A.J. Ellis became the Dodgers’ starting catcher in 2012 and enjoyed a very productive season that earned him the right to come into the 2013 season as the starting catcher once again.
Regular Season Grade: C+
Overall, Ellis had a decent season at the plate, although his batting average dropped significantly from 2012. The catcher hit .238 with 10 home runs and 52 RBI in 115 games. He missed some time this season in May due to an oblique strain, but remained healthy for the rest of the season. At the plate, Ellis struggled most of the season and saw his OBP drop to .318, his lowest career total, but still managed to hit 10 home runs and 17 doubles primarily from the number 8 spot in the lineup.
Defensively, Ellis had a strong season, leading a pitching staff that was second in the major leagues in total ERA. The 32-year-old was named a finalist for a Gold Glove in a season in which he threw out 44% of runners and had a Total Zone Fielding of plus-eight runs above average. Ellis had just six passed balls in 972 .1 innings behind the plate and made just three errors on the season. He was tied for second in the league in runners caught stealing and fielding percentage.
Ellis had one of the most significant hits of the season for the Dodgers in September. The catcher hit the game-winning solo home run in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks in what would become the game that the Dodgers clinched the NL West. The home run came in the midst of a 2-28 slump and led the Dodgers to their first division title since 2009.
Playoff Grade: B+
Ellis had strong showings in both postseason series, finishing with a .323 batting average with a home run and three RBI. Against the Atlanta Braves, Ellis had four hits and two walks in four games, including a pair of doubles. He also had a successful game plan against the Braves’ hitters that allowed the Dodgers to take the series in four games.
In the NLCS, Ellis continued to hit well as he had six hits and a walk in six games. Of his six hits, four went for extra bases and he drove in two runs. The right-handed hitting Ellis was one of the only Dodgers to hit well in the series and was one of the most consistent hitters in the postseason.
Overall Grade: B-
Ellis faced some struggles at the plate this season, but got hits when it counted most. He had another strong defensive effort behind the plate and led the second-best pitching staff all season.
The 32-year-old should enter the 2014 season as the Dodgers primary catcher once again and will look to improve his batting statistics, while maintaining his defensive prowess.
ICYMI: The Texas Rangers talked trade with the Dodgers at the GM Meetings.