The 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, Omar Narváez, Yadier Molina, Gary Sánchez, Sean Murphy, James McCann, and Eric Haase. That’s THIRTEEN catchers.
On top of that, I often avoid 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, 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. 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.
Due to the shortened week, we skipped a week of streaming calls because there were only a couple of games for most teams. Instead, the focus was to find a catcher that might hit an HR. Sadly, Luis Torrens, Ryan Jeffers, and Mike Zunino failed to go deep on Friday or Saturday. Fear not, I have a pair of solid streaming catchers for Week 16.
Quick Thoughts From Week 15
- Stephen Vogt was traded from Arizona to Atlanta. The move was prompted after a disastrous stretch from William Conteras that caused his demotion to the minors. The Atlanta backstop situation will be a handedness platoon between Vogt and veteran Kevan Smith until further notice.
- The move of Vogt to Atlanta secures an abundance of playing time for Daulton Varsho at catcher. Additionally, Varsho started to show signs of life as he went 2-for-7 last week with a HR and SB. His unique skill set makes him an exciting streamer option in the future.
- Austin Nola made an appearance in a triple-A game on Friday (7/17). While he only served as a DH, the Padres’ backstop is making strides to return soon. If you have room for an IL stash, Nola might be a perfect option for anyone sick of streaming. However, in Nola’s absence, Victor Caratini has performed quite nicely.
- The thumb injury to Buster Posey might be worse than initially considered as he remains on the 10-day IL. Grabbing the majority of starts is Curt Casali, who has started nearly all possible games. While Casali may not be a source of power, his near 13% walk rate keeps him viable in OBP format leagues.
- Yan Gomes is still suffering from an oblique injury that is going to sideline for quite some time. There is no timetable mentioned for Gomes return, but the Nationals will use a platoon split of René Rivera and Tres Barrera. At the moment, the situation is a wait-and-see until more information comes out.
- Since Yasmani Grandal was moved to the IL, the White Sox have split time at the backstop position between Zack Collins and Seby Zavala. The two catchers will split time for the next four to six weeks while Grandal is out. The more interesting catcher between the two is Collins because he makes enough hard contact(12% barrel rate) with a 12% walk rate to overcome the near 33% K-rate.
- Mitch Garver is nearing an IL return of his own. The Twins’ catcher harnesses 31 HR power, as shown in his 2019 season. That alone is keeping him rostered in nearly 30% of Yahoo leagues. Currently, Garver is 4-for-11 with a pair of walks at the Triple-A St. Paul affiliate. Place him on your watch list because he will get scooped up quickly once he gets promoted.
- Alejandro Kirk remains in the minors for the moment. The Toronto backstock carries a .347 wOBA and 118 wRC+. If you’re looking for a significant upside potential at catcher, a healthy Kirk could be a wrecking force in an already dangerous lineup. Again, no time frame has been indicated for his return.
- 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. However, there were no stolen bases last week.
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:
The catching landscape falls over exceedingly quickly after the top 13 options. Zunino teeters back and forth between a streaming option and a must-start because of the lack of full-time PAs and his enormous swing-and-miss profile. However, it’s impossible to overlook the power skillset Zunino wields. His .326 ISO is first among all catchers and helps solidify the 19th HR.
A full seven games lie ahead for Tampa Bay, and with two DANGs(Day After Night Games) on the docket, plenty of playing time will be there. Even with a platoon split between Francisco Meija, there should be plenty of meat left on the bone to start four games and take a couple deep, which has been his signature this year, as shown by the 26% barrel rate .533 xwOBAcon.
Fresh off a Grand Slam last night, we are riding his hot hands. Stallings is 15-for-55 with a .846 OPS-outstanding numbers for any player, let alone a catcher in the previous month. However, in typical Pirates fashion, the counting stats have been relatively light.
The tricky part for streaming a catcher is the lack of info, specifically for regular rotations next week. So, rather than focus on matchups, let’s look at playing time. Additionally, Stallings has 261 plate appearances, which is the 11th most by all catchers. The Pirates have six games(3@ARI, 3@SF) for the upcoming week. Included in there are two DANGs on Wednesday and Sunday. Hot bat with plenty of playing time? Grab him!
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)