Amid roster roulette, Roberts kept Dodgers right

Amid roster roulette, Roberts kept Dodgers right

LOS ANGELES -- Tommy Lasorda won a division title in his first season as manager, and the Dodgers have had five rookie managers since, but none duplicated the feat until Dave Roberts did this season.

Roberts led the Dodgers to a fourth consecutive division title and 90-plus win season in 2016 that included wiping out an eight-game deficit, overcoming an unprecedented injury siege and pulling off a league-high 46 comeback wins. Those bullet points make him worthy of the Baseball Writers' Association of America National League Manager of the Year Award.

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Unlike the other two finalists for the award, seasoned managers Joe Maddon (Rays) and Dusty Baker (Nationals), Roberts did all of this having never managed previously on any professional level.

Roberts, 44, already has been named The Sporting News' National League Manager of the Year. The last Dodgers manager to win the BBWAA Manager of the Year Award was Lasorda, who did it in 1983 and '88.

Esurance MLB Awards week concludes Friday on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET with the MLB Awards. Categories include Best Major Leaguer, Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Executive and Manager.

Injuries, especially to the starting rotation, forced Roberts into a constant fire drill just to make out the lineup card. He tied franchise records using 55 players, 31 of them pitchers. The club put 28 players on the disabled list, the most in at least the past 30 years. The 30 victories by rookies were the most for the club since 1952.

Roberts has been praised for a perpetual upbeat attitude that rubbed off on players in the clubhouse.

"I was given the autonomy, the flexibility to really stay micro-focused with our guys," Roberts said. "I think Andrew [Friedman, president of baseball operations] and his guys took care about things out of my control. It allowed me to stay focused on the day to day. I managed the 'pen, the pitching staff, the players that came through, I don't know how many different names came through the clubhouse.

"But I stayed focused on the day to day and not get ahead of myself. Once you get ahead too far, the distractions, the noise, the pressure, the stress, all come into play. Giving me that empowerment on the day-to-day made things a lot easier for me and the coaches."

Friedman praised Roberts and his coaching staff for integrating so many young players into the Major League system.

"A great byproduct of the cultural change and shift on the Major League side with Doc and his coaches, to be able to provide that soft landing spot, that environment where guys can come up and thrive and not be afraid to compete and be put into positions to succeed," said Friedman.

"It could not have worked out any better on that front this year and that is a cultural environment that will continue to grow and be furthered. I think that part is critical. If you don't have that environmental piece on a contending team to bring up young players and expect to continue to contend and get the most out of the players."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.