7. Austin Barnes/Yasmani Grandal, Catcher
Barnes vs. Grandal, the two are both interchangeable in this slot of the lineup. The difference between the two hitting styles wouldn’t factor in their spot in the lineup. Barnes is a much better hitter when in terms of putting the bat on the ball, while Grandal offers some power upside from the left side of the plate.
The way the roster currently sits, I still have to view Grandal as the starting catcher. Barnes had a tremendous season last year, but the fact that the Dodgers have held onto Grandal shows that they might not be ready to commit to him as their everyday catcher. This obviously changes if Grandal is moved before Opening Day, but despite last season’s struggles, it’s still Grandal’s spot to lose.
Assuming there’s a righty on the mound, Grandal brings balance to what is suddenly becoming a righty dominated lineup. With Taylor, Turner, Puig, Kemp, and Forsythe, what once was an overwhelmingly left-handed lineup has jumped over the other side of the batter’s box.
Grandal’s righty versus lefties splits improved a bit last season (.250 vs. RHP, .233 vs. LHP). But there’s no denying that Grandal sees the ball better coming from right-handers. Grandal had 20 home runs last season against righties, and his team-high strikeout rate is why he finds himself in the bottom half of the lineup.
Spring training will be huge for this position battle. I know the fanbase is behind Barnes after a great season. But let’s not be so quick to push out Grandal who is in the prime of his career and at the start of a contract season.