It is no secret that manager Don Mattingly’s tenure with the Los Angeles Dodgers has been a tricky one. The protégé of Hall-of-Famer Joe Torre was eased into the transition of becoming the Dodgers next successful manager, but has since been thrust into the fire.
In terms of record, Mattingly’s success speaks for itself. The fifth-year manager has posted a winning record in each of his five seasons with the Dodgers, increasing the number of wins through each of his first four seasons.
Mattingly is also the first manager in Dodgers’ history to lead his team to three consecutive division titles, an impressive accomplishment to achieve with a team with as much history as the Dodgers.
Suffice to say, Mattingly has received a large share of criticism when the Dodgers have struggled. Such has been the case in the wake of the club’s elimination from postseason play. Thursday’s loss in Game 5 of the National League Division Series was the Dodgers’ second straight first-round playoff exit.
Amid early speculation over Mattingly’s job security, Yasmani Grandal came to the defense of his manager, via Bill Plunkett of the O.C. Register:
We lost the game. Why would you ever think to point the finger at the manager?” Grandal said. “Players play the game.”
Kiké Hernandez, who like Grandal was in his first season with the Dodgers, also said Mattingly shouldn’t be blamed for the team’s shortcomings:
We didn’t lose because of Donnie, like everybody says,” Hernandez said. “We lost because we couldn’t score runs. Donnie has nothing to do with this. There’s no reason Donnie has to be fired.”
Gonzalez echoed a similar sentiment as his teammates:
I believe in him,” Gonzalez said after Game 5. “Really, that’s it. I don’t know what else to say.”
Mattingly has earned the reputation as a player’s manager for his ability to establish good chemistry in clubhouse. That reputation over the years has shown, as his players have routinely been the first to defend the 54-year-old manager for all that he has done.
Although the franchise failed to meet their own high expectations, they’re in position to build on their 2015 accomplishments next season. Whether Mattingly is still at the helm however, remains to be seen.