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, Daulton Varsho, Tyler Stephenson (IL), Keibert Ruiz, Travis d’Arnaud, Adley Rutschman, Yasmani Grandal, Christian Vázquez, Sean Murphy, Jonah Heim, and Alejandro Kirk. That’s FOURTEEN 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? Gary Sánchez, 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.
MJ Melendez, Kansas City Royals: 6-for-23 (.261), 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Melendez started six games last week and even led off for three of them. So, playing time was not a concern and more than we anticipated. How did he repay the extra plate appearances? He barreled a couple of balls early in the week but then didn’t have much juice as the week continued. Although, we can’t overlook his ability to add on counting stats, bolster the batting average, and tack on a dinger. Win!
Elias Díaz, Colorado Rockies: 3-for-17 (.214), 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI
Díaz was clutch for us in Week 17 and collected an RBI in three of his five games started. Of course, his HR happened on the only game away from Coors Field; where we assumed he’d be most productive. At home, he showcased a bit more patience and walked a couple of times. Still, he gave us counting stats and a dinger.
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 14-16
Notes & Transactions From Week 17
- In a shocking update, Salvador Perez was not only activated from the IL but started Saturday’s game at catcher. The timeline for his injury had him set for late August/early September. However, he was spotted doing baseball activities during pre-game warmups. So far, Perez is 1-for-7 with one HR and four RBI.
- The Tampa Bay Rays placed Francisco Meija on the 10-day IL with a shoulder impingement. Conversely, the team recalled René Pinto to back up recently acquired Christian Bethancourt. The duo will split time, with Bethancourt getting the majority of time behind the plate.
- As the trade deadline approaches (August 2), there has been plenty of buzz around Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras. Should the Cubs send Contreras packing, Yan Gomes could assume a full-time role. Deeper leagues and two-catcher formats could find Gomes worth stashing for the final stretch. Last week, Gomes was 4-for-14 with a pair of HRs, four runs, and two RBI.
- Arizona Diamondbacks’ Carson Kelly has been red hot. He’s collected 21 hits in his last 58 at-bats with four HR. While the season-long stats don’t look up to par, Kelly spent six weeks shelved on the IL. He’s only 18% rostered but playing nearly every day and starting to turn it on at the right time.
- Injury Updates!
- Tyler Stephenson (CIN) has no official timetable for his return, but a broken clavicle takes typically six-to-eight weeks to recover from. If all goes well, a possible return would happen in September.
- 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.
- Yadier Molina (STL) started his rehab assignment but was hit on the hand by a pitch and removed from the game. He is still eyeing an August 2nd return date.
- Francisco Mejía (TBR) has a right shoulder impingement. The catcher is expected to have a minimum stay and return sometime in Week 19.
- James McCann (NYM) is sidelined with an oblique injury. He began a rehab assignment and is slated to return(barring setbacks) on August 4.
- 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.
Week 18 Streamers
If the leading 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:
MJ Melendez, Kansas City Royals
Melendez is back at it as our Week 18 streaming call for 12-teamers. While he does swing a bit too freely (30.6% O-Swing%), it comes with an abundance of thump (.190 ISO), leading to his ten HR. Additionally, he’s flexing the muscles more as of late and has four dingers in July.
Although, for this upcoming week, he’s got a few favorable aspects. First, the Royals draw a seven-game week with the first series at the Chicago White Sox. He could sit for the DANG (Day After Night Game) on Wednesday, but play three of the next four games at the Boston Red Sox. So, from a playing time standpoint, we should get at least five games to showcase his skills.
What skills does he have? I prefaced the .190 ISO and power; that’s always going to be in his back pocket. On top of that, he’s starting to figure out how to adjust to MLB pitching. Early on, Melendez was pulling for power and then went away from his bread-and-butter as pitchers took a different approach.
In summation, he’s got the playing time, showing the growth at the dish, and the right tools to be our 12-team streaming call for Week 18. Let’s hope you can still scoop him us as he’s available in 56% of Yahoo leagues.
Eric Haase, Detroit Tigers
Haase has started re-capturing some of his mojo from the previous season, where he busted onto the season with 22 HR. Last week, Haase lit up the stat sheets with three runs, six RBI, and one HR over 21 at-bats. A good indicator for streaming is the 21 at-bats, and he’s overtaken Tucker Barnhart as the team’s primary catcher.
Like Melendez, Haase carries an above-league average ISO (.188), which always puts him in play for a chance at the long ball. Furthermore, he’s a free-swinger (37.6% O-Swing%), like Melendez. Although, Haase has been better at limiting the strikeouts. Before this season, he’s shown a K rate north of 30%. That’s bad! Currently, his strikeout rate is only 25.3%.
In the upcoming week, Detroit lines up for three games vs. rival Minnesota (with one DANG), followed by a four-game set at home vs. Tampa Bay (with a DANG on Sunday). S0 playing time won’t be a concern, once again. Let’s take all those at-bats, add them to his power with a decreased K rate, and hope we come out a winner for Week 18.
I’ll add a list of potential streamers by weekly rank each week. For example, if MJ Melendez is already rostered in your 12-team league, next in line should be Cal Raleigh, 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)||61%|
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||48%|
|Yasmani Grandal (CHW)||55%|
|Keibert Ruiz (WSH)||61%|
|Sean Murphy (OAK)||65%|
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||42%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||15%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||14%|
|Danny Jansen (TOR)||8%|
|William Contreras (ATL)||39%|
|Eric Haase (DET)||15%|
|Joey Bart (SFG)||7%|
|Carson Kelly (ARI)||18%|
|Jorge Alfaro (SDP)||15%|
|Elias Díaz (COL)||11%|
|Austin Nola (SDP)||11%|
|Max Stassi (LAA)||2%|
|Christian Bethancourt (TBR)||4%|
|Yan Gomes (CHC)||2%|
|Martín Maldonado (HOU)||2%|
Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)