Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers poised for years of showdowns
By Jake Misener
Chicago Cubs have a long-term answer in Willson Contreras
If not for an injury, Willson Contreras may very well have made a run at 30 homers and 100 RBI. At the very least, he’d have come up close to 25-90. He runs well – and has one of the best (and most aggressive) throwing arms in the game.
He led the league in back-picks this year and, thanks to the combo of Russell and Baez, caught a good portion of would-be base stealers. His passion and leadership on the field embodies someone far older and more experienced.
That’s not to say he doesn’t make mistakes because he does. He led all catchers in errors in 2017. But he also learns from these shortcomings and adjusts accordingly. That’s key for a young player – especially one entrusted with a team’s pitching staff.
Austin Barnes handles things behind the plate for Los Angeles with Yasmani Grandal. Barnes his .289 this year, striking out 43 times and drawing 39 walks. He’s far from a catcher who gives away his at-bats. He’s just a slightly above-average defensive catcher by most measures – and he caught 23 percent of would-be base stealers.
Grandal, meanwhile, just finished off his second-straight 20-plus homer campaign. Defensively, he led the league in passed balls (16) – but caught 32 percent of base stealers. (For the record, Contreras clocked in at 27 percent).
Between Barnes and Grandal, the Dodgers have the best all-around catching. But with the all-around value Contreras brings to the table, we’ve got to tip our cap to Chicago – but this is probably one of the closest when you put these teams side-by-side.