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Dodgers’ Walk-Off Walk: A Team-First 101 Lesson

This team trusts one another to get the job done.

Dodgers
DENVER, COLORADO - JUNE 30: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by Cody Bellinger #35 after scoring on a Matt Beaty double in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 30, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Last night the Los Angeles Dodgers showed everyone another level of how dangerous they can be. Down by one with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, they worked 5 consecutive walks to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks.

This was a “Team-First 101” lesson win.

The Dodgers are one of the best offensive teams in baseball. They can beat you by stringing hits together, putting them over the outfield wall, or small ball tactics. They have the 4th most home runs in all baseball as well as the most sacrifice bunts. Another big reason they are so good offensively is their overall team approach at the plate.

As a team they don’t let pitchers expand the zone, they don’t chase and they wait for their pitch. They are known for running starters out of the game because they work high pitch counts. The Dodgers are 2nd best in the National League and 6th best overall in fewest team strikeouts. Additionally, they are 1st in the National League and 2nd overall in team walks. This approach leads to a Major League leading .347 OBP.  Plainly, the Dodgers get on base.

A team that gets on base, creates opportunities. Not just opportunities to score, but opportunities to disrupt the defense. Runners on base put pressure on the opposing pitcher and alters the defensive positioning of the defense, never mind that it can be distracting to all. When a team like the Dodgers can get runners on consistently, it makes pitchers work harder physically and mentally. The game is just more taxing.

While some may claim that the Dodgers latest walk-off was luck. Or that it was more the Diamondbacks beating themselves rather than the Dodgers beating them, that’s simply not true. The Dodgers showed extreme discipline and patience. They worked those counts and earned each walk. Mounting the pressure with each one.

As much as you must credit the individual players for their plate discipline, you have to credit their team first mindset. Their last walk off wins came by means of home runs, three consecutive ones by rookies to be precise. Being that walk-off hero is what these players have dreamt of since they were kids. However, last night had to make Dave Roberts proud as they executed his “team-first” approach to the game.

The Dodgers were down 2 with big bats at the plate. All of them were capable of being the walk off hero, yet they still exercised patience. They waited for their pitch, ultimately taking their walk and handed the opportunity to the next guy. Team first baseball.

Written by Jason McClure

Technically a Dodgers bandwagon fan. At 5 years old, I decided they were my favorite team after hearing they won the World Series on my mom’s car radio in 1988. My father (technically my stepfather) watered that seed, teaching me the game and introducing me to the beauty of Dodger Stadium. We got to know each other and bonded over games. Even when we couldn’t get along during my teenage years, we could come together over Vin Scully’s voice and a game. Dodger baseball is, and will always be, so much more than just a game.

4 Comments

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  1. I learned racial justice from my father thru the Dodgers. In 1948 I was 9 going on 10. Jackie Robinson has just joined the Dodgers. My dad and I would listen to the games together and he would tell me what Jackie was going through and how unfair and unjust it was that some people didn’t want him to play because he was black. Dad said what’s that got to do with anything? He’s a terrific player and a good man. So l learned ones skin color does not matter it’s what you can do and what kind of person you are that mattered. Sold!

    • Bob, couldn’t agree more! It was terrible what he had to go through, what many had to go through, and what many still ARE going through. I am however, super happy it was a bonding and learning experience with your father. I didn’t have to go through that sort of injustice myself, but I can certainly relate to the bonding and learning (in general) experiences with my father through the Voice of Baseball.
      Thank you for reading Sir.

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