Dave Roberts proved his rookie skipper season of 2016 in which he won NL Manager of the year was no fluke. Let’s take a look back at his great 2017 season where he managed one of the greatest Dodger teams of all time.
Dave Roberts came into this season with a lot of pressure on him to lead the Dodgers to their first championship since 1988. The man with no prior managerial experience won NL Manager of the Year in his first season by leading an injury-riddled Dodger team to a 91-71. He followed that up this season by winning 13 more games and leading the Dodgers to a 104-58 record, the most wins in Los Angeles history and the 2nd most wins of all time to the 1953 Brooklyn team that won 105.
The 104 wins and winning the division by 11 games make it seem like there wasn’t much adversity that Roberts had to deal with, but that is not the case. Roberts still had to overcome some significant injuries to some of the team’s best players.
Clayton Kershaw missed about six weeks with a back injury, Justin Turner spent a stint on the DL early on in the season with a hamstring injury, and Corey Seager was banged up all year and missed time late in the season.
He had to manage a very congested OF in which he had to find playing time for a multitude of players. Despite all that Roberts still led the Dodgers to an incredible 91-36 record and had people calling this team quite possibly the greatest single season time of all time.
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A bad losing streak in which the Dodgers lost 11 in a row and 15 out of 16 starting in late August put an end to all that, but the team still ended up with the best record in the majors.
Breakout seasons by players like Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, and Alex Wood really helped make Roberts job less stressful, but he deserves a lot of credit for putting those players in positions to succeed. Think about this, if somebody would’ve told you the Dodgers would win 104 games with Adrian Gonzalez missing more than half the season, Kershaw missing more than a month, you probably would’ve thought they were crazy.
Roberts also deserves credit for sticking to Yasiel Puig after everyone started to write him off and Puig rewarded him by having the best year of his career. Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, Roberts was basically flawless.
The Dodgers went 7-1 in the NLDS and NLCS combined outscoring their opponents 48-18 in the process. It seemed like every decision he made was working out. In the World Series, he made some questionable decisions. Most notably the decision to start Yu Darvish in game 7 after he got destroyed in game 3 instead of starting Alex Wood on short rest who was great in his game 4 start or even Kershaw on shorter rest. However, I’m sure Roberts wasn’t the only one in on the decision to start Darvish. The Dodgers are a very collaborative organization with the front office giving their input to Roberts on what strategies they want to go with.
Another decision that didn’t work out for Roberts was the choice to take out Rich Hill so early in game 2. Roberts pulled Hill in the 5th inning when he was pitching well and went to his bullpen early which came back to haunt him when the game went into extra innings. The Dodgers ended up losing that game because they ran out of quality arms. He did, however, use the same strategy in game 6 and it worked out that particular time.
All in all, Roberts did a fantastic job this season. He did everything he could and finished one win short of a championship. Even though the Dodgers didn’t win it all, this year’s team should still be considered one of the greatest in franchise history. Just like how the 1953 Brooklyn team that won 105 games should be regarded as one of the greatest Dodger teams ever even though they lost the World Series in 6 games.
The team boasted 4 players who were Hall of Famers. A similar thing could be said about this Dodger team 20 years from now along with a manager who could be in Cooperstown as well. This was by far the best team chemistry the Dodgers have had in a long time. It was a team full of stars and every player managed to keep their ego in check for the good of the team. Dave Roberts has a lot to do with that.
Roberts gets a solid A for his managerial efforts this season. He was poised to lead the Dodgers to their first World Series in 29 years, it’ll be a shame to ignore the entire season because they couldn’t win game 7. Roberts is the perfect manager for this young Dodger team. He’ll continue to improve and so will this team.
This concludes our seasonal grades for the Dodgers. This team was special and had a lot of surprising contributors. This team is going to compete for an extended period of time.