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Dodgers: Austin Barnes Will Get Most Starts Behind the Plate

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GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 11: Austin Barnes #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers walks to the dugout prior to a spring training game against San Francisco Giants at Camelback Ranch on March 11, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Dodgers added Russell Martin earlier in the offseason after watching Yasmani Grandal walk in Free Agency. That move didn’t seem to make sense given Austin Barnes’ and Martin both had terrible offensive years in 2019. But Dave Roberts is already convinced that Barnes is ready for the challenge.

Barnes had a huge year in 2017 as he eventually took over the starting job from Grandal heading into the playoffs. The kid from Riverside slashed .289/.408/.486 and ended up playing in fifteen playoff games en route to a World Series loss. Those numbers came unraveled in 2018, partially hampered by a sore elbow that limited his swing.

Barnes hit an abysmal 205 with four home runs while reaching base at a low 329 mark. His OPS+ sat at 72 and owned a wRC+ of 77, good for one of the lowest marks in the entire league amongst catchers with at least 200 at-bats.

Luckily, things seem to be changing at the plate. Barnes has been on fire during Spring Training, hitting close to 300 with a much higher OBP and two home runs across 37 at-bats. If the Dodgers are going to be successful in 2019, Austin Barnes will have to show up in a big way.

Russell Martin hit 194 in 2018 with ten home runs, and is 6-24 this Spring.

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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.

17 Comments

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  1. Thankfully Barnes has performed this Spring closer to the 2017 version than the 2018 one. If he can continue to make contact Barnes will be a positive influence on the Dodger offense. Barnes is already a very good pitch framer and defensive catcher.

    • Tmaxter, yes I concur and although some may be sick of me bringing this up, it does bare mentioning that Barnes bats RH. In any event, dodgers won’t falter this year because Grandal left via FA>

  2. So many clueless Dodger’s fans wanted us to trade the farm for Realmuto.Barnes is superior defensively compared to him, and I expect when the dust settles and the seasons over, I don’t see there being a huge gap between their offensive stats either. Too early to say, but I expect this FO made another wise decision. Times are good for being a Dodger’s fan folks. Enjoy it….

  3. As a Dodger fan with perhaps the most unique perspective ever, I believe that Barnes will come through ‘big time’ for us. My magic saxophone has been telling me this through the entire off season. After all, that saxophone and I sat next to his Uncle Mike (Gallego) in Jr High. That saxophone says a few other things, too, but they’re usually too squeaky to understand. Just like back in Jr. High. Bottom line is that Barnes has matured. You can see it in his eyes. This is the year of the ‘Barnestormer’! Let’s Go Dodgers!

  4. Perhaps Barnes is the only one listening to the new hitting coach. All of the other Adam Dunn’s on the team sure aren’t

    • Solo home runs do not make rallies or put pressure on a pitcher. You want guys to have professional at bats and to work the count and make contact.

      Grandal was one of those solo home run guys but continues to strike out and not score the runner from third with less than one out or move the man over into scoring position.

      That is why Barnes took the bulk of the catching duties the last two WS. Barnes was better defensively and had more professional at bats.

      • Need to bring that pass the baton offense back from 2017. The Dodgers did that like no other team. No deficit was too much to overcome because each and every hitter put together professional at bats, got the pitch count way up, took walks, got basehits and homeruns, had productive outs and ran the bases extremely well.

        • Don’t look now but Dodgers ARE STILL having problems making contact. They struck out 12 more times in last night’s game. And as usual the pitching is serving up the long ball, yet another so far in today’s game with Dbacks

          • Exactly Friedman and Roberts both acknowledge the problem this winter with the strike outs and the lack of contact with the “Professional at bats” comments.

            Bring up the pitch count, make contact put pressure on the pitcher. They brought in new hitting coaches everyone assumed they would be concentrating on the worst offenders like Taylor. This spring Muncy looks clueless he is waving at breaking balls on the outside. He looks a lot like Puig looked a few years ago. Frightening…

    • A quick note to that one, Robin…. Grandal hit most of his HR’s batting LH. I can bet that either Barnes and or Martin will pass Grandal”s HR output batting RH. The most HR’s Grandal has ever hit in a season while batting RH is 4 !

      • I hear you PaulDodgerFan1965. I understand why the FO wasn’t willing to go all-in on Realmuto. They have Will Smith, Keibert Ruiz, Diego Cartaya in the minors. The FO doesn’t feel these guys are ready. IMO, I would have taken my chance with either Smith or Ruiz to back-up Barnes.These guys would be making ML-minimum, correct?

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