Catchers can feel like stepping on a lego in the middle of the night! 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, Mike Zunino, 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? Eric Haase, James McCann, Austin Nola, Mitch Garver, Yan Gomes, Tucker Barnhart, Jacob Stallings, Stephen Vogt, Wilson Ramos, Martín Maldonado, Max Stassi, 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.
Kelly flexed his muscles this week and took his ninth and tenth HR on the season. That alone should make him a winning streamer pick but he also took a few walks and finished with a 1.056 OPS on the week. Oddly, even with an outstanding week, his roster% didn’t go up in Yahoo leagues. Nevertheless, we will take a win.
Stassi got an unexpected extra day off, which is a bit of a disappointment because he wasn’t that far off from getting us a win. However, the bigger disappointment is the lack of thump. He recorded one barrel, but it was a weak one that barely touched 90-mph. :sigh: Maybe next time but for now, we get a loss.
Swan’s Streaming Record: 19-17
Quick Thoughts From Week 21
- Eric Haase was reinstated after a short stint in the minors. Since his return, Haase started both Friday and Saturday games before getting today off. This moved prompted Detroit to option Grayson Greiner back to Toledo (Triple-A East).
- Travis d’Arnaud was reinstated from the paternity list. This spells bad news for William Contreras, as he was optioned to Gwinnett (Triple-A East). Atlanta will lean heavily on d’Arnaud with veteran Stephen Vogt as the backup, but he won’t get enough playing time to be considered a streamer.
- The Chicago White Sox reinstated Yasmani Grandal from the 10-day IL. The odd man out becomes Zack Collins, not Seby Zavala, to Charlotte (Triple-A East). Grandal will get the majority of work, with Zavala spelling him from time to time. Although, Zavala shouldn’t be on your fantasy radar.
- The Twins placed Mitch Garver on the 10-day IL with a lower back strain, retroactive to August 25th. Ryan Jeffers will take over the catching duties until Garver’s return. This makes Jeffers an intriguing streamer since the only other catcher currently on the roster is Willians Astudillo.
- The Blue Jays elected to go with Alejandro Kirk and Reese McGuire as their catchers. Danny Jansen was optioned to Buffalo (Triple-A East) for a rehab assignment. Kirk barrels the ball a bit and hits for a decent average in a potent lineup. And he gets extra playing time in a powerful lineup? Yes, please!
- James McCann’s injury may be worse than expected. He is ready to come off the IL, but the Mets haven’t activated him. In fact, he hasn’t played in any minor league games either. However, the Mets did reinstate Tomás Nido and optioned Chance Sisco to Syracuse (Triple-A). Expect a heavy dose of Nido with a mix of Patrick Mazieka until McCann returns.
- Jorge Alfaro has been on fire recently. In the last two weeks, Alfaro is 13-for-43 with 11 RBI. He has been playing nearly every day because his versatility gets days in the outfield. His production and playing time should have him rostered in more than 9% of Yahoo leagues. So, double-check your waiver wire if he is available.
- Yadier Molina signed a one-year extension that will make him the backstop in St. Louis for 2022. Great news for a tremendous catcher will always make the Quick Thoughts section-even if Molina is not a streamer. The extension does mean Andrew Knizner won’t be the full-time starter next season.
- 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. Jorge Alfaro swiped his eighth bag of the season(four in the last month). Also, Cleveland backstop Austin Hedges stole his first base of the season on August 26th.
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 (46% Rostered) 12-team leagues
Last week was an interesting one for d’Arnaud. He started on the paternity list and didn’t make it back into a lineup until Tuesday(August 24th). Then, after two days off, he went 0-7 against the Giants. This rollercoaster of a week caused his roster% to drop to 46%. Great news for anyone streaming, since he is still available in over 50% of Yahoo leagues.
What makes d’Arnaud a great option to stream is the final series in Coors Field. Unfortunately, he runs into a Max Scherzer and Walker Buehler start to his week. However, we can look the other way on those two games and focus primarily on the four-game series against Colorado. If he gets even three games in Coors, his ability to make loud contact and bat in the heart of a productive lineup should make him playable in all 12-team formats.
Unlike most teams in the MLB, Detroit does not get a day off on Monday. Nope, in fact, they to make up a game against the Twins. The Tigers play seven games this week, including a three-game series at the Great American Ball Park. And that’s a prominent part of what makes Haase so attractive as a streamer option.
Haase has showcased an unexpected power that’s made him fantasy relevant for quite some time. His 16.4% barrel rate and .266 ISO suggest anytime he makes contact, it has a solid chance of going over the fences. Haase has 19 HRs with a 31.8% K-rate on the season, so the word streaky comes to mind. So, for that reason, we can be a bit of boom-or-bust play.
I’ll worry less about my catcher’s batting average and more about the raw talent at this point in the season. My suggestion is to roster Haase and expect him to make enough quality contact to forget his plate discipline.
I can’t seem to overlook Alfaro’s recent success. Since moving to the outfield, his everyday ABs continue to boost the counting stats. Not to mention, he is stealing a base nearly every week. Additionally, if you look from August 1st until now, Alfaro is slashing .304/.321/.443 with the second most RBI(17).
But the real question is, what can we expect this upcoming week? For starters, Miami plays six games, with only one DANG on Sunday night. Given that Miami keeps sticking him in the outfield, I would expect at least five starts. Alfaro should face at least two southpaws in the upcoming week, which is outstanding because he shows a bit more thump there(.308 SLG% vs. RHP, .474 SLG% vs. LHP).
Lastly, the chink in Alfaro’s armor is he relies far too much on putting balls in play for success. His K% hovers around 30% for most of the season. And even in his last impressive stretch, the K-rate is a bit elevated. To be successful this week, he needs to put as many balls in plays as possible and rely on counting stats to be productive.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)