Don Mattingly has managed The Dodgers to the ‘Best Record in the MLB’
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-At first glance at the LA Dodgers you will see a team that leads the Major League with a 32-17 record heading into action tonight. Matt Kemp has missed the last two weeks of action and yet the team still continues to put up wins. Before his injury, Kemp was playing like an MVP candidate and Andre Ethier has racked up 43 RBI to the lead the National League. Clayton Kershaw has been his usual dominant self. Key pitching contributions from Chris Capuano (7-1) and Ted Lilly (5-1) have paced the club in the pitching department, where they rank 2nd in a lot of categories amongst pitching staffs in the NL and the Majors.
Don Mattingly has battled several injuries, a team of platoon players, a lowered payroll due to the impending ownership changes en route to this record. It is clear why the Dodgers are winning ball games, Mattingly is making good managerial decision at the key times. When you look at how the current club is configured, you would see there is great baseball pedigree in the stable. There are 4 sons of ex major league ball players on the roster: Scott Van Slyke (son of Andy), Tony Gwynn Jr. (son of Tony Sr.), Dee Gordon (son of Tom) and Jerry Hairston Jr (son of Jerry Sr.) These guys are hardly trailblazing their way to Cooperstown anytime soon, however they play good fundamental baseball having grown up in Major League clubhouses. (On a side note, I would pay good money to see a father son game with these boys versus their fathers.)
Not enough has been said about the second half of the Dodgers from last year. They were several games under .500 for the year, before a late season surge produced a winning record with 82 wins. Mattingly has cultivated the talent to the best of his ability. After taking over after Joe Torre retired in 2010, Mattingly has managed to a 114-96 record for a .543 winning percentage. After spending his entire career as a player and coach with the Yankees, Mattingly is still searching for that elusive World Series Ring. His departure in 2008 with Torre to the West Coast, cost him a chance to be part of the 2009 World Series Championship. Mattingly also was between era’s with the Bronx Bombers having played from 1982-1995 with the team. Perhaps the strongest chance the team had to do some damage came in the 1994 strike shortened season. From 1997-2003 Mattingly served as a roving hitting instructor. From 2004-2007, Mattingly first worked as the hitting coach, to then take over as the bench coach after Lee Mazzilli vacated the spot. Despite great records in the regular seasons, each one of those years the Yankees failed in the playoffs. Mattingly interviewed for the Yankees job before 2008 but lost out to Joe Girardi.
This year Mattingly looks to parlay his quick regular season start into post season success. The team has had some fortunate luck with some of the secondary pieces on the roster. Chris Capuano has flown out of the gate with a 7-1 record and is sporting an opponent BA of under .200 I honestly don’t think that he can continue such a great start, but if he can finish the rest of the year from today with a .500 record or better, the team will be in great shape.
Ted Lilly has also pitched great so far this season. The Left-Hander has quietly put up a 5-1 record but is now finding himself on the DL with an undefined shoulder injury. Ted Lilly has been one of the better pitchers for health the last 10 years and has posted a 125-104 record since 2003. The Dodgers will have to try to replace him for the meantime. For the most part of the year, Mattingly has had to deal with positional players being hurt, so this will be a tougher negotiation to have it not impact the club.
A lot of credit to the pitching staff has to be given to Catcher A.J Ellis, who has been a stalwart behind the plate and has been contributing offensively with a .315 AVG 5 HRs and 23 RBI. Ellis has come up big in the late innings with Kemp being out. It was a smart move on Mattingly’s part to allow the 31-year-old a chance to play a lot. Heading into the season, the man from Cape Girardeau Missouri had only received 206 AB scattered sparsely throughout 4 seasons in the MLB after toiling in the Minor Leagues for most of his professional career
Here is some great news for Mattingly, Tuesday the club activated Matt Kemp back and he went 1-4 versus Milwaukee. As long as the pitching continues to perform like it has to date and Kemp and Ethier hit, the team should be in fine shape with the rest of the bunch kicking in a little help like they have done thus far. Kemp’s return could not a have come at a better time with the club still sporting a 5.5 game lead on the offensively challenged (2nd place) SF Giants club.
Mattingly has done a great job with this roster of extra’s. The team has little power if you take out Ethier and Kemp, the team depends on smart A-B baseball that relies heavily on proper managerial decisions and the 51-year-old man from Evansville, Indiana had delivered! Don Mattingly is my favorite player all time so I want to see him get a ring sometime, maybe 2012 will be that year.
***Be sure to check back at the MLB Reports next Wednesday for an article I am writing that lists the best players of a time-frame passing the torch onto the next guy from 1980-2012. I will argue that “Donnie Baseball” was the best all-around player in the MLB from 1984-1987.***
***Thank you to our Baseball Writer***– Douglas “Chuck” Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports. To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his successful Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book please click here . ***
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Posted on May 30, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged aj ellis, andre ethier, andy van slyke, cape girardeau missouri, chris capuano, Chuck Booth, clayton kershaw, dee gordon, don mattingly, evansville indiana, jerry hairston, jerry hairston sr, la dodgers, Lee Mazzilli, Los Angeles, matt kemp, nl west, scott van slyke, sf giants, ted lilly, the fastest 30 ballgames, tom gordon, tony gwynn, tony gwynn jr. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Don Mattingly has managed The Dodgers to the ‘Best Record in the MLB’.