Catchers 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 Salvador Perez, J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith, Yasmani Grandal, Willson Contreras, Daulton Varsho, Tyler Stephenson, Keibert Ruiz, Mitch Garver, Christian Vázquez, Travis d’Arnaud, Gary Sánchez, and Sean Murphy. That’s THIRTEEN 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 Brewers (Omar Narváez/Victor Caratini).
I’m going to say this now — if you’re in a 12-team league or fewer, don’t stream right now. Instead of diving in the bargain bin for the players who meet my threshold, try trading for someone’s backup. But we’re going to go ahead anyway.
Who is Eligible?
So who is left? Adley Rutschman, Alejandro Kirk, Joey Bart, Yadier Molina, James McCann, Carson Kelly, Jacob Stallings, Tucker Barnhart, Austin Nola, Jonah Heim, Zack Collins, Eric Haase, Luis Torrens, Max Stassi, Jorge Alfaro, Yan Gomes, Ryan Jeffers, Kyle Higashioka, 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 Perez 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.
- 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 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) is the lowest stat consideration because you’re not expecting them from your catcher anyway, and they’re a nice bonus.
Murphy found all the playing time we expected and made it into the starting lineup all week. In fact, he’s played in every game since opening day. Additionally, as we suspected, the counting stats kept piling up because Oakland never took him out of the three-hole.
The stat line doesn’t glow as much as the underlying metrics. In 15 batted ball events, two were barrels(13.3), and eight were hard-hit(batted balls over 95-mph). His excellent contact quality of contact added equaled four extra-base hits. However, eight strikeouts stifled his BA a touch.
Win, but unfortunately, his roster rate finally went over 50%, and Murphy is no longer considered a streamer.
Unfortunately, we’ve got to take a loss. While I noted last that Stassi is somewhat of a BA slug, he just didn’t do enough to make up for it in the counting stats. This is a shame because of Stassi’s ten batted ball events, three were barrels, and he produced a 50% hard-hit rate. So close, but not enough. Loss!
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 2-2
Notes & Transactions From Week 3
- Oakland placed Austin Allen on the COVID-19 IL on Monday, but he returned on Thursday.
- Boston placed both Christian Vázquez and Kevin Plawecki on the COVID-19 IL. Needing a backstop, the team recalled Connor Wong and Ronaldo Hernández. Since then, Vázquez has resumed playing.
- Atlanta optioned emergency catcher Chadwick Tromp to the minors after he cleared waivers. Now that he’s healthy, Manny Piña will serve as the team’s primary backup to Travis d’Arnaud.
- After a collision at the plate with Luke Voit, Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson was diagnosed with a concussion. He was placed on the 7-day IL and will likely return sometime next week. In Stephenson’s place, Aramis Garcia has been getting the starts. Simply put, Garcia strikes out too much to be a full-time starter.
- On Friday, Ray’s catcher Francisco Mejía was placed on the COVID IL. This caused Tampa to promote René Pinto to the MLB roster. However, he’s yet to see action, and the team will continue starting Mike Zunino until Mejía returns.
- Twins catcher/DH Gary Sánchez missed Friday and Saturday’s game with a sore abdomen. The MRI showed minimal issues, and an IL stint isn’t likely. However, the team promoted José Godoy as a precaution.
- Showing signs of life, Ryan Jeffers is 4-for-17 with three extra-base hits (two 2B, one HR). He’s rostered in less than 2% of Yahoo leagues, but playing time will be squeezed when Sánchez returns.
- One of the most added catchers, Zack Collins, has been a popular name since the injury to Danny Jansen. However, Collins should be considered a short-term solution since the team continues to play Alejandro Kirk at catcher.
- The most dropped catcher of the last seven days is Joey Bart. He’s gone hitless in his previous ten ABs, but showcases a .722 OPS on the season. At the moment, he’s only viable in daily transaction leagues because it’s a 50/50 split with Curt Casali.
Week 4 Streamers
If the main 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:
With Danny Jansen out, we’ve got a full week’s sample size; and Kirk is getting all the catching duties. Zack Collins grabbed some DH plate appearances, but George Springer was not available those days. Furthermore, this leads to a couple of questions: Will Collins give Kirk a day off, and how will it affect his playing time? With two DANGs(Day After Night Games), we should expect Kirk to play at least five of Toronto’s seven games.
The production has been lacking for Kirk … so far. However, in the previous week, Kirk has done a better job at making contact but not making lots of quality contact. Over his last 16 plate appearances, he’s slashing .357/.438/.357 with a 144 wRC+. Additionally, the main takeaway is the power hasn’t come around yet.
So, what’s our expectation? Kirk is a batting average hero, and we need him to pile up the hits and counting stats. Lastly, Toronto plays all seven games at home, and we’ve already seen teams move players to the restricted list. Yes, it’s a slight advantage, but considering how subpar the streaming options are this week, we’ll take it.
- Austin Nola, San Diego Padres (45%) – Nearly overtaking Kirk as the top option, Nola has been utilized early in the batting order many times. Additionally, the Padres get a three-game set @CIN, a great hitters’ park. Lastly, he’s hitting the ball harder more consistently than in previous seasons(43% hard-hit rate).
- Elias Díaz, Colorado Rockies (30%) – In Week 4, the catcher pool is lacking. Díaz gets a bump because the Rockies’ final series is at home. Even better, he’ll square off against a southpaw for two of those games.
Last week, Stassi was so close to providing us with a win, and he remains our 15-team target.
The upcoming week brings seven games(4 G vs. CLE, 3 G @ CHW) with a pair of DANGs. So, from a playing time perspective, we should see at least five games started. Additionally, the matchups are so-so, with most SPs throwing from the right side because Stassi has been a league-average(99 wRC+) against RHP. Although, this season, he’s shown better results due to chasing less(25.8% O-Swing, down nearly 3%).
Expectations? Much like last week, we’re HR hunting and looking for many counting stats. The batting average isn’t a vital aspect of Stassi’s game; more so, the pop. His career barrel rate is nearly 10% and .161 ISO.
- James McCann, New York Mets (10%) – McCann was supposed to be a volumizer on a good Mets offense. Except, recently, he’s been a 50/50 split with Tomás Nido. It appears the team is giving him fewer responsibilities behind the plate and hoping to get his bat fixed. Consider streaming in the deepest of leagues a complete dice roll.
Each week will add a ten-player list of potential streamers by weekly rank. For example, if Alejandro Kirk is already rostered in your 12-team league, the next in line should be Austin Nola and so on down the list. Also, 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.
|Alejandro Kirk (TOR)||32%|
|Austin Nola (SDP)||45%|
|Elias Díaz (COL)||30%|
|Omar Narváez (MIL)||13%|
|Carson Kelly (ARI)||12%|
|Max Stassi (LAA)||3%|
|James McCann (NYM)||10%|
|Tucker Barnhart (DET)||2%|
|Zack Collins (TOR)||15%|
|Kyle Higashioka (MIA)||5%|
|12-team Streamers (less than 50%)|
|15-team Streamers (less than 20%)|
Have more questions? “Catch” up with me on Twitter @davithius!
Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)