Don Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers Part Company
The Dodgers and Don Mattingly have decided Mattingly won’t be returning as manager next season. While the decision is described as mutual, the most likely reason is that the Dodgers’ new management team wants their own guy at the helm, and Mattingly is willing to leave if the team doesn’t appreciate the three consecutive division titles he’s led the Bums to.
Some of it has to do with how much money the Dodgers have spent on players without the desired post-season success. In my mind, a team is probably crazy to can a manager who has won three straight division titles, unless the players have really come to hate him and are on the verge of active revolt (what might be called Billy Martin Syndrome), because the post-season is such a crap shoot. Yes, the Dodgers have disappointed in the post-season, but I’m not sure that post-season success is really something the manager has much say in, unless he’s making such awful decisions that any can see he’s actually costing the team games.
In the regular season, one or two players just cannot by themselves carry a team to enough wins to make the post-season. In any given post-season, a couple of hot players can get a team to four wins and on to the next round. The Giants don’t win last year’s World Series but for the exceptional pitching of Madison Bumgarner, who was almost solely responsive for three of the Gints’ wins. This year, Daniel Murphy and strong performances from the team’s young starters has the Mets in the World Series.
Murphy has never hit more than 14 HRs in an regular season. He now has seven in nine post-season games this year. I can guarantee you that were Murphy to get another 455 post-season plate appearances in his career, he wouldn’t match Manny Ramirez’s record 29 post-season HRs. He got hot for a short period as scores of players get hot for short periods every season. For example, no one is ready to anoint Jarrett Parker the next Barry Bonds just because Parker hit six HRs and was robbed of a 7th in 54 September plate appearances this year.
Murphy just happened to get hot in the post-season, to the Mets’ great benefit.
In my mind the only two factors that make a team likely to do better in any given post-season are past post-season experience, which really does seem to help, and the law of averages. If a team makes the post-season often enough, eventually it’s going to win one. Even the Cubs are eventually going to win it all if they start making the post-season on a regular basis.
What concerns me most with Mattingly’s dismissal is that if the Dodgers do win the World Series in 2016 or 2017, the world will look at the dumping of Mattingly as some brilliant move that got the team “over the hump,” when it probably will have more to do with the fact that the Dodgers core players will all be playing in the post-season for at least the second, third or fourth times and the law of averages playing itself out.