The nickname Fraudman is a popular one on social media for Dodgers fans. While some use it ironically, there is a large portion of the fan base who dislike Dodgers’ President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman.
Calls to fire him can be read throughout social media, especially after tough playoff losses. But the Dodgers are very fortunate to have him calling the shots.
Despite not bringing a World Series title to Los Angeles yet, Richard Justice points out that Friedman has had a very successful five seasons as the brain of the Dodgers.
Andrew Friedman’s 5-year @Dodgers resume…
1st in @MLB in regular-season wins (485)
1st in MLB in postseason wins (27)
1st in MLB in division titles (5)
38% payroll reduction since 2015 pic.twitter.com/7lIRAa7DTR
— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) October 14, 2019
As you can see from the tweet, Friedman knows how to build good teams. They are first in regular-season wins, postseason wins and they have won the division every season during his tenure.
However, as the last part shows, the payroll has been reduced by 38%. It is one of the main things people complain about when discussing Friedman and the front office.
To get this out of the way, it is important to know the payroll is set by the ownership group. It is crazy to think the person building a team wouldn’t want as much money available as possible. No executive in baseball is taking a less talented player over a better one simply to save their boss some money.
He works within the amount of money the owners give him and he was hired partly because he can build great teams without paying for high-end talent. The Dodgers should absolutely flex their financial might more and have higher payrolls every season, but it’s not Friedman’s call.
It should be considered that despite reducing payroll, the Dodgers still win more than anyone else. It isn’t a flaw of Friedman that the owners don’t increase the payroll.
And you might be thinking, none of this matters because they haven’t won a World Series.
Yes, it is painful they haven’t won, but Friedman does not deserve the blame for that.
In Major League Baseball, the playoffs are about as random as you can get. The better team wins a series about 55% of the time. It’s basically a coin flip.
Besides putting the team in a position to reach the postseason, there isn’t much a front office can do once the team reaches the playoffs. His job is to get them to October, he can’t win it for them.
As the article linked above points out, MLB would need to have a best-of-75 series just for the better team to advance 80% of the time. It’s an insanely luck based sport where the smallest thing can change the entire outcome of a series.
Fail to win a title? Here’s where an understanding postseason tournament formats is most critical. If you are one of the top teams, do your best to keep going. Convince folks internally how talented and skilled your team actually was. Don’t be afraid to point out things like randomness and luck (or to show them this article). And don’t do things like “rethink your whole philosophy.”
There is the narrative that Friedman has never been aggressive enough at the deadline or he hoards prospects instead of going for the stars available. Both points are wrong.
In 2016, the Dodgers acquired Rich Hill, who was the best player traded at the deadline and has had a few great seasons for the team. They traded three top pitching prospects to get him, along with outfielder Josh Reddick.
In 2017, the Dodgers acquired Yu Darvish and they were praised for acquiring the consensus best player available. It was the year they were “going for it”. Of course, the narrative changed when Justin Verlander, who was a league-average pitcher at the time, remembered he’s actually good at throwing baseballs and helped the Astros beat the Dodgers in the World Series, all while Darvish imploded twice.
In 2018, the Dodgers again acquired the best player available, Manny Machado. Of course, we all know the season ended with another World Series loss, making the Machado trade seem irrelevant to many.
Could they do more every season? Sure, but the best odds for any team to win a Wolrd Series once they make the playoffs is about 30%. Having a team that reaches the playoffs every season provides a greater chance of winning than going all-in to have a 70% chance of losing in one season.
No roster is perfect and no roster will ever be perfect. The best thing a front office can do is give their team a good chance to win now and in the future. Friedman has done a great job of doing exactly that.
The World Series will come at some point soon, even if it doesn’t seem like it. I’m just as sick of hearing “wait until next year” as anybody else. But the Dodgers are in great hands and fans should trust in Friedman.