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 James McCann. 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? Austin Nola, 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.
Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins: 0/3 (.000), 2 BB
What an awful week for Garver. He was unceremoniously added to the 10-day IL on Tuesday, thus ending his week and any hope of us securing the win. However, he did manage two walks. Okay, I’m posturing. It’s a big loss from Garver this week!
Omar Narváez, Milwaukee Brewers: 8/16 (.500), 2 HR, 7 R, 3 RBI
After a rough start to the week, Narváez went full turbo boosters and launched a pair of baseballs into the stands. He also collected back-to-back multi-hit games on Friday (6/4) and Saturday (6/5). Additionally, he walked a couple of times, which in turn lead to runs scored. With a big smile, I boast, win!
Dom Nuñez: 1/6 (.166), 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB
Oddly, Nuñez started the series in Coors on Tuesday and Wednesday but then proceeded to sit the rest of the week. Perhaps there is an injury, or maybe the Rockies want to get Elias Diaz some work? Either way, not enough production from a streaming catcher; loss!
Swan’s Streaming Record: 4-5
Quick Thoughts from Week 9
Let’s open up with the catcher of the week, Eric Haase. Detroit’s replacement to Wilson Ramos took the MLB by storm last week as he launched five HRs in his last three games started. This power output shouldn’t come as a complete surprise because he smacked 20-plus HRs in his most recent MiLB stints.
Mitch Garver left Tuesday’s game with a groin injury which sparked the Twins to recall prospect Ryan Jeffers. This is good news for catcher streaming because Jeffers showcases sneaky power and already swatted five HRs in the minors. Going forward, the Twins will tandem Jeffers and left-handed bat, Ben Rortvedt.
Potential big news in the catching universe is Cardinals’ mainstay at backstop Yadier Molina left the game Saturday after taking a foul ball to the knee. While there has been no move to the IL, this could spark some more playing time for Andrew Knizner.
The Los Angeles Angels activated Max Stassi for Monday’s game in San Francisco. Since his return, Stassi has received the lion-share of the playing time and collected a hit in all three games played. However, the expectation should still be a split between Stassi and Kurt Suzuki.
Yan Gomes has sat three consecutive games while he deals with a hamstring injury. Let’s hope it is not too serious, but Alex Avila has handled backstop duties in the absence in the meantime. In that timeframe, Avila went 2-for-9 with an RBI. He could be a viable streamer if Gomes is out next week.
Tyler Stephenson picked up five hits on the week and slashed .263/.417/.421 with a .838 OPS. His ability to play 1B in the absence of Joey Votto has kept him with everyday ABs. Even better, the Reds elect to bat him in the clean-up spot on most days.
Have more questions? “Catch” up with me on Twitter @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:
Omar Narváez, Milwaukee Brewers(38% rostered): I am sticking with my guy Narváez again this week. The Brewers get a day off on Monday, followed by six straight games with only one DANG. His first series will be in the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark stadium. That series features three right-handed SPs, which is where Narváez does his damage(.339/.411/.560 slash line with .971 OPS). Next, back home in Milwaukee for a three-game series vs. the Pirates. Again, RHP will be on the docket(JT Brubaker and Chad Kuhl), who are relatively hittable and in a hitter-friendly park. Plug him in, Narváez can give up a good BA, little pop, and grab a few counting stats along the way.
Eric Haase, Detroit Tigers(7% rostered): The hottest catcher in the MLB is Eric Haase, and we are going to ride his hot hand for this week. The week ahead shows Detroit gets six home games with two DANGs(Day After Night Games). This type of schedule usually spells a problem for catchers because they get a day off. However, Detroit’s offense has been a disaster, and they could use any offensive weapon available. He should see additional playing time in LF or DH, so I expect at least five games started this week. Risk aside, the final series will face off against tougher SPs like Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, and Carlos Rodon. It might be a little bit of a dice roll, but Haase is too hot to pass on.
Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds(7% rostered): In the quick thoughts section, I mentioned Stephenson getting full run in the cleanup spot. That is a unicorn feature for a streaming option at catcher. Additionally, Stephenson shows a terrific batting eye because his strikeout rate is below league average (19.3%). More balls in play, or times reaching base via the walk, are great for a catcher, let alone one with six straight home games in the park that ranks 1st in terms of HRs(via Statcast Park Factors). For this streamer pick, we aren’t necessarily looking for the longball. Instead, the hope is Stephenson piles up plenty of counting stats and possibly a couple of multi-hit games.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)