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. 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 >50% rostered (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are: JT Realmuto, Salvador Pérez, Willson Contreras, Will Smith, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Christian Vázquez, Buster Posey, Yasmani Grandal, Carson Kelly, Yadier Molina, Gary Sánchez, Sean Murphy, and Austin Nola. That’s THIRTEEN catchers.
I’m gonna say this now – if you’re in a 12 team or fewer, don’t stream right now. Instead, try to trade for someone’s backup above instead of 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? Mitch Garver, Yan Gomes, Tucker Barnhart, Jacob Stallings, Stephen Vogt, Pedro Severino, Zack Collins, Roberto Pérez, Wilson Ramos, Martín Maldonado, Max Stassi, Austin Barnes, Jorge Alfaro, Kyle Higashioka, 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, please shoot me a tweet, and I’m happy to discuss.
Honestly, considering the amount of 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’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. 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 a streaming “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 .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 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.
Gomes never got it going last week. In his 17 batted ball events, he only had an exit velocity greater than 95-mph once. No doubt, the slight hitting power helped fuel an irrelevant week. Unfortunately, Gomes was a losing call. Sorry, folks!
All of Contreras’ destruction came in two games, but boy did he crush then. His solo barrel hit on the week resulted in an HR with men on base. With a hard-hit ball in each of his games played, Contreras might be sticking around the catcher streaming articles more often. The batting average was lower than we want, but one HR and many counting stats give us a win!
Seven hits? Nice! Narváez only went hitless in one game last week. Sadly, those base hits didn’t do as much damage as we would like to see. He finished the week by slashing .389/.421/.556 with a 168 wRC+. Omar was terrific in real-life baseball, but the lack of fantasy production gives us a loss.
Swan’s Streaming Record: 1-2
Quick Thoughts from Week 7
After several injuries for the Detroit Tigers, they call up lesser-known catcher Eric Haase. He proceeds to go over and club two balls into the bleachers while piling up seven base hits. For a ball club that has been struggling to find its way offensively, Haase might be a shot in the arm they need. Look for him to continue getting ABs while Wilson Ramos serves as the DH.
I prefaced in last week’s notes that Mike Zunino is an all-or-nothing catcher. Last week was no different, only he mashed! Zunino was the HR champ for the week by parking three long balls over the fences. In fact, all four of his hits were of the extra-base variety. Unfortunately, Zunino and Francisco Mejía still split time for the Rays. So both get slight downticks due to lack of full-time plate appearances.
Out of nowhere, Tomás Nido took over the main catcher responsibilities for a struggling James McCann. The results for Nido? He finished off the week by going 7-for-17 with one HR and six runs+RBI. This change is terrific news for anyone streaming catchers since the player pool was so shallow.
Mitch Garver returned from an injury on Thursday(5/20) and collected a hit in both games back-one of which was a deep shot over the fences. Now, Minnesota DFA’d the catching prospect Ryan Jeffers so we could see Garver get a run at full-time plate appearances. As far as catcher streaming goes, this is great news because Garver is currently rostered in only 39% of Yahoo leagues.
The Atlanta Braves have been actively looking for a replacement since Travis d’Arnaud went on the 60-day IL. They may have found their man with William Contreras, who was a streaming call-out last week. But they also acquired veteran backstop Kevan Smith from the Rays via cash exchange. This could cut into Contreras’s playing time as the season progresses.
Another catcher returning from the IL is Andrew Knapp, who is already replacing J.T. Realmuto. Since Knapp’s return, he only recorded one hit over four outings. He could be an interesting streaming option because the Phillies are down a few everyday bats and could use Knapp to stabilize the lower half of the batting order. He needs to break out of his early-season funk.
The Cincinnati Reds have a multitude of injuries at the hot corner position. So, Tyler Stephenson has seen some time at 1B. In this past week, Stephenson found himself at the plate for 21 at-bats, nearly more than the previous two weeks combined. Furthermore, the Reds showed plenty of confidence by slotting him at the three and four-hole for most of those games. And why not? On the season, Stephenson is slashing .296/.360/.420 with a .779 OPS. His counterpart, Tucker Barnhart, remains the primary catcher but has cooled off after a great start to the year.
The Mariners cleared up their catching role a little bit. Luis Torrens was sent down to the alternate sites to work on a few glitches in his swing. This means extended use of Tom Murphy in Seattle. The 30-year-old catcher carries a nice .181 ISO but a 39 wRC+. However, this could correct themselves for Murphy because his .146 BABIP is criminally low.
Have more questions? Please send me a tweet @davithius!
This Week’s Streamers
Well, that was a lot to go through. So now, let’s take a look at some of the players and who could provide some value to your team this week:
Jacob Stallings, Pittsburg Pirates: Stallings gets the nod as the top streaming catcher to look at. He routinely gets slotted as the cleanup hitter. Simply put, that is something we rarely see in the best of catchers-let alone a streaming option. Furthermore, Stallings has been swinging a hot bat lately. In his previous two weeks, the OPS sits a little north of .900, and the .606 SLG% shows promise for future success.
The week ahead looks very desirable for matchups as well. The Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies are 15th and 27th in team ERA, respectively. There are two DANGs (Day And then Night Games) this week but keep in mind that the Pirates are on a homestand. So, all of Stalling’s games will be played at home in PNC Park.
Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins: The Twins have put full faith in Garver as their catcher, and so should we this week. His Statcast numbers leap off the page if you’re looking for power. With a barrel rate at nearly 18% and a .502 xwOBAcon, there is always a good chance he can take one deep. The big drawback is Garver’s massive strike-out problems. Additionally, the upcoming matchups are against Baltimore and Kansas City. Both pitching staffs are in the bottom third of the MLB in terms of K%.
Playing time should be in favor of Garver as well. Earlier I highlighted that Jeffers wouldn’t be around to vulture any starts. Unfortunately, there are two DANGs in the upcoming week. However, the Twins are a scuffling team at the moment. The team needs to start picking up some wins, and I would fully expect them to keep plugging Garver’s bat in the lineup as much as they can.
Tomás Nido, New York Mets: Nido is interesting, to say the least. He has an 11% barrel rate and 44% hard-hit rate, albeit a small sample size. But, oddly, he also had an 11% barrel rate and 44% hard-hit rate. So maybe the Mets see something for us to take notice of. His expected stats reveal that there could be a little more coming. The xBA is nearly 20 points higher than the .279 BA, and his xSLG is over 30 points higher than his .515 SLG%. If the Mets keep slotting Nido in the five-hole, we should continue to see the counting stats pile up.
The Mets have seven games ahead of them this week and only one DANG. So likely, Nido gets the nod at catcher for five or six games. On top of a full week of action, this week, the Mets will play all their games in Citi Field. Swinging a hot stick? At Home? With plenty of playing time ahead? Nido definitely is worth considering as your streamer this week!
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)