What is a fan to do?

Yazmani Grandal has been a big part of the Dodger regular season success ever since he was acquired from San Diego in the winter of 2014. Even though he has only played for the Dodgers for four years, you could make a case that he has been the second-best Los Angeles Dodger catcher in history.

Player             HR OPS+   PA From   To   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Mike Piazza       177  160 3017 1992 1998 .331 .394 .572 .966
Tom Haller         25  115 1637 1968 1971 .276 .344 .393 .737
Yasmani Grandal    89  112 1883 2015 2018 .238 .337 .453 .790
Todd Hundley       50  111  822 1999 2003 .239 .332 .494 .826
Paul Lo Duca       57  105 2361 1998 2004 .287 .342 .428 .771
Chad Kreuter       14  105  613 2000 2002 .245 .378 .392 .770
Russell Martin     54  101 2713 2006 2010 .272 .365 .396 .761

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/15/2018.

Grandal has always had his detractors because of his affinity for the passed ball, leading the NL in that category three times,  but some of us feel he makes up for that with his framing and offense. In my mind, he has been one of the best offensive catchers in the NL each of the four years he has played for the Dodgers.

He has also clearly been a black hole when it comes to October. Every October, not just 2018. It started in 2015 when Yaz went 1 for 11 in the NLDS series against the Mets. It got worse in 2016 when Yaz went a combined 3 for 36 in the NLDS and NLCS. In 2017 Dave Roberts didn’t even give Yaz a chance to fail in October ceding the job to Austin Barnes who had basically become the everyday catcher in Sept. Yaz did get 11 plate appearances in the 2017 NLDS/NLCS/WS and managed to go zero for eleven.

Even with all that prior October failure what Yaz has done so far in the 2018 NLCS surpasses that. Yaz has already tied the record for most passed balls in a postseason series and is just 2 for 25, failing time after time with players on base.

Year   Series  Opp PA H 2B 3B HR BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
2015     NLDS  NYM 11 1  0  0  0  1  6 .100 .182 .100 .282
2016     NLDS  WSN 19 2  0  0  0  3  6 .125 .263 .125 .388
2016     NLCS  CHC 17 1  0  0  1  4  5 .083 .313 .333 .646
2017     NLDS  ARI  4 0  0  0  0  0  2 .000 .000 .000 .000
2017     NLCS  CHC  4 0  0  0  0  3  0 .000 .750 .000 .750
2017       WS  HOU  3 0  0  0  0  0  1 .000 .000 .000 .000
2018     NLDS  ATL 16 1  0  0  1  3  5 .077 .250 .308 .558
2018     NLCS  MIL  9 2  1  0  0  0  2 .222 .222 .333 .555
4 Yr     4 Yr 4 Yr 79 6  0  0  2 14 27 .094 .256 .188 .444
4 NL     4 NL 4 NL 50 4  0  0  1  7 19 .093 .220 .163 .383
3 NL     3 NL 3 NL 26 2  0  0  1  7  7 .111 .360 .278 .638
1 WS     1 WS 1 WS  3 0  0  0  0  0  1 .000 .000 .000 .000

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/15/2018.

After his passed ball last night, the fans started chanting for Austin Barnes. Mind you, Austin Barnes might have been the Dodgers starting catcher in the World Series last year, but in 2018 he was one of the worse backup catchers in all of baseball. So for the fans to be chanting for Austin Barnes, they must really be fed up with Yazmani Grandal.  Grandal had a chance to change everything with one swing, but with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th, he put up another feeble at-bat and struck out on three pitches. The boos descended down upon the hapless Grandal as he took his bat into the dugout and swung at the bat rack leaving a huge divot. At least he made solid contact.

Which led me to the question of this article. “What is a fan to do”. Grandal has been a good Dodger but he has been horrible in every crunch situation in every October he has been a part of.  I suggested on Twitter that the fans should cheer him to help through this

That little tweet got the most action I’ve ever gotten on twitter related to a Dodger tweet. It got the expected replies. Some agreed, some disagreed.

For a grumpy old man, it might have been a bit Pollyanna, but it is what I would do if I was at the stadium.

We all know Grandal has been horrible but what good does it do to boo a player over his performance when it is clear that he is trying? Is that supporting your team? Wouldn’t that player who must be feeling enormous pressure feel some relief if the fans gave him their support with a crazy ovation? Maybe it means nothing to them. Maybe the boos don’t bother them, the cheers don’t inspire them. Every player is different. But I know for me, as a fan I’d much rather spend my energy cheering a player who needs it, rather than booing him for not being able to live up to the situation.

It is very possible that Dave Roberts will do what he did last October and give Austin Barnes whatever starts are left in the postseason and that Grandal won’t get many more opportunities. You could understand it if he took that route. You should also remember that Austin Barnes went 6 for 38 in the 2017 NLCS/WS with one extra-base hit. He wasn’t the answer last October, he probably isn’t the answer this October.

Anyway, I don’t know the answer, I just know what I would do today.

It is not what I would have always done.  Until 1981 I was a hardass fan. I booed the crap out of Dave Goltz in 1980. But I was only 21 and I had yet to get my World Series. With two in my pocket, my fandom has changed but I do understand those who were once like me and don’t have their own World Championship to mitigate the circumstances when the players can’t make their own moments as Fernando, Monday, Cey, Pedro, Orel, and Gibby did.

Hell, I even booed an old Maury Wills when his rusty ass gate swing would result in another feeble out.

 

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