The first four months of the 2022 season were essentially more of the same for Dodgers backup catcher Austin Barnes. Barnes, who posted a .637 OPS from 2018 to 2021, was sitting at .593 after an 0-for-4 performance on July 30.
Since then, though, Barnes has caught fire at the plate. In 15 games over the last month-and-a-half, Barnes is hitting .365 with three double, four homers, and a 1.075 OPS. His eight home runs this season tie a career high set in 2017, and his 4.3% home run rate is easily the best of his career. His OPS+ is 105, only the second time in his career he’s been an above-average offensive player.
Barnes doesn’t get a ton of playing time as the backup for Will Smith,barnes the best-hitting catcher in baseball, but he has made the most of his opportunities lately. After his two-run homer sparked a five-run eighth-inning rally to win game one of Tuesday’s doubleheader, Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts was effusive in his praise of Barnes.
“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. 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.”
Dave Roberts said Trea Turner was removed from the game for precaution but will play in GM2. pic.twitter.com/vbNVY5WiN3
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) September 20, 2022
Barnes has really embraced his role as a veteran leader who occasionally gets to play catcher, enough so that he signed a two-year extension earlier this season to keep filling that role. If he keeps hitting like he has been, he might even get to play in the postseason once in a while.
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