Catcher is a barren wasteland. Unless you’ve got one of the top catchers, you’re left guessing 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. So if you missed out on the cream of the crop and need help addressing the problem, look no further. This article will look at the best streaming-caliber catchers for the week ahead.
Who Are the Catchers?
First, we have to rule out any widely owned catcher. For purposes of this list, it means anyone over 50% rostered (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are JT Realmuto, Salvador Pérez, Willson Contreras, Will Smith, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Christian Vázquez, Buster Posey, Yasmani Grandal, Carson Kelly, Yadier Molina, Gary Sánchez, Sean Murphy, and James McCann. That’s THIRTEEN catchers.
On top of that, I’m avoiding certain situations until playing time becomes more apparent. Those situations include the Rays (Francisco Mejía/Mike Zunino) and the Orioles (Pedro Severino/Austin Wynns).
I’m going to say this now — if you’re in a 12 team or fewer, don’t stream right now. Instead, try to trade for someone’s backup above instead of diving in the bargain bin for the players that meet my threshold. But we’re going to go ahead anyway.
Who is Eligible?
So who is left? Austin Nola, Mitch Garver, Yan Gomes, Tucker Barnhart, Jacob Stallings, Stephen Vogt, Zack Collins, Roberto Pérez, Wilson Ramos, Martín Maldonado, Max Stassi, Austin Barnes, Jorge Alfaro, Kyle Higashioka, James McCann, Jacob Stallings, Victor Caratini, and Jose Trevino. That’s an extensive list that will change throughout the year and should give us ample opportunity to find value. I base my list on Yahoo eligibility, as it is generally the broadest, so some players like Yermín Mercedes aren’t included. If you have questions about those players, please shoot me a tweet; I’m happy to discuss.
Honestly, considering the amount of 50%+ rostered 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. On the other hand, maybe you took a flier late in the draft and are still debating whether to hold someone like Omar Narváez. Maybe you drafted Salvador Pérez but didn’t feel confident he’d return to his old self.
I find myself saying this every year, but this year’s version of catcher streaming feels so much harder, with so many of my favorite guys on the prohibited list. But, as the season wears on, guys will get dropped, players will emerge, and streaming should become more and more necessary.
Reviewing Last Week
I outlined guidelines for determining streaming a “win” in years past, and I’ll leave these up here each week as a reminder.
- Batting average is king. When we stream a catcher, we’re not expecting multiple home runs, so a guy hitting .250 is helpful, and I’ll consider that a plus. Anything over .300 is a super plus and a near-automatic win. That said, we have to keep in mind the number of plate appearances — under 10 PA diminishes that boost.
- Home runs have a significant impact. If you get two homers from the catcher position, it’s a guaranteed win unless the catcher bats under the Mendoza line. However, a catcher can still be a streaming win without home runs if other factors are there.
- Counting stats (R+RBI) are the lowest stat consideration because you’re not expecting them from your catcher anyway. They’re a nice bonus.
Omar Narváez, Milwaukee Brewers: 5/13 (.385), 3 R, 2 RBI
Another solid week from Narváez, as he collected two multi-hit games and added some counting stats along the way. His balanced approach at the plate helped fuel a .385/.500/.462 slash line and 149 wRC+. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any power from Narváez, but he adds up to a win in the end.
Eric Haase, Detroit Tigers: 3/17 (.176), 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI
Volume was not an issue for Haase. He started all five games and even pinch hit on his day off. However, the production was not. He managed to smack four hard-hit balls, but couldn’t muster enough to make up for the 44% strikeout rate. His all-or-nothing approach puts a loss on the record.
Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds: 4/12 (.333), 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI
With Joey Votto coming back, we knew the plate appearances might be more brutal to come by. Even so, Stephenson got the final streamer pick. Luckily, it paid off because when Stephenson started, he produced. His .500 OBP helped boost the counting stats, and boom! We got another win!
Swan’s Streaming Record: 6-6
Quick Thoughts From Week 10
The streaming pick I whiffed on was Max Stassi. He swatted five extra-base hits, including two HRs on his way to a stellar week. Even more impressive, in that timeframe, he collected eight runs and six RBI — wow! My guess is the Angels try to keep his red-hot bat in the lineup as much as they can.
Eric Haase may not have had the streaming week we hoped for, but his catching tandem mate Jake Rogers was a pleasant surprise. In Rogers’ three games started this week, he launched two balls over the fences and collected seven runs + RBI. If Haase continues to strike out at a 44% clip, we could see plate appearances tilt in Rogers’ favor.
The Blue Jays’ injury woes continued as Danny Jansen suffered a hamstring strain placing him on the 10-day IL. While Jansen was not having a memorable season, the Toronto lineup is a powerhouse in terms of production. Stepping into a more prominent role will be a left-handed bat, Reese McGuire. The club also recalled Riley Adams, who showcased some HR upside in the minor leagues. Adams clubbed six HRs in 78 plate appearances while walking 14% of the time.
William Contreras started five of the Braves’ previous six games and continues to thrive at the plate. He found holes in the defense six times, including one deep shot into the bleachers. With not much in the way of contention for the catcher position, Contreras is a terrific option in the streaming pool.
The Marlins finally got their full-time catcher Jorge Alfaro back, and he took a pitch off the elbow. This injury prompted the Marlins to remove Alfaro from the game on Friday (6/11) and sit him on Saturday. He is listed as day-to-day, but how this year is going with injuries, we hold our breath that it is nothing major. Serving behind Alfaro is aging veteran Sandy León.
At-bats could become scarce in Cincinnati for Tyler Stephenson and Tucker Barnhart, as Joey Votto returned to the lineup. Both Stephenson and Barnhart were used as viable streaming options this season. Until we get a better feel for usage, I would consider the catcher duties a 50/50 split between both players.
Since the demotion of Chance Sisco, the Orioles are rolling with Pedro Severino and Austin Wynn. We were hoping for more playing time for Severino, but Wynn’s grand slam may have bought him extra playing time on Saturday. Selfishly, I would prefer to see Severino get more opportunities because he sports the 90th percentile max exit velocity.
Over the last week, everyone’s favorite streaming catcher Jacob Stallings has been splitting backstop duties. Although, that is not nearly as surprising when you glance at his 0-for-13 week. The slump has forced the Pirates to give more playing time to left-handed bat Michael Perez.
Have more questions? “Catch” up with me on Twitter @davithius!
This Week’s Streamers
Well, that was a lot to go through. So now, let’s take a look at some of the players and who could provide some value to your team this week:
Omar Narváez, Milwaukee Brewers (46% rostered): Sadly, this might be the last week with Narváez as an available streaming option. His roster rate continues to climb week after week, and this nomination marks his third straight appearance. Furthermore, there are several reasons to make him our top streaming option.
First, Narváez gets two hitter-friendly ballparks. He starts the week with a three-game series at home in Milwaukee, followed by four games in Coors Field. Additionally, six of those seven SPs will be right-handed. Against RHP, Narváez rakes! He touts a .347/.426/.599 slash line with .986 OPS. Included in that destruction of RHP are 13 extra-base hits, with six being long balls!
Max Stassi, Los Angeles Angels (16% rostered): We missed playing Stassi last week, but not this time. Outside of riding the hot hand, Stassi starts the first series in Oakland against two left-handed pitchers. With a DANG (Day After Night Game) on Tuesday, he likely misses Frankie Montas. Next, his good fortune will be followed up by not having to see Tarik Skubal in Detroit. Instead, he gets José Ureña (3.7 K-BB%, 4.22 FIP), Matt Boyd (12.2 K-BB%, 3.81 FIP), and Casey Mize (13.1 K-BB%, 4.78 FIP).
Matchups aside, Stassi has been terrific at the dish for a while. Since the start of 2020, Stassi is sporting a barrel rate over 10% and a career-high max exit velocity of 108.3 mph. Included in that newfound power is a hard-hit rate of over 50% as well. Am I grabbing a catcher on a heater with some decent matchups? Yes, please!
Yan Gomes, Washington Nationals (14% rostered): Playing time shouldn’t be much of a concern for Gomes because both all seven games are at home. Even better, only one DANG at the back end of the week. The first matchup is against the Pirates, who have the sixth-highest FIP (4.47). Following a Pirates, a four-game series vs. the New York Mets. As luck would have it, Gomes and Nationals will likely miss Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.
From a hitting perspective, Gomes has never been a tremendous source of power. Although, he showcases an 8.5% barrel rate with five dingers. A more likely outcome is multi-hit games and a higher batting average. In fact, Gomes has a .309 xBA and K% under 17%. He could be the perfect streaming catcher for a fantasy squad loaded with power and trying to bolster their batting average.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)