Don’t fret about Yasmani Grandal from the right side

GLENDALE, Ariz. — If you just look at the stat line, you’d think Yasmani Grandal was a poor right-handed hitter. For his career, he owns a .225/.335/.379 line, and just five of his 24 career home runs have come from the right side. But Grandal said on Dodger Talk that he thinks he has more power from the right side.

It makes sense, as most switch-hitters begin hitting right-handed. But Grandal has yet to get to the right-handed power (DRINK!) in games. And his being 20 months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee help him find that pop from the right side.

Grandal, 26, hit a home run from the left side in  Saturday’s 5-5 tie in Goodyear against the Indians. It was an impressive opposite-field shot that definitely displays his power from the left side. But Don Mattingly as asked about his ability to hit for power right-handed during his Sunday media briefing and shares the same belief Grandal.

“I think most of the switch-hitters — usually, right-handed is their natural side; and right-handed thrower — they seem like they hit the ball further that way,” Mattingly said. “(Lance) Berkman, Ruben Sierra, Tony Clark — all these guys had huge power from the right side.”

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Mattingly talked about right-handed swings and how they can differ a bit from left-handed ones.

“Their swing’s a little bit different,” Mattingly said. “Usually, they’ll smother the ball a little bit more right-handed, and they really gotta make sure they work on staying in the middle of the field, and that’s what we talked about with Yasmani. Basically, right-handed, staying in the middle of the field and and right-center and letting pull-side take care of itself.”

Grandal has done that so far in his career. He owns a .367 batting average to center in his career from the right side and a .325 average to left. He’s only hitting .233 to right field, though, so there might be some shift opportunities for teams when he hits right-handed — provided he’s hitting the way he’s capable of. With A.J. Ellis in a similar boat (healthy), the Dodgers’ catching situation, offensively, could be rather bright. But Grandal is clearly the better player with the most talent. He has the pedigree (former first-rounder, top prospect) and talent to be the full-time starter. His ability to hit left-handed pitching effectively will likely determine how much playing time he gets in his first season with the Dodgers.

Mattingly said he has no problem with Grandal’s swing from the right side.

“I like his right-handed swing. His right-handed swing, there’s nothing wrong with it,” Mattingly said. “To me, usually the switch-hitters, it’s tough because they’re seeing the ball from the right side so much more, so you don’t get near the reps hitting right-handed.”

Grandal had a great September, which almost made up for his poor season entirely. He hit .291/.408(!)/.519 in 98 September plate appearances. Mattingly recalls Grandal being a tough out late in the season.

“I didn’t see it. You see a guy a couple of times, you’re not really trying to judge their player, you’re just trying to get them out,” Mattingly said. “You may go through and say, ‘you can do this to him now right-handed or left-handed,’ (but) anybody that’s missed time early in the year, you always feel like this is maybe not quite the same guy. Later on in the year — in that second half — we were just having trouble getting him out.”

But for Mattingly, it all comes back Grandal’s approach at the plate (from both sides, but specifically from the right side).

“For me, almost every switch-hitter that I’ve had as a hitting coach — right-handed, they have a good chance to smother the ball if they’re not thinking right or have the right approach,” he said.

He’s entering his prime years as a guy who hasn’t logged a ton of time in the majors, considering he made his debut in 2012 (216 career games). he does have the knee surgery in his past, but not a lot of strenuous innings behind the plate (1,300 in all). That is positive and negative. It’s positive because he isn’t as worn down as he might be otherwise, but it’s negative because he hasn’t caught more than 76 games in any season. If the Dodgers foresee a 65/35 split with Grandal, that equates to 105 games. That number might be more attainable next year, especially if Ellis is more refreshed and healthy.

And, it wouldn’t be a Mattingly meeting with the media without one of these.

“Obviously, he’s got pop from both sides. He’s a dangerous cat,” Mattingly said.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.