After losing the world series for the 2nd consecutive year, the Dodgers have become the 13th team since the world series began in 1903 to lose back to back World Series. To makes things worse, they allowed another team to celebrate a world series title on their field for two consecutive years. So what went wrong for the Dodgers during the World Series and where does the team go from here?
Let’s start with the world series. First, even as a Dodger fan, I will tip my cap to the Red Sox. They were clearly the best team in all of baseball this year and they proved it over the past month by beating two teams that each won 100 games in the American League and the back to back National League Champions in order to capture their 4th title in 15 years.
With that being said, I still believe there were many chances that the Dodgers had to make the series closer. They were winning in 4 of the 5 game games they played in and were not able to seal the deal. Not to mention we blew a 4 run lead in the 8th inning of game 4 by giving 9 unanswered runs.
The Dodgers seemed to face the same problems this year, but the tone was set before the series had even started. The Dodgers decided to bench their team leader in homeruns for the season Max Muncy, and the NLCS MVP Cody Bellinger just because the analytics said that was an unfavorable matchup. Now I understand we are in a new age of baseball, where computers can predict who is the best person to send to the plate again a specific pitcher, but what ever happened to sticking with the hot hand? Yes, Cody was not hitting to his potential, but his defense in center field and his speed on the bases were just some of the reasons the Dodgers were able to beat the Brewers in the NLCS. Muncy was the team leader in home runs this year, and while he was struggling a bit, his replacements were not much better. No player is going to be able to produce to his potential when they are only getting 1 at bat in a game after sitting on the bench cold for 2 hours.
So why would Dave Roberts make a move like this? I don’t think it was all Roberts on these decisions. I heard something that really stuck with me about the decisions being made in the Dodgers system. Dave Roberts is making $1,000,000 a year while the general manager Andrew Friedman is making $7,000,000. I think that the front office was using analytics and algorithms to try and win a world series. That’s why they had an all right handed line up in games 1 and 2 and while the matchups might have been favorable, the results were not. They had to sacrifice speed on the bases and defense in the field in order to maybe gain an advantage. I’ll give them credit for putting David Freese in the leadoff spot in 2 games where he lead off the game with a homerun, but every other move that was made hurt the team in more than one area.
There is also some blame to be put on the Dodgers’ hitting. The Dodgers lead the national league in homeruns this year, however had one of the worst batting averages with runners in scoring position. Nobody could seem to do a job when there was a runner in scoring position, because everyone was too focused on hitting a homerun and becoming the hero. While it was a great strategy, this Boston team was able to answer every homerun they hit with either a run, or a flurry of hits and runs to counter any Dodger long ball.
At the end of the day, the Dodgers were simply out played by what some people say is the greatest team in the last 15-20 years. So what can they do to get better? There are a few areas where the Dodgers can improve in before the start of the 2019 season.
First we need to figure out what free agents we want to bring back. Kershaw will opt out an test free agency. He will want to see what other teams would be willing to offer for him. Teams will look at everything however, especially his postseason career, where he is now 1-4 in postseason elimination games (the most losses for any pitcher ever in that situation). Kershaw’s experience and knowledge is invaluable to this team and its core of young great pitchers and the Dodgers would be crazy not to want to bring him back.
Next, the Dodgers need a new catcher. Catching was a huge problem for the Dodgers during the postseason. They got next to no production from that spot in the line up, plus Yasmani Grandal played his way out of the role as a starter during the playoffs, and I think we need a legitimate catcher behind the plate to handle our pitchers. Austin Barnes is good, but he is better suited as a back-up.
Finally, they need to give the managing power back to the manager. The front office does a great job when it comes to getting the best possible players for the team, but they have never played in the MLB, or managed players before. Dave Roberts is a good manager. He makes some questionable calls at times but he has taken the Dodgers to more world series in the last 2 years than they had been in in the previous 30. The front office needs to keep their hands off the lineup and allow Roberts to manage the team the way he wants.
Even with the heartbreak, there are still many positives to take away from this season, and a lot to look forward to for next season. Maybe the 3rd time will be the charm for the Dodgers.