Yasmani Grandal
Advanced stats have begun to take over baseball, as a more and more teams have started using them in order to build their team.

The Los Angeles Dodgers new front office consists of plenty of executives that rely on these types of stats to help them construct a roster. Defensive liabilities Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp are no longer in Los Angeles, while defensive upgrades such as Jimmy Rollins and Joc Pederson will likely man those positions. Catcher Yasmani Grandal was the biggest piece of the Matt Kemp trade with the San Diego Padres, and much of the hype surrounding the 26-year-old catcher was his ability to frame pitches.

In an interview on Dodger Talk on AM 570 Radio, Grandal spoke about his skill:

That’s something I’ve been doing for a long time. It’s just something that we worked on while I was in college and it’s just the way that I been catching for a long time.

While he is considered one of the better catchers in terms of pitch framing, he doesn’t read too much into it because it’s something he’s always done:

I don’t give it too much thought. I always liked to play games while I’m back catching and try to see how many strikes I could get off an umpire.

Last year, Grandal ranked sixth among catchers in the number of runs saved by getting extra strikes. Over the entire season, Grandal added 120 strikes to his pitchers. Meanwhile, Dodger starter A.J. Ellis cost his pitcher over 45 strikes and about seven runs. These advanced stats show that even though Grandal struggled with passed balls and baserunners, he still brings value behind the plate. It appeared Grandal never recovered from a 2013 knee injury, which could help his passed balls and throwing out baserunners in 2015.

Expect a lot more looking strikes in 2015, and it will be on purpose with the acquisition of Grandal.

About The Author

Vince is currently the Associate Editor and Social Media Manager for Dodgers Nation. Hailing from San Pedro, CA and a student at Cal State Long Beach, Vince has previously written for the Daily 49er and LASF Magazine.

12 Responses

  1. Michael N. Norris

    Ok…..I know all this stuff has come out in the last couple of years…and for you stat geeks. sabermetric freaks and general stat people I do understand…but my needs are simple…..I want my catcher to throw out runners, block pitches in the dirt and call a good game..have the full confidence of the pitcher and be able to take charge on the field…..if he can hit….that’s a plus…..I could care less about his framing skills…….

    Reply
    • Tmax

      I agree. It is why I am an AJ Ellis fan as Kershaw etc say he calls a great game. He studies hard to call a great game and when not injured throws out a fair share of runners. But he blocks the plate well and that gives the pitcher the opportunity to throw that ball in the dirt for a swinging strike with men on and 2 out.

      Reply
      • Michael N. Norris

        I concur…see above response to guy who likes to correct grammmar

      • TommyL

        Interesting. I just checked out the Baseball Prospectus website. If you search a catcher by name, you will pull up a profile that has a tab called “Catching.” It shows statistically how many runs are saved by framing pitches as well as by blocking pitches. Career wise, A.J. Ellis scores negative points on both accounts, while Grandal scores positive runs saved on both accounts. Yet for 2014 alone, Ellis showed positive numbers on blocking and negative on framing, while Grandal showed negative numbers on blocking and positive on framing (still outscoring Ellis on total runs saved). Maybe Grandal’s knee problems accounted for the poor blocking.

        Looking at Ellis’ whole career, despite what your perceptions are, he is not a very good pitch blocker and he’s a very poor pitch framer — At least by the metrics used by Baseball Prospectus. Not to say he isn’t of value, particularly when your ace pitcher feels very comfortable with him as a battery mate. Not sure how you measure a catcher’s ability to call a game, but if your pitchers are happy, that certainly can’t be a bad thing.

      • Tmax

        Yes I hope Grandal is all that and a bag of chips for the overall health of the Dodgers going forward. The Question is; “Was that enough for a guy who should have won the MVP only a couple of years ago?”and should have several dominant years left? He proved he was back as he was one of the best offensive players in baseball the second half. I have been a baseball fan for over 50 years. Guys as dominant offensively as Kemp are very rare. At the end of all the trading we got Grandal and part of Rollins as I believe they added another minor league pitcher or two for him. A Great Trade for Rollins 7 years ago but we are only going to rent him for a year and he is OLD. Can he even play a full year? Shortstop is a very demanding position. What it boils down to is Grandal better be the second coming of Bench or they got taken to the cleaners by both San Diego and Philly. Same as for Gordon they got a young pitcher that everyone agrees will be a 1or 2. That is a good trade but then they traded him for Kendrick, a guy I love but his contract is for a year! If they had negotiated a 3-4 year deal for Kendrick as part of the trade that would be acceptable but Gordon who you have locked up for a couple of years for 1 year of Kendrick? Again they did not get enough. Gordon is an amazing talent. Speed changes everything. It stresses the pitcher, many times it changes the pitch sequence to the next couple of batters. It makes guys make mistakes. I do not see that they got value for what they gave up. I hope I am wrong.

      • TommyL

        “He proved he was back as he was one of the best offensive players in baseball the second half.”

        That was exciting to see, but I don’t know if that half of a season proved anything, especially with his medical records. He’s now heading through his thirties with arthritic hips and surgically repaired shoulder and ankle, I don’t think it’s a guarantee he has several dominate years left. I’ve always liked Kemp and wish him well. But he was the only outfielder that could garner any kind of return, and to get a young catcher and lock up a badly needed shortstop, I understand the move — especially considering his poor defense and deteriorated base running skills.

        Jimmy Rollins is 36, still producing offensively and a substantial upgrade in defense at SS. Grandal is 26, four years younger than Kemp, but has his own health concerns with a surgically repaired knee. This trade can go either way, but from a team need, dropping an outfielder and picking up a shortstop and catcher makes a lot of sense.

        And as far as second base. Gordon had an all star first half of the year. The rest of his career has been pretty dismal, despite his “amazing talent.” Howie Kendrick is a solid, proven player. And why would the Dodgers want to lock themselves into three or four years with him? If he produces in 2015 as he has throughout his career, they can extend him during the season or at the end of the year. Certainly no one will outbid them if they want him long term, and I would suspect Howie would want to stay in LA.

        I enjoy the debate, and we shall see how this works out. Go Dodgers.

      • Tmax

        TommyL we all want the same thing, the Dodgers to win the World Series and be a very competetive team for the foreseeable future. I think the discussion is healthy. You are obviously very informed on baseball. I agree with you that Rollins is a significant upgrade defensively from Ramirez but who wouldn’t be? Let me ask you honestly, sitting back and analyzing the trades for Kemp and Gordon and getting Kendrick and Rollins do you think they received comparable value? Taking into account that Kendick and Rollins are 1 year rent-a-players. Remember I want an evaluation for the future like say the Carrdinals would look at it. I chose the Cardinals because they are a perennial winner. If they are in love with Kendrick, as I am, then wait a year and buy him when he is a free agent. The Angels do not have the money to compete. The ANgels have an escalating contract for Hamilton plus the Pujos money to pay.

      • Alex

        The bottom line is, the F.O. believe there’s a small chance that Kemp stays healthy for more than a couple of years. They believe Gordon can’t replicate his 2 1/2 months of all-star ball for the course of the season, let alone the rest of his contract. I think that’s very fair.

        The F.O. watches ball players like they watch stocks. They don’t believe Kemp or Gordon will be great in the long-run, so why bother keeping them when you can sell high and buy low.

        Yes, it’s a risk with Kendrick’s 1-year deal, but the bigger risk is Gordon’s uncertain production vs Howie Kendrick’s 9 years of consistency and overall better batting and defense than Gordon. As for the contract, personally I believe Kendrick will sign a 2-3 year extension by end of season (a la Juan Uribe), or they’ll go ahead and find someone new. We still upgraded our bullpen with a much improved Chris Hatcher (I thought everyone was so concerned about our bullpen, right?), along with a good utility man in Hernandez and a high ceiling minor league catcher in Austin Barnes.

        Just think, if Gordon regresses the following year, then we’ve lost our best chance for a good trade chip. Turner and Barney cannot make up for not having Kendrick.

        Also, even though Gordon steals a lot of bases, he had less total bases than Kendrick last season, and less total bases per plate appearance on average. All of a sudden, the Gordon/Kendrick trade doesn’t look so bad for us.

        Don’t forget, we also got Grandal who actually hit longer fly balls than Kemp on average last season. Dude really has power and can get on base.

        As for Rollins, I’m not sure who else we realistically could have gotten, but his defense will more than make up for any lack of hitting. No way Hanley was coming back (injuries and high $$$ tag), so realistically we’re upgrading over a Turner/Barney platoon. That and Seager will come in and destroy the league in 2016 anyway, if not sooner. 🙂

        My only concerns for next year are if Puig will be ready to take on a bigger role, if Pederson can produce, and if we can get another decent backup starter.

      • Tmax

        Alex I agree with everything you said. My question is did they get enough for Kemp? You say yes that is fine. I think they were shortchanged. That is the great thing about baseball we can disagree and see how it pans out long term. I have no problem with them essemtially swapping Kendrick for Gordon. As I stated I love Kendrick he is an under appreciated player. He is a very good hitter and fielder. My complaint is they traded a guy that has shown he has the will and work ethic to be a very good player in Gordon who is also cost controlled for several more years for a one year contract guy that maybe they can sign for several years but it will cost them a lot of money, which granted they have. I agree the bullpen should be better but like Hanley’s fielding how could it be much worse? I still think we are one guy short, a miss the bat situational guy they can use for 2/3 of an inning.
        Love your enthusiasm for Seager but give him at least a year in the majors before he tears up the league.
        I think Puig will be better this year as he, hopefully, continues to mature.

      • Alex

        Great discussion!

        It’s almost apples to oranges when we try to compare Kemp’s bat vs upgrades at other positions. So many variables come into play, but as long as Rollins is Rollins and Grandal can do .850 OPS (and continue his masterful pitch-framing), then I’m happy. I know Greinke and Co. will love getting those extra corner strikes.

        I’m sure Kemp will do great for at least two full years (and we’ll all be sulking over it), but if he regresses after that, to me it’s not really worth keeping him. Ellis is 34, so we’re due for a new catcher (with no one reasonable in the farm), and no one to respectably cover short this year. We liked Gordon for his extra years of team control, but Grandal has that, too, and he’s just now approaching his prime years.

        As far as Gordon goes, I guess it’s mostly a matter of how much you believe in him. He may be great to some, and not-so-great to others. I guess if the F.O. believes he’ll regress, then they might ask themselves why bother having him, no matter how many years. The F.O. truly believes they can either re-sign Kendrick, or go find a new 2B that would be better than (as they predict) a regressed Gordon. Maybe Guerrero? Maybe Sweeney? Maybe a free agent? Lots of confidence they have.

        Who knows; anything can happen and this could all backfire. Kemp could win MVP, Gordon could be a consistent All-Star, Heaney could win ROY, and then Rollins and Kendrick could regress, and Pederson and Grandal might not live to their potential. That would just be a colossal failure, and we’d have to do some major rehauling.

  2. TommyL

    Well if you “could care less” (actually, what you meant was you COULDN’T care less) about a skill that those people who actually run MLB teams seem to care a lot about, that is your prerogitive. Me, I’ll not be so bold as to think I have a better idea of how to put together a team than those who have actually done it, and done it successfully. Relying on statistics — i.e., actual facts — doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea. We shall see what 2015 brings.

    Reply
    • Michael N. Norris

      You a grammar teacher or something? At my age grammatical errors do happen…..But you have a point. I concur that they might like the idea and such. Bold? I look at a lot more than pitch framing and have seen enough good and excellent catchers in my life time, more by the way than the 2 kiddies running the team. I look at the way a guy calls a game, his rapport with the starting staff, his control of the pace of the game so his fielders do not get bored out there. Grandal has some skills. So does AJ. Grandal has power, and a pretty good OBP. AJ makes a pitcher work. He saw more pitches than pretty much everybody per at bat the last 2 years. AJ had a bad year, due to injuries, he is 3 years older and his knee’s are a concern. He has a better arm and throws out more runners. Grandal as you say is a better pitch framer, but is very weak at blocking balls in the dirt, which with this staff he needs to really improve on. Grandal also has had knee problems….but he will probably do the bulk of the catching. I just do not think the guy was worth Matt Kemp….not even close…

      Reply

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