October 23, 2017

Though switch-hitting Yasmani Grandal clubbed 22 homers, threw out 32% of would-be base thieves and ranked third in the majors in pitch framing (+20 runs according to Baseball Prospectus, a late-season slump (.154/.269/.369 in September) has led to his being supplanted by the righty-swinging Barnes in the postseason. The 27-year-old Barnes—who also put in 76 2/3 innings at second base, usually off the bench—has started six of eight postseason games, all but the Division Series opener (in which Clayton Kershaw started) and Game 4 of the NLCS (Alex Wood's turn, and the team's lone postseason loss). After batting .289/.408/.486 with eight homers in the regular season, he's hit .261/.370/.435 in 27 postseason plate appearances, with a two-run double in Division Series Game 2 and a solo homer in Game 3 his major offensive contributions.

It's not hard to see why the Dodgers love Barnes, who delivered 2.6 WAR in about half a season of playing time. While he doesn't have Grandal's power, he's one of the team's most patient and disciplined hitters, swinging at just 17.4% of pitches outside the strike zone and walking in 14.9% of his plate appearances, trailing only Logan Forsythe among Dodgers with at least 250 PA. He was equally adept against both righties (.902 OPS) and lefties (.886), though six of his eight homers came against the latter. In 55 games behind the plate (49 starts), he threw out just 23% of would-be base thieves, but nonetheless ranked fifth in the majors in framing (+15 runs); on a per-pitch basis, he stole strikes better than any other catcher in the game. He also ranked among the majors' top 10 in pitch blocking runs (+1.5), well ahead of Grandal (-1.1) as those things go.

Firmly in the veteran game-caller stage of his career, McCann can still run into a ball (he went deep 18 times in his first season with Houston), but he’s more or less a league-average bat at age 33. This postseason has been a slog for him: He collected only two singles in 17 ALDS plate appearances, then went hitless through the first five games of the ALCS before breaking out with two doubles and three big RBIs in Games 6 and 7. At this point, McCann’s biggest contributions come from behind the plate.

Edge: Dodgers

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