Manager Jim Tracy has called winning a process and through the first four seasons of the new decade and century, the Los Angeles Dodgers steadily improved, culminating in a National League West Division crown in 2004.
The 2000 season saw the Dodgers win 86 games with some explosive offense. The Los Angeles Dodgers set a club record for home runs with 211, led by Gary Sheffield who tied Duke Snider 1s single-season club mark of 43 home runs. For the second straight season, Sheffield hit better than .300, with at least 30 home runs, 100 RBI, 100 walks and 100 runs becoming the first Dodger ever to do so twice.
Eric Karros became the L.A. Dodger all-time leader with his 229th home run and Dave Hansen set a Major League record with seven pinch-hit home runs and breaking a club mark set in 1932 by Johnny Frederick.
On the mound, pitcher Kevin Brown became the first Los Angeles Dodger since 1984 to lead the league in ERA with a 2.58 ERA. Rookie Matt Herges who spent eight years in the minors, started the season 8-0, making him the first pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela to open the season with eight straight victories.
In 2001, the Dodgers turned over the managerial reins to Tracy, who had served as the bench coach the previous two seasons. Under Tracy, the L.A. Dodgers once again won 86 games but finished just six games behind the eventual World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks.
Shawn Green had his finest season as a Major Leaguer, belting a Dodger-record 49 home runs while also setting L.A. club marks for extra-base hits (84) and total bases (358). He became only the fifth left-hander in Major League history to hit at least 49 home runs in a season and only the fifth player to hit 40 or more home runs in both leagues.
Paul Lo Duca earned the starting spot as catcher for the first time in his career and didn't disappoint as he led the club with a .320 batting average to go along with 28 doubles, 25 home runs and 90 RBI.
On the mound, the Dodgers had to use 12 different starting pitchers over the course of the season. Jeff Shaw became the club's all-time leader in saves finishing with 129.
The 2002 season saw Dan Evans take over as the general manager of the club and in his first season, Evans saw his team win 92 games and not get officially eliminated from postseason play until the next to the last day of the season.
Green hit 42 home runs to become the first L.A. Dodger to have back-to-back seasons of 40 or more. Four of those home runs came in one game, May 23 at Milwaukee, tying a Major League record. In that game, Green set a Major League mark for total bases (19).
Eric Gagne who had shuttled back and forth from the bullpen to the starting rotation during his first three seasons in the Majors, found his niche as the closer in 2002 setting a club mark with 52 saves and earning a trip to the All-Star Game joining teammates Green and Odalis Perez and manager Tracy, who served as coach. Gagne, who was named National League Pitcher of the Month in June, became just the eighth reliever to record 50 or more saves.
Los Angeles Dodger fans continued to show their tremendous support as more than three million fans attended games in each of the first three seasons of the decade, extending their Major League record to a total of 17. In addition, the Los Angeles Dodgers recorded their 9,000th victory in the National League during the 2002 season.
The 2003 season saw the Los Angeles Dodgers make another run for a postseason berth as the Wild Card team, but they fell short, winning 85 games. It was the year of pitching as the Dodgers led baseball in numerous categories, including earned run average. Gagne became the first L.A. Dodger to earn the NL Cy Young Award since 1988 and only the ninth reliever in Major League history. The right-hander converted all 55 of his save opportunities and entered 2004 with 63 consecutive saves over a two-year period. Gagne had a 1.20 ERA in 77 games and struck out 137 batters in 82.1 innings.
In addition, Shawn Green set a new L.A. Dodger single-season record with 49 doubles and Paul Lo Duca had a 25-game hitting streak, the longest by a Los Angeles Dodger since 1986.
On Jan. 29, 2004, Major League Baseball unanimously approved the sale of the L.A. Dodgers to Frank and Jamie McCourt, opening up a new chapter in the history of the Dodgers. Paul DePodesta was named general manager, replacing Dan Evans, and quickly acquired center fielder Milton Bradley, just in time for Opening Day.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were led offensively by Adrian Beltre, who won a Silver Slugger Award for leading the Major Leagues with 48 home runs, which tied Mike Schmidt for the most by any third baseman in history and set the mark for most by any right-handed L.A. Dodger. Beltre's 376 total bases also surpassed the Los Angeles mark set by Green in 2001.
Gagne won his second consecutive National League Rolaids Relief Man championship after establishing the all-time Major League record with 84 consecutive saves. He set a big league record for saves over a three-year period, eclipsing the mark of 142 set by Dennis Eckersley (1990-92). Gagne also became the third MLB pitcher to notch 45 or more saves in three seasons and the only one to do it in consecutive campaigns.
Gold Gloves went to shortstop Cesar Izturis and center fielder Steve Finley as the L.A. Dodgers finished with the best fielding percentage in the Major Leagues.
The 2004 Los Angeles Dodgers won 93 games and captured the National League West Division title for the first time since 1995. Finley's walk-off grand slam to beat the Giants and clinch the division was the exclamation mark on a season that saw the Los Angeles Dodgers set a club record with 53 come-from-behind wins.
Non-roster invitee Jose Lima had the highlight of the postseason for Los Angeles by pitching a complete-game shutout against St. Louis at Dodger Stadium. The victory was the first postseason win for the Los Angeles Dodgers since they captured the World Series championship in 1988.