When the overhauled Los Angeles Dodgers front office packaged fan favorite Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres, the centerpiece of their return was Yasmani Grandal, a catcher with some promise but who was unproven.
Grandal suffered an ACL at a play at the plate in 2013, which ended his season and impacted him in a subpar year at the plate in 2014 during which he slashed .225/.327/.401 over 128 games (101 starts). What the Dodgers really wanted from Grandal, though, was his defense as he posted a .993 fielding percentage last season.
With Grandal now enjoying success in Los Angeles, manager Don Mattingly reflected a bit on the trade. “When we made the trade, there were a couple of big names exchanged and he [Grandal] was one guy that kind of flew under the radar,” he said. “At least with people not really knowing what kind of a hitter Yasmani could be.”
Although A.J. Ellis has received slightly more starts than a traditional backup catcher would, Grandal has essentially been the Dodgers’ everyday starter behind the plate from the beginning of the season, and justifiably so with a 162 wRC+.
“Offensively, he’s been even more of a force than we thought,” Mattingly said. “Defensively, he catches the ball well, he throws it well. He’s kind of a beast back there.” Entering play Sunday, Grandal was batting .282/.401/.800 with 14 home runs and 36 RBIs. As a switch-hitter and versatile bat, Grandal has been moved throughout the lineup.
Mattingly has started and batted the catcher second, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh in the order. Grandal was rewarded for his play by being name to the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. He’s currently one of four Dodgers set to make the trip to Cincinnati for the Midsummer Classic.