Dodgers: Grading Manager Dave Roberts for the Month of April

Apr 27, 2017; San Francisco, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts (30) walks off the mound during the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2017; San Francisco, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts (30) walks off the mound during the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports /

Manager Dave Roberts came into 2017 as the reigning Manager of the Year. How has he started his defense of this title? Here is the consensus grade from the team here at Dodgers Way of his first month on the job this season.

The defending National League Manage of the Year Dave Roberts has a lot more to prove this year. He is out to prove that last season with the Dodgers was not a fluke.  Roberts overcame a lot of obstacles in his rookie managerial campaign and was still able to guide the team to another NL West title and an NLCS appearance.

Roberts became the first Dodger manager since Tommy Lasorda to win the NL MOY award. This is one of the reasons why we fans have lofty expectations for him and this team entering the 2017 season. Being mentioned in the same sentence as Dodger legend Tommy Lasorda will do that to any manager, even a manager who is only entering his second season.

In all sports, a manager/ head coach’s record means just about everything. Even if the team is playing well and still losing games, the manager will ultimately be unemployed. So the manager is connected to the record of his team. For the Dodgers in the month of April, they were just 14-12. They were above .500, yet underperformed. They have a record that would coincide with an average team, even though they have the talent to be a top-tier team.

One of the reasons this team is a middle of the pack team record wise is because they are exactly that in every offensive statistical category thus far. Though you can say that this is the player’s fault for not performing up to par, it is the job of the manager to put them in positions to succeed and use their talents properly.

In the month of April Dave Roberts was unable to do put players in a position to succeed. As the great Yogi Berra once said: “Baseball is 90 percent mental…” This is, in fact, a very true statement. Roberts didn’t help the mental game of this Dodgers team. The main reason for this was constant tinkering of the lineup. Having a set lineup day in and day out helps players establish a rhythm, but Roberts stripped many of these players of that by trying to be “cute” with the lineup.

Constant shifting in this lineup may have been an attempt by the skipper to help solve the team struggles against left-handed pitching, but all this movement might have had a reverse effect on the team than what was intended. When a player is struggling one of the best things to do is build confidence but Roberts is knocking confidence with his multitude of lineups, and it may help if he can stick to one for southpaws because not knowing if you are going to be in the lineup any given day can hurt a ballplayers mentality.

In all fairness to Roberts, he may have developed this habit of tinkering lineups last season. Last year the Dodgers put a record number of players on the DL which caused Roberts to make changes to his lineups. Roberts may have carried that habit into this year because the strategy was so successful last year. But the strategy worked with so many injuries and may not be the best decision to make when he has a healthy everyday lineup.

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Toying with the lineups is an example of Roberts overthinking. But on the complete opposite spectrum, there are times where he is under thinking a situation and trying to make things easier than they are. For example, his opposition towards small ball. He expects that his players will simply hit and drive in runs, but the team has struggled to do so.

Many of us here at Dodgers Way wonder why we do not see more stolen bases considering how great of a baserunner Doc was. It is somewhat surprising to see a former player in Roberts who took so much pride in bunting and stealing bags, not use these principles in his managerial career thus far. With so many players struggling to produce runs with runners on base, it’d be good to see Roberts utilize the team fundamentals to create runs more frequently rather than seeing the team fold with a chance to score.

But one major positive thing that Roberts brings to this team is his attitude and passion for this game. His way of managing creates bonds between him and his players. These relationships make his team want to play hard for him 24/7. The team seems to have the pedal to the metal all the time, and that is because of how they feel about Roberts. It’s to the point that it seems like the team will run through a wall for their skipper.

Next: Dodgers Outfield Grade for April

Manager. Dodgers. DAVE ROBERTS. C -.

In the month of April Roberts was average. But in the eyes of fans who expect nothing less than a World Series championship he was below-average. Roberts has plenty of opportunities to improve on his performance this month and help the Dodgers make a run at ending the 29-year drought by finally hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy in October.