Dodgers: Roberts May Win Manager of the Year Again
By Brook Smith
The Dodgers sit at 66-30, with a dominating 11 game lead over the Rockies and Diamondbacks in the West. That record not only gives them a clear path to the playoffs but gives manager Dave Roberts a second consecutive Manager of the Year award.
The Dodgers are currently one of the best teams in all of baseball (probably the best). They have the best record in the league and are in the midst of their greatest winning span in the team’s illustrious history.
They just had an 11 game winning-streak ended, but they’ve won 31 of their last 36. That’s not a typo. Before last night, the last time the team lost a game was July 2nd. The last time they lost back to back games was way back on June 6th when they lost three in a row.
Since then, the Dodgers have been the most dominant team, arguably in all of sports, this year. With all that in mind, it’s easy to see the possibility of Dave Roberts winning his second straight National League Manager of the Year award.
Since the award’s introduction in 1983, it’s been a difficult feat for a manager to win it twice. It’s only happened once that a manager has done it in back to back seasons. Bobby Cox did that in 2004 and 2005 with the Atlanta Braves, one of the greatest to ever manage a team. Cox and Tony La Russa are tied for all time wins for the award, each taking it home four times. So what exactly has Roberts done to get the team this far?
Let’s be honest here, a team with a $200+ million payroll should be able to easily win their division. But Don Mattingly wasn’t able to come close to duplicating this kind of success in his Dodger tenure, with an all-time high of 94 wins in a season during his five-year Dodger run. Roberts has been able to bring the clubhouse chemistry back to Los Angeles, as a manager far more in touch with the players. That combined with his managerial creativity on the field has created a monster of a team out west.
First off, Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for 2017 to 2021 has worked out great for the team. In particular, the (sometimes questionable) use of the 10-day disabled list has been extremely beneficial to keeping the team healthy and energized.
Players are now able to get days off that they could not before, and the Dodgers have the depth in their farm system to make this a very useful tactic. With this agreement, putting Hill on the DL for ten days allows for a player like Ross Stripling or Brock Stewart to come up and make a spot start much easier for the team.
More importantly, Roberts and the front office have assembled one of the most versatile teams of all time. There are currently six players on the 25 man roster that have effectively played multiple positions.
Logan Forsythe had transitioned well between second and third base when Turner went down with an injury. Enrique Hernandez has done a marvelous job, playing all over the outfield, as well as putting in games at third base, short stop, second base and first base.
Austin Barnes has been a great addition to the lineup this year, putting in time at catcher and second base. The new kid Cody Bellinger had to prove he could play in the outfield before taking over at first base for Adrian Gonzalez. And Chris Taylor has been nothing short of magnificent, moving into the outfield and learning on the fly (pun intended) at the major league level.
With all of this versatility, Roberts has had the opportunity to efficiently spread out playing time and days of rest for players. Corey Seager has gotten far more days of rest compared to last year when he seemed to gas out toward the end of the season.
This Dodger team is far more rested, and possibly one of the deepest lineups in all of baseball. Roberts has also been able to get far more days off for the aged Chase Utley, who has gotten increasingly effective when he actually does get into the lineup. Roberts has even managed to overcome several disappointing first half performances from players expected to contribute daily.
Next: Stay Away From Verlander
With all of that said, it’s easy to see Dave Roberts coasting to a second consecutive Manager of the Year award. Currently, he has the team on pace to win 111 games. That would be the most games won since the 2001 Mariners won 116 games. Look for the Boys in Blue to dominate down the stretch, especially once the September call-ups take place, which will give all of the 25 man roster some needed rest.