Don’t Throw The Baby Out With The Bathwater!

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?

UPDATE

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.

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don’t do game recaps or such things — lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don’t think they are the “end-all-be-all.”. This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We’d like to hear your voice.

This article has 12 Comments

  1. I’m sure they do get along.

    You might be right, it could have just been a bad year. It happens.

    I haven’t posted enough to get on any bandwagons, for or against Grandal and Barnes. There are a lot of good things that can be said about both of them. And some bad.

    Because he’s a catcher, Grandal will never likely play in enough games to hit 40 HRs. 20-30 is probably what he’s likely to hit. If the Dodgers can trade Grandal and get value in return, I have no problem with it. However, given the good work we’ve seen from Turner Ward, and the transformations we’ve seen from the likes of Taylor and Puig, and Justin Turner before them, who’s to say that Yasmani won’t figure it out, and bounce back with a big year?

  2. I never could figure out why Barnes was getting all the innings behind the plate during the Series when it was Grandal who had the lions share of the innings during the season. I hold Barnes responsible for calling a poor game when Clayton pitched in game 5. The Astros were completely unable to solve Clayton’s curve but Barnes hardly called it in the 4th and 5th innings and of course we know the outcome. I personally still like Grandal as a game caller over Barnes. I think Barnes makes a tremendous back up catcher but I would go with Grandal as the everyday catcher…that is if there is nothing wrong with him. I’m with you Mark, what the heck happened for Grandal to completely disappear during the playoffs.

  3. You may be right. It is puzzling as to why Grandal played very little in the playoffs. His biggest problem in hitting this past year was swinging at bad pitches. If he would swing at strikes, he could be a very good hitter. None of the pitchers were throwing him strikes this past year. One game, I believe it was in the playoffs, he walked three times. I think he finally did get the message that he was swinging at bad pitches. Having two good catchers is certainly a luxury. FAZ knows. We will just have to wait and see. If Farmer could be a productive bench player, it would certainly open it up for Barnes and Farmer to play more infield.

  4. I am not very good at archiving or bookmarking good articles. Maybe when I retire I will make that a hobby. But a month back I read a catcher sabermetrics article on what the Dodgers should do with the best catcher duo (defensively) in MLB. The conclusion was unknown. By keeping them both, the runs saved would be better than any catcher duo in MLB. The unknown was what could the team get in return for trading one. Individually either would be in the top 5, They are both deserving to be a starting catcher, and both should be, but they cannot both start for the Dodgers. This is the dilemma for the offseason.
    .
    Does Grandal call a better game than Barnes? Maybe. The games are scripted well before the 1st pitch. Does Grandal control the pitcher better than Barnes? Undoubtedly. But he has a LOT more experience. Barnes will only get better. But to blame Barnes for Kershaw’s poor Game 5 is unwarranted. Do you give Barnes credit for the great game Kershaw threw in Game 1? Besides, nobody controls Kershaw which is one of his faults. Kershaw’s curve and slider were MIA for much of the time after his return from the DL. Game 1 was the exception. That was vintage CK. How does anyone know whether or not CK told Barnes that his curve was not working after the 3rd inning and they needed to stay away from that pitch? Game 5 was all on Clayton Kershaw, not Barnes.
    .
    Yasmani has more power than Barnes, but Austin should hit for a higher BA than Grandal. Until this year, Grandal had a very good OBP with a lot of walks. But the criticism that Grandal swings at too many pitches out of the strike zone is the same criticism that is directed at Belli and Corey, and every other player that has ever played the game. To hit a round ball with a round bat at a pitch thrown 90-100 MLB from 60′ 6″ and moving in measurements of feet, is the most difficult task to succeed at consistently in all of sports. Today’s hitter is taught to swing hard and get a high launch angle. Today’s pitcher is taught to throw as hard as you can for as long as you can, keep the pitch out of the zone, and keep balls in play on the ground. Not everybody can have the ability to hit a pitched ball like a Pete Rose or Tony Gwynn.
    .
    The Dodgers have a luxury tax problem. Grandal is due to get $7.7M in his final year of arbitration. Can the Dodgers get more value with Grandal as a Dodgers catcher and lose him to FA after the season for nothing in return? Will they be in a better position to re-sign him next year when the luxury tax is less of a problem? Can the Dodgers get a top tier prospect in return for Grandal in a trade package? To some this is easy. They do not like Grandal, so trade him. To me it is hard. I see a lot of value to Grandal as a player. $7.7M is not a lot to pay if not with a luxury tax problem. Can the Dodgers eliminate $20M in salary by trading McCarthy, Grandal, and Joc and get top tier prospects in return? I will leave this one up to FAZ. They have been wrong, but not nearly enough for me to doubt their judgement.

    1. AC

      I agree with everything you said!

      Kershaw has now had three different catchers, catch for him, in the post season.

      A the results are pretty much the same.

      And Kershaw doesn’t allow or want his catchers, to come out to the mound, and talk to him, to slow the game down.

      But that is something I think Kershaw needs his catchers to do, especially in the post season.

  5. I’m not on the Barnes bandwagon, but I am in favor of trading Grandal now for some value rather than see him go in FA after next season for very little value. If Grandal has the year Mark is hoping for then are the Dodgers going to give him a 4, 5, or 6-year contract to re-sign him with prospects like Ruiz and Smith getting close. What happens if Barnes wins the starting position and the Dodgers now have a 7million backup coming off the bench.I think now is the time to move him.

  6. Would the Dodgers receive any draft compensation if Grandal leaves as a free agent after 2018? Maybe after the second round?

      1. If he declines the qualifying offer and signs elsewhere what would the Dodgers get? It might be the draft pick they receive is as good as any trade.

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