Dodgers: Yasmani Grandal Is Quietly Having An All-Star Campaign
By Ryan Vargas
Yasmani Grandal has always been touted as a great defensive catcher due to his elite ability to frame pitches. This ability is one that has become highly desired by general managers across baseball in the new era of sabermetrics. However, Grandal’s reputation might soon be evolving beyond just his defense.
Last season, Yasmani Grandal got off to a very slow start for the Dodgers, often looking very lost at the plate. This can be seen in his batting average of .114 and .169 in May and June, respectively. However, something began to click in the second half of the season, which helped Grandal finish with 27 home runs to lead all MLB catchers.
This season Grandal has quietly been one of the most productive hitters in the Dodgers’ lineup. While he hit only .225 in March/April, he has turned it on as of late, batting .362 in the month of May. Overall on the season, he is batting .292 with five home runs and 23 RBI.
Couple that without outstanding defense and, according to FanGraphs, Grandal has accumulated a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 2.0 already, which leads all catchers! Just to put that into perspective, a WAR between 5-6 is superstar level, and 6+ is MVP level. Grandal is at 2.0 and has played just under a third of a full season.
The Dodgers have been the best team in baseball since late April, and Yaz has been one of the key reasons why. With big names like Seager, Kershaw, Turner, and Gonzalez, Grandal’s name is not one that often stands out. However, his exceptional play as of late has shown that his hitting is no fluke and he deserves more credit for the Dodgers’ success.
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While Grandal is still struggling against left-handed pitching this season, batting only .171, it is only through 35 at-bats which is a minuscule sample size. I fully expect that number to rise with more plate appearances, especially with the way he is locked in right now.
Grandal’s success at the plate only lengthens the Dodger lineup, making it a very tough one to get through. If he continues to hit at a high level, I would not be the least surprised if manager Dave Roberts slides him into the cleanup spot. His power and aggressive approach from both sides of the plate make him a very dangerous batter when he is locked in. The work he has put in during the offseason is beginning to show results.
However, Grandal’s work in the offseason is not only showing up offensively but also in the way that he handles the pitching staff. He is managing an entire staff (rotation and bullpen) that leads the whole league in team ERA.
Late last season, the Dodgers traded away A.J. Ellis in a surprising move and added Carlos Ruiz. This move was surprising because Ellis was Kershaw’s personal catcher and their relationship dated back many years.
This season, without Ellis, Grandal has taken over the responsibility of catching the 3-Time Cy Young Award winner and so far so good. The two have worked effectively, and the transition has been seemingly seamless. Credit has to be given to Grandal for his ability to work well with a pitcher with as much competitiveness as Kershaw.
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Overall, signs are pointing to Grandal having a career year in 2017. He is finally healthy and seeing the ball well. If he continues on this pace, he will no doubt be selected to his second career All-Star Game and deservedly so. I believe Grandal will not be an under-the-radar player for long.