Austin Barnes Comfortable In Dodgers Backup Catcher Role

Originally published by

The Los Angeles Dodgers arguably have MLB’s best starting catcher in Will Smith, and they undoubtedly have the best backup in the league with Austin Barnes.

Although Barnes has only appeared in 54 games, he is ranked 19th in wins above replacement among 57 catchers with at least 150 plate appearances. Additionally, Barnes ranks as the 11th most productive offensive catcher with a 117 wRC+ while batting .228/.332/.418.

In the first game of a doubleheader against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, Barnes hit his eighth home run of the season, which tied a career high set in 2017. Since the start of August, the 32-year-old has slugged four homers in 15 games while hitting .365.

“I don’t know what’s his career high, but I do know he’s strong and when the ball is close to him, he can hit it out of the ballpark,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Barnes’ recent power streak. “For a while he had the longest home run by a Dodger this year.

“Austin is just doing a great job. He understands where he’s at, where he sits on the ballclub, he’s ready, he takes care of the pitching staff and he’s gotten a lot of big hits. It was really good to see him have a nice day offensively.”

Despite the challenge of getting limited playtime, the 2020 World Series champion has remained a valuable piece for the Dodgers. “It’s not easy, but I’ve been here long enough and been doing this for a while now, that I know how to stay ready,” Barnes said.

“You just try to win the game. I think that’s the mentality that I usually take into it. When I get in there, just try to win the game.”

Dodgers value Austin Barnes

The Dodgers rewarded Barnes earlier this season with a two-year contract extension to prevent him from reaching free agency, where he would have been valued by many clubs that are in need of a catcher.

His teammates also recognize the value Barnes brings to the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw has consistently praised Barnes, and Chris Martin shared his support for both Barnes and Smith following a trade from the Chicago Cubs.

After Barnes helped guide two rookie pitchers, Michael Grove and Ryan Pepiot, to a win on Tuesday, Justin Turner credited the veteran catcher for his play. “Barnesy has been great,” he said.

“He takes good at-bats all the time, and hasn’t really gotten great results all season long, but I think if you look at the last two months, some big swings and knocks. He also does a helluva job behind the plate with our pitching staff. Great job by Barnesy getting Grove and Pep through eight innings to keep us in the game.”

Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and stay up to date on all Dodgers news and rumors!