Catcher is 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. 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.
On top of that, I’m avoiding certain situations until playing time becomes more apparent. Those situations include the Rays (Francisco Mejía/Mike Zunino) and the Orioles (Pedro Severino/Chance Sisco).
I’m going to 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 going to go ahead anyway.
Who is Eligible?
So who is left? Mitch Garver, Yan Gomes, Tucker Barnhart, Jacob Stallings, Stephen Vogt, 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 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.
The weather took a toll on everyone this week. A PPD led the Pirates into a double-header, which resulted in an additional sit for Stallings. Even so, the production was lacking. On the bright side, Stallings did have three hard-hit balls and is locked into the cleanup spot. But sadly, chalk this one up in the loss column. Loss!
This one is a fun recap. Garver went off by sending one into the bleachers and racking up five total hits, included five runs and three RBI. Furthermore, he slugged .923 with a 276 wRC+. He even walked at an 18% rate as well. Win!
My long-shot streamer paid off this week. Nido got the call in four games and collected a hit in the previous three-one of which was a two-run bomb. Now, we played with fire because Nido struck out a ton(35%), but four hard hits and a barrel will make up for that. Win!
Swan’s Streaming Record: 3-3
Quick Thoughts from Week 8
Back from the IL is the top-tier catcher J.T. Realmuto; however, his roster% is nowhere near where it’s needed to be a streamer. But, this news knocks Andrew Knapp down the rungs because the playing time has undoubtedly dried up. We could see Realmuto sit here and there, but it won’t be enough to consider Knapp viable.
Injuries can’t stop, won’t stop, and the latest IL tag was placed on Austin Nola. A knee sprain will likely sideline the Padres backstop for a few weeks, so the Padres activated Webster Rivas. If you don’t know Rivas, it’s because he is a 30-year old career MiLB catcher. His .241/.343/.414 slash line earned him a shot in the bigs, but the real news points to Victor Caratini. The switch-hitting catcher will earn everyday ABs in a very potent lineup.
In Detroit, Wilson Ramos goes back on the 10-day IL with a lumbar spine strain. Bad news for the Tigers but good news for anyone needing to stream catchers because Eric Haase and Jake Rogers rostered in less than 50% of leagues. The playing time leans slightly in favor of Haase, who does showcase a bit of power in his bat. There is some potential for Haase for the remainder of 2021.
Daulton Varsho was sent back down to the Minor Leagues on Monday(5/24). If you have an NA spot in your league, he may be worth the stash since the speed+power combo at catcher is so rare. The demotion comes because Carson Kelly is back from injury but is nowhere near available in your league. Also, Stephen Vogt truthers, his extra playing time is gone as well.
Did I mention we have lots of injury updates? Well, also back from the IL is Jorge Alfaro in Miami. The Marlins have handled him with kiddie gloves, and Alfaro has only started one game since the return. However, he has collected a hit in three of his five games, including one HR. Splitting the catcher’s responsibilities is Sandy León.
As noted last week, Seattle dropped Luis Torrens down and is giving Tom Murphy more opportunities. Murphy took advantage of the ABs by going 4-for-9 with two extra-base hits(1 2B, 1 HR). Additionally, the Mariners acquired Jacob Nottingham, who could also serve as a catcher. Furthermore, Seattle also promoted José Godoy to split time with Murphy. Godoy showcases a solid hit tool in the MiLB.
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:
Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins: This will be the second week in a row choosing Garver as a streaming catcher. And why not after last week? Besides that, the week lines up very nicely for Garver. He starts with a road trip to one of the more hitter-friendly parks (Camden Yards) for a matchup against Jorge López and Jordan Zimmerman. Both are very hittable pitchers with barrel rates over 9%. Next, the week is finished with a four-game series against the Royals with two games against very suspect pitching (Brad Keller and Ervin Santana). And by suspect pitching, I mean both SPs have barrel rates north of 10% and strikeout rates south of 20%. Garver touts the grey area of being exactly 50% rostered, shhhhhh! He counts!
Omar Narváez, Milwaukee Brewers: At only 39% rostered, streaming Omar Narváez is like stealing candy from an infant. The week ahead is highly enticing, and I would highly expect his roster% to soar this time next week. Narváez has a couple of things going for him that I look for in a catcher: barrel rate over 9%, strikeout rate under 20%, and full-time ABs. We could see Omar sit against Boyd on Tuesday(6/1) but then get an entire run against the Diamondbacks to start the week. Barring a PPD, Milwaukee will miss seeing MadBum and get four straight RHPs. None of them have a K% above 22% and will rely on balls in play for outs. Narváez sports a .426 xwOBAcon, so balls in play mean good things for him!
Dom Nuñez, Colorado Rockies: Nuñez is ice cold at the dish. In his last two weeks, the Rockies catcher is 2-for-23 with zero RBIs. Luckily, there is a cure to slumps, and it’s named Coors Field. Outside of a day off on Monday, the Rockies have a homestand in the number one park for hitting. This six-game stretch will have two DANGs that could pose a threat to Nuñez’s playing time. However, Nuñez is the strong-side platoon, so anytime a right-handed pitcher takes the mound, we should see him behind the plate. With two southpaws on the docket for next week, expect a good four games.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)