The catcher position isn’t always one that’s fun to figure out. Depending on your league size and format, it can be incredibly tough to utilize that position in a way that helps you win. What makes things even worse is in two catcher leagues, there are two roster spots just sitting there with the possibility of players that either won’t play or won’t produce. It can be frustrating, to say the least.
That’s why this column is here, to help you overcome your desolate need in a position of volatility. This is such a hard position to project sometimes because of a few reasons. For one, it can be physically difficult for the body to crouch and stand for hours, so catchers do get a day off more frequently. Secondly, some pitchers like to hand-pick their catchers, as they are in sync when calling games. Third, their defensive abilities to frame and defend come into play more so than any other position in baseball. Add those factors together and you have a position that can be difficult to predict.
Things to Watch
When trying to predict the potential status of a catcher, there are a few things that need to be considered.
- Playing time is key. If they are on the strong side of a platoon, chances are that they will play the majority of the week, but even four out of the seven days in a week is promising. If they qualify and play elsewhere in the field, that’s a huge bonus.
- Statistical contributors are ideal. Look for players that can offer help with at least two of the five traditional categories. Anything more than that is great, while anything less is a detriment.
- Injury history is a consideration. It’s always important to consider a player’s past before considering their future.
Who Doesn’t Qualify?
Looking at the catcher position, there are some quality options that have already likely been drafted. These are players that are highly rostered in all leagues with the expectation of them performing well all season long. These are players that have at least 40% rostership, and therefore will not be options here. Those names are J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith, Adley Rutschman, Salvador Perez, Daulton Varsho, Willson Contreras, MJ Melendez, Henry Davis, Tyler Stephenson, Jonah Heim, William Contreras, Sean Murphy, Cal Raleigh, Francisco Álvarez, and Elias Díaz.
Everyone else that qualifies for that position is eligible to be selected as a streaming option. That list will likely be the standard unless season-ending injuries occur or if others rise up and become players worthy of being rostered everywhere.
The recommended players will be categorized into three different tiers. The first will be players that have extremely low rostership but are too good to not be rostered. These players will eventually grow to the list of players who don’t qualify and are recommended to be picked up in all two-catcher leagues. The next grouping is for players who don’t officially qualify at the catcher spot but will eventually due to appearances behind the plate. These players are in a good spot and should be picked up in most two-catcher leagues. Finally, the last grouping is for one-week options. These recommendations are based on past performance and upcoming schedules. Here we go…..
O’Hoppe was placed on the 60-day Injured List on April 29th but hopes to return before the end of the season. He had surgery for his injured shoulder. He recently started a rehab appearance for Single-A Inland Empire and has sported a .267/.353/.400 slash line, which is a great start. That said, the team has said that he would likely need close to the allotted twenty-day maximum for his rehab, so a return probably won’t happen until September.
Heim went on the 10-day Injured List for wrist soreness, with a retroactive date of July 27th. He has been taking batting practice for a few days now and is expected to return to the Rangers next week. There was some speculation of him being in a platoon role with the surging Mitch Garver, but nothing has yet to be solidified.
Moreno had been bothered by shoulder soreness for a while and was placed on the 10-day Injured List on July 23rd. He started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Reno, and went 3-for-4 with a double in his first game back. There is no timetable for a return, but he should be on your radars in deeper leagues.
The Too Low-Rostered
Ruiz has definitely found his stride since the All-Star break. In 23 games played, the Nationals’ catcher has sported a .333/.406/.536/.942 slash line with four home runs. With an xBA of .281 and fantastic patience at the plate, he’s got the potential to be better than he has been for a more consistent timeframe. All he needs to do is put it all together and keep it going while avoiding the ups and downs. This upcoming week, the Nationals get the Red Sox and Phillies, all at home, which are some decent matchups for him.
Diaz was listed here last week and will maintain his status as being under-rostered. He continues to get playing time as either the team’s catcher or designated hitter and may sneak some extra time at first base, depending on José Abreu’s back. So far in August, Diaz has swatted two home runs, running his total up to 15 on the season. He’s also hit .333 this month while striking out just four times. All that makes him someone who offers power and a healthy batting average. He is seemingly a safe choice for now. The Astros have a tough week lined up, as they play at Miami and then at home versus Seattle, but Diaz has enough power to overcome that.
The One-Week Options
This recommendation is simply because the White Sox are in Colorado next weekend. His backup is Carlos Pérez, who may or may not get one of these games, but Grandal should get the majority of at-bats. He’s also been the team’s DH and/or 1B enough to qualify there. All in all, with three games at the Rockies and two games at the Cubs, he may play five games with all being matchups that are favorable.
With Danny Jansen battling through a hand injury, Kirk has been given plenty of opportunities to salvage this season. Since the All-Star break, he has hit .333 with three home runs and more walks than strikeouts. During this hot stretch, he has raised his batting average by over twenty points on the season and looks to be on the right track for a second-half surge. Even more, the Jays play three games at Cincinnati to close out the week after two in Philadelphia. Despite a five-game week for Toronto, Kirk figures to play every day with these favorable matchups.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)