Milwaukee Brewers GM David Stearns had two main weaknesses on offense that he wanted to address in the offseason: second base and catcher. He upgraded the latter when he signed Yasmani Grandal to a 1 year/$16 million contract in January.
Fans were unsure what to expect when Grandal signed with the Milwaukee Brewers this offseason. While he garners a reputation as a top offensive catcher in all of baseball, as well as being one of the games better pitcher handlers, many Brewer fans only know him for last year’s NLCS. That series saw Grandal commit two errors and three passed balls, hit only 2-for-11, and eventually get benched in favor of backup Austin Barnes.
For fans that were worried about how Grandal would fare for the Brewers in 2019, his start to the season didn’t exactly quell those fears. Grandal went 0 for his first 12 at bats with 5 strikeouts, though he had none of the errors or passed balls that fans might have worried might be coming.
On A Hot Streak
Since then, however, Grandal has been on an absolute tear. He has reached base safely in seven straight games, hitting .500 over that span. Among Brewers, Grandal ranks second among position players in OPS, slugging, and runs scored, and is third in batting average and home runs after hitting two bombs in Wednesday night’s game versus the Angels.
The defense that was witnessed in the NLCS has not been an issue in 2019 either. Grandal has no passed balls and only one error thus far in starting all but 2 of the team’s first 13 games. However, the number of wild pitches he’s had to deal with that he hasn’t been able to block isn’t ideal.
Grandal’s ranks among other catchers are just as good. Among major league catchers with at least 30 plate appearances, the Brewers backstop is second in runs scored, home runs (tied), and batting average and he’s ranked fourth in OPS.
There are still improvements to be made. Grandal currently has 9 strikeouts to only 4 walks, clearly not an ideal ratio. He’s also only caught 1 of 7 baserunners that have attempted to steal on him.
Considering how shaky Brewer pitching has been at times, they have needed hitting to carry them for most of their wins and Grandal has already shown he can be a big contributor to the offense. This is even more important as hitters like Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar are still looking for their offensive spark. If Grandal and others are still hot once those two find their way, watch out.
The Milwaukee Brewers brought Grandal in to lengthen this lineup with power at the catcher position and to help improve the young pitching staff with his framing abilities. He’s done that extremely well so far.