Catchers 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, and James McCann. 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 league 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.
Zunino left Monday’s game with a hip injury, which caused him to sit an additional two days, and he didn’t start another game until Friday. Ouch! That destroyed his streaming potential. However, Zunino made the most when he did get on the field. He finished out the week with a 103 wRC+, one barrel, and 42% hard-hit rate, but sadly, it’s a loss.
The Pirates gave Stallings an extra day off, which didn’t help out streaming outcomes. In his eight batted ball events, only two had exit velocities over 95-mph, and zero barrels were recorded. While he may have been white-hot coming into this week, Stallings has certainly cooled off and gives us a streaming loss.
Swan’s Streaming Record: 12-13
Quick Thoughts From Week 16
- Eric Haase was dropped in 7% of Yahoo leagues and rejoined the streaming catcher options. Quite a startling move from fantasy managers, as Haase went 5-for-17 with three extra-base hits, including two dingers. That drives his HR total to 15, making the drops a bit of a head-scratcher.
- Mitch Garver had himself quite a week. He returned from the IL, started his week off with a pair of HRs, then found himself on the paternity list shortly thereafter. While he hasn’t returned from the paternity list, the Twins veteran catcher needs to be considered in more than 35% of leagues due to his impressive power. Consider him in your catcher options moving forward.
- Austin Nola was activated by the Padres early in the week. He’s 0-for-6 so far, and the team is bringing him along slowly. While he is still only rostered in 32% of leagues, you’ll need to act quickly on the waiver wire once he gets on track. Nola has the skill set to put up an abundance of power while maintaining a respectable batting average. Additionally, the presence of Nola will surely diminish the playing time of Victor Caratini.
- Daulton Varsho is finally showing signs of life. Arizona committed to giving him everyday at-bats, and boom, he’s rewarded them with four consecutive multi-hit games. In fact, he is hitting .400/.483/.960 with a 1.443 OPS over the previous two weeks. Not to mention, Varsho has the ability to steal bases (3 on the season). His unique skill set will cause his roster% to soar, so pick him up ASAP.
- Danny Jansen is the latest victim of a hamstring-related injury. His trip to the 10-day IL prompted the Blue Jays to promote Alejandro Kirk from the Triple-A roster. Kirk has been a sexier name among the fantasy community, and for good reasons. He touts a high walk rate to go along with a stout SLG% in the minors. Toronto has no reason to rush Kirk, and he will split time with Reese McGuire for the time being.
- Luis Torrens has become somewhat of a Mike Zunino-type clone. Torrens swatted three HRs this week and brought his HR total to an astonishing 12. This is pretty remarkable when you consider his early-season struggles. However, the Mariners have responded to Torrens’s success at the dish and offered him full-time ABs as either the catcher or DH. Outside of Torrens, the Mariners split time between Tom Murphy and Carl Raleigh. Yeah, it is a bit crowded there, and it wouldn’t shock me if Murphy were on the move elsewhere.
- Buster Posey returned from his injury on Monday (7/19) and immediately sent Curt Casali to the bench. That is great news for San Francisco Giants fans, but not so much for anyone rostering Casali. If you have him, be sure and drop him for a different option.
- Jose Trevino was activated from the 10-day IL in Texas. His first night back didn’t go according to plan as he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Also, Jonah Heim has made himself at home in the absence of Trevino, and the duo will likely split all playing time for the foreseen future.
- Gary Sánchez took Saturday (7/24) off with back spasms. Due to the quick turnaround, the Yankees had to use Rob Brantly Sunday. Brantly is a 32-year-old catcher on his fifth ball club, but has spent most of his career up-and-down through the minors. If Sánchez’s back continues to be problematic, might we see a quicker return from Kyle Higashioka very shortly?
- 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. Daulton Varsho swiped a bag and brought his season-long total to three.
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 who might provide added value for the upcoming week:
It’s tough to look at Varsho’s body of work in the MLB so far. Outside of a couple of short bursts, Varsho has been lousy at times. Although, we simply can’t gloss over how productive he has been since getting full-time ABs. Since the calendar flipped to July, Varsho has been uber-productive. He touts a 160 wRC+ and .279/.392/.605 slash line in that timeframe. Additionally, he shows tremendous plate discipline and strikes out less than 20% of the time while walking at a 15.7% clip.
Many MLB teams get a day off on Monday, included is Arizona. So, the Diamondbacks draw five games for the upcoming week. With only one DANG (Day After Night Game), there should be little to no concern about Varsho getting plenty of chances to be productive. The upcoming matchups are likely Jordan Lyles, Tony Gonsolin, and Josiah Gray. I’ll take my chances that Varsho has turned the corner, and it’ll be another week of massive production.
Streaming a catcher is difficult, but some aspects can alleviate the problems. One, get plenty of playing time. Well, Haase is getting a start about four to five games a week. Also, when he makes his way into the lineup, it’s usually in the heart of the lineup. Okay, so plenty of playing time and perfect spot in the lineup? Check.
Next, let’s take a look at how he performs in those at-bats. For starters, he puts a ton of batted balls in play. Why is that so important? Haase strikes out at a 32% clip, and that will limit his overall batting average. However, due to only walking 5.6% of the time, what he does in those batted balls is extra important. That is where things get interesting for Haase. He showcases a 16% barrel rate and a 48.7% hard-hit rate. In summation, Haase does enough when he makes contact to be a successful streaming option.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)