I told you so. I told you to give Yasmani Grandal a chance. With the usual preface that 1) I don’t condone the use of P.E.D.s in sports and 2) I still love A.J. Ellis, I will go on about how acquiring Yasmani Grandal was the most important move by the new front office so far. Grandal has not only shown that he can work very well with the pitching staff and add his pitch framing skills to the mix, but he is hitting with power and producing both offensively and defensively behind the plate for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers desperately needed a catcher. While A.J. Ellis has been the heart of this team, and his relationship with Clayton Kershaw is a special one, I knew that once Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi pulled the trigger on the trade with San Diego, that Yasmani Grandal was to be the Dodgers starting catcher. He’s not only proved that he should be the starting Dodger catcher, but he has also shown that his skills behind the plate have also been improving making him an all-around solid backstop.
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You might not buy into the pitch framing trend, but after comparing Ellis and Grandal in that respect this season you can see the vast difference right away. If anything, Grandal’s pitch framing prowess is yielding the pitching staff more strikes and allowing them to make less pitches overall. While I don’t ever want to see an umpire make comments in regards to A.J’s pitch framing (or any other catcher for that matter), I can see what the fuss is about with Grandal’s pitch framing.
Last season the Dodger catchers hit a whopping total of 7 homeruns all season combined. Grandal has hit 12 homeruns in 61 games played. He’s third on the team in homeruns, sixth in RBI (29) and he’s tied in the N.L. with Buster Posey in HRs amongst catchers.
So we knew that Grandal could hit, but there were some disparaging rumors regarding Grandal’s defense. His ability to block the plate (passed balls) and throw out runners were questionable attributes of the catcher after the Dodgers traded Matt Kemp to the Padres in return for the 26-year old switch-hitting catcher.
Grandal does have 7 passed balls this season, but he has also made some very strong plays behind the plate this season for the Dodgers. He’s thrown out 13 would be base stealers good for a 28% caught stealing percentage which is more than twice as good as his CS% last season with San Diego (13%). The better numbers could be partially attributed to the new pitching staff he is working with on the Dodgers, but Yaz has also got some great jumps on base runners during the first half as well.
The most promising aspect about the acquisition of Yasmani Grandal, is that he is improving his game both defensively and offensively. While he may not be the most skilled plate blocker, and he may not throw out runners like Yadier Molina, he’s been heads and tails better than any Dodger catcher has since the likes of Russell Martin when you look at offense and defense combined.
While Grandal may not smash lefties (.240/.385/.515) the same as he does righties (.270/.385/.515 with 12 homeruns), he is still serviceable against right-handed pitching. We cannot forget that last season the Dodger catchers could barely hit at the Mendoza Line against any pitching.
Grandal’s walking 2.5% more than last season, and he is striking out 6.8% less than last season. It looks as though all aspects of his game are improving, and there’s no reason not to think that he may give Buster Posey a run for his money in the years to come.