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, Keibert Ruiz, Travis d’Arnaud, Adley Rutschman, Yasmani Grandal(IL), Gary Sánchez, Christian Vázquez, Sean Murphy, Jonah Heim, 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? Christian Bethancourt, Joey Bart, Danny Jansen, William Contreras, MJ Melendez, 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.
Garver was a stud this week and finished with a .211/.318/.526 slash line. Furthermore, he barrelled a pair of pitches which led to his two HRs. But it wasn’t just barrels as Garver smashed six hard-hit balls (one in each game). Additionally, he continued the trend of DHing and never saw time behind the dish. Easy win!
These are the tough ones because Trevino is on the cusp of a win. He’s got one more game this week, and if he produces it’s a W; if he doesn’t play or whiffs, it’s a loss. Still, at the moment, Trevino posts a 106 wRC+ and .724 OPS. We know from past experiences that underlying metrics don’t necessarily mean production. So, it’s a wait-and-see (with an update) coming later.
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 12-14
Notes & Transactions From Week 14
- Mitch Garver of the Texas Rangers will undergo season-ending surgery on Monday(7/11). While Jonah Heim had already cemented himself as the primary catcher, he will move up a spot in the batting order. Drop Garver immediately for a streamer.
- The Tampa Bay Rays acquire Christian Bethancourt from the Oakland Athletics. The move brings up two points: Mike Zunino is likely done for the season, and how playing time shakes out behind the dish. Before Zunino’s injury, Francisco Mejía started against any southpaws. Although, Bethancourt has been more productive vs. LHP as well (.733 OPS vs. LHP/.636 OPS vs. RHP). The likely scenario is an even 50/50 time split. Lastly, expect René Pinto to get optioned.
- The Cincinnati Reds activated Tyler Stephenson from the 10-day IL. After many moving parts at catcher (Aramis Garcia, Chris Okey, and Mark Kolozsvary), the team is settling on Michael Papierski as the backup to Stephenson.
- The San Francisco Giants placed Curt Casali on the IL and recalled Joey Bart. Since Bart’s promotion, he started three of four games including one vs. a southpaw. In his eight games at Triple-A, he worked on making more contact and dropped the K-rate under 20%.
- The New York Mets placed James McCann on the IL with an oblique strain. Returning back to the MLB roster is Patrick Mazeika, who will play second-fiddle to Tomás Nido.
- The Seattle Mariners activated Luis Torrens from the 10-day IL and DFA’d Andrew Knapp. Although, Cal Raleigh has firmly taken the primary catching duties over, Torrens might get a spot starter once or twice.
- The Cleveland Guardians activated Austin Hedges from the 7-day IL. Conversely, Sandy León was designated for assignment. Hedges will see the majority of the team’s plate appearances for catcher but his career 55 wRC+ means he’s not worth rostering in mixed leagues. Additionally, Luke Mahle will serve as the team’s backup.
- In Pittsburgh, Michael Perez continues to be the team’s primary catcher but Jason Delay will serve as the backup while Tyler Heineman resides on the paternity list. None of these catchers are relevant in anything but NL-only leagues.
- Injury Updates!
- Salvador Perez (KCR) started playing catch, which is a positive sign. However, he’ll likely remain sidelined until September.
- Yasmani Grandal (CHW) is rehabbing in Double-A Birmingham. The timetable for his return is after the All-Star Break.
- Mike Zunino (TBR) received a Botox injection, and that’s terrible news as it could be thoracic outlet syndrome. Nothing new but the team acquired Christian Bethancourt via trade which likely signals Zunino’s season is over.
- Danny Jansen (TOR) is currently rehabbing in Triple-A Buffalo. He could be active within the upcoming week.
- Yadier Molina (STL) still hasn’t resumed any baseball activity. Once he does, some time in minors for rehab will be needed.
- James McCann (NYM) is sidelined with an oblique injury. No exact timetable is available but it appears the injury will last weeks, not days.
- Curt Casali (SFG) has a Grade 2 oblique strain that will require several weeks and a rehab assignment.
Week 15 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:
The Royals draw eight games (4G vs. DET, 4G @ TOR) this week, with Monday showcasing a double-header. In all likelihood, Melendez is starting at least five games with a potential of seven. Indeed, he’ll get a night off a few DANGs (Day After Night Games). From a playing time projection standpoint, he’s got a massive edge on the field of streamable catchers.
Add the abundance of playing time to his .189 ISO and 9.1% barrel rate, and we have a potential power liftoff. The question is, will this be the week? The first four at home are a bit more challenging since Kauffman Stadium is one of the bigger ballparks, but when he heads to Toronto, it could be a different story. According to BaseballSavants park factors, the Rogers Center is 10% better than the league average for HRs from right-handed batters.
In summation, Melendez has the makings of a catcher that could go off. Playing time, plus power, and an improved lineup around him should make for a productive week. Scoop him up!
Like Melendez, the team plays eight games (4G @ DET, 4G @ CLE). However, Haase has far less of a solid footing on playing time as the Tigers have Tucker Barnhart. The two backstops are on a 50/50 time split after Barnhart’s offense took a nosedive. Still, the team has three DANGs, and Haase will have plenty of opportunities to show off his skills.
What skills did you ask? Well, he is flexing an 8.9% barrel rate and .731 OPS. As far as catchers on the wire go, that’s a cut above the rest. Furthermore, he’s still showcasing power while cutting his strikeout rate(25.5%) closer to league average. The significant part about Haase is he doesn’t need many swings to make a difference.
For Haase to capture us a streaming win, the power must be in full effect. He will not scatter the ball around and boost the batting average, and we are looking for more like a 4-for-16 week with an HR and several counting stats.
Each week, I’ll add a list of potential streamers by weekly rank. For example, if MJ Melendez is already rostered in your 12-team league, the next in line should be Elias Díaz, 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: Players currently on the IL are not on the list.
|Jonah Heim (TEX)||56%|
|Sean Murphy (OAK)||52%|
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||56%|
|Keibert Ruiz (WSH)||65%|
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||46%|
|Elias Díaz (COL)||10%|
|Jorge Alfaro (SDP)||24%|
|William Contreras (ATL)||44%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||15%|
|Eric Haase (DET)||16%|
|Joey Bart (SFG)||5%|
|Austin Nola (SDP)||13%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||9%|
|Francisco Mejía (TBR)||4%|
|Christian Bethancourt (TBR)||8%|
|Carson Kelly (ARI)||7%|
|Yan Gomes (CHC)||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)