Angels vs Dodgers: Who Has Won the Most
Out of all of the interleague series in baseball, the one that gets overlooked the most is the rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels. Dubbed the Freeway Series because of LA’s infamous freeway system, Angels vs. Dodgers matches have been a yearly occurrence since 1997. For whatever reason, rivalries like the Mets-Yankees, Giants-Athletics, and Cubs-White Sox have received a lot more attention. But anyone who’s ever purchased Angels vs Dodgers tickets knows how special this rivalry has become in Southern California. Let’s take a closer look at the history of this rivalry and the head-to-head matchups between the Angels and Dodgers.
A Little History
The Dodgers and Angels met for the first time, albeit in an unofficial capacity, in 1962. That meeting came in the form of an exhibition game hosted at the Angels’ spring training home in what was just their second year as a franchise. The two clubs met for a two-game exhibition series the following year at Dodger Stadium, which served as the home field for both teams from 1962 until 1965 when the Angels got their own stadium in Anaheim. Somewhat surprisingly, it was the expansion Angels who won all three of those exhibition games.
As mentioned, when MLB started interleague play during the regular season in 1997, the Angels and Dodgers began to play each other every year in games that counted. Fittingly, MLB made the two clubs each other’s biggest interleague rival, guaranteeing that they play two series every year. Of course, the rivalry changed in 2005 when the Angels stopped being known as the California or Anaheim Angels and went back to being the Los Angeles Angels, their original name for their inaugural season in 1961.
While the Angels got the better of the Dodgers in the first three exhibition games that the two LA rivals played against one another, the Dodgers got the jump when the games started to matter. The team in blue won all four games between them during the 1997 season. However, the Dodgers’ dominance over their Freeway Series rivals would be short-lived. Over the next 15 seasons, the Angels won the season series nine times, with the Dodgers only winning the series twice.
Even when the Dodgers became one of the pre-eminent teams in the majors during the 2010s, winning every NL West division title from 2013 to 2020, they still didn’t have the Angel’s number. Between 2010 and 2020, the Angels took the season series from the Dodgers five times, with the Dodgers only beating up on the Halos three times during those 11 years. Of course, during the shortened 2020 season, the Dodgers won all six head-to-head meetings between the Dodgers and Angels on their way to winning the 2020 World Series.
Head-to-head games aside, there’s no doubt that the Dodgers have been the more successful team in Los Angeles. Even if you take away all of their success before the Angels were born in 1961, the Dodgers have won five World Series titles, reaching the Fall Classic six other times. Meanwhile, the Angels have struggled just to produce a winning team and make the playoffs. In fact, the Halos didn’t win their first postseason series until 2002, when they eventually went on to win their first and only World Series in franchise history.
The rivalry within the rivalry between the Dodgers and Angels is which franchise has produced more star players over the years. Again, the Dodgers have an advantage because they’ve been around longer. However, even since the 1960s, the Dodgers have been the team of Cy Young winners like Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Éric Gagné, and Clayton Kershaw. They’ve also produced stars like Steve Garvey, Kirk Gibson, and Cody Bellinger. The franchise has also produced a slew of Rookie of the Year winners, including five in a row from 1992 to 1996.
Needless to say, the Angels can’t compete with that kind of history. However, Dean Chance won the Cy Young with the Halos in 1964, and Bartolo Colón won the same award in 2005. Also, Don Baylor and Vladimir Guerrero won MVP honors while playing with the Angels. Finally, the Angels are the franchise of the greatest player of the current generation, Mike Trout.
An October Nightmare
The Dodgers-Angels rivalry took on a different feel when the Angels reached the 2002 World Series and were paired with the San Francisco Giants. Of course, the Giants and Dodgers are longtime rivals from their days in New York together and their time in California together as NL West foes. At the time, The Los Angeles Times referred to the series as “the Dodgers’ Nightmare Series.”
That year’s Fall Classic forced the Dodgers to choose sides between their Freeway Series rival and their bitter in-state rival. However, the decision was a little easier with longtime Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia serving as manager of the Angels. That made it a little easier for Dodgers Chairman Bob Daily and longtime manager Tommy Lasorda to get behind the Halos. In the end, that support may have put the Angels over the top, as they beat the Giants in seven games.