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2016 Dodgers review: Yasmani Grandal

Lots of home runs, lots of walks, and lots of stolen strikes

Philadelphia Phillies v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal was healthy during his second season in Los Angeles, and it showed.

What went right

No catcher is ever truly fully healthy, given the physical beating they take over the course of a long season of crouching behind the plate, but relative to his position Grandal was healthy for the vast majority of 2016, after seeing the final third of his 2015 campaign torpedoed by a shoulder injury.

Grandal hit more home runs than any other catcher in baseball, with 27. In Dodgers history, the only catchers with more home runs in a season are in the Hall of Fame — Roy Campanella and Mike Piazza (four seasons each with 30+ home runs).

Grandal’s 59 walks as a catcher — he had 64 in total — were also the most in baseball.

He became just the fourth Dodgers catcher with 20 home runs and 60 walks in the same season — joining Campanella (three times), Joe Ferguson (twice) and Piazza (twice).

Grandal was also exceptional at framing pitches. By Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average, he was +27.7 runs in 2016, second among catchers only to Buster Posey.

Grandal hit .267/.386/.581 with 20 home runs in 69 games from July 1 through the end of the season.

With all but seven of his home runs at home, Grandal became just the sixth player with 20 home runs at Dodger Stadium in one season.

He set career highs in games at catcher (115) as well as starts (106) and innings (954) behind the plate.

Grandal was 4-for-4 with a double and five RBI on Sept. 22 against the Rockies, and was the first Dodger to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game since Orlando Hudson in 2009.

Grandal hit six three-run home runs and a grand slam in 2016. Those seven home runs of at least three runs were three more than anyone else on the team.

What went wrong

It did take some time for Grandal to fully recover from his offseason shoulder surgery. He missed the first week of the season on the disabled list, and through the end of June was hitting just .179/.292/.347 with seven home runs, though suppressed somewhat by a .202 batting average on balls in play.

Grandal in the postseason was just 3-for-28 (.107), though with seven walks in his 11 games and nine starts. That included 1-for-12 with three walks and five strikeouts with men on, stranding 22 of 24 runners on base.

The one hit with runners on was a two-run home run against Jake Arrieta in Game 3 of the NLCS, helping to lead the Dodgers to a 2-1 series advantage.

Grandal had an interesting perspective on his postseason struggles at the plate, sharing this with Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times:

“There’s a couple things I do,” Grandal said. “I slug, I walk, and I catch. In the playoffs, catching is No. 1, getting on base is No. 2, and slugging is No. 3. I’m hitting seventh, and there’s a reason why they have me hitting seventh. They want me to make sure I run the pitching staff like it’s supposed to be ran.

“That’s basically it: I’m gonna run my pitching staff, I’m gonna call a good game and we’re gonna pitch good games, I’m gonna walk, and I’m gonna hit homers.”

That basically summed up Grandal’s season in a nutshell.

2016 particulars

Age: 27

Stats: .228/.339/.477, 27 HR, 72 RBI, 64 BB, 2.8 rWAR, 2.9 fWAR

Salary: $2.8 million

Game of the year

On July 8 against the Padres at home, Grandal set career highs with five hits and three home runs, one of three Dodgers to hit three home runs in a game in 2016 (Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez did, too). Grandal hit a two-run shot in the first inning then added a three-run shot in the third, both against Andrew Cashner.

Grandal then added a solo shot against old friend Jose Dominguez in the seventh inning, sandwiched between singles in the fourth and eighth innings. Grandal drove in a season-high six RBI in the Dodgers’ 10-6 win. He joined Campanella and Piazza as the only Dodgers catchers to hit three home runs in a game.

Roster status

Grandal has four years, 115 days of major league service time, and has two more years of salary arbitration before he is eligible for free agency. Grandal is projected to earn $5.3 million in 2017 per Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors.