Slugging wins games. Hitting wins championships.
That sums up the philosophy of 1989 Monache graduate Brant Brown and the Los Angeles Dodgers that helped them win their first World Series title last week in 32 years when they beat the Tampa Bay Rays in six games. Brown won the World Championship ring he'll be receiving as the team's co-hitting coach.
Brown had a five-year career as a Major League Baseball player himself and after his playing career, he went on to serve in various coaching capacities in the Minor and Major Leagues which eventually led him to winning the World Series with the Dodgers.
A motto of the Dodgers “barrels are overrated” also represents their and Brown's philosophy that it's not always about hitting home runs.
Or as Brown put it: “When you hit to slug, then you're hitting home runs. When you slug to hit, you're making outs. You can't always be looking to slug all the time.”
But Brown obviously realized slugging is the Dodgers' strength. “Obviously we're really good at slugging,” he said.
“That's what got us there,” said Brown about the playoffs. “Our ability to capitalize on bad pitches. To put crooked numbers up on one pitch.”
But Brown said adjustments need to be made during the playoffs. “During the playoffs you're going to face someone you've never faced before,” he said.
He noted in the Dodgers' last two series, the National League Championship Series against the Attlant Braves and the World Series against the Ray, the Dodgers faced teams with “really great bullpens.”
“They're built that way for a reason,” said Brown about the Braves and Rays having strong bullpens for a playoff run.
But the end result was the Dodgers making the necessary adjustments to score a postseason record 59 runs after there were two outs.
“There's no doubt” about the Dodgers lineup's talent level, Brown said. While the Dodgers have a talented lineup, there's still mechanical and mental issues that come up with the Dodger hitters he needs to deal with during the season.
Brown added the Dodger hitters made all the necessary adjustments during the postseason, including when the Dodgers trailed Atlanta 3-1 in the NLCS and needed to win three straight games to advance to the World Series.
“They bought into what we wanted and we bought into what they wanted,” Brown said. “It makes for a really good relationship. It's the way it should be.”
When the Dodgers were down 3-1 against Atlanta, Brown said he tried to present an attitude of “optimism.”
“We've seen everybody,” said Brown about what he told the Dodger hitters. “Their bullpen is exhausted. We know what they throw. We know how they're going to attack us.”
Brown said it was easy for him to adjust to the season that was affected by COVID-19. “I've been practicing this for years,” said Brown about the type of focus he's always had to deal with a season like 2020.
He added there were actually some advantages to the 2020 season like the regional play in which the longest road trip was to Seattle. So without any road trips to the East Coast, there wasn't as much of a fatigue factor.
Brown also said there were a lot less distractions for the players. “With the guys, there's not this thing or the other,” Brown said.
But it was obviously nice to have some fans in Arlington, Texas at Global Life Field where the World Series was played and it was obviously nice most of the fans there were Dodger fans. “It was just so awesome to celebrate there with them,” Brown said.
Brown said the moment it sunk in that he was a World Champion came when he held the Commissioner's Trophy for the World Series title. “You can't hold a trophy with 30 flags on it and not have it sink in,” Brown said. “It's a moment you work to your whole life.”
But Brown did admit it's difficult to put into words what it's like to win a World Series. “To do it, it's just really something that's just tough to describe,” he said. The one word that pops in my mind is satisfaction.”
Analytics which has become an integral part of baseball reared its ugly head in game six when Rays manager Kevin Cash pulled his ace, Blake Snell, in the sixth inning with a 1-0 lead even though Snell had been for the most part dominant up to that point.
Cash brought in Nick Anderson in relief of Snell and the Dodgers came back for a 3-1 victory to win the title.
Brown was tactful when talking about Cash's decision. “He was his ace working with all four of his pitches,” he said.
“He wasn't throwing the same pitch twice. We were really struggling against him. We were trying to make adjustments throughout the game.”
But Brown added when it comes to Snell's OPS — which basically measures a team's slugging ability against him — after 65 pitches, “there's a big jump.”
“I don't particularly want to get involved in that was good, that was bad,” said Brown about Cash's decision.
In the end, Brown said when the decision was made all he was concerneda bout was “what do we need to do against Anderson.”
About working with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and how he managed the team, Brown said, “Dave was just exceptional.”
Brown is the Dodgers' co-hitting coach with Robert Van Scoyoc. Brown, who now lives in Arizona, has known Van Scoyoc ever since he was a student at Hart High School in Southern California. “I actually gave him lessons,” Brown said.
About Van Scoyoc, who Brown refers to as RVS, he said, “we needed to bring all his talent working with the Dodgers.”
Brown said it's a joy to be working with “one of your best friends” every day. “I know we are on the same page with everything,” he said.
When asked if he would like to be a manager someday himself, Brown said he didn't know, but wouldn't rule it out. The next logical step for Brown is to become a bench coach, which he said he also didn't rule out. But he added “I'm as happy as anybody with this job at this moment.”
With that in mind, Brown is already looking to the 2021 season. As good as the Dodgers were in 2020, Brown said there's “some things we can improve on, things we can do better.”