Two big player signings went down in the last 24 hours. First, Catcher Yasmani Grandal signed with the Brewers for a one-year, $18.25 million contract. Then this morning, Brian Dozier signed a one-year, $9 million deal to man second base for the Washington Nationals in 2019. There’s a lot to like about both these signings.
Brian Dozier, 2B, Washington Nationals
I think this signing is a great opportunity for Dozier, who is looking to rebound from a rough 2018 that saw him hit just .215 with 21 HRs, 82 runs, 72 RBI, and 12 SBs. There are reasons to be hopeful for a rebound with the Nationals. His BB% (11.1%) and K% (20.4%) were nearly identical to 2017 and his hard hit rate increased. His batted ball data remained almost identical to 2017 as well.
So what dragged his numbers down? Mainly a huge drop in BABIP. It fell from .300 in 2017 all the way down to .240 in 2018. For his career, Dozier’s BABIP has hovered between .260 to .280. It seems reasonable to expect a rebound in his BABIP, especially since nothing seemed out of whack among his batted ball data. You can make the case that Dozier is walking into a better lineup in Washington, which should help his counting stats. Take a look at last year’s team numbers:
The Nationals may not be able to produce at quite the same level if they don’t re-sign Bryce Harper, but full seasons from Adam Eaton, along with young players like Juan Soto and Victor Robles, should help. Additionally, the HR factor gain from 1.05 at Target Field for RHB to 1.13 at Nationals Park may help Dozier turn a few more fly balls into HRs. I think something along the lines of a .260 AVG, 25+ HR with 10 SBs is a totally reasonable expectation for Dozier in Washington.
Yasmani Grandal, C, Milwaukee Brewers
News broke last night that former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal was set to sign in Milwaukee on a one-year deal worth $18.25 million. The Brewers are hoping that Grandal can stabilize the catcher position after a year in which Manny Pina, Erik Kratz, and Jacob Nottingham combined to produce just 1.2 fWAR as part of the 96-win club. In 140 game for the Dodgers last year, Grandal produced 3.6 fWAR while hitting .241/.349/.815. The switch-hitting catcher set new career-highs in 2018 with a 125 wRC+ and 24 home runs. Notably, he also finished as the league’s most valuable pitch framer according to Baseball Prospectus. The ability to impact both sides of the game at a high level, while playing the game’s most demanding position, makes this a potential bargain for the Brewers, especially when you consider that Grandal was worth $28.7 million in Win Value last year, according to Fangraphs.
What does it mean for those who play fantasy baseball though? The shift from Dodger Stadium to Miller Park may benefit Grandal slightly. Take a look:
*Note that 1.00 is considered average. Data comes from Rotogrinders.
|Dodger Stadium for L||Dodgers Stadium for R||Miller Park for L||Miller Park for R|
As you can see, Miller Park is a more hitter-friendly environment, and the 1.23 HR factor for lefties is the best in baseball. Considering that Grandal was already really solid at home last year with a .251/.371/.464 batting line worth a 133 wRC+, I think there’s a case to made that he will be one of the best catching options available when he plays at home next year, especially since most of his power comes from the left side. It should be noted that Grandal is walking into a lesser lineup in Milwaukee, going from a 111 wRC+ Dodgers team last year to a 99 wRC+ Brewers team, which may slightly affect his counting stats.
(Photo by Rob Curtis/Icon Sportwire)
It’s a stretch to say Dozier’s batted ball data remained ‘almost identical’ to 2017. Average exit velo and barrel % were way down. Max exit velo in 2017 was 111.8; in 2018 it was 104.8. Have to hope he was injured because his bat was below replacement level.
My apologies for the lack of clarity I was referring to his batted ball outcomes in terms of LD%, GB% and FB% as opposed to the statcast values. Often if that GB% spikes it can be a sign that the issue is age or injury related. Good catch and appreciate the clarification.