The catcher position was supposed to be the humongous hole in the Dodgers lineup this season. He was supposed to be the biggest weakness, in fact, during the off-season Ned Colletti pulled out all the stops to fix this problem. Colletti explored the trade market, scoured the free agent market, and to his findings, well not many wanted to come to Los Angeles with all the hoopla going on at the time. Ryan Doumit
, was one of the bigger names that came up during the winter, but that didn't pan out, obviously. Looking back, there was at least five catchers targeted during the winter. Ultimately, Colletti settled on veteran defensive specialist Matt Treanor
Your starting catcher would be none other than the Dodgers own 31 year-old career minor leaguer, A.J. Ellis
. My thoughts were Colletti had pretty much given up on the position, cut his losses, and moved to a defensive minded approach and hoped for the best.
Ellis is in my definition, a gamer. He is the kind of guy who perseveres, works harder than everyone else, and was at war for nine years in the minor leagues. Looks like that hard work and determination is finally paying off. To say he is playing better than expected, well, it's almost an insult. Not only is his defensive game elevating each time I see him behind the plate, but he is emerging as one of the Dodgers more well rounded players. He is emerging offensively, and we will get to that, but he is also becoming one of the teams bonafide leaders.
Offensively, Ellis is on an all out onslaught. Ellis owns a line of .317/.462/.512, reaching base in 23 consecutive games. His .462 OBP is third in the Majors currently, and he is hitting an insane .385 with runners in scoring position. For what it's worth his .974 OPS is leading all National League catchers, yes, better than Yadier Molina
and Carlos Ruiz
. Shocking? Maybe. I like the word impressive, as it is very much the appropriate word to use here. To add to that he also has 3 home runs and 15 RBI's in 82 at-bats. Not too shabby in his 27 games played thus far.
Ellis credits former Dodger Brad Ausmus
for teaching him how to prepare as a catcher and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt for teaching him how to analyze hitters. A former 18th round draft pick coming into his own, establishing himself in the upper tier of catchers, and on his way to his first All-Star game? Um, yeah that is a total no brainer, absolutely yes!
Getting to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, will not be easy, not one teeny weeny bit. Yadier Molia
and Brian McCann
have all but punched their tickets to Kansas City. They are the most deserving and most logical for the first two catching spots. For the third catching spot Ellis will have to beat out Carlos Ruiz
and Miguel Montero
. That is quite a daunting task because sadly Ellis just doesn't have the name recognition outside Dodger fans alone. I made the case for Ellis, I casted my vote, have you?