Now that Russell Martin is out for the year, they are stuck with a couple of offensive lightweights in Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis. Martin was only hitting .248 with a .679 OPS, but he seems like Ted Williams compared to his backups. Ausmus is 41 years old, and has hit .241 over the last decade, exceeding a .679 OPS only once, last season, when he wasn’t playing regularly. Ellis was on-base machine in the minors, but quite literally has no power, as he hasn’t hit a home run in the minors since 2008. In 738 plate appearances in the offense-happy Pacific Coast League, Ellis has just four home runs.
So, unless the Dodgers acquire a catcher off the waiver wire this month — and really, the only kinds of catchers available now are bad themselves, overpriced, or both — the Dodgers will not receive much offensive production out of their backstops in the final 53 games. The question is, will it be worse than 2004?
On July 30, 2004, the Dodgers made a huge trade with the Marlins that, although six players were involved, essentially boiled down to Paul LoDuca for Brad Penny. The Dodgers traded their starting catcher, their “heart and soul,” and when an attempted trade of Charles Johnson fell through, the Dodgers were left with unflattering options behind the plate.
Brent Mayne, David Ross, and Tom Wilson combined to catch the final 61 games, and none of them even reached a .200 batting average. In 220 plate appearances, here is what the Dodgers got:
.169 batting average
.256 on-base percentage
.212 slugging percentage
2 home runs
14 runs scored
That is the low-water mark for Dodger catcher production, and even though Ausmus and Ellis aren’t good hitters, they should be able to outhit that trio, shouldn’t they?