In 2014 one of the weak links of the Los Angeles Dodgers was offense from the catcher position. Dodgers catchers combined to bat just .181 on the season, which ranked dead last in the Majors.
To fix that problem, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi made a splash in the offseason by trading Matt Kemp and Tim Federowicz to the San Diego Padres for young catcher Yasmani Grandal (among others).
Grandal has worked out nicely for the Dodgers this season, as he became a National League All-Star for the first time in his career. Grandal is currently in a slump though, as he is hitless in his last 33 at-bats.
Former Dodgers starter behind the plate A.J. Ellis, who is now Grandal’s backup, has picked up the slack while Grandal has struggled, as he has an .875 on-base plus slugging percentage in the second half. Despite his surge and Grandal’s slump, Ellis doesn’t believe a change should be made, according to AJ Cassavell of MLB.com:
We have a system,” Ellis said. “And it’s paid off. We’re in first place in the division. At different parts of the year, both of us have been very successful. When I was really struggling early in the year, [Grandal] picked me up and picked up the whole team.
“He’s an offensive force on our club, and there’s not a person in this clubhouse that doubts he’s going to get back to that.”
As he’s done throughout the season, Ellis again stated he doesn’t care who’s starting, as winning games takes precedent:
This time of year, it’s not about who plays or who gets the hit or who scores the runs,” Ellis said. “It’s about getting the win and, at the end of the game, shaking hands. A lot of us who have been here the last couple of years, we want to take that next step. We’ve got some regular-season work to finish. Then, if we’re fortunate, we’ll have a chance to make amends for the last couple seasons [in the postseason].”
On the season Grandal is slashing .253/.367/.434 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs in 102 games. With the uptick in the second half, Ellis has filled in well when Grandal has not been in the lineup, as he is batting .246/.372/.385 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 47 games.
Ellis’ postseason history may warrant him more starts than initially expected come October, as in 14 career playoff games he is hitting .386/.481/.682 with two home runs and five RBIs. Meanwhile Grandal doesn’t have any postseason experience in his young career.