It seems to be the general conscientious among Dodger fans that Austin Barnes has been anointed as the Dodgers’ starting Catcher. Pretty much all through the playoffs, Austin Barnes was the Dodgers starting catcher. Yasmani Grandal hardly played. Grandal is bum. Barnes is superman. Get rid of the bum… but, maybe… just maybe, we have this all wrong!
Follow this timeline:
- In 2012, Yasmani Grandal was a rookie and hit 8 HR in 192 AB’s. His OB% was .394 and his OPS was .863.
- In 2013, Yasmani missed most of the season due to suspension and injury.
- In 2014, Grandal hit 15 HR and had 49 RBI in 377 AB’s. His OB% was .327 and his OPS was .728.
- In 2015, he hit 16 HR and drove in 47 in 355 AB’s. His OB% was .352 and his OPS was .756.
- In 2016, Yasmani hit 27 HR and drove in 72 in 390 AB’s. His OB% was .339 and his OPS was .816.
- I felt he was ready to breakout in 2017, but it did not happen. In 438 AB’s he hit 22 HR with 58 RBI, his OB% was .308 and his OPS was .768.
Here’s what is interesting: In 2016 Yasmani had 10 PB and 42 WP. In 2017, he had 16 PB and 29 WP. Passed balls and Wild Pitches are somewhat subjective, aren’t they? He also threw out 32% of the baserunners, which was the highest of his career.
Now let’s compare him to everyone’s darling, Austin Barnes:
Austin Barnes had 3 PB and 11 WP and threw out an amazing (not really) 23% of the runners who tried to steal. Let me break that down even more – Barnes caught 438 innings, meaning he had a passed ball every 138 innings and a wild pitch every 40 innings.
Yasmani Grandal averaged a passed ball every 62 innings and a wild pitch every 34 innings. Certainly Barnes is better, but is he really a better all-round catcher? Austin Barnes hit .174 in the World Series and caught all but 4 innings. His Catcher’s ERA was almost 5.00. That’s 5 Runs a Game! Passed balls and all, Yasmani’s CERA was #1 in Baseball in 2017 at 3.22. Austin Barnes was 3.74. That’s a half run a game.
Look, I like Austin Barnes and I like Yasmani Grandal, but something here doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s a well known fact that Clayton Kershaw would rather pitch to Yasmani Grandal. However, Austin Barnes got almost all of the World Series catching… save 4 innings. Maybe there is something we don’t know. Maybe Yasmani was injured, maybe he was being disciplined, maybe with a new baby he was out of sorts.
AC really sparked this line of thinking for me on this blog yesterday when he wrote:
I am on the Austin Barnes bandwagon as much as anyone. However before he is anointed as the next Steve Yeager, we need to consider that once he assumed the everyday catching responsibilities (NLCS), his offense sort of tanked. Starting with Game 1 of the NLCS, his batting line was .158/.233/.184/.417. If you go back to his start in Game 2 of the NLDS, his batting line was .200/.275/.311/.586. It takes a lot out of a player physically to be an everyday catcher. When Barnes was a backup at catcher and utility infielder, he was outstanding. There is no question. FAZ may indeed trade Grandal, because it is better to trade him and get some value rather than lose him to FA. But they could also see value in continuing the same two catchers but in reverse roles for 2018. What gives them more value…Grandal as the backup catcher or trade potential?
Something happened to Yasmani last year. He went on a vegetarian diet… maybe he was worn out at the end of the year (I’m grasping). Maybe he was injured. Was he in trouble? Was his head elsewhere? What? What? What? He was outta’ sorts all year. He didn’t walk as much, he was less selective at the plate. Something was going on. So, do the Dodgers throw the baby out with the bathwater?
Sometimes, just sometimes, players just have a bad year. Pure and simple: a bad year!
Before the 2017 season, I predicted that Yasmani might hit 40 HR. I expected a breakout season from him. It didn’t happen in 2017, but it might happen in 2018. I don’t know what happened… but something happened. I want to know what happened. Yasmani Grandal was one of the Top 5 Catchers in baseball at the start of 2017… maybe the best framer in baseball.
Maybe it’s as simple as “he just had a bad year.” All I am saying is “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!” I can see Yasmani Grandal as an All-Star and hitting 40 HR (yeah, I said that last year). I hope it happens with the Dodgers. I think Austin Barnes role can expand too. I like Yasmani and Austin – can’t they just get along?
The photo below is from Dodger Insider:
(Photo Credit:Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)
Of course, that’s Dave Roberts on the left, flanked by Mickey Hatcher and Dennis Powell. Then on the right are Ron Cey and Joc Pederson… who appears to have dropped some baby fat. His face and chin are less “chubby.” Maybe Joc can do a “makeover” this winter. It’s good to see Mick and Dennis working with the Dodgers.