When the Los Angeles Dodgers managerial search began, a number of names surfaced as possible candidates. Interestingly enough, however, one of the most intriguing candidates wouldn’t have been found on anyone‘s list: former Angels outfielder and current University of Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad.
As a fun-fact, Erstad is one of what can be presumed is a small group of players to don a California Angels, Anaheim Angels and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim jersey in his career.
Another interesting fact is Erstad played with current Dodgers reliever Joel Peralta in 2005 and bench coach Tim Wallach, in 1996. Erstad, 41, played 14-seasons in the Majors for the Angels (11), Chicago White Sox (one) and Houston Astros (two).
In those 14 seasons, Erstad was a two-time All-Star (1998, 2000), three-time Gold Glove winner (2000, 2002, 2004) and a one-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2000). As you can guess, 2000 was his best season, when he slashed .355/.409/.541 with 25 home runs, 100 RBIs, 121 runs scored and 28 stolen bases.
He also led the league in hits and finished eighth in the MVP voting that season. Since retiring in 2009, Erstad returned to his alma mater, University of Nebraska, as a coach.
What began as a volunteer position in 2010 turned into a hitting coach position in 2010, and ultimately the head coaching position in 2011. In his time as head coach, the Cornhuskers have gone 139-97, advancing to the NCAA tournament once.
What is curious about Erstad’s inclusion in the coaching search is his apparent lack of a connection to the front office. There is, however, a minor connection through Joe Maddon.
Maddon, who worked under current Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman in Tampa, worked with Erstad for 11 seasons with the Angels where he apparently became an admirer of Erstad’s leadership qualities.
What’s fascinating about Erstad is beyond his reputation as a leader while a player, there just isn’t a lot known about him as a manager. One has to assume that if he’s being considered, he comes down on the side of sabermetrics and advanced stats, but it’s not like he has a record as a vocal proponent (or opponent).
In the end, Erstad is yet another example of the Dodgers front office willing to think outside the box — interviewing a candidate who wasn’t on the radar of anyone, anywhere. Who knows, perhaps the Dodgers know something no one else does.