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(IL), 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, 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.
The Blue Jays were not ready to hand the keys over to Moreno, and he only started three games this past week. And that’s one of the main reasons he gave us a loss this week. However, from a plate discipline perspective, Moreno showcases building block skills that’ll lead to success in the MLB. His 90.6% contact rate is above-league average and should help bolster a stable batting average. Furthermore, if he can cut back on some swinging outside the zone, perhaps the power would open up a bit more. Alas, Moreno is still very much a project, and unless you can be patient, he could keep challenging to start week-to-week.
Trevino made his way into the lineup as expected and enjoyed the same success we’ve seen all season. This season’s added power showed up again and helped aid the counting stats. Unfortunately, his value is suffocated due to the Yankees splitting duties with Kyle Higashioka. For this week, it doesn’t matter. Win!
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 8-14
Notes & Transactions From Week 12
- The Kansas City Royals placed Salvador Perez on the IL while activating Cam Gallagher. Unfortunately, that’s a massive blow to the team and will require about eight weeks of inactivity. In his absence, the team will lean on MJ Melendez and Callagher, and everyday playing time will be stable for Melendez in the future.
- The Texas Rangers actived Mitch Garver and optioned Sam Huff in favor of Meibrys Viloria. Furthermore, Garver has been cemented in the DH role with Jonah Heim grabbing everyday catching duties. Viloria will spell Heim here and there but shouldn’t be considered a fantasy-viable option.
- The New York Mets activated James McCann after a lengthy stint on the IL. In turn, Patrick Mazeika was optioned to the minors, and Tomás Nido will play second-fiddle to McCann. Anyone in a deeper league needs to make McCann a priority pickup. His rest of season value could be a nice boost since he’ll bat in one of the more top-notch offenses.
- The Cincinnati Reds claimed Michael Papierski from the San Francisco Giants, who recently acquired him from the Houston Astros. Perhaps we’ll see him back in the bigs soon since Tyler Stephenson is sideline still, and Aramis Garcia is slashing .172/.214/.226-yikes!
- Injury Updates!
- Salvador Perez (KCR) is expected to miss up to eight weeks with a torn UCL.
- Tyler Stephenson (CIN) could begin his rehab assignment next week. This is a good sign as he might miss less time than anticipated.
- Yasmani Grandal (CHW) was cleared for baseball activity and eligible to return from the IL next Wednesday.
- Mike Zunino (TBR) received a Botox injection, and that’s terrible news as it could be thoracic outlet syndrome. Stay tuned, but that could indicate his season is over.
- Danny Jansen (TOR) fractured his finger but showed signs of improvement. He’s been cleared for live batting practice with no timetable on his return.
- Yadier Molina (STL) remains out with knee inflammation and is progressing slowly.
Week 13 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:
One of the critical factors in selecting a streamer(specifically at catcher) is playing time. Maximizing plate appearances is crucial in decision-making, and this week is significant. Oakland doesn’t get a break and will play every day. Monday through Wednesday is a series @NYY, followed by a four-game set @SEA. They’ve got a wonkier schedule with three total day games, with only two DANGs(Day After Night Games). So, expectations should be for plenty of ABs in the week.
On top of plenty of swings at the dish, Murphy started the season as our constant streaming catcher de jour. And then his roster% rose so high we were unable to pick him. However, after several weeks, his roster% is back down to under 50%-for now.
From a Statcast glance, his barrel rate is still above 10%, and he’s enjoying a new max exit velocity(114 mph). There’s always been thump in Murphy’s profile, but it’s slightly limited to the cavernous home park. AHHHH! But he’s not at home this week, remember? All seven games are on the road! I’d never suggest someone solely based on a park factor, but the upgrade is worth noting.
So, what are our expectations for the upcoming week? We know Oakland is not a dynamo offense, so Murphy will need to take one deep and chip in counting stats for the W. Due to his 24.7% K-rate, which is down from previous seasons, we shouldn’t expect a massive number of hits. But hey! Any catcher hitting over .220 is respectable these days.
Like Murphy, the Yankees have an abundance of games in the upcoming week. In fact, the team also gets seven(3G vs. OAK, 1G @ HOU, and 3G @CLE). Typically, two DANGs would scare us off, but not as much with Trevino because he tends to split time already. It’s somewhat baked into his roster% already.
On top of the extensive playing time, as we saw last week, Trevino is making more contact than ever before. And doing so with fewer strikeouts and more walks. In turn, the enhanced plate discipline is giving up a solid batting average floor. Wait, there’s more! The power is still showing up, and, even as our 15-team streamer last week, he went yard.
In summation, a solid batting average plus some power added to a whole week of games should pay off nicely, once again.
Each week, I’ll add a list of potential streamers by weekly rank. For example, if Sean Murphy is already rostered in your 12-team league, the next in line should be Mitch Garver, 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.
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||60%|
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||53%|
|Keibert Ruiz (WSH)||68%|
|Adley Rutschman (BAL)||69%|
|Christian Vázquez (BOS)||63%|
|Sean Murphy (OAK)||48%|
|Mitch Garver (TEX)||43%|
|Gabriel Moreno (TOR)||27%|
|Jonah Heim (TEX)||45%|
|Jorge Alfaro (SDP)||28%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||17%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||4%|
|Elias Díaz (COL)||10%|
|Austin Nola (SDP)||14%|
|Christian Bethancourt (OAK)||18%|
|Omar Narváez (MIL)||10%|
|James McCann (NYM)||4%|
|Max Stassi (LAA)||3%|
|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)