Until only a night ago, I had never heard the term: LVP before. For the rest of the world apparently, it stands for Least Valuable Player.
Whether we like to admit it or not, there’s always a least valuable player on every team, throughout every sport, regardless of political correctness.
Professional sports are not only team oriented, but they’re businesses, big businesses.
As with any business/team and regardless of its role, if they plan on being successful in the next business year/season, they must address their shortcomings and fix them prior to the next year.
The Dodgers need to address their problems at catcher, formulate a plan, and find a solution before the start of 2019 Spring Training.
Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes have, even if unintentionally, led to one another’s struggles.
After the 2017 season, Barnes (and most Dodgers’ fans) assumed that he’d be the starting catcher come to Opening Day, this season.
However, a strong Spring Training from Grandal mixed with a sub-par Spring from Barnes actually resulted in Yasmani and not Barnes, ultimately winning the starting catcher’s position.
Fast forward to now, and it’s obvious that something went drastically wrong at throughout the course of the season.
Grandal had yet another productive regular season, leading all NL catchers in home runs and RBI’s, but let’s face it, the postseason version of Yasmani was not the same Yasmani the Dodgers had been accustomed to.
After also compiling a very strong defensive season behind the dish, Grandal virtually disintegrated right before our very eyes, almost as abruptly as the regular season had ended.
Through only 7 games started at catcher in this year’s postseason, Grandal managed to accumulate three passed-balls, two errors, three wild pitches and allowed one stolen base.
Of course, technically a “wild pitch” is a stat against the pitcher, however, wild pitches can very easily result from a pitcher’s lack of confidence in his battery-mate.
Entirely too many instances of Yasmani losing complete control of his ability to defend his position occurred throughout the postseason. In fact, at times, it literally looked like he was lost out there.
I understand that he’s stated on record that he hates playing at Miller Park, yet this is the postseason, and his blunders didn’t stop once the team departed Milwaukee.
On the postseason as a whole, Yasmani managed to give up at least 1.5 runs as a direct result of passed balls, errors, and the stolen base which he allowed.
Additionally, who’s to say how much damage was done through the residual effects of his trouble at the dish.
I’m sure that there were moves made by Dave Roberts that didn’t fit into his grand scheme, in attempts at solving Yasmani’s defensive mysteries.
These moves resulted in starting Austin Barnes at catcher. In fact, Barnes started more games during the postseason than Grandal.
Due to his defensive woes, Grandal forced Doc’s hand, resulting in the insertion of an ill-hitting and surely cold, Austin Barnes, who, at a moment’s notice, had to take over the starting catcher’s job in the most important time of the season.
Postseason Struggles at the Plate-
Not only was Grandal a changed-man behind the dish, but he also completely folded in his postseason AB’s as well.
In totality, Yasmani was dead-last in RBI’s for the Dodgers (with 1), he hit only 1 HR, scored just 2 runs, had just 4 hits, 1 double, 5 BB, and 15 strikeouts through just 29 at-bats.
All of which, were either at the bottom or very near the bottom of all of the players’ individual numbers.
Lastly, with regard to Yasmani’s strikeouts on the postseason, he ended with a team worst, 52% strikeout rate.
Combine those dismal offensive number with his equally abysmal defensive numbers and we’re left with one of the worst playoff performances of all time.
Yes, Yasmani had another productive regular season. But when the chips are all in and the season is on the line, this is typically the point when great players excel, not decline. It pains me to write this, however, it is what it is.
Unlike Yasmani, Barnes did not have another productive regular season. He played in a total of only 72 games, compiling only 200 regular season AB’s.
He hit .205 AVG on the season, with a .619 OPS, and only managed to hit 4 home runs on the year.
Coming into the season, Austin Barnes was primed for a breakout year.
No, he didn’t win the starting job outright when Spring Training ended, and I can’t imagine how frustrating that must’ve been, however, as professional athletes it’s every player’s job to be ready whenever your number is called.
The 2017 version of Austin Barnes was ready for the starting gig at catcher.
Unfortunately, the imitation of “2017 Austin Barnes,” otherwise known as 2018 Austin Barnes, appeared aloof throughout most of the games he played in and his numbers do nothing but back up that suspicion.
After 2017, I was probably the biggest Barnes’ supporter out there. And I truly do hope that he comes back and plays the way that we all know he can and should.
However, Barnes’ performance in the postseason and the regular season were both equally disappointing and again, I hate to write this but, he was a major letdown on the whole.