2016 Dodgers in Review: C A.J. Ellis

PA AVG OBP SLG wRC+ HR WAR
MLB (LA/PHI) 196 .216 .301 .298 65 2 0.0

What Happened in 2016: Served as backup catcher before being sent to Philadelphia in a shocking trade.

When the Dodgers traded for Yasmani Grandal prior to the 2015 season, it seemed pretty clear that A.J. Ellis‘ days as a regular starter were over. He was already on the wrong side of 30, and his production was on the decline. Indeed, in limited playing time for the Dodgers in 2016, Ellis wasn’t especially productive at the plate (.194/.285/.252/.537).

Still, when news broke that he’d been, essentially, swapped for Carlos Ruiz, it shook not just Dodger fans but the baseball world as a whole. Seriously, I’m not sure the trade of a backup player OPSing .537 has ever made such waves before. (But then, most such players aren’t known for their closeness with the best pitcher on the planet, Clayton Kershaw.)

From a baseball perspective, the trade made enough sense at the time (as discussed by Dustin here), and hindsight proved that to be correct. Stacie covered Ruiz’s Dodger tenure, including his postseason heroics, in that offseason review.

From an emotional standpoint, it sucked, to put it bluntly. A.J. is a favorite around here for reasons that are both baseball-related and not, and after his many years in Dodger Blue, seeing him in another team’s uniform certainly took some getting used to. We can speculate all we want about the impact losing A.J. may or may not have had on the clubhouse, but all we really know is what he meant to us as fans. A.J. is smart, funny, and thoroughly likable. He’s the kind of guy for whom you can feel good rooting. For that, he was certainly missed.

Ellis made it into just 11 games for the Phillies, making 35 plate appearances, but the numbers in that small sample size were good: .313/.371/.500/.871. It’s nice to see that he made the most of his playing time with his new team.

2017 Status: Signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Marlins, reuniting with Don Mattingly and Dee Gordon. Good luck in Miami, A.J. We still miss you.

About Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler
Sarah Wexler is a native Angeleno and longtime Dodger fan. She began blogging about baseball in 2012 on her Tumblr, New Grass On The Field, where she covered an array of topics but especially enjoyed exploring baseball history. She now writes for The Hardball Times and FanGraphs. She is currently in the Sports Management master's program at Cal State Long Beach. She graduated from New York University in 2014 with a bachelor's in History and a minor in American Studies. She's an avid Springsteen fan, which is a big boost to her baseball writer cred.