Rod Barajas was blessed from the moment he became a Dodger. The southern California native who grew up a Dodgers fan was claimed off waivers from the Mets last August 22. I'm sure Barajas won't mind that his acquisition wasn't the biggest piece of Dodger news that day, as it was the same day that Vin Scully announced he was coming back for the 2011 season. Scully himself jokingly acknowledged the new catcher as the reason for his return to the booth, quipping on that Sunday, "Now that they have Rod Barajas, that was the clincher."
At the time the Dodgers acquired Barajas, they were still dealing with the after effects of Russell Martin's hip injury. Brad Ausmus had six singles in 36 at-bats, and A.J. Ellis was two for 20 since Martin's injury; in 17 games, the two catchers combined to hit just .143/.200/.161. Barajas came aboard and immediately welcomed himself to the team, hitting two doubles and a home run in his first three plate appearances as a Dodger. Barajas is the only Dodger ever to have three extra-base hits in his first game with the club. Here is what I said after that August 24 game:
This season, Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis have combined for three extra-base hits (all doubles) in 133 plate appearances. Barajas equaled that extra-base production in his first three times up.
Barajas continued to hit in his six weeks as a Dodger. He hit .297/.361/.578 with five home runs in 25 games. While that was great, those six weeks improved his season line to .240/.284/.447, which is perfectly in line with Barajas' career line of .239/.284/.412. With Barajas you pretty much know what you are going to get: a low average, low on-base catcher with power. Shortly after non-tendering Martin on December 2, the Dodgers moved quickly to bring back Barajas on a one-year deal.
The Dodgers also know that at 35, Barajas isn't going to have to, or be asked to carry the playing time load that Martin carried for most of the last five years. Barajas has been relatively healthy the past few years, outside of missing most of a month with an oblique injury while with the Mets last summer. Barajas has started 287 games behind the plate in the last three seasons.
Barajas tied with new teammate Juan Uribe for most RBI from the No. 9 spot in the American League with 40...in 2005.
Barajas signed a one-year deal for $3.25 million on December 3, the highest salary of his career. He is the highest-paid catcher in the NL West.
|2011 Projections - Age 35 Season|
I think Barajas makes 86 starts at catcher, and hits .239/.281/.423 with 16 home runs in 327 PA.
What is your guess for Barajas in 2011? Be sure to guess BA/OBP/SLG, PA, and number of starts at catcher.