When you think of players who are the catalysts behind the Los Angeles Dodgers recent power surge, the names likely to come your mind are Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez. While all of those guys have been on fire, there is another name who is less apparent, but perhaps has been the hottest of all. That player is Yasmani Grandal.
This season has been one of peaks and valleys for the Cuban catcher and thankfully for the Dodgers, he is going through one of his best stretches of the season and it couldn’t have came at a better time. He has been a main contributor in the Dodgers coming back from eight games behind the San Francisco Giants to now being a half game up. All the while receiving little fanfare for his efforts.
In the series finale vs. the Philadelphia Phillies, Grandal hit his 20th home run of the season off the Phillies scoreboard.
Ouch…says the scoreboard. ? pic.twitter.com/2CivpamSph
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 19, 2016
Despite the Dodgers not getting the win Grandal’s performance didn’t go unnoticed. He also became the Dodgers first catcher to notch 20 home runs since 2001.
Hey look – guy who was making hard outs in April just hit his 14th homer since the end of June.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) August 19, 2016
Yasmani Grandal goes scoreboard, first Dodgers catcher with 20 home runs in a season since Paul Lo Duca in 2001
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) August 19, 2016
If you were to only look at his August and July numbers, he would be in the MVP conversation as he is slashing .324/.442/.711 with 13 home runs and 23 RBI’s.
Yasmani Grandal's 13th HR since June 30. Most in NL over that time.
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) August 17, 2016
However, his June and May numbers were much much uglier as his May slash-line was .114/.192/.271 and in June he didn’t do much better coming in at .169/.300/.339.
These two particularly rough months have left his season numbers looking very weak, despite his phenomenal play the last two months. Over the course of the whole season, Grandal is slashing .234/.350/.482 with 20 HR’s and 52 RBI’s. Which on paper, doesn’t look too spectacular, but it’s the context of those numbers where the true value is found.
Despite playing in only 84 games so far, Yasmani Grandal has taken over Dodger lead in walks (47). Grandal second in wRC+ among NL catchers.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) August 10, 2016
Since the start of 2015 ..
Yasmani Grandal: 3.8 fWAR/600PA
Jonathan Lucroy: 3.0 fWAR/600PA
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) August 10, 2016
With Justin Turner (23), Corey Seager (21) and Yasmani Grandal (20), Dodgers have 3 players with 20 HR for first time since 2001 (4 players)
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) August 19, 2016
Grandal has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball, not to mention his usually outstanding defense behind the plate. What has been most striking about Grandal in past couple months is his outstanding uptick in power and the sheer amount of long balls he has hit.
He has the most home runs out of any catcher this season and he has basically hit them all in the months of July and August. When the San Diego Padres were last in town, he had a career night, taking three over the fence.
Then there was also that time against the Phillies where he utterly destroyed a poor, innocent baseball.
The best part of that was the subtle bat flip once he saw how far he had hit that ball. The resurgence of power from Grandal has to be exciting for Dodgers fans who saw him make the All-Star game last season before going down with an injury and never recovering his form.
While on his game, Grandal has the look of one the elite catchers in the league and if he remains this hot he will be a huge cog for the Dodgers as they barrel towards the playoffs.
When the Dodgers traded fan favorite Matt Kemp for Grandal before the beginning of last season, there was some hesitation over it as Grandal had yet to capitalize on his vast potential.
Yet, here we stand, Kemp is toiling away with the Atlanta Braves, who own the worst record in baseball, and Grandal is looking like the player everyone has wanted him to be his whole career. So, I think it’s safe to say that the Dodgers pretty handily won that trade.
Grandal isn’t a household name and is rarely, if ever, the first player that comes to mind when thinking about the Dodgers. But, the way he has been playing as of late, he definitely deserves some love. It doesn’t look like he will be slowing down any time soon, and if that does turn out to be the case, as the Dodgers head towards October Grandal will be at the front of the charge.