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 properly use 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 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.
There was plenty of volume in Omar Narváez’s week that included a series in Coors Field. However, Narváez struggled to make contact, and when he did, there was not much behind them. Loss!
After a blistering week, the Angels gave Stassi plenty of rest by splitting games with Kurt Suzuki. Unfortunately, this move drove down the plate appearances. Either way, besides a few walks that helped supply a couple of runs, the Stassi call gives us another loss.
What a week for Gomes. He slashed .250/.386/.625 and swatted a couple of pitches into the bleaches, including a Grand Slam. Additionally, the three walks allowed him to drive up the runs total. Win!
Swan’s Streaming Record: 7-8
Quick Thoughts From Week 11
- The Seattle Mariners brought Luis Torrens back to the MLB squad, and he wasted no time showcasing his skills. Torrens collected a pair of hits in three games while going yard twice. While it’s great to see Torrens back in the bigs crushing, keep in mind that Seattle has a very crowded lineup, and plate appearances might be readily available.
- The Atlanta Braves may have found more than lightning in a bottle with William Contreras. After another productive week, the Braves backstop is slashing .243/.315/.468 with a .783 OPS. He remains a terrific streaming option because of the abundance of playing time and success at the dish.
- Last week I touched on Tyler Stephenson’s playing time concerns, and unfortunately, they proved to be a problem. The Reds managed to get him in for three games at catcher and a couple of pinch-hit appearances. But, Tucker Barnhart received a majority of the catching responsibilities.
- Ryan Jeffers collected a hit in all but one game and showcased his power by taking two balls deep. The power plus batted ball skills prompted the Minnesota Twins to move Jeffers up in the batting order. He batted fifth or sixth in most of the games. This move could help bolster Jeffers’ counting stats if he continues to rake.
- Everyone’s favorite catching streamer Jacob Stallings had a tremendous bounce-back week by going 4-for-13 with an HR. This outburst is great to see because Stallings was riding a month-long cold streak that included a .537 OPS with only one dinger.
- Mr. All-or-Northing (Mike Zunino) went deep twice, driving his total up to a staggering 13 HRs. But, while the sum is impressive, like his nickname, that was Zunino’s only two hits. And, his batting average remains .189 on the season.
- We rarely look at the catcher position for stolen bases. However, this week Jorge Alfaro swiped another bag. This occasion marks the second straight week with an SB, bringing his total to three over the past two weeks. Even better, Alfaro might be heating up as he has gone 5-for-12 in his last three games played.
- Curt Casali had a solid week by going 6-for 10 with a tater and plenty of counting stats (3 R, 4 RBI). However, the backstop remains Buster Posey, who is having an outstanding comeback season. Casali remains an option in only the deepest of leagues or NL-only.
- Austin Hedges was sent to the IL, prompting Cleveland to promote 33-year-old Ryan Lavarnway. While Lavarnway likely won’t factor much into the mix, the news will increase playing time for René Rivera, who had a lovely week that included one HR and a .938 OPS. However, Hedges is eligible to come back from the IL in the middle of next week.
- Carson Kelly took a Walker Buehler fastball off the wrist and is likely headed for to the IL. While Kelly is available in too many leagues to be considered a streamer, he was replaced by Stephen Vogt. On the season, Vogt is walking over 10% of the time and .196 ISo.
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:
Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds (8% rostered): In the Quick Thoughts section, I briefly touched on playing time concerns for Stephenson. However, this upcoming week will not be the case. The Reds begin with a two-game series against the Minnesota Twins. With the game inside an AL ballpark, the Reds will use the added DH spot to get Stephenson’s bat in the lineup. After a day off on Wednesday(June 23rd), the following series is home to face the Atlanta Braves. Even with one DANG (Day After Night Game) set on Sunday, there should be no reason to expect less than four games of plate appearances.
Since the calendar flipped to June, Stephenson is on a tear. He is slugging .606 and walking more than striking out (11 BB:6 K). Additionally, on the season, he is crushing left-handed pitchers. Eight of his 13 hits have been extra-base knocks. I bring this up because he draws at least two matchups against southpaws (JA Happ and Drew Smyly) if there’s a setback for Atlanta, possibly even Max Fried. We should expect a handy week ahead for Stephenson, even in OBP leagues.
Jorge Alfaro, Miami Marlins (7% rostered): Alfaro and Marlins will play six home games against Toronto and Washington. With Max Scherzer out, the Nats will throw Jon Lester (8.4 K-BB%), Patrick Corbin (9.2 K-BB%), Joe Ross (14.2 K-BB%), and Eric Fedde (12.8 K-BB%). One word comes to mind when I see these four SPs: hittable. As for the other matchup, it’s a tougher one against Robbie Ray (25.0 K-BB%) and Ross Stripling (18.1 K-BB%). Not ideal, but four out of six ain’t bad.
Any playing time concerns? Not really; the Marlins have been casting Alfaro out there nearly every game. We get a little lucky with a day off on Monday(June 21st). Additionally, the only DANG is at home on Sunday (June 27th). So, we should expect another whole week of plate appearances. Let’s hope he continues the outstanding barrel trend (10.3%) and swipes another bag!
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)