Catcher is a barren wasteland. Unless you’ve got one of the top catchers, you’re left guessing as to 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. Some people go catcherless, which is a legitimate strategy in a head-to-head league if you can make proper use of that extra spot. But in a roto league, you’re missing valuable production by leaving it empty. 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 >50% rostered (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are: Gary Sánchez, JT Realmuto, Willson Contreras, Wilson Ramos, Yasmani Grandal, Buster Posey, Austin Nola, Yadier Molina, Will Smith, Salvador Pérez, James McCann, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Christian Vázquez, Travis d’Arnaud, Carson Kelly, and Sean Murphy. That’s SIXTEEN catchers.
On top of that, I’m avoiding certain situations until playing time becomes clearer. Those situations include the Rockies (Elias Díaz/Dom Nuñez), the Rays (Francisco Mejía/Mike Zunino), the Jays (Alejandro Kirk/Danny Jansen), the Nationals (Yan Gomes/Alex Avila/), and the Mariners (Luis Torrens/Tom Murphy).
I’m gonna say this now – if you’re in a 12 team or fewer, don’t stream right now. Try to trade for someone’s backup above as opposed to diving in the bargain bin for the players that meet my threshold. But we’re gonna go ahead anyway.
Who is Eligible?
So who is left? Stephen Vogt, Pedro Severino, Zack Collins, Roberto Pérez, Martín Maldonado, Max Stassi, Austin Barnes, Jorge Alfaro, Omar Narváez, Ryan Jeffers, James McCann, 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. I base my list on Yahoo eligibility, as it is generally the broadest, so some players like Yermín Mercedes aren’t included. If you have questions about those players, feel free to shoot me a tweet and I’m happy to discuss.
Honestly, considering the amount of 50%+ owned 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. 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 don’t feel confident he’ll 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. As the season wears on, guys will get dropped, players will emerge, and streaming should become more and more necessary.
Reviewing Last Week
In years past, I outlined guidelines for determining a streaming “win” 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 .275 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 major impact. If you get two homers from the catcher position, it’s almost a guaranteed win, unless the catcher batted 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.
Jason Castro, Houston Astros: 3/6, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB
So last week I told you Castro was a playing time pick for Week 3 and… the Astros activated Maldonado earlier than they said they would. As a result, Castro missed the entire Coors set but still rallied for 3 hits in 6 ABs, giving you a decent average and OBP from the C spot. The problem is it’s a very small sample that likely doesn’t really help you as much as you’d hoped. COVID times are weird and it’s hard to play that game. We’ll do better.
Jacob Stallings, Pittsburgh Pirates: 1/9, 2 BB
I told you not to do it. I shouldn’t have done it either. Stallings got the starts but got shown up by backup Michael Perez, who went 3-for-3 with a HR in last night’s game.
Dave’s Streaming Record: 2-3
Quick Thoughts from Week 3
Ok, I need to start this week off by addressing Carson Kelly. Last week, I talked about how I wanted playing time for him and he’s going to start five of seven games this week, which is great! However, my biggest knock on Kelly historically has been his splits. Oh, you’re not familiar? Thus far in 2021, Carson Kelly has a 2.467 OPS vs lefties vs a .919 vs righties. Two things with that: he’s got only 15 PAs vs lefties so far (6-for-9 with 6 walks and 3 HRs!!!) and while he’s hitting very well vs righties now, his career OPS vs righties sits at .671. THAT is why I have always been skeptical of Kelly’s overall production. Should you continue to expect a 1.273 OPS? No, absolutely not. But Kelly is currently is an elite group that walks more than they strike out and I can see Kelly continuing to do that or close to it all year and perhaps hit in the .270s with pop. You want that. He’s not in streaming territory anymore but get him where you can.
I want more attempts with runners on, but if Buster Posey is still available in your league, go get him. He looks finally healthy after a full year off to rest.
Yeah, Mike Zunino hit two HRs this week. Do you know what else he hit? Nothing. That’s the case with him and continue to leave him unrostered.
Expect Austin Nola back in the next week or so. If you’ve been riding a hot hand that is beginning to cool off like Wilson Ramos, feel free to move on when Nola returns.
I’m starting to grow more skeptical that 2019 Mitch Garver was a fever dream that will never return. We miss you, Mitch. The barrel rate is completely in line with 2019, as is his max velo (though we should have concerns about early max velo returns with the new ball). As a result, Ryan Jeffers has started 3 of the last 4. However, Jeffers’ .442 OPS in 33 plate appearances is not exactly forcing Garver’s .594 out of the starting role altogether. I’m remaining patient in dynasty and moving on from Garver in redraft.
Have more questions? Send me a tweet @davecherman!
This Week’s Streamers
Well, that was a lot to go through. Now, let’s take a look at some of the players and who could provide some value to your team this week:
Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds: In recent weeks, I’ve avoided the Reds catching situation because Tyler Stephenson was taking up too much playing time. Well not only did Barnhart get four of their six starts this week, but he also pinch hit for Stephenson Friday vs the Cardinals. Now, here’s the catch: Barnhart and the Reds get Julio Urías, Walker Buehler, and Clayton Kershaw to start the week. Yeah, I know. Gross. If he survives that, he gets a trio vs the Cubs, and their less than stellar rotation. It’s worth a shot I suppose.
Roberto Pérez, Cleveland: It’s been a long time since I was super excited about Pérez in the summer of 2019 and he’s largely disappointed since, but there’s reason to be excited again this year. Pérez ranks in the top 75th percentile or better in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard hit%, xwOBA, Barrel%, BB%, and chase%. Yeah, that’s pretty good. His matchups this week largely look better than they are, drawing José Berrios, Kenta Maeda, and Carlos Rodón. The first two of that group are large in name recognition, less so in consistent 2021 production. Also, Cleveland gets two starts vs lefties (JA Happ and Dallas Keuchel); all 3 of Pérez’s HRs in 2021 came in his 27 PAs vs lefties. Let’s ride.
Some other things to note:
- Mitch Garver and Jorge Alfaro are both in streaming territory but have very rough matchups all week.
- If you’ve been holding Dom Nuñez, the Rockies are on the road all week so let him go.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcommr on Twitter)