Yazmani Grandal leaves a huge hole

Yazmani Grandal will leave the Dodgers with an October to remember but it won’t be a pleasant memory.  For the second straight October, the Dodgers starting catcher for the past four years struggled mightily in October and so when Grandal turned down the Dodgers qualifying offer basically guaranteeing that he will leave via free agency not many blue tears were shed.

Yaz will leave as a permanent member of many Los Angeles Dodger leaderboards for a catcher. Grandal is 4th in home runs for catchers who have caught at least 80% of their games while in Los Angeles. Yet his home run per PA is twice as good as the catchers in front of him. He has the 3rd best OPS+ for Los Angeles catchers.

Player             OPS+   PA From   To  HR   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Mike Piazza         160 3017 1992 1998 177 .331 .394 .572 .966
Tom Haller          115 1637 1968 1971  25 .276 .344 .393 .737
Yasmani Grandal     112 1883 2015 2018  89 .238 .337 .453 .790
Todd Hundley        111  822 1999 2003  50 .239 .332 .494 .826
Paul Lo Duca        105 2361 1998 2004  57 .287 .342 .428 .771
Chad Kreuter        105  613 2000 2002  14 .245 .378 .392 .770
Russell Martin      101 2713 2006 2010  54 .272 .365 .396 .761
Mike Scioscia        99 5057 1980 1992  68 .259 .344 .356 .700
John Roseboro        98 4505 1958 1967  90 .253 .329 .384 .713
Rick Dempsey         95  532 1988 1990  13 .211 .326 .354 .680
A.J. Ellis           93 1922 2008 2016  36 .237 .340 .348 .688
Steve Yeager         84 3869 1972 1985 100 .228 .299 .358 .657
Carlos Hernandez     62  512 1990 1996   9 .228 .271 .314 .584
Jeff Torborg         60  943 1964 1970   7 .214 .269 .277 .546

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/12/2018.
How does Grandal look compared to his peers since he became the Dodgers starting catcher in 2014?

Player               OPS+   PA  HR RBI  OBP  SLG  OPS
Kurt Suzuki           118  697  31 100 .341 .485 .825
Jonathan Lucroy       118 1621  35 175 .364 .447 .811
Yasmani Grandal       112 2326 104 294 .335 .443 .778
J.T. Realmuto         110 2152  59 243 .327 .442 .768
Willson Contreras     108 1255  43 163 .349 .450 .799
Devin Mesoraco        108  985  42 130 .325 .435 .760
Tyler Flowers         106  991  28 120 .360 .411 .771
Francisco Cervelli    105 1611  25 164 .368 .384 .752
Jorge Alfaro           99  508  15  51 .327 .422 .749

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/12/2018.

Grandal is 3rd in OPS+, first in home runs, and first in RBI. That is a huge hole to fill. But in a strange twist, the top three OPS+ catchers since 2014 are all free agents. Kurt Suzuki, Jonathan Lucroy, Yazmani Grandal.

Grandal certainly had his issues with passed balls, leading the league in 2016 and 2017, and seemingly mishandling numerous balls during the 2018 postseason. As much as passed balls are annoying I kind of think that is overrated. Grandal caught over 1,000 innings last year and is still considered one of the best framers in baseball. That is probably way more important since that impacts every at bat compared to nine passed balls in over 1,000 innings caught. That said, it was annoying when he missed pitches but it really should be put in perspective. Someday soon I’ll show that those nine passed balls rarely resulted in a run, and when it did result in a run, it even more rarely resulted in a loss. Someday.

The Dodgers have two bonafide catching prospect that played in AA in 2018. They aren’t ready yet, but both could be ready sometime in 2019. I doubt the Dodgers sign any catcher to more than a one year contract. Lucroy was once one of the best offensive catchers in baseball but his bat has taken a big hit since his monster season in 2016. He’ll only be 33 and might take a one year deal to rebuild his value but I’d expect he could get more than one year. If Lucroy hits like 2018 he would not be an improvement on Austin Barnes. Kurt Suzuki was once one of the worst hitting catchers in baseball but over the last two years has been one of the best offensive catchers in baseball. At 35 headed into 2019, he seems like a likely candidate for a one year deal. Baseball doesn’t like anyone over 30, much less 35.  Austin Barnes is the last catcher standing in the Dodger organization. It is clear the Dodger don’t feel Kyle Farmer is a catcher as they never let him catch when he’s on the major league roster. Never.  Austin Barnes beat out Yaz Grandal for the full time catching gig in Sept of 2017. He kept the job through the postseason even though his World Series exploits have been an offensive black hole. When Barnes is going right, he offers some punch, a good OBP, excellent speed for a catcher. You could have made an argument (I might have) that he could become the next Realmuto given his power and speed combination. No one is making that comparison right now but we simply don’t know if 2017 was the fluke season or if 2018 was the fluke season.

Who is a better bet to have the best offensive season in 2019,Austin Barnes, Lucroy, or Suzuki? I would actually bet on Barnes, it will be curious if the Dodgers do the same.

Advertisements

1 Comment

  1. I’m afraid I do not share your optimism.

    Barnes’ BABIP dropped by .042 last season, but more worrying is he had 24 more Ks in 24 fewer plate appearances. I think the league adjusted to him, and I don’t know if be adjusts back in 2018.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: