Catcher can be an extreme headache with no relief in sight! 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 catcher-less, 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 J.T. 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 trading for someone’s backup 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.
Omar may only put up a .045 ISO, but the seven hits in five games started were outstanding. Included in that collection of hits was a pair of walks that helped solidify a .432 OBP. Additionally, all that time spent on base turned into six runs. Sadly, none of his batted balls went over the fence, but we are taking a W on this streamer with such a productive week.
This streaming call is a tough one! Stassi put up OK numbers, but I am not here to give OK streaming picks. So, I’m marking this one a loss. Sure, Stassi chipped in a few counting stats, but we were looking for the HR included. What hurts the most is Stassi’s 11 batted ball events; six were hard-hit balls(batted balls traveling over 95-mph). We wanted fireworks but got a dud.
Stephenson is another callous one to take. We knew ABs might be challenging for Stephenson due to the lack of games and splitting catching duties. However, Stephenson found enough playing time and even collected enough hits to garner the win. The main problem, outside of a few singles and a double, the resume was lacking. Just like Stassi, he also had a 54.5% hard-hit rate. Close but no cigar, we get a loss.
Swan’s Streaming Record: 9-11
Quick Thoughts From Week 13
- Elias Díaz went off this week by hitting an HR in four straight games! That is correct, four! Included in the wake of his destruction were four runs and six RBI. Oddly, this week accounts for a big part of his stats on the season. In 142 ABs, Díaz has only totaled 17 runs, 6 HRs, and 15 RBI. The homestand indeed aided this fantastic week of hitting in Coors Field, but maybe this was the “get right” week to kickstart his season.
- Eric Haase may have only started two games this week but made the most of his time. In seven ABs, he accumulated three HRs, including one inside-the-park shot last night. Again, you read that right, an inside-the-park HR! Haase had fallen out of favor as Detroit’s main backstop option. Instead, Jake Rogers had been utilized on a more regular basis. Both are intriguing options in the deepest of formats.
- Yan Gomes is only rostered in 18% of leagues(according to Yahoo). This low roster% is somewhat of a headscratcher when you consider his season. Sure, he doesn’t have thunderous power, but eight HRs is nothing to overlook. Included in that thump is a healthy .260 BA and 56 runs+RBI. Any two-catcher leagues cannot have this bat on the waiver wire. Additionally, any 12-teamers with one catcher might want to plug Gomes in for the consistent playing time and overall balanced production.
- Yasmani Grandal was sidelined with a calf issue last night. This situation is worth keeping an eye on because even with Yasmani healthy, the White Sox elected to slide Grandal over to 1B to make room for Zack Collins. While Collins won’t likely steal the show from Grandal, he did put up a solid week that included a .294/.368/.588 slash line and one HR.
- Mike Zunino did it again! With a pair of HRs, the Rays’ catcher notched his 18th HR of the season. This impressive amount moves him up the MLB HR leaderboard to the top-15. Additionally, Zunino is finally hitting over the Mendoza Line. This incredible run has resulted in added playing time for Zunino, and we are seeing fantasy managers respond by his roster% increasing 11%. Anyone lacking power needs to consider Zunino as a viable option for their catcher position.
- Jose Trevino was placed on the 10-day IL with a forearm contusion. The injury prompted Texas to promote John Hicks, who swatted three HRs in his first two games. John Hicks is a former Detroit Tiger who put up 13 HRs in 2019 and touts a .169 career-ISO for those who don’t remember. Maybe an excellent couple of games earns him extra playing time, but Jonah Heim is the lead backstop for the Rangers until further notice.
- Cleveland has been a busy bunch as they added Wilson Ramos to the catcher pool. Ramos was off to a scorching start that cooled off quickly and followed with an abrupt injury. He remains in the Cleveland Minor League system for now. Additionally, Roberto Pérez returned to the team after an injury sidelined him for over a month. Furthermore, this move means a decrease in playing time for Austin Hedges. A word comes to mind when I think of this situation-crowded.
- For the early stashers, Alejandro Kirk is finally eligible to return from the 60-day IL. Kirk is only rostered in 4% of Yahoo leagues but showcases impressive power that an already loaded Toronto lineup could welcome. Keep in mind, Kirk is still on a rehab assignment but will likely get the call any day.
- STOLEN BASE ALERT! A reader reached out to me and asked about finding a catcher with stolen bases. So, as we advance, I will be recapping any catcher that swiped a base that week. Yadier Molina(2nd week in a row), Christian Vázquez, Zack Collins, and Kyle Farmer(Yahoo leagues only) each swiped a base in Week 13.
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 examine players that might provide added value for the upcoming week:
Omar Narváez, Milwaukee Brewers (49% rostered): Look, if you’ve been following my streaming advice this season, you’ll surely notice my affinity for Omar Narváez. A left-handed catcher with a .303 BA and 11% BB rate? Sign me up anytime! To continue the Narváez love, he strikes out less than 18% of the time while the league strikeout rate is 24%. You simply can’t hate that profile.
Narváez and the Brewers play seven games this week(three at the Mets, four at home vs. the Reds). In that timeframe, at least five of the SPs will be right-handed. Why is that important? Against RHP, Narváez is slashing .321/.405/.482 with a .887 OPS. To keep piling on, only one DANG (Day After Night Games) is present for the following Sunday. So, to sum things up, we get an ample catcher with loads of playing time against pitching that he does his best work against-sign me up again!
Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays (36% rostered): We can’t overlook the power that Zunino brings to the table. Furthermore, when you dig into Zunino’s profile, the shocker is of his 18 HRs; nine are against RHP, and nine are against LHP. However, he does significantly more destruction against LHP(.339/.406/.839 with 1.245 OPS). What is the big takeaway? Start Zunino against all left-handed pitchers!
Taking a look ahead to next week, Zunino and Rays draw four LHP(Logan Allen, Sam Hentges, Robbie Ray, and Steven Matz). Outside of Robbie Ray, Zunino has plenty of opportunities to do some damage, regardless of whether he even gets a plate appearance vs. RHP. However, the tiniest of concerns may come from the number of DANGs that lie ahead. The Rays’ schedule comes with three-day games, two of which are after evening affairs. Nevertheless, there is plenty of loud booms to light up the stat sheet.
Jonah Heim, Texas Rangers (0% rostered): Jonah Heim is my super deep-sleeper streaming call. With Jose Trevino on the IL, the Rangers should take this week to see what the switch-hitting Heim can do. Here is a little precursor, Heim does not mash the ball exceptionally hard, but he puts many balls in play. His .343 xwOBAcon is not terribly far from the MLB-average(.363). Additionally, Heim only strikes out at 18.2% and walks nearly 8% of the time. To sum it up, there are skills to make him a streamable option, especially since he rarely had full-time plate appearances.
A look at the upcoming week shows a couple of reasons why Heim garners your attention. First, five of the upcoming six SPs are right-handed. Throughout his career, Heim shows more success against RHP in the MLB and Minor Leagues. Also included in those SPs are a few arms to take advantage of; José Ureña and Wily Peralta. Is this streaming catcher call for everyone? Nope, only for the deepest of leagues’ fantasy players.
Happy 4th of July, and stay safe, everyone!
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)