The catcher position can be 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. If you can properly use that extra spot, some people go catcher-less, a legitimate strategy in a head-to-head league. 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 this list, it means anyone over 50% rostered (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith, Willson Contreras, Salvador Perez, Daulton Varsho, Tyler Stephenson (IL), Keibert Ruiz, Travis d’Arnaud, Adley Rutschman, Yasmani Grandal, Gary Sánchez, Christian Vázquez, William Contreras, MJ Melendez, and Alejandro Kirk. That’s FIFTEEN catchers.
I’m going to say this now — if you’re in a 12-team league or fewer, don’t stream right now. Try trading for someone’s backup instead of diving in the bargain bin for the players who meet my threshold. But we’re going to go ahead anyway.
Who is Eligible?
So who is left? Jonah Heim, Sean Murphy, Elias Díaz, Yadier Molina, Omar Narváez, Jacob Stallings, Tucker Barnhart, Austin Nola, Francisco Mejía, Austin Barnes, Eric Haase, Luis Torrens, Max Stassi, Jorge Alfaro, Yan Gomes, Gabriel Moreno, Ryan Jeffers, Kyle Higashioka, Jose Trevino, and more. That extensive list will change throughout the year and should give us ample opportunity to find value. If you have questions about those players, please shoot me a tweet; I’m happy to discuss.
Honestly, considering the 50%+ rostered catchers, chances are you already have one of these guys. On the other hand, maybe you took a flier late in the draft and are still debating whether to hold someone like Austin Nola. Maybe you drafted Yadier Molina but didn’t feel confident he’d return to his old self.
I say 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.
- 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. We must 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, if other factors exist, a catcher can still be a streaming win without home runs.
- Counting stats (R+RBI) is the lowest stat consideration because you’re not expecting them from your catcher, and they’re a nice bonus.
Back at it again, Heim smashed his eighth HR and chipped in a few counting stats. Also, it wasn’t hollow power; Heim collected four hits and put up a .250 batting average. I’m not going to lie; I would have liked another game of production there, but as I scribe these words, he’s likely still in the lineup today. Win!
Narváez almost got there, and our expectations weren’t relying on HRs but rather a decent average kept up with a multitude of hits. While he chipped in a few counting stats, his inability to elevate batted balls crushed his week. Additionally, the peripherals(20% hard-hit rate and 70% ground ball rate) show he’d need to be very lucky for a successful week. Loss!
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 7-13
Notes & Transactions From Week 11
- Early in the week, the Chicago White Sox placed Yasmani Grandal on the IL due to lower back spasms. In his place, the team utilized a mixture of Seby Zavala and Reese McGuire. The first three appearances went to McGuire, and the next three went to Zavala. So, roster either of them with caution, as playing is split and Grandal could return shortly.
- The 39-year-old Yadier Molina was placed on the IL with knee inflammation retroactive to June 17th. At the earliest, Molina won’t make it back on the active roster until Week 13. This signals full-time plate appearances for Andrew Knizner, who is yet to find his swing and carries a .557 OPS.
- The San Francisco Giants were active as they claimed Yermín Mercedes off waivers. To make room, they designated Michael Papierski for an assignment. The moves come after the team demoted Joey Bart to the Triple-A affiliate. For now, the Giants are splitting ABs between Curt Casali and Austin Wynns at the big league level.
- The Detroit Tigers claimed Ali Sánchez off waivers from St Louis. In the previous two seasons, he’s briefly seen time in the majors. However, Sánchez is more relative in real baseball and not so much in fantasy baseball since his primary ability is defense.
- There’s been a changing of the guards in San Diego, as Jorge Alfaro receives most of the playing time this week, and Austin Nola has seen his role diminish to every other day ABs. The move makes sense since Alfaro is touting a .342 wOBA and 126 wRC+, while Nola has struggled to maintain a .265 wOBA and 72 wRC+.
- Since being called up, Gabriel Moreno has started five of eight games, including three of five this past week. Additionally, he’s handled MLB-level pitching quite well and .421/.450/.421 slash line. With Danny Jansen remaining out, Moreno becomes more viable in leagues and should be on your radar.
- Mitch Garver remains on the COVID IL with no timetable for return. For that reason, he’s off the list, but once Texas activates him – scoop him up ASAP.
- Most Added! Christian Bethancourt (+28%) is getting everyday ABs; sometimes at catcher, sometimes at first base, and sometimes at DH. Additionally, in the heart of the Oakland batting order. While it might not be the most choice of offense, any deep league will benefit from his added playing time.
- Who’s Hot (and under 20% rostered)!
Week 12 Streamers
If the main streamer is not on your waiver wire, there will be a streamer for 12 or 15-team leagues and additional options. Let’s examine players who might provide added value for the upcoming week:
Toronto’s young prospect is well-known for his tremendous athletic ability, not only in the batter’s box but behind the dish. His raw upside and defense are helping bolster his playing. However, the lack of strikeouts is really catching my eye. Now, I do see a 44% swing rate outside the zone, which could lead to an increase in Ks. But Moreno is showcasing a 91% contact rate.
Toronto plays six away games in the upcoming week, including two DANGs (Day After Night Games). Even with Alejandro Kirk in the mix for catcher, the ballclub prefers to utilize him at DH. What’s this mean? From a playing time perspective, Moreno could see upwards of four games. This might not seem like a lot, but this week has a Monday and Thursday travel day. So, we must temper our expectations slightly for all streamers.
To grab a streaming win, we need Moreno to continue flashing his bat-to-ball skills and pick up plenty of counting stats with a decent BA. Additionally, scooping Moreno up early could day dividends for several weeks with Danny Jansen on the IL. This is the type of streaming catcher you should make a priority.
If you’ve been one of the lucky managers to pick up Trevino earlier in the season, you’ve been rewarded mightily for the efforts. He’s already smashed five HRs and even better, with a .283 batting average. Among catchers with 100 plate appearances, Trevino ranks fifth in batting average and 15th in HRs (tied with Tyler Stephenson). And that’s another part of why Trevino’s been so valuable; the playing time. The Yankees lineup is arguably one of the best in the MLB, and Trevino gets plenty of runs.
Although, he’s showing off some improvements that are causing his success. First, the strikeout rate is under 14%, while his walk rate has climbed to 6.1%. Additionally, the batting average is here to stay because he’s made decent contact(5.5% barrel rate and 34.1% hard-hit rate).
In summation, plate discipline skills plus the solid quality of contact(for a catcher), and in a beastly lineup? Yes, he’s got the makings of a terrific streamer. Lastly, the Yankees play seven games this week, and Trevino should be more than enough ABs for a productive week.
Each week, I’ll add a list of potential streamers by weekly rank. For example, if Gabriel Moreno is already rostered in your 12-team league, the next in line should be Christian Bethancourt, and so on down the list. 15-team leagues are much deeper, so attention to Roster% is added to the process. If a 12-team player is available, they are considered the player before the 15-team streamer. Lastly, the Roster% is based on Yahoo leagues. Note: I’ve added 10-team streamers and two-catcher league streamers after getting requests.
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||58%|
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||59%|
|Adley Rutschman (BAL)||61%|
|Christian Vázquez (BOS)||46%|
|Gabriel Moreno (TOR)||27%|
|Christian Bethancourt (OAK)||30%|
|Sean Murphy (OAK)||46%|
|Jonah Heim (TEX)||41%|
|William Contreras (ATL)||49%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||18%|
|Omar Narváez (MIL)||11%|
|Max Stassi (LAA)||4%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||4%|
|Jorge Alfaro (SDP)||6%|
|Carson Kelly (ARI)||7%|
|Francisco Mejía (TBR)||4%|
|Jacob Stallings (MIA)||2%|
|10-team Streamers (less than 70%)|
|12-team Streamers (less than 50%)|
|15-team Streamers (less than 20%)|
|Two-C Streamers (less than 10%)|
Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)