Catchers are one of the most challenging positions to roster! 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, and Kyle Farmer. That’s FOURTEEN 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? James McCann, 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.
Things just didn’t click right for Nola. He recorded eight of his 12 batted ball events over 95-mph, giving him a 66.7% hard-hit rate. However, the hard hits equated to minimal production, and the Padres’ backstop was a bust for Week 19. Loss.
Kelly only started three games this week but managed to record a hit in each, including a four-hit night on Thursday night. While he failed to take any of those deep, there was plenty of production in the counting stats category to make him a successful streaming option.
Swan’s Streaming Record: 16-15
Quick Thoughts From Week 19
- Travis d’Arnaud was activated from a lengthy stint on the IL. This is fantastic news for Atlanta and anyone streaming catchers. d’Arnaud enters a loaded offense and should be rostered in way more than 43% of Yahoo leagues.
- Yasmani Grandal was sent to Double-A Birmingham on Wednesday to start his rehab assignment. He is still rostered in nearly two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. So, if you’ve got an open IL spot, consider rostering him as he will play a role in the fantasy season.
- Mike Zunino is riding a three-game HR streak. The impressive power output has brought the season to 26, which is only a few behind leader Salvador Perez. Zunino remains a streamer due to the unbalanced plate approach causes his batting average to plummet.
- Christian Vázquez was activated from the bereavement list on Saturday. The quick stint allowed some additional playing time for Kevin Plawecki, who went 3-for-6 in Vázquez’s absence. However, Plawecki will go back to a backup role as we advance.
- Jorge Alfaro continues to play sporadically in the outfield. This should rest his legs from behind the dish, and he is repaying fantasy managers by running. He has bolstered his SB total to six on the season while batting .278 in the last month.
- Alex Jackson has been playing full-time catcher for the Marlins as Alfaro shifts to the outfield. He showcases some pop by smacking three HRs in his last 37 at-bats. However, he isn’t making enough quality contact to be a viable fantasy catcher.
- 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(4), Jorge Alfaro(6), and Travis Nido(1) 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:
Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves (43% Rostered) 12-team league streamer
Rostered just below the 50% threshold, we get a week to stream d’Arnaud. However, I am relatively sure that this won’t be the case next week. A catcher of d’Arnaud’s skill set doesn’t last on the wire length. Fresh off a shortened 44-game season that showcased a 144 wRC+ with 34 RBI, you could say he is a household name.
Enough about last year; what lies ahead for Week 20? Well, a six-game stretch, including the final three at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Furthermore, only one DANG(Day After Night Game) that’ll take place on Sunday. If you didn’t think the schedule could align better, Atlanta gets a mid-week break on Thursday. So, rest should not be a deterrent for d’Arnaud.
While we don’t have a world of stats to look at, d’Arnaud does have a 40% hard-hit rate since his return. Additionally, an 8.5% barrel rate for the season. Lastly, THE BAT X projects d’Arnaud as the sixth-best catcher for the remainder of the season. Grab him up now, and maybe you won’t need to stream a catcher anymore. But please still read this column.
Perhaps d’Arnaud is already rostered in your league because someone stashed him on the IL all this time. So, I wanted to give you another option. Varsho has been spectacular as of late(20-for-62 with five HR and three SB). While his value is slightly better in roto because he can struggle week to week, you can’t overlook his potential to fill the stat sheets.
The upcoming schedule is favorable for Varsho as well. The D-backs get a three-game series against the Phillies before departing to Colorado for three more in Coors Field. In that week, there should be plenty of quality ABs because only two DANGs lie ahead.
Elias Díaz has a .308 wOBA and 77 wRC+ while also being part of one of the lackluster offenses in the MLB. So, why stream him? The answer, Coors Field. The Rockies play all six upcoming games at the ballpark allowing the most runs in the MLB. On top of Coors, Díaz has really enjoyed his time there. On the season, he is batting nearly 100 points higher with an OPS north of .800-nice! The only knock, a few decent SPs coming to town.
In summation, Díaz should get at least four starts in Coors Field. And with only two DANGs ahead, plenty of ABs lie ahead for the Rockies backstop. Furthermore, his 8.5% barrel rate and high numbers of pulled fly balls are translating into plenty of HRs. Lastly, given the decent spot, I would almost consider streaming Díaz in 12-team leagues. That’s how confident I am in his upcoming success.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)