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Dodgers: Austin Barnes Says He Has Improved His Swing This Offseason

It’s not a best-kept secret that Austin Barnes struggled mightily in 2018. Moreover, those struggles resulted in a .205 average and .619 OPS; with stretches that he was nearly unplayable.

Now, Barnes is determined to hold down a lion’s share of the catching position in 2019. Alongside Russell Martin, the onus is fully on he and Barnes for stability at backstop for the NL West favorites.

Barnes talked with David Vassegh on AM570 about improving his swing in the offseason.

Equally important, Barnes sounds like there is a touch of optimism towards his offensive game as we approach spring training.

I’ve been working on my swing to try to get it right. Last year was pretty tough but I feel confident. I am happy with where my swing is right now……trying to get right before the season starts.

Barnes was speaking from Justin Turner’s annual golf tournament. He indicated that he’s been working with hitting guru Robert Van Scoyoc and building confidence. Vassegh mentioned that Barnes had not been through anything similar to 2018 as a professional. However – this is only partially true. Of course, Barnes did hit .205 in 2015 and .156 in 2016; it’s just that those stints were over 37 plate appearances.

I needed to reset. You know, it’s hard to make changes in-season. It’s hard to step back then and evaluate things, it’s a process with it. Just trying to get back into a good hitting position and do what your body does. It’s been a motivating offseason for sure.

Furthermore, as time goes on; it’s a predominant theme that new hitting coach Van Scoyoc is helping hitters build confidence. Professional hitters work with him, and emerge from the fog and abyss (see Taylor, Chris).

Indeed, if Barnes is ‘fixed’ we should be able to get a read on this from the early going in 2019. Let’s hope for the best!

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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.

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  1. Barnes like many of the dodger hitters take too many pitches instead of guarding the plate. Dodger batters depend on umpire calls on close ball/strike pitches which is why the strike out often.

    • In 2017, Barnes was taking balls and swinging at strikes, his plate discipline was excellent. In 2018, Barnes was taking strikes and swinging at balls. Not sure what happened, I was thinking someone should check his vision, because the difference was pretty obvious.

    • Bt325, I concur, in 2017 that was the thing to do because the umpires were told to call a by the book strike zone for the dodgers but in the ws that year they stopped but that’s another topic. In 2018 they weren’t blessed with that order from mlb yet continued taking at bats as if they were.

      • Do you have a link to evidence of this “order” from MLB in regards on how to call balls/strikes for the Dodgers?

  2. IMO, it is the “launch angle” approach that a lot of the Dodgers hitters have embrached. For example, Chris Taylor, when he was in Seattle, he was no where near the player the Mariners traded to the Dodgers, otherwise I would think Seattle would have kept him. 2017, Taylor made contact and hit more home runs, 2018, either the pithcers figured out how to pitch to him and therefore Taylor was striking out a lot more. I fear Max Muncy will Regress and not hit close to the 35 homeruns he hit in 2018. Bottom line, Taylor, Muncy and all the other Dodgers hitters that embrace the “launch-angle” approach are Not really homerun hitters. I wish they were concentrate on more base-hitting, I know Not glamorous.

    • Robin, I honestly believe Dodgers could have done better this of season had they offered Muncy in a deal, perhaps to an AL team where he can DH.. Most would agree with you , including me, that Muncy does not come close to duplicating what he did in 2018. Again, even with Pollock on board Dodgers are STILL too LH heavy in the position players on this roster and unfortunately it may lead to continued platooning…stay tuned.

      • The position players on the listed roster which totals 14, they’re split 7-9 as to left/right with right side being 9. Perhaps you meant there are better hitters on the left side.

      • Issue for me is that he is among a plethora of LH batters on this team and even with Pollock, I see Dodgers facing more LHP than a team normally would until they can ‘right” the ship against them.

  3. In 2018 I called Barnes the designated out. It might be too much to ask him to replace Grandal’s power, but if he can consistently deliver walks, singles and the occasional double when he’s hitting eighth (the only likely spot in the lineup, really) can only be a good thing for the team.

  4. Keep asking. Why do they take 5 years to figure out his swing is wrong? We keep hearing this. What’s wrong with the hitting coaches? You think he just can’t hit?

  5. This is pretty funny, a lot of bitching and moaning about my team here. You all seem to think 6 straight divisions and 2 consecutive WS losses and the FO of the Dodgers don’t know if people can hit or not? Give me a break. This team is a bunch of tough really good and great players still getting better. Bitch and moan all you want I think the Dodger FO is doing what they can to put the best team on the field without breaking the bank and losing too many young players. Look on the bright side we aren’t the Angels…………

  6. Ca Tyner, I think the problem is(for Me this is why I complain) is that the Giants won WS in 2010,2012,2014 with what most “experts” – people on ESPN, MLB Network, etc. consider not that great or dominating teams. Correct me if I’m wrong, those Giants teams were not juggernauts. MadBum dominated in I forgot which WS and the same could be said about the players on those teams.

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