Despite placing a record 28 players on the disabled list, including staff ace Clayton Kershaw for two months, the 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers still captured a fourth consecutive NL West division title and rookie skipper Dave Roberts earned a well-deserved NL Manager of the Year Award.
Roberts, who had never managed at any professional level before, is the 27th African American to manage in the major leagues and shared a place in the game’s history when he and Dusty Baker of the Washington Nationals became the first pair of black managers to face each other in the post season in the 2016 National League Division Series. The Dodgers came back from a two-games-to-one deficit to beat the Nats in the division series but lost the NLCS to the eventual World Series campion Chicago Cubs.
Twenty-two-year old shortstop Corey Seager lived up to advance billing as Baseball America’s top minor league prospect in 2015 knocking 26 home runs with 72 RBI and a .308 batting average garnering all 30 first-place votes to unanimously capture the NL Rookie of the Year Award. He finished third in NL MVP voting and was named to his first All-Star team. Third baseman Justin Turner and catcher Yasmani Grandal shared the team lead with 27 home runs, while Turner and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez shared the lead with 90 RBI. Thirteen-year veteran Gonzalez has two years at $22 million-per remaining on the seven-year $154 million contract he originally signed with the Boston Red Sox. The Dodgers $250-million end of season payroll led the major leagues for the third consecutive season.
It was the depth of the Dodgers pitching corps that ultimately led the team to the NL West division title. Despite missing a full third of his starts Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw recorded yet another remarkable season going 12-4 with a 1.69 ERA including a league-leading three shutouts and 172 strikeouts in 149 innings. Japanese rookie Kenta Maeda, 24, led the Dodgers with 16 wins and posted a .3.49 ERA in 32 starts and finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting. Teenage phenom Julio Urias lived up to the tremendous hype and advance billing as the team’s top pitching prospect, making his big league debut on May 28th posting a 5-2 record with a 3.39 ERA with 84 strikeouts spanning 77 innings in 15 starts. Closer Kenley Jansen finished second in the NL with 47 saves with a 1.83 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 64 innings, and was signed to a five-year $8 million contract extension.
Los Angeles Dodgers Prospects to Watch
Power hitting first baseman Cody Bellinger hit .263 with 23 HRs and 65 RBI in 114 games at AA Tulsa and hit .314 with eight doubles and three home runs in 20 games for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.