The Los Angeles Dodgers won three consecutive division titles for the first time in franchise history and reached the National League Championship Series in 2013 under former manager Don Mattingly.
However, in those three years, the Dodgers won just a single playoff series under Mattingly and remained without a World Series title since 1988. After losing to the New York Mets in five games in the 2015 NL Division Series, the Dodgers and Mattingly mutually agreed to part ways, ending his five-year tenure as manager.
An exhaustive search concluded with the Dodgers hiring Dave Roberts as Mattingly’s replacement, which was viewed as a monumental decision as Roberts became the first minority manager in the franchise’s history.
Roberts spent parts of 10 seasons playing in the Majors, including with the Dodgers from 2002-04, and he previously was a member of the San Diego Padres, coached first base for San Diego in 2014 and was bench coach in 2015.
Roberts inherits a talented team that returns a nucleus of players who have been part of the three NL West division titles. As he continues to infuse the club with his personality, Roberts recently allowed motivational speaker Donnie Moore to break a cinderblock on his chest, according to Bill Plaschke of the LA Times:
Moments later he was on his back with a giant block on his chest, a towel over his face, and a sledgehammer coming down up on him. “Yeah, there was a little bit of a pressure there,” Roberts said. “I mean, like, real pressure on my chest.” The strike was perfect. The block was shattered. The manager was unharmed. Roberts leaped into the admiring high-fives of his cheering players.
What Roberts wanted his players to take from the experience was trust:
“I was showing complete trust in a guy I just met five minutes ago,” Roberts said. “I hope the players and coaches will trust me like that.”
After guiding the Dodgers through his first Spring Training, Roberts begins the test he’ll ultimately be measured by on Monday. Although the Dodgers have won the past three division titles, they are hardly the favorite heading into 2016, with many predicting the Arizona Diamondbacks or San Francisco Giants to claim the NL West crown.