Catcher is a barren wasteland. Unless you’ve got one of the top catchers, you’re left guessing as to what to do with the position. This article looks at the best streaming-caliber catchers for the week ahead.
First, we have to rule out any widely owned catcher. For purposes of this list, it means anyone >50% owned (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are: Gary Sanchez, JT Realmuto, Willson Contreras, Yadier Molina, Mitch Garver, Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos, Will Smith, Salvador Perez, Yadier Molina, Christian Vazquez, and Carson Kelly.
On top of that, I’m avoiding certain situations until playing time becomes clearer. Those situations include the Padres (Austin Hedges/Francisco Mejia) and the Braves (Travis d’Arnaud/Tyler Flowers). I’m beginning to reconsider the Padres though, as Mejia has started 4 of the last 6.
Honestly, considering the amount of 50%+ owned catchers, chances are you already have one of these guys. That’s 12 guys who are well-owned, the perfect amount for a 12-teamer. Maybe you took a flier late in the draft and are still debating whether to hold someone like Omar Narvaez. Maybe you just l0st Roberto Perez to injury and need help replacing him. Regardless, let’s get into it.
Reviewing Last Week
Last year, I outlined guidelines for determining a streaming “win” 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 .275 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 major impact. If you get two homers from the catcher position, it’s almost a guaranteed win, unless the catcher batted 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.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Texas Rangers: 3/16, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SB
The average and counting stats are wanting, but two steals from the catcher position is wonderful. I think that’s a loss, right? If you’re an IKF owner and the steals are enough to make you happy, let me know in the comments. The problem here is IKF has just 18 PAs through his team’s first 7 games, but most of that is due to his #9 lineup spot. Over a full season, each spot further down a hitter is in the lineup translates to a mid-teens amount of PAs that he won’t get and we’re seeing a bit of that so far with IKF. I believe in the hit tool based on the Spring returns and the comments of the coaching staff though so I’m not totally out yet.
Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics: 2/14, R, HR, RBI, 3 BB
The HR is not enough to salvage his week, as Murphy’s bat has been slow to come around to start this year. Like IKF, Murphy is hitting pretty much exclusively in the 8/9 hole, but has only lost two starts thus far to Austin Allen. If the bat doesn’t come around, we may see a shift towards a 50/50 split.
Roberto Perez, Cleveland Indians: 1/10, R, BB
This hurts. Not only did Perez give you a totally empty stat line, but he landed on the IL with a right shoulder strain. Apparently, he hurt it on Opening Day, which would somewhat explain the empty stat line. He’s a few days away from throwing which means he’s a few weeks from returning but don’t hesitate to scoop him back up when he returns.
Dave’s Streaming Record: 0-3
Quick Thoughts from Week 1
Kurt Suzuki is now the clear starter in Washington. That’s super exciting to see from a player whose xBA has gone up for each of the last 3 years.
Over in LA, Max Stassi has made the most of his playing time split with Jason Castro, poking out 2 HRs thus far; I don’t expect him to keep homering on 50% of his PAs, but it’s interesting to watch so far. For clarity, Stassi is only starting against lefties, which explains his stronger than expected playing time split with Castro thus far.
Keep an eye on Tyler Stephenson, the Reds’ prospect who went 2-2 with a HR, a walk, and 2 runs scored in his MLB debut against the Cubs on Monday. He was optioned back when Mike Moustakas was cleared to return, but I don’t think the Reds can justify continuing to run out Curt Casali and his 3/14 bat. I DON’T CARE IF TWO OF THOSE WERE HOMERS, CURT! THAT’S ONLY 33 IN 876 PAs! To be fair, Stephenson hasn’t played AAA ball and played just 89 games at AA, but he may be better than Casali right now and the Reds are too good to not find out.
We were teased by the idea of a Joey Bart call-up to spare us from the everyday monotony of Tyler Heineman, who despite my cruelty is hitting .294 with a SB, but unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
The Diamondbacks called up Daulton Varsho the other day, which I’m beyond excited about. The guy hit .301/.378/.520 at AA last year with 18 HRs, 21 SBs, 9.3% walks, and just 13.9% strikeouts. I LOVE to see that kind of speed and that plate discipline from the catcher position. The problem is he’s currently blocked by Carson Kelly at C and Starling Marte in CF (yeah, Varsho can play CF too, that’s how fast he is). I suppose he could supplant Ildemaro Vargas who currently gets 1B reps against lefties by pushing Christian Walker back to DH. But even then, that’s not a ton of PAs. Personally, I’m hoping the D-Backs move on from Jake Lamb to make time for Varsho, Josh Rojas, and Andy Young, who all very much need PAs.
This Week’s Streamers
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Texas Rangers: IKF lost a little playing time in the first week to Ronald Guzman, but Guzman was shipped to the alternate training site and I don’t expect Greg Bird to be quite as big of a threat. I’m going to keep betting on IKF for the speed alone and hope the average picks up. This week, the Rangers start in Oakland facing Montas, Manaea, and Fiers, all of whom have struggled to start the year. Then, they travel home to host the Angels, drawing two mystery starters and Shohei Ohtani. What we can say for certain is it won’t be Heaney, Canning, or Bundy, who are all starting in the first half of the week.
Kurt Suzuki, Washington Nationals: So I came into the season expecting last year’s PA split between Suzuki and Yan Gomes, but that hasn’t been the case thus far this year. We knew coming in that Gomes gets all of Corbin’s starts, but he’s only taken one other one so far, going 0-7. Suzuki gets the Mets, but will miss deGrom, followed by Baltimore. The tricky part is that the Nats only have 5 games this week- meaning Suzuki has to get all the non-Corbin starts to deliver for your squad and for the first time, I have confidence he will.
Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays: While Jansen is just 4/17 so far this year, he’s got 4 walks, which I’m SO intrigued by. He was a strong plate discipline guy in the minors but hadn’t yet demonstrated an ability to draw 10%+ walks in the majors. He’s also got 2 barrels on 13 batted balls already, a very encouraging sight despite his overall EV being down. It’s a small sample and I’m not going to overreact, but I will let Jansen fly, just like the Jays do, as Jansen entered this weekend with the second most PAs among catchers- a stat he’s fallen behind in because this weekend’s series with the Phillies was canceled.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcommr on Twitter)