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, Christian Bethancourt, Joey Bart, Danny Jansen, 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.
Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox: 4-for-16 (.250)
Grandal got the playing time and plate appearances to put up a productive week. Furthermore, he finished with a 42.9% hard-hit rate on 14 batted ball events. So, what went wrong? Where are the counting stats? Well, the main issue was that nearly 65% of those batted balls were clubbed into the ground. The hollow batting average is simply not enough for a win. Loss!
Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks: 5-for-21 (.238), 1 R, 4 RBI
The Diamondback sought any reason to put Kelly in the lineup, and he started every game this week. A feat that we don’t normally see from catchers, let alone streamers. Much like Grandal, he made a substantial quality of contact(43% hard-hit rate and 6.5% barrel rate). The big difference? Kelly only put 25% of his batted ball events on the ground and elevated the rest. The counting stats, and his hot stretch, will continue. Win!
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 19-17
Notes & Transactions From Week 20
- The Chicago White Sox will move Yasmani Grandal to the 10-day IL after he experiences knee discomfort in Saturday night’s game. The void at catcher will open up more playing time for Seby Zavala, who has been somewhat effective in a backup role. In 143 plate appearances, Zavala touts a .721 OPS and 107 wRC+. Carlos Pérez will likely get a promotion from Triple-A.
- The Milwaukee Brewers activated Omar Narváez from the IL after missing time with a quad strain. Mario Feliciano will head back down to Triple-A, and Narvaez will evenly split catcher duties with Victor Caratini.
- The St Louis Cardinals placed Yadier Molina on the restricted list as he heads to Puerto Rico for the weekend. The trip is for personal reasons, and he’s expected to return back on Monday. Iván Herrera was called up to play a backup role for Andrew Knizner.
- The Oakland Athletics promoted Shea Langeliers to the MLB squad. Since his activation, Oakland has started him at DH (of catcher) for three of the last four games. The 24-year-old prospect has shown some power in the minors. The main factor to look for is if he’ll be able to handle MLB pitching enough to ward away the strikeouts.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates optioned José Godoy and activated Tyler Heineman from the 10-day IL. Neither of them is fantasy-relevant unless you’re in an NL-only league since Heineman will become the backup to Jason Delay.
- Austin Hedges suffered an ankle injury and received a maintenance day on Saturday. While tests revealed no structural damage, an IL stint could be in the works.
- 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.
- 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 21 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:
Sanchez has taken a backseat for streaming this season. Although, at one time, he was a well-regarded backstop for his massive power, and yet only has 11 dingers on the season. What’s even crazier is he hasn’t missed much time either (302 AB). WHERE DID THE POWER GO? The answer … nowhere. He still touts a 14.6% barrel rate and a 48.4% hard-hit rate. Perhaps, we are seeing a little misfortune and moving to a less favorable power park for RHB.
In the week ahead, Minnesota plays a wonky little schedule. They will square off seven times against three different teams (one game vs. TEX, three games @ HOU, and three games vs. SFG). Furthermore, in that timeframe, the only DANG (Day After Night Game) winds up on Sunday night. Now, Sánchez has lost some playing time, specifically at DH and with Sandy León grabbing time behind the dish. However, seven games are more than most of the potential streamers because of two travel days this week.
So, what do we need for a streaming win? Sánchez isn’t going to pile up hits and bolster our batting average in a week. Instead, we are streaming him to unleash the underlying power metrics (hard-hit rate and barrel rate) for HR. Additionally, what helps aid him as our streaming call is the ability to rack up counting stats in a top-tier offense.
Shea Langeliers, Oakland Athletics
Four games started in the big leagues and already pushed as a streaming pick? You betcha! And to be honest, there is a bit going on for Langeliers. For starters, Oakland plays seven home games this week (three games vs. MIA and four games vs. NYY). Stop for a moment, then glance at the Catcher List below, and then come back. The other 15-team streaming options (Carson Kelly, Joey Bart, Eric Haase, and Austin Nola) only play five games this week. Even if he sits an extra day, he’ll out-volumn them.
Although, Langeliers hasn’t been sitting; he’s been batting in the DH slot and moving up the order. Now, we don’t have much to go buy for a sample size because he was only called up this week. Let’s dig into the minor league numbers:
As you can see, he’s progressed at every stage of the minor leagues. Additionally, the power is showing off nicely, and the strikeout rate isn’t bothersome. Ahh! This is exactly what Oakland was after when they moved Matt Olson for Shea Langeliers, Cristian Pache, and others.
If you’re searching for “pick me up” as you head towards the finish line, Langeliers might be the addition for you. Certainly, the unknown makes him a riskier play, but he could provide the power needed at a scarce position.
I’ll add a list of potential streamers by weekly rank each week. For example, if Gary Sánchez 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.
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||60%|
|Travis d’Arnaud (ATL)||68%|
|Christian Vázquez (HOU)||64%|
|Jonah Heim (TEX)||53%|
|William Contreras (ATL)||54%|
|Keibert Ruiz (WSH)||56%|
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||40%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||21%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||12%|
|Shea Langeliers (OAK)||13%|
|Carson Kelly (ARI)||14%|
|Joey Bart (SFG)||16%|
|Eric Haase (DET)||7%|
|Austin Nola (SDP)||11%|
|Francisco Mejía (TBR)||4%|
|Danny Jansen (TOR)||8%|
|Max Stassi (LAA)||2%|
|Seby Zavala (CHW)||1%|
|10-team Streamers (70%-50%)|
Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)