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Dodgers: ‘Player-Led’ Changes Spurred Historic Offensive Run

Dave Roberts remembers it as a team meeting in Cincinnati. Mookie Betts remembers a meeting but doesn’t remember when or where. Freddie Freeman thinks it was a more gradual shift.

But what they all agree on is that the 2022 Dodgers offense took a turn for the better a couple months into this season, leading to one of the best offensive teams in franchise history. And everyone agrees it was the players who led the turnaround, as Jack Harris writes in the Los Angeles Times.

There are the daily hitters meetings.

And they’ll start to talk — about that game’s pitcher, about their plan of attack and about how to raise the bar for baseball’s best offense a little higher.

Hitters’ meetings like this are standard around baseball, a daily staple of life in the majors.

What’s different with the Dodgers is the way they go about it.

How are they different, exactly? The hitters themselves do the bulk of the talking. How they’ve approached that day’s starter in the past. Righties talk about their approach; lefties do the same. The hitting coaches are there, and the offer feedback when necessary, but, as Justin Turner says, “They’re letting it be player-led.”

Why is that a big deal? Max Muncy says the approach “holds everyone accountable,” with everyone talking in the meeting and then going out and trying to execute the game plan they developed together. Justin Turner agrees on the accountability aspect.

“There’s a lot of accountability to verbalizing what you’re seeing, what you’re thinking. A guy goes up and swings at an 0-and-0 curveball, you can just come back and say, ‘Oh, I was sitting on it’. When you say it in the meeting — ‘Hey, I’m gonna look for 0-and-0 spin and put a good swing on it’ — and then you do it in the game, even if you roll over on it, all the guys are like, ‘Hey man, good try. You executed your plan.’ ”

Roberts says this approach is different from what he’s seen before.

“This is my seventh year with this ballclub,” manager Dave Roberts said, “and this is the most communication that they’ve had internally amongst players.”

It was Betts, Trea Turner, and Freeman who together came up with the idea to bat them in that order at the top of the lineup. Freeman suggested the rule of limiting iPads in the dugout and focusing more on talking to each other and watching the game.

“Sometimes you just forget to hang out with your teammates and talk. I think the thing that got us going, was the communication between us.”

The Dodgers are hoping this player-led approach will make all the difference in October.

“If you try to do everything yourself [all year], then you try to lean on someone in October, that doesn’t work,” Freeman said, creating a hugging motion with his arms during a recent interview. “When you are leaning on someone on June 19, it creates an environment where we’re doing this as a whole and not just stuck in an iPad looking, looking, looking. You have to build it.”

Starting on October 11, we’ll see if this team can lean on each other all the way to a World Series title.

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