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.
Gary Sánchez, Minnesota Twins: 2-for-13 (.154), 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
We knew the batting average could be problematic. Yet, Sánchez used his power to put a ball over the fence. While he smacked a few barrels, a 25% hard-hit rate REALLY limited the production. It also doesn’t help that he struck out 37.5% of the time. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough counting stats to get a win. There needed to be a few more counting stats if the BA is going to be below the Mendoza Line.
Shea Langeliers, Oakland Athletics: 5-for-25 (.208), 1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI
That’s more like it! Even though Langeliers struck out WAY too much (40%), his bat-to-ball skills showed up and brought home the W. Oakland wants to get him plenty of plate appearances and bumped him up to second in the lineup. The underlying metrics suggest Langeliers shouldn’t have performed this week. But streaming is challenging, and we’ll take it.
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 20-18
Notes & Transactions From Week 21
- The St Louis Cardinals reinstated Yadier Molina from the Restricted List, and the move pushes Ivan Herrara back down to Triple-A and makes Andrew Knizner the backup to Molina. However, the pair is splitting starts on an every other day schedule.
- The San Diego Padres promoted Luis Campusano and placed Jorge Alfaro on the 10-day IL with knee inflammation. In 358 Triple-A plate appearances, Campusano touts a .298/.363/.483 slash line with a K rate under 18%. However, we should expect the team to lean into Austin Nola until Alfaro returns.
- After taking a pitch to the foot, Jose Trevino’s X-rays returned negative. He will need a few days off, but no IL stint is forthcoming. Expect a slight bump in playing time for Kyle Higashioka until Trevino is back to full strength.
- The Colorado Rockies activated Elias Díaz while optioning Dom Nuñez. Diaz isn’t showcasing the same power from 2021 but does stay relevant during homestands.
- The New York Mets activated Tomás Nido from the COVID-19 IL. Nido and James McCann will platoon behind the dish for an upper echelon offense. However, neither catcher is doing much at the plate (McCann .527 OPS, Nido .523 OPS).
- The Washington Nationals recalled Riley Adams back to the MLB squad. He’ll play second-fiddle Keibert Ruiz, who’s vastly underperforming expectations. Riley put up a 92 wRC+ with a 33% K-rate in his two-month stint in Triple-A. He’ll provide Ruiz with the occasional off day but nothing more.
- The Cincinnati Reds optioned Michael Papierski and recalled Chuckie Robinson. Currently, the Reds are operating a turnstile at the catcher position, and honestly, I’ve lost count of the number of players to start a game. He garners no fantasy attention.
- 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.
- Yasmani Grandal (CHW) was placed on the 10-day IL after an awkward slide. Manager Tony LaRussa expects Grandal to be activated sometime in Week 22, as the injury was retro’d back to Aug 20th.
- 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.
- Jorge Alfaro (SDP) was experiencing knee discomfort and was placed on the 10-day IL. There is no exact timetable, but this shouldn’t result in a long stint.
- 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 22 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:
Shea Langeliers, Oakland Athletics
After getting bumped to second in the lineup and another week supplanted in the DH role, my confidence level on Langeleirs is at an all-time high… for playing time. Noted in the Week 21 recap, Langeliers can’t live off a 40% K-rate unless he crushes HRs like Aaron Judge. While he isn’t going to display that kind of pop, his .279 ISO is not too shabby.
In the upcoming week, Oakland draws a three-game set @WSH followed by a three-game set@BAL. Only six games? Yes, Week 22 is relatively straightforward, and most get a day off on play six. Furthermore, the only DANG (Day After Night Game) takes place on Sunday. So, we should see, at minimum, five games of production.
We’ve noted the power, movement into a more prominent lineup spot, and plenty of playing time. Much like last week, he’s on the riskier side since everything is based on small samples. However, as you’re making a final push or in a playoff series, the boom potential is as high (if not higher) as several other streaming options.
Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks
Kelly didn’t have a great Week 21, and that’s fine. He’s been a streamer (on-and-off) quite a bit recently. In the second half, he’s touting a 116 wRC+, which is 60 points higher than the first. What adjustments has Kelly made?
Well, he’s elevating the ball more and replacing five percent of his groundballs with line drives. Any time you’re doing that, solid production will follow. Additionally, he’s showing improvements from a plate discipline perspective. Kelly’s managed to cut the strikeouts back by five percent and tripled his walk rate.
Lastly, Kelly plays seven games this week (three vs. PHI and four vs. MIL). Additionally, the only DANG comes on Sunday. As I stated before, most teams in Week 22 play only six games. That’ll give Kelly an extra game of production to boost counting stats. He’s still widely available in 86% of Yahoo leagues, and grab him early before everyone realizes the extra potential.
I’ll add a list of potential streamers by weekly rank each week. For example, if Shea Langeliers 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.
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||59%|
|William Contreras (ATL)||56%|
|Keibert Ruiz (WSH)||56%|
|Jonah Heim (TEX)||51%|
|Christian Vázquez (HOU)||63%|
|Shea Langeliers (OAK)||18%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||14%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||21%|
|Carson Kelly (ARI)||14%|
|Joey Bart (SFG)||17%|
|Austin Nola (SDP)||11%|
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||38%|
|Eric Haase (DET)||7%|
|Seby Zavala (CHW)||1%|
|Elias Díaz (COL)||7%|
|Danny Jansen (TOR)||7%|
|10-team Streamers (70%-50%)|
Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)