No one expected anything from Dave Roberts and the Dodgers at the start of the season. The Padres spent big and baseball prognosticators predicted they would dethrone Los Angeles from the National League West Divisional crown.
The Dodgers offseason was forgettable. Its pitching staff relied on the hope of Walker Buhler returning from Tommy John surgery. Fans prayed the patched-up staff would hold on to a playoff berth for Buhler to cement.
Offensively, expectations were high to begin the season. At best, baseball writers and fans had the Dodgers making it into the playoffs as one of the Wild Card teams. At the beginning of the season, my homer-instincts expected the team to be in the playoffs. Wishful thinking from a fan.
But winning the division was never in my radar, yet the Dodgers went on to win 100 games for the fourth time in five years (COVID season was only 60 games long). Despite a pitching staff held together by a hurt Clayton Kershaw and rookies, the Dodgers won another divisional title. Who cares if its starting shortstop was injured before the season started, the Dodgers remain the top dogs of the West.
How on earth did the writers not nominate Roberts for National League Manager of the Year?!
Who Did They Nominate?
The Baseball Writers Association of America nominated Craic Council from the Milwaukee Brewers, Skip Schumaker from the Miami Marlins and Brian Snitker from the Atlanta Braves.
The Marlins made it to its first post season during a non-shorten season. Sandy Alcantara followed up his Cy Young Award season with a subpar performance. In a division with the Braves and the Phillies, qualifying to the post season while playing in the same division as the Braves and the Phillies is an accomplishment and Shumaker should be a (wait for the pun) shoe-in for Manager of the Year.
The other two nominated managers are headscratchers for me. Snitker managed to win the division after winning 64% of their games. He didn’t have to deal with the same number of obstacles Roberts dealt with during the season.
Council won the very weak National league Central division by nine games. Big whoop. At the end of the season, he packed his bags and threw them all away. After receiving the highest salary for a manager from the Cubs, he needs to get new clothes.
With all due respect to Council, his divisional championship doesn’t stand out as much as the accomplishments of the rest of the nominated managers. I would easily swap out his nomination for Roberts.
Is this take a little bias? OF COURSE, but the nomination is warranted.
Sure, the Dodgers offense decided to mentally check out after September and opt out the World Series very early in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter because Roberts made all the right moves in October. He replaced the pitchers with the right choice. His lineup just did not back him up. Say what you want about the playoff structure, Roberts did what needed to be done with what he had.
Without his managing, the Dodgers would have probably crashed and burn before October. I don’t think he is the winner of the award; I’d probably vote for Shoemaker. Roberts earned at the very least a nomination. The Dodgers fans really needed the nomination to mend the heartbreak.