Alex Perl | June 4th, 2019
As of this very moment, the best record in baseball belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is no minor coincidence, a stroke of luck, or the earth stopping its rotation. This is a methodically and well-prepared team, that have been constructed in a way, that has not only led to the current success, but also for the long term future. Despite all of the criticism and questioning, it all leads back to one man, and this man is the front office enigma himself, Andrew Friedman.
Now to fully grasp how all of this success can lead back to one man, is quite hard to comprehend, especially considering he doesn’t throw a baseball, or swing a bat. One thing we do know about success within sports is that it starts from the top, and this is a prime example. Friedman is currently the President of Baseball Operations for the Dodgers, a position he has held since October 2014. Since his hire he has not only led the team to four straight division titles but also two National League pennants, which led to two World Series appearances, despite back to back world series losses, the Dodgers had not been to a world series in 29 years. Making this even all the more impressive, when you consider the massive 10-year, 200 million dollar plus contracts being shelled out in baseball these days, and Friedman has never signed a player for more than 5 years.
Friedman has actually had quite a fast track to success. At the age of now 42, which is still considered young for a baseball executive, he has had a front office job since the age of 28. During the 2005 season, Friedman was hired as Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager, for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Upon his hire, the Rays were basically the laughing stock of baseball, the team had been in existence for eight years, and all eight years had a losing record. Under Friedman in 2008, the Rays had made their first postseason appearance in team history, and even reached the World Series, the Rays would end up making the playoffs in 2010, 2011 and 2013 as well under Friedman. This was no small feat, not even taking into account their losing record and reputation prior to his being hired, but also that the Rays had consistently one of the smallest payrolls in the entire sport.
The most ironic thing that seems to be talked about when it comes to Friedman is how frugal he is with spending, with a much larger payroll in Los Angeles, he has been criticized repeatedly by Dodger fans and the media for not taking advantage of the many riches now at his disposal. This off-season is the perfect example. As the Dodgers let Manny Machado walk in free agency and receive a 10-year, $300 million dollar contract from The San Diego Padres, the focus then shifted to possibly the best free agent in recent years, this being Outfielder Bryce Harper. Friedman had traded fan favorites, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, leaving a huge need for a new outfielder. Everything seemed to signify that Friedman would break his frugal ways and sign the former youngest MVP in baseball history. Although a contract was indeed offered, which would have made Harper at the time of his signing, the richest player in terms of average money per year, Friedman and the Dodgers were only offering Harper a four-year contract. The only outfielder he did sign was former Diamondback Aj Pollock, to a five-year, $55 million dollar deal with a player option for a fifth year. Harper would go on to accept a 13 year, $330 million dollar deal from the Philadelphia Phillies. Fans were enraged, and it was viewed as once again Friedman and his tight spending on free agents would once again come to haunt the Dodgers. Fast forward to the present day, and with Harper’s .243 batting average and 11 home runs, seems like Friedman was right again.
With the best record in baseball, Friedman has kept intact his entire core from last season with the exception of Machado, as well as getting back All-Star shortstop Corey Seager from injury. Silencing the critics even more by having Cody Bellinger in right field, who is on pace to win the National League MVP, which is the same position Harper would have played had he signed with the Dodgers. This off-season, Friedman stated he “sees no weak spot” on his team’s roster. Considering his past history of success and the way the Dodgers are playing right now, once again it seems he is proving the doubters wrong once again.
Questions and comments?
Follow Alex Perl on Twitter @APbass999
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images