A look back at the 2015 season of A.J. Ellis, who had more of a reserve role after three years as the primary starter at catcher, but also bounced back after a slow start.
What went right
Ellis rebounded from an injury-riddled down year in 2014 to hit .238/.355/.403 with a .335 wOBA, seven home runs, nine doubles and 32 walks in 217 plate appearances. Among the 32 National League catchers with at least 100 plate appearances in 2015, Ellis was fifth with a 116 wRC+.
Yasmani Grandal, the primary starter, was sixth, with a 115 wRC+. Ellis started 55 games at catcher in 2015, after averaging 109 starts in the last three seasons.
After a slow start to the season, Ellis worked on his swing in the batting cage and found something that worked in mid-June against the Rangers.
"It's really important in anything in baseball if you have immediate results when you made an adjustment," Ellis said in July. "Against Texas against Wandy Rodriguez on June 17, I was able to have two good swings, and I was hooked."
From that June 17 game through the end of the season, Ellis it .275/.400/.508 with seven home runs, seven doubles and 24 walks in 41 games, including 36 starts.
Ellis caught 23 of Clayton Kershaw's 35 starts, including both playoff outings.
He reached base by hit or walk in 13 straight starts and in a stretch of 22 out of 23 starts at one point.
Ellis' 443 starts is eighth-most at catcher in Los Angeles Dodgers history, and he could move into sixth next season.
What went wrong
Before that hot streak, Ellis started the season slowly, just 5-for-43 (.116) to open the year, and as late as June 6 had an OPS of .403.
He missed 13 games on the disabled list in July and August with right knee inflammation.
Ellis' walk rate of 14.8 percent was sixth among every Dodger with a plate appearance in 2015, and well above average so it isn't really something that went wrong but more of a quirk, because that walk rate was last among the three catchers on the team, behind both Austin Barnes (16.2 percent) and Grandal (15.3 percent).
Stats: .238/.355/.403, .336 wOBA, 7 HR, 112 OPS+, 116 wRC+, 1.5 rWAR, 1.4 fWAR
Salary: $4.25 million
Game of the year
Ellis tied a career high with four walks at Oakland on Aug. 18, but in the eighth inning he broke a 1-1 tie with a three-run home run, though the Dodgers would eventually lose that game in 12 innings.
Ellis has five years, 151 days of major league service time, and will be eligible for salary arbitration this winter, and eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.