angels and the Dodgers? It may be closer than you think.
There’s a battle going on in one of baseball’s biggest markets. We already covered how the Mets are taking over baseball in the Big Apple, and how the Pirates swiftly snatched the Pennsylvania baseball crown. In Chicago, both the North- and South-siders are quickly improving, and should compete this season. However, no battle is more hotly contested than that of baseball supremacy in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers and Angels are not-so-quietly putting on one of the best intra-city battles of the decade. While each has enjoyed success at times through its history – the Dodgers more so, though their history is quite a bit longer than the Angels’ – this is the first time each team has been at the top of its game at the same time. So, which team reigns supreme in the City of Angels? Let’s take a look:
Tale of the Tape
While this rivalry has certainly kicked it up a notch in the last couple of seasons, the similarities between the two over the last decade are striking. Take a look at the records of each club since the start of the 2005 season, when the Angels added “Los Angeles” into their name:
Dodgers: 854 – 765* (.527)
Angels: 906 – 714 (.559)
*The Dodgers played only 161 games in 2011
The Angels hold a slight edge in regular-season success, but how has that translated to the postseason?
Dodgers Since 2005
- Four division titles (2008-09, 2013-14)
- Five playoff appearances (2006, 2008-09, 2013-14)
- Combined playoff record: 16-19; three series wins (NLDS 2008-09, 2013)
Angels Since 2005
- Five division titles (2005, 2007-09, 2014)
- Five playoff appearances (2005, 2007-09, 2014)
- Combined playoff record: 10-19; two series wins (ALDS 2005, 2009)
Ok, so both teams have been extremely successful in the regular season, combining for a 1760 – 1479 record (.543), including nine of a possible 20 division titles and ten total playoff appearances. However, neither team has seen great success in the playoffs, each posting a losing record, with neither coming closer than two wins from a World Series appearance. In fact, neither team has appeared in a World Series since the Angels defeated the Giants in 2002; the Dodgers haven’t appeared in the Fall Classic since their win in 1988.
So as far as the teams go, we’re fairly even. The Angels have been slightly more successful in the regular season; the Dodgers have been slightly better in the postseason, though neither team has advanced past the League Championship Series. How about the individual pieces that make up the teams? Well…
Dodgers Since 2005
- Three Cy Young-winners: (Clayton Kershaw – 2011, 2013-14)
- One MVP: (Clayton Kershaw – 2014)
Angels Since 2005
- One Cy Young: (Bartolo Colon – 2005)
- One Manager of the Year: (Mike Scioscia – 2009)
- One Rookie of the Year: (Mike Trout – 2012)
- One MVP: (Mike Trout – 2014)
- Two Rolaids Relief Man of the Year: (Francisco Rodriguez: 2006, 2008)
So the Angels have had a bit more regular-season award-winners, tallying a Cy Young, a Manager of the Year, a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, and two Relief Man of the Year awards, given to a total of four individuals. The Dodgers have the upper-hand in Cy Youngs, and the same number of MVPs, though all awarded to one person.
Ok, so that tells us a little bit. Can we get any other metrics to help us out? How about the fans? To win the title of Team of Los Angeles, you need good fans, right? Any separation here?
- Average since 2005: 44,517 (per Baseball-Reference)
- Average capacity since 2005: 79 percent, based on 56,000-seat capacity at Dodger Stadium
- Average since 2005: 39,936 (per Baseball-Reference)
- Average capacity since 2005: 91 percent, based on 44,000-seat capacity of Angel Stadium
Ok, so that didn’t help much. The Dodgers get more fans into their bigger stadium, but the Angels sell a higher percentage of available tickets. While that 12-percent difference is nothing to sneeze at, that’s what happens with a stadium that big in a city with that much going on. I’m willing to give a slight edge to the Angels.
So as we’ve seen, the Angels seem to have a small edge; they have more regular-season success, more individual awards, and slightly-better attendance figures, while the Dodgers have a touch more playoff success, but have not gone any further than the Angels. Enough about history though, what about right now?
That’s where things get interesting. Heading into 2015, PECOTA has the Angels lined up for 90 wins, and the Dodgers with 97. Vegas more or less agrees, as the Bovada has the Angels’ over/under set at 88.5, and the Dodgers at 92.5. Clearly, both agree the Dodgers will have the slightly-more-successful 2015 season, though Bovada believes the gap will be a touch closer. Both projections have the teams winning their respective divisions.
Going a bit further, Bovada gives the Angels +160 odds to win their division, tied with division-mate Seattle. The Dodgers are far more heavily favored at -200, way ahead of their next-best competition, the Padres and Giants at +350. This speaks more to each team’s division than anything else, but it something to keep in mind. The same sports book has the Angels as 11/2 favorites to win the American League (tied with the Red Sox). The Dodgers are only the second-best odds to win the National League, at 19/4 (the Nationals lead the way at 13/4). Finally, when it comes to winning it all, the Dodgers hold the lead, 17/2-to-12/1, as of writing.
After all that, we’re right back where we started. We’ve got two teams, playing their games 40-minutes apart, who over the last decade have seen nearly-identical levels of success in the regular and postseason. In the National League, the boys in blue have the best pitcher of this generation, a guy who has ripped off three Cy Youngs and an MVP over the last four seasons and drawn comparisons to the best the game has ever seen. Thirty miles south, we have the other reigning-MVP, a guy who is younger than I am and looks like a mortal lock to be the best position-player of this era. After all that, how can we possibly separate the two?
The only way that matters, of course – on the field. The teams will play six times this upcoming season, three at each stadium. The first series will be played at Dodger Stadium, July 31 – August 2. The two will re-convene at Angel Stadium from September 7-9. And maybe, just maybe, if we’re really lucky, they’ll play four-to-seven more come October.