Dodgers: Five Key Players That Will Determine the Season

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Mar 16, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Members of the Los Angeles Dodgers look on during the national anthem during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Members of the Los Angeles Dodgers look on during the national anthem during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /
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Los Angeles Dodgers
Mar 20, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal (9) jogs back to the plate during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Yasmani Grandal

The 2016 season was a tale of two halves for Yasmani Grandal. Sometimes he looked completely lost at the plate and others he looked like the best offensive catcher in the MLB.

Before the All-Star break, the Dodgers’ catcher was batting .212 with 12 home runs and 37 RBI’s. After the break, he batted .245 with 15 home runs and 35 RBI’s. While he finished the season with only a .228 batting average, he looked more comfortable and confident at the plate.

Grandal is a key for Los Angeles, not only because of his offensive abilities (27 home runs last season), but also because he is one of the best pitch-framers behind the plate. In addition, he caught 29% of would-be base-stealers in 2016, which tied his career best.

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However, the most important improvement the team hopes to see out of Grandal in 2017 is his ability to hit lefties for power. Grandal is a switch-hitter, but last season he found much more success as a lefty against righties than as a righty against lefties. Yasmani hit 23 of his 27 home runs and drove in 60 of his 72 RBI’s as a left-handed batter.

Grandal is going to be a key to the 2017 Dodgers’ success because of the vital role he plays as the teams starting catcher. He is expected to handle the pitching staff, play solid defense, and produce at the plate. Grandal accomplished all three in the second half of the season and looked like the player the Dodgers thought they were acquiring when they traded Matt Kemp for him.

If the Yasmani Grandal of the second half of the season shows up for a full season, the Dodgers will be the favorites to win the National League West. In addition, I would not rule out a second All-Star appearance.

Next: Who Needs to Breakout in 2017?

With the departure of A.J. Ellis, Grandal will be relied upon even more this season to handle the Los Angeles pitching staff. If history has shown us anything in baseball, it is that pitching is the key to winning in October. For that reason, Grandal is a player that will determine the success of the Dodgers in 2017.

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