Catcher is a barren wasteland. Unless you’ve got one of the top catchers, you’re left guessing as to what to do with the position.
My strategy in many leagues is to wait until the last round if I don’t get one of the top guys. Some people go catcherless, which is a legitimate strategy in a head-to-head league if you can make proper use of that extra spot. But in a roto league, you’re missing valuable production by leaving it empty. If you missed out on the cream of the crop and need help for how to address the problem, look no further. This article will look at the best streaming-caliber catchers for the week ahead.
First, we have to rule out any widely owned catcher. For purposes of this list, it means anyone >50% owned (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are: Gary Sanchez, JT Realmuto, Willson Contreras, Yadier Molina, Mitch Garver, Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos, Will Smith, Salvador Perez, Jorge Alfaro, Omar Narvaez, Christian Vazquez, and Carson Kelly.
On top of that, I’m avoiding certain situations until playing time becomes clearer. Those situations include the Padres (Austin Hedges/Francisco Mejia), the Braves (Travis d’Arnaud/Tyler Flowers), and the Nationals (Yan Gomes/Kurt Suzuki).
Honestly, considering the amount of 50%+ owned catchers, chances are you already have one of these guys. That’s 13 guys who are well-owned, the perfect amount for a 12-teamer. Maybe you took a flier late in the draft and are still debating whether to hold someone like Omar Narvaez. Maybe you drafted Salvador Perez but don’t feel confident he’ll return to his old self.
This year’s version of catcher streaming seems harder, with so many of my favorite guys on the prohibited list. But I say that every year, and as the season wears on, guys will get dropped, and streaming should become more and more necessary. Regardless, let’s take a look at some of the other guys and who could provide some value to your team this week:
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Texas Rangers: Let’s get started with a fun one. IKF was the breakout star of spring training to the tune of .378/.410/.757 with almost as many HRs (four) over 39 PAs as he has (five) over 618 career regular-season PAs. He reportedly has the inside track on a corner infield job, likely at 1B, creating the ultimate fantasy asset: a catcher-eligible player who doesn’t actually play catcher. You slot IKF in at catcher, but he’ll get everyday reps. He normally has been anything but a power threat, but the added power in spring training combined with his 75th-percentile sprint speed make for a very intriguing player. Over the first week, the Rangers draw the Rockies, the back end of the Diamondbacks rotation, and the Giants. I know normally I go over specific matchups, but with so many starts in flux, it’s hard to say right now, but this should be a fruitful week for IKF.
Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics: I’m not convinced that Austin Allen and his gaudy minor league numbers won’t eat into Murphy’s playing time at some point, but perhaps not right away, as Allen is yet to show he can hit non-fastballs. So if it is Murphy’s job at the start of the year, the A’s get the Angels somewhat spotty rotation (though it features Andrew Heaney and Shohei Ohtani), the Rockies, and the Mariners. As of yet, it’s hard to tell how the role will play out so it’s hard to project PAs, but I feel more confident in this split than the ones above.
Roberto Perez, Cleveland Indians: I made no secret last year of my love of Perez, and I’m not the only one. In 2019, Perez posted career highs in barrel%, SweetSpot%, xBA, xSLG, xwOBA, xwOBAcon … need I go on? Perez developed into a legitimate power threat in front of our eyes, but there’s concern over his struggles to hit non-fastballs in 2019. I don’t think that should plague him too much against the Royals and White Sox, but he could face a minor threat against the Twins.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcommr on Twitter)