After starting for the Los Angeles Dodgers the last three seasons, A.J. Ellis has found himself as the team’s backup catcher in 2015.
Hitting has never been his strongest suit and with Yasmani Grandal posting great offensive numbers, Ellis is in the passenger seat. The 34-year-old struggled for the first two-and-a-half months of the season.
He blames this lack of success on the amount of extra time he has had while on the bench according to Greg Hadley of the Los Angeles Times:
One of my bad habits is when I have idle time, I spend a little too much time in the cage, tinkering and trying to find ways to make my swing better instead of finding one thing to grab onto,” Ellis said.
These struggles showed as he hit .137 in the first two months of the season. However, June and July have shown a different side of Ellis, one that Dodger fans have not seen since his arrival to the MLB. In June and July, he has hit a combined .343 and hit his only two home runs of the season.
Ellis attributes his newfound success to something that he tweaked while in the batting cage in June:
Just really one of those weird things where you just take one swing,” Ellis said. “When you do that and take that into a game and have immediate results, you’re kind of hooked on it. And that’s what happened to me. It keeps it simple for me.”
Ellis is slashing .217/.330/.337 on the season and has driven in just six runs (three of which have come in July). His wRC+ is up from 72 last season to 93. Although this is still not a great number, it is a great improvement.
While this by no means indicates that he may earn the starting catcher spot, it does ensure that the Dodgers have a more competent hitter in games in which Grandal is on the bench.