Just Look At The Grandal Effect: Yasmani Dingers!
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Oooh, I know. I know. That’s Buster Posey! (nope).
Uh. Jonathan Lucroy (nuh uh).
Derek Norris? (nah).
He hit two home runs today and was traded for Matt Kemp and his name isn’t Joe Wieland! It’s true, that Triple Slash Line is none other than Yasmani Grandal‘s. If you’re unaware, the Dodgers catcher, who will play the entire 2015 season as a 26 year old, went totally insane today, hitting 2 home runs, 2 singles, and walking twice which amounted to a season high 8 RBI in a single game by a Dodgers player.
I’ve been pining for Grandal to take a step forward and play in the majority of the games this season, and his game log supports that. This is clearly great news because if you didn’t already notice, a .948 OPS in today’s game equates approximately to a 168 wRC+ and a 168 wRC+ is really, really, really good, like the best hitting catcher in the in the National League good.
This got me thinking about the offensive production the Dodgers got from the catchers spot last season, after all for huge portions of last year, it felt like the Dodgers were handing the opposing pitcher 4 free outs a game by giving A.J. Ellis and Drew Butera most of the PA’s at the catchers spot. Granted, it’s early. It’s super super early in the season, but I made a graphic just for you guys to visualize the difference in production:
*Yes I know those weren’t the only catchers in 2014, but do you really want to talk about Miguel Olivo? What about Tim Federowicz? Yeah. Thought so.*
I mean the Kemp trade is always going to be a topic of discussion, and no, i’m not going to base my opinion of a trade with lots of moving parts (and UZR’s) on a month’s work of performance, but what can’t be ignored is the production the Dodgers are getting at this point from Grandal.
He’s always been able to hit, in fact a .763 OPS in Petco Park while catching approximates to a 119 wRC+, or 19% above the league average. Bascially Grandal would be way better than anything Dodger catchers supplied last season, and there was ample reason to think that he’d actually take a step forward in 2015.
Of course this comes with the caveat that 6 days ago he was hitting just .179 a single HR, but that wasn’t anywhere near his true talent level considering what his career numbers are. And oh by the way, it’s amazing what happens when you’re healthy, this is what he said after his walk off home run on Sunday:
Is Grandal going to emulate Mike Piazza‘s 1995 season going forward? Probably not, but even if you assume that he improves on his career numbers (like a lot of 26 year old sluggers with huge batted ball distance figures tend to do), that is an exponential step forward from AJ Ellis who has hit .189/.315/.256 (68 wRC+) since he returned from knee surgery on May 14th of last year. It is an exponential step forward from Drew Butera who couldn’t stick on the team who’s starting catcher is currently hitting .094 (Angels, Chris Ianetta).
Yasmani Grandal isn’t Matt Kemp. But who cares? He’s the guy that *if heathy* [knocks on wood] will save the catcher position on the team and that’s all the Dodgers really need from him.