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, Keibert Ruiz, Travis d’Arnaud, Adley Rutschman, , Christian Vázquez, Sean Murphy, Jonah Heim, Alejandro Kirk, MJ Melendez, and William Contreras. 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, Yasmani Grandal, Christian Bethancourt, Joey Bart, Danny Jansen, 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: 5-for-17 (.235), 3 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI
It took a few weeks, but the fantasy community finally caught on to Melendez. Sadly, his roster % jumped over 20% since last week, and he loses eligibility as a streaming catcher. All I have to say is it’s about time! Since the All-Star Break, Melendez has been batting 23-for-84 (.284) with five dingers.
In his last week, he continued to showcase the great quality of contact (14.3% barrel rate and 42.9 hard-hit rate). Furthermore, he swung outside the zone more while making more contact in the zone. Lastly, he got plenty of playing time as he started every game in the leadoff spot. Win!
Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks: 3-for-17 (.176), 1 R, 1 RBI
Kelly, was a bit of a letdown this week, huh? Starting the week 0-for-10 put him in a big hole; though, he nearly dug his way out with a two-double game last night. So, what happened? We got the amount of playing time needed, but where did things go wrong? Well, for starters, he finished out the week with a 29% hard-hit rate. Furthermore, while he limited the ground balls, he barely hit anything over 95 mph. Loss!
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 18-16
Notes & Transactions From Week 19
- Travis d’Arnaud has sat out all week with a leg in a collision. The Atlanta Braves elected to let him rest rather than move him onto the IL. The team purchased the contract of Chadwick Tromp as an emergency, but William Contreras has claimed the catcher duties in d’Arnaud’s absence.
- Since Monday, Joey Bart was kept off the lineup card with an ankle injury. Gabe Kapler noted that Bart could be used as an emergency catcher if needed. This bodes well for Bart staying off the IL, and he should be back in action for Week 20.
- The Colorado Rockies placed Elias Díaz on the IL with a left wrist sprain. In his place, Dom Nuñez has been recalled from Triple-A. Furthermore, Nuñez, a left-handed bat, could grab an occasional start vs. RHP.
- Jorge Alfaro has been suffering from a knee injury that’s taken him out of action for all of last week. In his absence, Austin Nola reaps the benefits of added playing time. However, Alfaro is expected back soon, and an IL stint isn’t forthcoming.
- The Seattle Mariners activated Curt Casali from the IL and designated Luis Torrens for assignment. Casali will provide a veteran presence from behind the dish while providing Cal Raleigh with the occasional day of rest.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers placed Austin Barnes on the Family Medical Emergency List. Until he returns in a couple of days, Tony Wolters will take his spot on the roster as Will Smith’s backup.
- The Arizona Diamondbacks promoted C/OF Cooper Hummel and optioned Jose Herrera. Hummel has some intriguing skills, as shown by his 13% walk rate and four stolen bases in 134 at-bats. However, it would take a Carson Kelly injury before Hummel ever gains any level of streaming status.
- Injury Updates!
- Tyler Stephenson (CIN) underwent surgery to repair his fractured clavicle. The team moved him to the 60-day IL, and he isn’t eligible to return from the IL until the end of 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.
- Omar Narváez (MIL) was placed on the 10-day IL with a left quad strain. He reports to a rehab assignment soon and should be ready sometime next week.
- Mike Zunino (TBR) underwent season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
- Elias Díaz (COL) has a wrist sprain. There is no clear timetable for his return.
- 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 20 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:
Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox
Oh my, how the mighty have fallen. A glance at Grandal’s season-long stats indicates exactly why someone would drop a catcher with his pedigree. Sheesh! Does he only have nine runs at this point in the season? You betcha, but why? And how?
Well, part of the problem is his inability to stay on the field. Grandal missed most of June and nearly all over July. However, he was also putrid in the first half of the season. No, I mean like REALLY bad. From Opening Day until the end of May, Grandal showed a 46 wRC+ and .163/.271/.218 slash line. So, why make him this week’s streaming call?
After the aforementioned poor start, Grandal has started to show signs of life. Since the All-Star Break, the wRC+ is north of replacement level(106 wRC+), and the hard-hit rate sits at a 34.1% clip. While it’s not the levels we have come to know Grandal by, he’s starting to move things in the right direction and perhaps simply getting healthy.
In the upcoming week, Chicago plays seven games (four vs. HOU, three @ CLE); including two DANGs (Day After Night Games). So, we should expect Grandal to hit in the middle of the White Sox lineup, which will add up to plenty of plate appearances for production. We’d love to see him fix his power issues this week, but if not, the counting stats could be there for a streaming win.
Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks
After a poor showing as our Week 19 streaming call, I’m going back to Kelly again. Sometimes, variance goes against us, and a streamer simply doesn’t do enough for the W. Last week, in Kelly’s case, I think that was the issue.
In the upcoming week, Arizona gets a full slate of games (four @ SFG, three vs. STL). Additionally, like Grandal, two DANGs for next week. Still, Kelly gets the nod behind the plate on most days and should start upwards of five games. Against RHP, Kelly slots in the bottom third of the order. However, at times, when an LHP starts, Kelly is bumped up to the leadoff. In summation, playing time won’t be a concern for Kelly.
For a productive week, we need Kelly to continue pulling fly balls and keeping his batted ball events off the infield. When he’s done this, it’s shown to produce results. Since he’s not known for putting the ball over the fence, we shouldn’t rely on him for HRs. Instead, rack up the counting stats and chip away at production with an abundance of hits.
I’ll add a list of potential streamers by weekly rank each week. For example, if Yasmani Grandal is already rostered in your 12-team league, next in line should be Gary Sánchez, 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.
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||66%|
|Jonah Heim (TEX)||55%|
|Keibert Ruiz (WSH)||58%|
|William Contreras (ATL)||50%|
|Yasmani Grandal (CHW)||48%|
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||42%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||12%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||22%|
|Carson Kelly (ARI)||17%|
|Eric Haase (DET)||9%|
|Joey Bart (SFG)||10%|
|Austin Nola (SDP)||11%|
|Yadier Molina (STL)||7%|
|Danny Jansen (TOR)||10%|
|Max Stassi (LAA)||2%|
|Jorge Alfaro (SDP)||10%|
Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)