Dave Roberts (roberda07)

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David Ray Roberts

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Biographical Information[edit]

Dave Roberts played for Team USA in the 1999 Pan American Games. The club's leadoff hitter, he hit .308 and stole four bases, the most in the competition.

He is known for what is arguably the most important stolen base in Boston Red Sox history. In Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, with Boston down to the New York Yankees three games to none and trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th inning, he came in as a pinch runner for Kevin Millar, who had drawn a lead-off walk against Mariano Rivera. He immediately stole second base, then came in to score on Bill Mueller's single to tie the game. Boston went on to win the game in extra innings. That kicked off the Red Sox's incredible comeback that sent them to their first World Series title since 1918.

After his retirement as a player, Roberts worked for the San Diego Padres in their baseball operations department. In May 2010, it was announced that he was suffering from Hodgkin's lymphoma and would need to undergo chemotherapy. He defeated the cancer, as subsequent tests conducted a year later showed no return of the condition. He then became a coach for the Padres in 2011. He served as the Padres' first base coach from 2011 to 2013. He moved up to bench coach in 2014 and started the 2015 in the same role. On June 15th of that year he was named interim manager, replacing Bud Black. After the Padres lost that day's game, he was replaced by Pat Murphy, who was managing the El Paso Chihuahuas, San Diego's AA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, and he returned to his bench coach duties for the rest of the season.

After the season, he was one of a large number of candidates identified as a potential successor for Don Mattingly as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was considered an outsider, given his lack of managerial experience, but he impressed during the interview stage and was the surprise winner of the competition on November 23rd, getting the job for the 2016 season. The Dodgers were confident in his ability to get the most out of talented but underperforming budding stars like Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson to complements their slew of highly-paid superstars. The Dodgers, and especially President Andrew Friedman, were also impressed by his knowledge of analytics and his front office experience, a marked contrast with old-school predecessor Mattingly. Also working in his favor was the fact he had played for the Dodgers and had been a star at UCLA.

Roberts had a very auspicious debut as a full-time manager, as the Dodgers won their first three games of 2016, all by shutout. In his fourth game, on April 8th, he was faced with a tough decision, as his starting pitcher, Ross Stripling was making his major league debut, and was pitching a no-hit shutout when he reached his pitch count limit of 100 after walking Angel Pagan of the San Francisco Giants with one out in the 8th. Roberts decided to replace him with reliever Chris Hatcher, denying him a shot at history, and Hatcher quickly surrendered a two-run homer to Trevor Brown. Dave's managerial opponent that day, Bruce Bochy, told the press he would have made the same decision had he been in his position. He was placed in a similar position on September 10th, when Rich Hill started off a game against the Miami Marlins with seven perfect innings. He had only needed 89 pitches to go that far, but Roberts was concerned over Hill's previous struggles with blister problems and decided to pull him in favor of Joe Blanton, who gave up a hit with two outs in the 8th. The Dodger won handily, 5-0, but Roberts told the media it was one of the hardest decisions he had ever had to make: "This is probably the worst I've felt after a win," he told reporters. The Dodgers finished in first place in the NL West, and Roberts led them to a win over the Washington Nationals in the NLDS before they fell to the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. After the season, he was rewarded for the team's excellent showing by being named the winner of the NL's Manager of the Year Award.

The Dogders repeated as NL West champions in 2017, but it was a strange season. After a decent start, the team caught fire in May following the call-up of rookie Clay Bellinger, who replaced injured veteran Adrian Gonzalez at first base. They were winning games at an unprecedented pace for a while that had them threatening the all-time record for wins in a season. They then hit a completely unexpected roadblock in late August, when they went on an unexplainable streak of losing 16 of 17 games; they had built such a huge lead that they were never threatened with not making the postseason, but the concern was that what had seemed like an unstoppable machine was now completely misfiring. However, the team finished strong, ending with 104 wins. On August 23rd, Roberts had a flashback when once again Rich Hill made a tremendous start, flirting with a perfect game and then completing 9 no-hit hittings after a 9th-inning error, but his teammates were unable to score a run for him against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This time, Roberts decided to extend his mercurial starter, having him begin the 10th inning in the hope of keeping the no-no alive, but a lead-off homer by Josh Harrison sadled him with a 1-0 loss. In the postseason, the Dodgers rolled over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS and the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS to reach the World Series for the first time since 1988. They extended the Houston Astros to seven games before bowing out, with two poor starting performance by mid-season acquisition Yu Darvish making the difference in favor of Houston. In the series, Roberts was notorious for the little confidence he showed in his starting pitchers, taxing his bullpen to the max (Brandon Morrow became only the second man to pitch in all seven games of a postseason series) as he tried to leverage a perceived advantage created by his deeper bullpen. While the final result may have been disappointing, there was no denying this had been another extremely successful season for Roberts.

In 2018, the Dodgers stumbled out of the gate because of a rash of injuries, but they eventually managed to turn things around and finished in first place in the NL West, although it took a one-game playoff against the Colorado Rockies to do so. After that, they rolled over the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series and eliminated the resilient Milwaukee Brewers in seven games in the NLCS to return to the World Series. There, they met a juggernaut in a very inspired Boston Red Sox team completing a record-breaking season, and only managed to win one game, that being an 18-inning marathon in Game 3. While the final result was again a disappointment, there were not as many "what ifs" asked after the World Series loss, and everyone recognized that Roberts had done a great job just taking the team that far under trying circumstances. He was rewarded after the season with a four-year extension keeping him as the manager until 2022.

Dave's son Cole Roberts was a 38th-round pick in the 2019 amateur draft.

"Maury Wills once told me that there will come a point in my career when everyone in the ballpark will know that I have to steal a base, and I will steal that base. When I got out there, I knew that was what Maury Wills was talking about." -Dave Roberts

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL Manager of the Year Award: 2016
  • NL Pennants: 3 (2017, 2018 & 2020)
  • Division Titles: 7 (2016-2020, 2022 & 2023)

Other Postseason Appearance: 1 (2021/Wild Card)

  • 100 Wins Seasons as Manager: 5 (2017, 2019 & 2021-2023)
  • Managed one World Series Champions with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020

Preceded by
Don Mattingly
Los Angeles Dodgers Manager
Succeeded by

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
2015 San Diego Padres National League 0-1 -- San Diego Padres interim between Bud Black (32-33) and Pat Murphy on June 15
2016 Los Angeles Dodgers National League 91-71 1st Los Angeles Dodgers Lost NLCS
2017 Los Angeles Dodgers National League 104-58 1st Los Angeles Dodgers Lost World Series
2018 Los Angeles Dodgers National League 92-71 1st Los Angeles Dodgers Lost World Series
2019 Los Angeles Dodgers National League 106-56 1st Los Angeles Dodgers Lost NLDS
2020 Los Angeles Dodgers National League 43-17 1st Los Angeles Dodgers World Series Champs
2021 Los Angeles Dodgers National League 106-56 2nd Los Angeles Dodgers Lost NLCS
2022 Los Angeles Dodgers National League 111-51 1st Los Angeles Dodgers Lost NLDS
2023 Los Angeles Dodgers National League 100-62 1st Los Angeles Dodgers Lost NLDS

Further Reading[edit]

  • Mike Bauman: "Unconventional Roberts makes the right calls", mlb.com, October 14, 2016. [1]
  • Ted Berg: "How Dave Roberts masterfully managed the Dodgers to the World Series", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, October 19, 2017. [2]
  • Barry M. Bloom: "Dodgers' Roberts left with a lot to reflect on: Death of father in March still weighs heavily on LA skipper", mlb.com, November 2, 2017. [3]
  • Anthony Castrovince: "Roberts proving Dodgers found right man for job: Newly crowned NL champs kept open mind when hiring manager before 2016 season", mlb.com, October 20, 2017. [4]
  • Ken Gurnick: "'Full circle' for Roberts as Dodgers manager", mlb.com, December 1, 2015. [5]
  • Ken Gurnick: "Roberts named NL Manager of the Year", mlb.com, November 15, 2016. [6]
  • Dylan Hernández (Los Angeles Times): "How Dave Roberts had his 'most exciting' season as manager of the Dodgers", Yahoo! Sports, October 6, 2023. [7]
  • Richard Justice: "Roberts earning Dodgers' respect: New manager key to leading club to next level", mlb.com, February 25, 2016. [8]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Dave Roberts will be hired as new Los Angeles Dodgers manager", USA Today Sports, November 22, 2015. [9]
  • Mike Lupica: "Roberts: ‘We can’t let this moment pass’", mlb.com, June 7, 2020. [10]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "As Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts' task is clear: World Series or bust", USA Today Sports, November 23, 2015. [11]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Dodgers' Dave Roberts voted NL manager of the year", USA Today Sports, November 15, 2016. [12]

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