Thanks to two timely awards handed out by the Sporting News and a few motivating words delivered by boss Andrew Friedman on Monday, any lingering feelings of disappointment among Dodgers fans from the NLCS defeat almost fizzled completely, welcoming a positive wave of optimism as the winter months roll in.
Skipper Dave Roberts was named Sporting News’ 2016 National League Manager of the Year as selected by his fellow NL skippers. The SN awards have been distributed since 1936 and are preambles to the MLB awards which will start being given out at the conclusion of the World Series.
Roberts, in his first year as a manager, guided the Dodgers to the NL West title despite a slew of injuries to key players. Los Angeles won 91 games despite placing 28 different players on the disabled list, more than any team in the past 30 seasons. As a result of the team’s injuries, Roberts made an MLB-record 606 pitching changes in the regular season and used a franchise-record 55 different players.
Dusty Baker of the Washington Nationals and Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs tied for the No. 2 spot in the NL voting, which was conducted before the postseason began.
Roberts joins Hall of Famers Leo Durocher (1939) and Walt Alston (1955, 1959, 1963) as the only Dodgers skippers to earn the SN version of the award.
On the player front, shortstop Corey Seager was named Sporting News’ 2016 National League Rookie of the Year as selected by a panel of 176 NL players. SN has given out Rookie of the Year awards since 1946.
Seager led all major league rookies in games (157), runs (105), hits (193), doubles (40) and walks (54). Additionally, he tied for the most RBIs among MLB rookies (72) and was second in home runs (26).
Overall, the 22-year-old North Carolina native hit .308/.365/.512 in his first full campaign in the bigs.
Seager won the award in a landslide, earning 143 votes, 128 more than second-place finisher Trea Turner of the Nationals.
Previous Dodgers rookies to be honored by Sporting News include Jackie Robinson (1947), Don Newcombe (1949), Joe Black (1952), Jim Gilliam (1953), Frank Howard (1960), Don Sutton (1966), Rick Sutcliffe (1979), Fernando Valenzuela (1981), Tim Belcher (1988), Eric Karros (1992), Mike Piazza (1993. Raul Mondesi (1994) and Hideo Nomo (1995).
In other team news, Friedman and Roberts met with reporters on Monday for a brief end-of-season media session. Among the highlights of the news conference was the news of staff ace Clayton Kershaw not requiring any type of surgery, the club announcing that the entire coaching staff will return intact for 2017, and the desire of the front office to sign as many of the team’s impending free agents as possible.
Friedman did stipulate, however, that the team will certainly have a bit of a different look once the players gear up for spring training in February.
“Obviously next year’s team will look different than this year’s team,” he said. “But I thought we were an incredibly talented team. A really good mix of veteran players and young players.”
While there was a sense of dismay immediately following the loss to the Cubs in Game 6, Friedman pointed out that the signs of sadness quickly shifted to those of confidence and optimism.
“There’s a lot to be really proud of with this group,” he explained. “I think the experience from this postseason will serve our guys really well going forward. It hurts to say that but that’s the silver lining in it. This has been a very resilient group all year. During postgame embraces, there was a lot of talk among the group about how we’ll be back next year. I think that’s motivation for all of us.”
(Dai Sugiura furnished some information provided in this report)