MILWAUKEE — As Yasiel Puig jubilantly raced around the bases, smacking his legs and flexing his biceps after a critical home run in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, it was hard to imagine that this Los Angeles Dodgers team was 10 games under .500 on May 16 and in third place in its division in August.
For the past six years, the Dodgers, who defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-1, on Saturday for a return trip to the World Series, have been a juggernaut in the N.L. They are consistently among the highest-spending teams in the major leagues, playing in the second-largest market, with marquee stars and an illustrious history.
This year, however, was more of struggle. After many injuries and a sluggish start, the Dodgers rebounded in the second half, finishing with a flourish in September. They led the N.L. in run differential, yet needed a Game 163 to win the N.L. West for the sixth straight season.
“We told everyone not to worry,” said…