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. 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 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, Eric Haase, Kyle Farmer and James McCann. That’s FIFTEEN 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.
Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins: 3/16 (.188), 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI
Not precisely a batting average we love to see, but you can’t overlook the pair of HRs and four RBI from your catcher position. Garver continues to strike out at an alarming rate, but when you’re making enough loud contact in a week (two barrels and five hard-hit balls), it’ll make up for that. Win!
Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays: 3/9 (.333) 2 R, 1 RBI
Toronto elected not to play Kirk as much as I had hoped. He only found his way into the lineup for three games, which limited his counting stats and kept the overall production at bay. I have to take a loss because Kirk didn’t see ten ABs but made the quality of contact we want, and it looks like he is getting right for the remainder of the season.
Swan’s Streaming Record: 15-14
Quick Thoughts From Week 18
- Gary Sánchez was placed on the COVID-19 injured list on August 5th, which will result in additional usage for Kyle Higashioka and Rob Brantly. When Sánchez returns, Brantley will be sent back down, and Higashioka will likely return to his backup duties.
- Elias Díaz swatted a pair of HRs this week, bringing his season total to 13. He looks to be getting the majority of the starts for Colorado, and if there is a decent home stretch, he needs to be considered as a terrific streaming option.
- Jorge Alfaro is getting some playing time in the outfield now. This is a positive sign, as Alfaro went 6-for-19 with a trio of doubles and capped the week with a .824 OPS. Additionally, playing time at catcher opened up for former first-round pick Alex Jackson. Maybe there is something there for Jackson, as he showcased a .407 ISO in Triple-A.
- Wilson Ramos was brought up to the MLB team on Friday(8/7). He wasted no time announcing his presence with authority by smashing an HR against his former Detroit Tigers. He will split backstop duties with Austin Hedges while Roberto Pérez from shoulder inflammation on the 10-day IL.
- Austin Nola has been white-hot for the Padres. He is 8-for-12 in his last week of play and slashing .423/.467/.500 with a .967 OPS since returning from the IL. Given the loss of Tatís Jr., the Padres could greatly benefit from keeping Nola’s bat in the lineup as much as possible.
- Yan Gomes is still only 12% rostered in Yahoo leagues. He smashed two HRs for his new ball club, the Oakland Athletics. While he won’t draw as much playing time in Oakland, he remains a viable option in two-catcher leagues.
- 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. Eric Haase(2) and Isiah Kiner-Falefa(16) each stole a base.
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:
Austin Nola, San Diego Padres (31% Rostered)
As I mentioned in the Quick Thoughts, Nola has been on fire at the dish. While he has been splitting a bit of time with Victor Caratini, the Padres can’t help but try to get his bat in the lineup more than ever. For now, Nola has been getting 100% of the starts vs. LHP, which is good news for the upcoming schedule because they face three southpaws. If he can grab an extra game, there will be enough playing time to make him viable.
Additionally, Nola should be a terrific pickup to give us plenty of counting stats. His 1.5% barrel rate is far below his career marks, which could mean he needs a little more playing time to get right. But, what has me wanting to get as much Nola in my lineups is the lack of Ks (7.9%) and the 12.4% walk rate. Nola sees the ball well, making solid contact to get on base. You can’t ask for too much more from a catcher in a good lineup.
Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks (22% Rostered)
Grabbing a catcher that bats in the three or four-hole of any lineup is a positive play, even if it’s for the lousy D-backs offense. Although Arizona did get Ketel Marte and Kole Calhoun in the past few weeks, so they aren’t that lousy-ish. Additionally, Kelly’s upcoming schedule lineups up nicely as he plays six games with no DANGs (Day After Night Games). We shouldn’t have to worry about plate appearances for this streaming call. Phew!
Since returning from the IL, Kelly hasn’t found his power stroke and has yet to park one over the fences, which is quite a downer because Kelly had hit eight before the injury and would have been on pace for a new career-high. However, on the positive side, he sees the ball very well. With very few swings outside the zone, his walk rate is over 22%, and the K-rate is under 19%. The plate discipline suggests he is close to finding his groove, and let’s roll the dice that this week is the one he smashes.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)
In OBP leagues would you rather have Nola than Haase?
No, I would ride out Haase as long as I could.