Assessing 2023 MLB front offices: Did the Los Angeles Dodgers outperform the data?

The Dodgers won big in 2023, but not due to the efforts of their front office led by Andrew Friedman and Brandon Gomes.

Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes
Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Friedman/Brandon Gomes front office WAA impact for Los Angeles Dodgers: -4.6 games. Rank in MLB: T-22. Rank in division: 3.

I confess to not fully understanding how the Los Angeles Dodgers won 100 games in 2023.

The data, at least that portion of it pertaining to the front office run by president Andrew Friedman and general manager Brandon Gomes, doesn’t support that kind of success.

Then there were the injuries, to supposedly key performers of the stripe of Gavin Lux, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Walker Buehler.

Throw in the legal problems faced by Julio Urias and 100 wins doesn’t compute.

Yet there the Dodgers are, victors in 100 of 162, second seeded in the National League postseason, and coming off a finish that saw them go 41-18 since August 1. The Dodgers were two up on San Francisco when that day dawned. They won by 16.

Perhaps the answer to Dodger magic lies in metaphysics, chemistry or some other aspect we haven’t yet quantified. Perhaps the 2023 Dodgers were a Hollywood rom-com, where the stars overcome obstacles strewn along their path to true happiness.

As noted at the outset, the data does not justify such a happy ending. The Friedman-Gomes front office team made 62 personnel decisions since the end of the 2022 postseason impacting an MLB roster. As determined by Wins Above Average, while 26 of those 62 moves aided the Dodgers, 31 were harmful and five were neutral.

WAA is used in this series of front office evaluations because it is a zero-based version of WAR, therefore enabling valid approximations of impact against wins and losses.

The bulk of that negativity flowed from the decisions made concerning which players would be allowed to go to free agency or otherwise escape the team’s control. The leading figure in that calculus was former MVP Cody Bellinger, released to sign with the Cubs and perform brilliantly enough to rate a +2.7 WAA for his new team.

Justin Turner left for Boston via free agency and produced a +1.5 WAA performance. Chris Martin was a +2.3 WAA reliever for those same Red Sox.

In all, a dozen 2022 Dodgers found themselves with new teams in 2023 due to free agency, and the net contribution of that dozen to those new teams amounted to +6.0 games of WAA. Apparently the Dodgers are so rife with talent they can afford to pass it around.

What saved the Dodgers, of course, was an existing core that not even Friedman and Gomes could do much damage to. For 2023, that core of talent previously under contract included Mookie Betts (+6.4 WAA), Will Smith (+2.4), and 11 other players, all of whom had signed for 2023 before Gomes became GM. As a group, their contribution was 10.1 WAA.

It also helped to have Freddie Freeman, a 2022 Gomes signee, safe in the fold. Freeman added +4.4 WAA. Clayton Kershaw, who signed a new contract prior to 2023, was worth +2.6.

The one arrival who justified the Friedman-Gomes team’s faith was rookie outfielder James Outman. He hit 23 home runs and drove in 70 runs, generating +1.5 WAA of value.

Here’s the short-term and long-term statistical profile on the 2023 performance of the Dodger front office tandem of Friedman and Gomes. All figures reflect net Wins Above Average

Acquired by trade, waiver claim or purchase

  • Since October 2022: 8 players, -0.6 net impact
  • Prior to October 2023:  1 player, -0.6 net impact

Signed as a free agent or extended for multiple seasons

  • Since October 2022: 20 players, +1.9 net impact
  • Prior to October 2022: 2 players, +3.6 net impact

System products

  • Since October 2022: 11 players, -2.3 net impact
  • Prior to October 2022: 3 players, +0.5 net impact

Traded away, waived, sold, released or lost to free agency

  • Since October 2022: 23 players, -3.6 net impact

Prior to October 2022: 7 players, +2.4 net impact.

The data says the moves made by Friedman and Gomes since the end of the 2022 postseason hurt their Dodger team by -4.6 games. Yet the Dodgers breezed to another in the almost interminable series of NL West division titles. If nothing else, the data is more proof that baseball is not played on paper.