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.
Melendez started on the right foot by collecting three hits(including two extra-base shots) in his first two games. But we ran into a big problem, a series at Toronto. Much of the team and Melendez could not make the trip due to vaccination restrictions. The lack of playing time will easily give us the loss-even though Melendez was productive while playing.
The unfortunate part of streaming a catcher is how dependent they are on teammates for production. Even though Haase collected plenty of hits and bolstered our team’s batting average, the rest of his week is very hollow. Additionally, the volume was there, and he even pinch-hit a couple of times. In the end, there wasn’t enough, besides average, to give us the win.
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 12-16
Notes & Transactions From Week 15
- The Texas Rangers placed Mitch Garver on the 60-day IL after season-ending surgery and recalled Sam Huff. Both Huff and Meibrys Viloria are available for backup duties to Jonah Heim, who remains the team’s primary catcher.
- The Tampa Bay Rays optioned René Pinto to the Triple-A affiliate as the team will split catching duties between Francisco Meija and recently-acquired Christian Bethancourt. Since Bethancourt’s arrival, neither catcher has started back-to-back games.
- The Toronto Blue Jays activated Danny Jansen from the IL and optioned Gabriel Moreno. Since Jansen’s return, he’s started at catcher for four of six games. Furthermore, Moreno’s demise came at the expense of his inability to chase pitches outside of the strike zone.
- During the series in Toronto, the Kansas City Royals had to place both catchers(MJ Melendez and Cam Gallagher) on the restricted list. The team called up Sebastian Rivero and Freddy Fermin. As the series concludes today, Melendez and Gallagher will be reinstated on Monday.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates optioned Michael Perez and reinstated Tyler Heineman from the bereavement list. The demotion for Perez isn’t a shocker as he carried a .150/.209/.318 slash line and 47 wRC+. The team will use a flavorless blend of Heineman and Jason Delay behind the plate.
- The Minnesota Twins placed Ryan Jeffers on the 10-day IL and purchased the contract of Caleb Hamilton, who showed some pop in the minors. In 159 MiLB at-bats, Hamilton touts a .239 ISO, 18% walk rate, and 135 wRC+. Although, it comes with nearly a 28% K-rate and an inflated 25% HR/FB rate.
- Injury Updates!
- Salvador Perez (KCR) started playing catch, which is a positive sign. However, he’ll likely remain sidelined until September.
- Yasmani Grandal (CHW) has been rehabbing in the minors. He is expected to rejoin the MLB squad right after the ASB, barring any setbacks.
- Mitch Garver (TEX) underwent season-ending surgery to repair a flexor tendon. The recovery time is six-to-eight months, and he should be dropped in all redraft formats.
- Mike Zunino (TBR) has been moved to the 60-day IL, and a return this season doesn’t seem apparent. He’s droppable in all formats.
- Yadier Molina (STL) is scheduled for a rehab assignment near the end of July. If all goes well for his knee, he’ll be in line for a return in early August.
- James McCann (NYM) is sidelined with an oblique injury. There is still no exact timetable for a return, but it’s likely several more weeks away and will require a rehab assignment.
- Ryan Jeffers (MIN) has a fractured right thumb and will miss six-to-eight weeks. Additionally, the injury will require surgery, and he isn’t slated for a return until early September.
- Curt Casali (SFG) began throwing after a right oblique injury. Still, Casali is likely a few weeks away from returning to MLB action.
Week 16 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:
- We’ve made it to the All-Star Break, and the number of games played will heavily influence our streaming options.
- NYY, HOU, and OAK play five games, and CHW, CLE, DET, TEX, MIA, LAD, and SFG draw four games. The rest of the teams will play three.
Trevino is graduating from a 15-team streamer to a 12-team streaming. Why not? He’s quickly become the Yankee’s primary option behind the dish. Furthermore, what continually gets overlooked is his keen batter’s eye. The 14% K-rate and 88.5% zone contact provide an immense amount of value in a dominant offense. Sure, he hasn’t been as red hot as the first couple of months, but he’s still making a solid quality of contact(July 1-July 17, 48.5% hard-hit rate). The slight downtick in production appears to be driven by a little BABIP(.219) misfortune.
As prefaced earlier, the Yankees get an extra couple of games in a short week. While most might stick to their usual option at catcher, Trevino has the chance to grab the additional plate appearances. This advantage should help us win the week with a boost in counting stats and not taking a zero at the position.
Since a return to the MLB squad, Bart has performed quite nicely. He’s showcasing a 167 wRC+ on the back of a .320 ISO and 10.7% walk rate. Still, the pesky strikeouts(35.7%) remain. But it’s an improvement from the gaudy 45.4% clip he struggled with before the demotion.
The chart below shows better results from a more disciplined approach. While Bart is swinging less(swing%), the swings in the zone(z-swing%) are increasing. Conversely, the swings outside of the zone(o-swing%) are going down. NOTE: The blue bar in the middle indicates when Bart was demoted.
A better approach at the dish plus a four-game week instead of three gives me plenty of reason to make him a streaming priority. Furthermore, he’s getting plenty of run behind the dish with Curt Casali shelved. Finally, add in his prospect pedigree, and there is potential for him to lock down the starting gig for the rest of the season. Remember, the ultimate goal of streaming is to find the player that makes you no longer need to stream.
Each week, I’ll add a list of potential streamers by weekly rank. For example, if Jose Trevino is already rostered in your 12-team league, the next in line should be Eric Haase, 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.
|Sean Murphy (OAK)||56%|
|Jonah Heim (TEX)||59%|
|Keibert Ruiz (WSH)||64%|
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||59%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||15%|
|Eric Haase (DET)||20%|
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||40%|
|Danny Jansen (TOR)||12%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||12%|
|Joey Bart (SFG)||7%|
|Martín Maldonado (HOU)||2%|
|Jorge Alfaro (SDP)||11%|
|Austin Nola (SDP)||9%|
|William Contreras (ATL)||44%|
|Carson Kelly (ARI)||8%|
|Francisco Mejía (TBR)||3%|
|Christian Bethancourt (TBR)||6%|
|Jacob Stallings (MIA)||2%|
|Max Stassi (LAA)||2%|
|Yan Gomes (CHC)||2%|
|Andrew Knizner (STL)||1%|
|Nick Fortes (MIA)||1%|
|Elias Díaz (COL)||9%|
|Tucker Barnhart (DET)||2%|
Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)