The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the 2023 season in a transition period, losing key players such as Trea Turner, Tyler Anderson, Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner in free agency while replacing them with a mix of prospects and adding veterans on the margins rather than from the top of the market.
Early projections were less favorable to the Dodgers than in previous seasons, and some even considered them the second-best team in the National League West behind the San Diego Padres, a club that was aggressive in adding high-end talent to their roster.
The FanGraphs projection system predicted the Dodgers would win 91 games, which is still an impressive total, but far below their franchise-record 111 set during the 2022 season and not on par previous years. However, with just 45 games remaining in the regular season, the Dodgers are outperforming expectations.
At 71-46, the Dodgers are running away with the NL West, holding a nine-game lead over the second-place San Francisco Giants, and they are on pace to win 98 games. Updated projections have the Dodgers finishing the 2023 season around 96 wins.
Although the roster is less talented on paper, manager Dave Roberts has said the 2023 Dodgers are his favorite team due to the environment they’ve created and bonds that have been built.
“Talent is all relative,” Roberts said during the ninth annual Dodgers All-Access event. “We’ve had a lot of talented teams here. But I think if you look at last year’s roster on paper, which we all know you don’t win games or championships on paper, was more talented.
“But the reason I went out and said this is my favorite team is because when you sit in my chair, you look at the chemistry, the culture and how guys interact and how they pull for one another. How they’re unselfish. I see that more in this team than any team before. So with that, it makes my job a lot more gratifying and to be quite honest, much easier.”
That is high praise from Roberts, who is now in his eighth season managing the club. He has led the Dodgers to the postseason every year, and his career .630 winning percentage ranks as the top mark in MLB history since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, and the fourth-highest of all-time.
Roberts also led the Dodgers to a 2020 World Series championship and likely would have won another in 2017 if not for the Houston Astros cheating to defeat them. It remains to be seen if the 2023 Dodgers will go on to accomplish their ultimate goal, but nevertheless, they are proving you don’t always need the most talented roster.
Mookie Betts shares similar feelings as Dave Roberts
Mookie Betts has expressed similar sentiments as his skipper, saying the Dodgers are having fun playing the game together and pointing out how relentless the team is, even when it becomes difficult.
So while the 2023 Dodgers may not be as talented as the 2022 team, or the 2019 roster, they have found a way to continue winning at a high rate, and it’s making an enjoyable experience for the players and coaching staff.
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