With the arrival of 26-year-old Yasmani Grandal, A.J. Ellis will likely see less playing time, but he will not let that stop him from improving his game.
In a study, 80.1 percent of all pitches caught on the inside part of the strike zone were called strikes when Ellis was catching, ranking him 35th out of 42 in this study. With that in mind, Ellis is working on improving, as he told J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News Group:
I worked on stances, different ways to set up,” he said. “It’s no secret somewhere I’ve struggled, based on the statistical information, is framing metrics. … Hopefully I can turn that from a weakness into a strength.”
Along with the expectation he’ll be pushed for time by Grandal, Ellis pales in comparison when it comes to pitch framing. Whereas it may not have been a point of emphasis for Ellis, Grandal said in January framing pitches is something he’s worked on dating back to his days in college.
Ellis, 33, has played all seven years of his pro career with the Dodgers and 2015 will be the first time in the last three years he isn’t the team’s clearcut starting catcher. Although platooning with Grandal may cut into Ellis’ playing time, he said Thursday he isn’t concerned with his role.
Pitch framing was the least of Ellis’ worries in 2014, as most of his struggles came in the batter’s box. His slash finished at .191/.323/.254 for the season, his worst full year in the Majors. However, Ellis’ credit, he improved dramatically at the plate in the postseason.
While pitch framing may not be one of Ellis’ strong suits, he’s regularly been praised for his handling of the pitching staff. Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said that influence was among the considerations the Dodgers took into account when deciding to re-sign Ellis.
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