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Dodgers: Austin Barnes is Quietly Off to A Great Start in Spring

The Dodgers’ catcher has looked good in a very limited spring showing.



Sure, it’s too early to make any real evaluations on any one player in Spring Training. But I can’t help but get a little bit excited about the Dodgers‘ Austin Barnes. The backup catcher has quietly put together a very nice couple of games early on, and it’s time to get my hopes up again.

Any fan who happens to follow me on Twitter knows that I have a daily battle with Austin Barnes. He is one of those guys who I want to succeed so badly because I know what he can do for this team. And yet, all too often, I find myself disappointed for the last two years in watching him take hacks. 

Now, just ten at-bats into his 2020 Spring Training, my hopes are alive and well. Barnes is 4 for 10 for the Dodgers with a double and a 3-run homerun that he hit on Saturday afternoon to give him a very nice early showing. This comes after a year in which he hit .203 and spent some time in the minor leagues. 

The job was Barnes to lose following the departure of Yasmani Grandal, and lose it he did. Russell Martin took on a ton of starts in 2019, and top prospect Will Smith came up to take on some as well. After an excellent showing in 2017, Barnes has hit a combined .204 with 9 homeruns in two seasons since with the Dodgers. His OPS+ for those two years sits at an abysmal 70. 

But this is a new year, and I did just buy someone on Twitter a Barnes jersey this past offseason. Maybe things are turning around?

Barnes is not eligible to become a free agent until after the 2022 season, but he has a ton of competition. Rookie Will Smith came on and hit .253 with 15 homeruns in 2019, and there are two more guys waiting in the minor leagues. This season could end up being Barnes’ last real shot at a starting job with the team. 

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. This season could be the last for Barnes as a Dodger. He’s been living on the Mendoza line for years now. He’s a very athletic and skilled defensive catcher, but a 200 batting average just won’t work. Ruiz is waiting in the wings. Barnes needs to put up some numbers this year.

  2. Unfortunately for Barnes, he’s the poster child for AAAA players. He’s solid defensively so he’ll always find work as a backup but not on the Dodgers who are loaded with young talent at the position.

    • Well hold on here. The dodgers are loaded with “young prospects”. The young talent we are only hoping for.
      Ruiz is not much if a hitter so far and neither is smith who got off to a fast start then quickly faded as the league caught up to him. Prospects often start off with a bang, then quickly disappear. Right now he is just another Mendoza
      Line hitter. We’ll know by next fall.

      • Agree, Smith tailed off quickly and Ruiz does not look ready and may never be—both could be great —but so could Barnes. The 2017 Barnes was great maybe he is ready to be so again in 2020

      • I don’t disagree with anything you say but we know what Barnes is – a .210 hitter with almost no power. Worse, he hits ground balls so he’s a double play waiting to happen. I was not in favor in favor of trading for Realmuto last year because I thought Barnes deserved that chance to rebound from a bad year but he didn’t. He is what he is.

        The league adjusted to Smith and now he needs to adjust back. Pretty typical for a guy with less than year under him. If he hits .250 with 15 – 20 HRs – and I think he will – nobody should complain. Ruiz can hit; He puts the bat on the ball – think Verdugo – but needs a little more time. And both Smith and Ruiz (if he remains with the team) will soon be looking over their shoulders at Cartaya. I hope I’m wrong but I think Barnes is merely keeping the seat warm as a backup.

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