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Dodgers: Austin Barnes Battled Arm Injury Last Year That Affected His Offense

Austin Barnes is solidifying the Dodgers at the catching position this spring. Moreover, Barnes is hitting .333 with a pair of homers to date. Certainly, this could make him the lead dog in the clubhouse for the lion’s share of work early in the year.

Over the weekend, David Vassegh shed light on why Barnes is having success now. Equally important, we now may know why Barnes struggled so badly in 2018.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts mentioned ‘arm troubles’ that Barnes battled during the 2018 season. While not going deeper into details of those ‘troubles’, one can speculate that Barnes was playing hurt during the 2018 campaign.


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Barnes saw a massive drop off from 2017 to 2018. His OPS plummeted from .895 to .619, and the Dodgers couldn’t hide him in the lineup late in the year. Furthermore, you could tell that Barnes was a player who was not able to fully trust himself. Perhaps the reason is he couldn’t physically trust his body. Now, it’s fully possible to say that the struggles were more than met the eye.

The best news about all this is it seems Barnes is close to being back on track. If he can be close to the player he was in 2017, that’s a huge value bump for the Dodgers from the catching position.

Barnes will open the season sharing time with veteran Russell Martin. Do you believe that by season’s end he will be the full-time starter? Let us know in the comments section.

Written by Clint Evans

Clint lives in Ohio, and played collegiate baseball. He loves the Dodgers due to his first memories of Chavez Ravine when he was nine years old. The voice of Vin Scully has been a staple in his life since he was a kid. No amount of baseball talk is ever enough, and he wishes the regular season was year round. He has written about baseball online since 2007.

22 Comments

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  1. I believe blaming mysterious injuries long after the fact to explain sub par performance is weak. One would improve relations and reputations by coming out and identifying such issues in a timely manner. Other teams obviously know whats up. Sounds like story telling when a group waits a year before suddenly bringing it up.

    • Not at all. if you’ve played sports at a higher level you’d know it’s typical procedure for multiple reasons.

      i hope and expect Barnes to be more like is 2017 self and make the C position a strength, not a weakness.

      • Exactly dieselguy19 & Charly it has always been the norm to not announce injuries. If the opposition knew Barnes had an arm injury they would have run on him consistently. Instead because of his previous stats they did not test him often.

        • Instead of using an injured catcher and having to keep it a secret Friedman could’ve done his dumpster diving and gotten a bargain catcher who was at least healthy and hit better than Barnes

        • tmaxter, I have always been told by many that ‘honesty is the best policy’. However, if Barnes continues to impress like he has, there is no question now in my mind that he should be the starting catcher. Of course he will share time with Martin, and both also can play other positions as well.

    • that would be wrong no mystery, he was held of most spring training last year with the arm injury

  2. There is another train of thought. You don’t want your opponents knowing your weaknesses. THey could have targeted his arm. In his case, bad year hitting was acceptable and no more thought put into it other than making good pitches in his weak areas, just like normal.

  3. Some commenters wanted to ditch Barnes after last years performance. I maintained that we do not know the rest of the story. Injuries while part of the game unless the player needs to go on the disabled list stay under reported because the teams do not want the competition to attempt to exploit the injury during the game.

    Barnes has always hit well the idea he lost his abilities was not logical. He looks better this Spring in a small sample but we can be hopeful that he has his stroke back.
    If he does it will be interesting to compare his numbers vs Realmuto’s at the end of the year…

  4. My theory last year was, he would go to Taylor’s hitting guy and get it fixed. Low and behold! They signed the guy as hitting coach! And Taylor will be close to him , as he thinks too much in the box! Can’t think of the name so…the S(last initial) guy!

  5. My question is, why didn’t Dodgers and medical staff bring this to our attention last year, when these arm troubles were taking place? Or better yet, why didn’t Barnes disclose this arm issue last year?

    • The two shills at the top of the page claim it was because they didn’t want other teams knowing and then taking advantage by stealing on him. Seems smart if it’s actually true

  6. moot not mute. And it wasn’t bad enough for the DL/IL. The arm did not affect his catching or game calling, just hitting and throwing. And throwing wasn’t a problem as his reputation kept them from running wild, as they would have had they known. Like it or leave it, that’s how the Dodgers roll.

  7. What baffled me the most about Barnes last year was his approach in the batter’s box. In 2017, he was super aggressive, swinging at strikes and putting the ball in play. In 2018, it was totally opposite. Take two strikes and then strike out on a high fastball or one down and away. I hope his aggressive mindset is back.

  8. I have to accept the Dodgers explanation concerning Barnes injury until proven otherwise. The baseball season is just starting. Injuries or trades are a part of the baseball season. I have no crystal ball that tells me who will be the Dodgers catcher as October baseball rolls around. Neither do the Dodgers. Let’s just play ball— one game at a time, with the objective to win the division, and then concentrate on a playoff roster.

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