It’s been no secret that A.J. Ellis has had trouble at the plate this season for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The seven-year veteran is hitting just .182 with nine extra-base hits (one home run) in 64 games. Ellis is not the only catcher with trouble hitting, as Drew Butera and Tim Federowicz both have averages under .200 for the season.
According to Pedro Moura of the OC Register, Ellis has been seeing a league-leading 44.9 percent of four-seam fastballs and knows why:
I’m not getting any hits,” Ellis said by way of an explanation. “They don’t want to walk me. What’s your best command pitch, so you can throw strikes? It’s up to me do a better job to make them work a little harder.”
Ellis has still been able to be patient at the plate, highlighted by his respectable .315 on-base percentage due to 37 walks. Through Wednesday night’s game, Ellis has one more walk than hits.
The 33-year-old has noticed the opposing pitchers’ approach when he steps in the batter’s box:
I’ve just noticed I’ve had a lot of good pitches to hit, and I haven’t gotten the job done,” Ellis said. “You want to attack somebody you know has strong plate discipline, who knows what the strike zone is. Then you look at the stats and see someone who’s struggling offensively, the last thing you want to do is give them a free base.”
While Ellis has still been able to get on base somehow, the Dodgers will need more from him at the bottom of the order if they plan to repeat as division champs and make a run in the playoffs. He has continued his command of the pitching staff, but his ability to throw runners out has diminished to just 22 percent, which is half of what it was in 2013.
Ellis will have to begin capitalizing on the increase in fastballs and begin to contribute to the offense.
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