Before the season started, there were some questions as to what the situation at catcher would be for the Dodgers. The team had let Rod Barajas walk following the 2011 season and were faced with the prospect of career minor-leaguer A.J. Ellis being the everyday catcher.
Ellis, who had bounced up and down between the Dodgers and the Minor Leagues over the past couple of years, became one of the most reliable defensive catchers in the league and handled one of the best pitching staffs in the baseball admirably.
Additionally, Ellis proved to be extremely capable with the bat, had multiple clutch hits, was in the top 15 in base on balls and displayed some pop with 13 home runs. As well, Ellis is extremely well liked by his teammates and is among the leaders in the clubhouse.
The numbers: .270 BA, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 44 R, .373 OBP, .786 OPS, 133 games played
Since this was A.J.’s first full season as a starter, he set career highs in most offensive categories, specifically homers, RBI, doubles, hits, runs, and games played. His line of .270/.373/.786 was slightly better than his career line of .267/.369/.755.
A.J. earned a reputation for being a patient hitter, who takes lots of pitches and receives a lot of walks.
A.J. was fourth amongst catchers in games played behind Posey, Montero, and Yadier Molina of the Cardinals.
Ironically, A.J.’s walk-up song is “Walk” by Foo Fighters.
A.J. was one of the brightest spots on the Dodgers roster from day 1. A.J. was rock solid defensively behind the plate, and delivered many offensive highlights as well.
April 7 vs. San Diego Padres: Not only did A.J. hit his first home run of the year, he singled in the 11th inning to start a rally and scored the eventual winning run in the Dodgers 6-5 victory.
May 1 vs. Colorado Rockies: A.J. had an RBI-double and a 2-run home run that staked the Dodgers to a 7-0 lead in an eventual 7-6 win at Coors Field.
May 26 vs. Houston Astros: A.J. drilled a walk-off 3-run home run to give the Dodgers a 6-3 win over the Astros at Dodger Stadium. Additionally, it was almost two months into the season and the Dodgers had the best record in the majors.
Aug. 29 vs. Colorado: A.J. hit his first career grand slam in the 8th inning to give the Dodgers a 10-1 lead in what would be an eventual 10-8 victory.
Oct. 2 vs. San Francisco Giants: In the second-to-last game of the season and what would be the game that saw the Dodgers get eliminated from playoff contention, A.J. provided Dodger fans with one of the most dramatic moments of the year, hitting a 2-run home run in the 7th inning that cut the Dodgers deficit to 4-3.
A.J. Ellis made $495,000 this year, just above the league minimum. Ellis is eligible for salary arbitration and would expect to receive a sizable raise. There’s no reason to think the Dodgers won’t make Ellis a contract offer and go into the year with him as their starting catcher.
Ellis received the Dodgers’ Roy Campanella Award for “most inspirational player” as voted on by teammates and coaches.
Ellis can also been seen on YouTube doing the comedy sketch “Between Two Palm Trees” with Clayton Kershaw.
Clearly Ellis has made a strong impression on his teammates and the fans.
Ellis will turn 32 at the start of the 2013 season.