One of the biggest holes for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014 was offense from the catchers position. Dodgers catchers combines to bat .181 in 2014, which ranked last in baseball.
The front office addressed that problem by giving up Matt Kemp and Tim Federowicz to the San Diego Padres to acquire young power-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal and prospects. He has been everything the Dodgers hoped he would be this season. His 1.6 WAR ranks fifth among National League catchers, and he was rewarded by being named to the National League All-star team.
Due to the success of Grandal, former Dodgers starting catcher A.J. Ellis’ playing time has been diminished. Ellis has only appeared in 29 games this season. Perhaps his best game of the season came Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies when he had three hits, including his first home run of the season and caught a complete game shutout from Clayton Kershaw.
After the game Ellis credited his coaching staff and stated that if he can be anything close to what Grandal is then he will help the team in a big way. “Mark McGwire and John Valentin have done a great job helping me simplify my approach. I just want to try to be half the hitter he [Yasmani Grandal] is right now because he’s been such an offensive force for us. I just want to go up there and contribute and have good at-bats when it’s my turn to play.”
Ellis also stated that his 34-year-old body has struggled and dealt with injuries the past couple of years, but still has some juice left in the tank. “I’m still a good baseball player. I’m still a good hitter. I think that’s it and it feels good up there at the plate.”
The veteran experience of Ellis will help the young Grandal down the stretch as he gets ready to possibly taste his first postseason experience.