Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I've found the secret to a perfect NCAA tournament bracket: Fill it out just after each game ends.
Comparing the teams
Starting today and continuing each weekday until conclusion, I will take a look at all five NL West teams, comparing them at each position, the rotation and the bullpen. Every team will be ranked at each position, so we can get a better idea of where the Dodgers stand as they try to win their first World Series since the Reagan administration. If you see a stat you don't recognize, such as WAR or FRAA, just click on it and you will be taken to an explainer. All stats are courtesy of baseball-reference.com.
Today we start with catcher.
1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Last three seasons: .306 AVG/.368 OB%/.465 SLG%/13.6 Offensive WAR/ 4.0 Defensive WAR
Not only is he the best hitting catcher in the league, he's the best defensive catcher too. His offense dipped a bit last season (.288/.362/.434), but most teams will gladly accept that from their starting catcher. It's because of him we have that "catcher can't block the plate" rule, but I guess it wouldn't be fair to really hold that against him.
2. Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers
Last three seasons: .229/.340/.428/6.9 OWAR/0.1 DWAR
One of the most underrated players in the game, some Dodgers fans aren't big fans because they don't look past his .229 batting average. In the last three seasons, he has hit 56 homers (third among catchers) and drawn 187 walks (first). He also is the best at framing pitches in MLB and his FRAA was an excellent 32.0 last season.
3. Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy, Colorado
Wolters last season: .259/.327/.395/0.8/0.6
Murphy last season: .266/.341/.608/0.7/0.1
Wolters and Murphy will platoon, with Murphy getting starts against right-handed pitchers. Don't let Murphy's slugging percentage scare you, he has only had 88 plate appearances in the majors. Wolters is a solid fielder but a slightly-below average hitter. Murphy is the opposite. I'd make Murphy the starter and see if his power is for real.
4. Chris Herrmann and Chris Iannetta, Arizona
Herrmann last three seasons: .224/.287/.368/0.7/0.3
Iannetta last three seasons: .218/.325/.353/4.7/0.4
Another platoon, with Herrmann getting the starts against righties. Herrmann is better than his numbers indicate. Last season with the Diamondbacks, he hit .284 with 15 extra-base hits in 166 plate appearances. He can also play center field, which is not something you often see in a catcher (Hi, Craig Biggio). Other than his ability to draw walks, I'm not sure why Iannetta is still in the majors.
5. Austin Hedges, San Diego
Last two seasons: .161/.206/.236/-0.9/0.5
Hedges is good defensively and he's only 24, but a sumo wrestler would be more valuable offensively just by the hit by pitch numbers alone.
So that concludes the look at catcher. If we assign points based on where a player ranks at each position, giving seven points for first place, five for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth, then the NL West stacks up like this so far, with many positions left to look at:
San Francisco, 7 points
Dodgers, 5 points
Colorado, 3 points
Arizona, 2 points
San Diego, 1 point
Ask Ross Porter
Once again, former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter will be answering select reader questions. Email me a question for Ross and I will pass it on. The answers will begin once the season starts, but send the questions in now!
A case of strep throat means it is unlikely Julio Urias will begin the season with the Dodgers.