If you’re still with me, you’re on the hunt for a title. The catcher position can be a barren wasteland, and 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-rostered catcher. For this list, it means anyone over 50% rostered (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith, Willson Contreras (IL), Salvador Perez, Daulton Varsho, Travis d’Arnaud, Adley Rutschman, Christian Vázquez, Sean Murphy, Alejandro Kirk, MJ Melendez, and William Contreras. That’s TWELVE 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? Jonah Heim, 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.
Week 25 Streamer
Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks: 4-for-20 (.200), 2 R, 2 RBI
Kelly got the playing time we expected and then some. In fact, he started every game this week. And what seemed like an easy streaming call to begin the week quickly faded. In his first three games, Kelly started 4-for-11 with two runs and one RBI. Great! And then, nothing. His production plummeted, and he failed to reach base the rest of the week; yet, he maintained a 46% hard-hit rate. It’s a push.
Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants: 1-for-10 (.100), 3 R
Another hot start that fizzled out as the week continued. Bart sat the first game in Coors but came on strong as he crossed home plate three times during Tuesday’s game. And then, nothing, as he went 0-for-7 and failed to chip in anymore counting stats. Furthermore, Austin Wynns grabbed way too many ABs. Quite a shame, loss!
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 24-20
Notes & Transactions From Week 25
- With Cal Raleigh getting dinged up in Seattle, the team promoted Luis Torrens. But don’t panic if you’re starting Raleigh; he’s back and swatted a pair of HR. We should consider this move a depth play, with Raleigh and Curt Casali handling all the catcher duties. Torrens might slip into the lineup as a DH, but he’s only an “in-case of emergency, break glass” type of streamer for daily transaction leagues.
- Yadier Molina has a knee issue and hasn’t appeared on a lineup card since Tuesday. Andrew Knizner started for consecutive games in his place, and there is no IL stint coming, and Molina is expected to catch Adam Wainwright on Sunday.
- The Texas Rangers agreed to a one-year contract with Kevin Plawecki. However, the team has a few backstops on the roster (Jonah Heim and Sam Huff). So, playing time will be highly sporadic, and he shouldn’t garner any fantasy attention.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates moved Tyler Heineman to the 7-day IL. Sure, it’s not a significant piece of news, but it could push Jason Delay into more playing time. The only other catcher on the Pirates roster is Zack Collins, who’s been getting a fair shake at 1B.
- Injury Updates!
- Willson Contreras (CHC) was spotted going through full pregame workouts but hasn’t cleared. The big obstacle is running the bases, and however, his progression suggests he’ll get back on the field before the season concludes.
- Keibert Ruiz (WSH) has a groin injury that will miss the rest of the season. Additionally, the next time we’ll see Ruiz taking hacks will be at winter ball.
- Tyler Stephenson (CIN) underwent surgery to repair his fractured clavicle. The team moved him to the 60-day IL, and a return doesn’t seem imminent.
- 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.
- Ryan Jeffers (MIN) has been serving as a catcher and DH in his rehab assignment and should get activated any day.
Week 26 Streamers
This will be the last installment of the series. Furthermore, the streamers are only for Week 26 since we’ve only got three following games to conclude the season. Thank you for sticking around this season, and see you next year!
Week 26 Top Streaming Options
Cal Raleigh, Seattle Mariners
One of the season’s biggest surprises has been Raleigh’s production at the plate. Among all catchers, he’s currently first in HRs with 25, two ahead of Will Smith. Furthermore, he’s driven in more runners (59 RBI) than perennial top-end catchers like Travis d’Arnaud (57 RBI), Gary Sánchez (57 RBI), and Willson Contreras (54 RBI). So, he’s been wildly productive over an entire season.
The one itty-bitty downtick has been his batting average. At .209, it’s a tough pill to swallow … at least from a season-long perspective. However, the batting average will fluctuate dramatically in a short weekly burst. My advice is not to worry about him dragging your weekly team’s batting average but embrace what he can do in a short period. Power and counting stats!
From an upcoming schedule standpoint, Seattle draws six games (three games vs. TEX, three games vs. OAK). And wait, no DANGS! Indeed, he’ll likely get a maintenance day and sit, but we should expect five games of production ahead. Additionally, check out the list of pitchers he’ll face Martín Pérez, Jon Gray, Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, and James Kaprielian. Those are very hittable pitchers. Stream with confidence, my friends!
Nick Fortes, Miami Marlins
Say Raleigh is already scooped up, which isn’t that unbelievable as he’s been uber productive. Another streamable option that’s likely on your waiver wire is Nick Fortes. I mean, he’s literally only rostered in 1% of Yahoo leagues, so yeah, he’s there.
But wait, doesn’t Miami have Jacob Stallings? Certainly, but he’s been an inconsistent under-performer this season. And we’ve seen Miami start to turn more playing time his way. While I can’t say he’ll be the safest streamer because nabbing a significant amount of plate appearances is a given, some underlying metrics point towards success.
For starters, his K rate is under 20%, which helps his .254 batting average. But as we discussed, batting average is wonky over a short sample. Instead, I’ll point to his .166 ISO and .744 OPS. From a streaming catcher perspective, those are numbers you don’t typically find this late in the game. Lastly, his five stolen bases suggest he’s no slouch on the base paths.
Since this is the last week, roster% is out the window. Instead, players are ranked on Week 26 and Week 26 only. For instance, Houston only draws five games next week, making Christian Vázquez expendable. Picking up Cal Raleigh or Nick Fortes would be more pertinent.
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||62%|
|William Contreras (ATL)||65%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||28%|
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||40%|
|Joey Bart (SFG)||11%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||14%|
|Danny Jansen (TOR)||24%|
|Nick Fortes (MIA)||1%|
|Yasmani Grandal (CHW)||41%|
|Jonah Heim (TEX)||40%|
|Eric Haase (DET)||20%|
|Christian Vázquez (HOU)||56%|
|Carson Kelly (ARI)||14%|
|Week 26 Streamers|
Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)