From their blue-blooded baseball histories to their same-state proximity, the Dodgers–Giants rivalry sometimes seems ordained by destiny. In fact, the fates of these two iconic clubs were entwined in 1957: According to a vote by league owners, neither team could leave New York City for California if the other didn’t as well. No love was lost among these former crosstown rivals once they made that West Coast move. More recently, the franchises have each found enough success to frustrate the other. The Giants have won the World Series three times since 2010, while the Dodgers have consistently dominated the division the two teams share.
The competition between these camps includes deep roots and hard feelings, but nothing elevates an argument between fans like some statistics. So we’ve done the numbers, tracking how each team has fared facing off since arriving in California in 1958. Our findings show two teams whose fortunes have risen and fallen and a historical record that remains close today. Keep reading to learn which club can claim rivalry supremacy.
Swapping the Lead
The overall record of these California competitors tells a tale of two eras. The first was the age of Giants supremacy in the ’60s and ’70s, thanks in part to the heroics of Willie Mays. Often during this time, San Francisco’s success came at the Dodgers’ expense, such as in 1962 when the Giants handed the Dodgers a heartbreaking loss in the battle for the pennant. But Los Angeles had triumphs of its own during this period as well, including a 1965 World Series title thanks to clutch pitching in game seven from Sandy Koufax.
By 1979, however, the historical head-to-head record was dead even thanks to the Dodgers’ efforts. The ’70s was a great time to be a Dodgers fan, with three different World Series appearances. Things just kept rolling for the club in the ’80s, as the team captured World Series titles in 1981 and 1988. This time began the era of Dodger dominance in head-to-head wins, a trend that continues today. To the Giants’ credit, they’ve kept things pretty close during the intervening decades, never falling more than 35 games behind their rivals. As of the close of the 2017 season, the gap was just 22 games despite a bad year for the Giants and a great one for the Dodgers.
Los Angeles to San Francisco
Juan Marichal may be remembered for an incredible run in the 1960s and recorded 37 wins for the Giants against the Dodgers. While no one comes close to Marichal, two players won 15 times against the Dodgers for the Giants, including Madison Bumgarner, who will have a chance to improve his numbers in future seasons. Tim Lincecum also recorded 11 wins against the Dodgers, winning two Cy Young awards along the way.
On the other side of the equation, Don Sutton racked up the most wins against the Giants while pitching in Dodgers uniform. Sutton served with Los Angeles from 1966 to 1980 and actually returned to the club in 1988 for the final season of his career. Second place went to Hall of Famer Don Drysdale, who won a Cy Young for his efforts in 1962. The third-ranked player will look familiar to those who watched the 2017 World Series. Despite his game seven frustration, Clayton Kershaw will likely be trouncing plenty of opponents in 2018, including, perhaps, the Giants.
The Competitions Continues in California
Our results present the highs and lows all good rivalries include, with decades-long drama worthy of these storied clubs. But as with all sports hatred, history animates the present, with each team eager to avenge its losses or maintain bragging rights next season. For the benefit of all baseball fans, let’s hope the Giants and Dodgers both field great teams in 2018. Their clashes have made for some classic games in the past and are sure to do the same in the future.
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To compile the data presented in this project, we utilized information from baseball-reference.com, a database of historical statistics on the performance of professional baseball teams and players. We included information only from games in which the Giants and Red Sox competed against each other, dating from 1958 to the conclusion of the 2017 season. No statistical testing was performed, so the claims listed above are based on raw win totals alone.