Catchers can be an extreme headache with no relief in sight! 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 catcher-less, a legitimate strategy in a head-to-head league if you can properly use 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 over 50% rostered (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are J.T. Realmuto, Salvador Pérez, Willson Contreras, Will Smith, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Christian Vázquez, Buster Posey, Yasmani Grandal, Omar Narváez, Yadier Molina, Gary Sánchez, Sean Murphy, Eric Haase and James McCann. That’s FOURTEEN 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 Orioles (Pedro Severino/Austin Wynns).
I’m going to say this now — if you’re in a 12-team league or fewer, don’t stream right now. Instead, try trading for someone’s backup 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, 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. 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 Pérez 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.
- 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.
I was really hoping for a slightly better outcome from Varsho, like maybe toss in a steal or possibly a few more RBI. However, in terms of streaming, this is a victory. Let’s not forget his 3:2 K/BB ratio that helps boost his OBP to .429 for the week.
Haase is a clear-cut win. He smashed three dingers and racked up an extraordinary number of counting stats. This week was far better than I could have imagined. Of course, this sent his roster% skyrocketing, and he is no longer a streaming candidate. However, if he is available in your league, scoop him up ASAP.
Swan’s Streaming Record: 14-13
Quick Thoughts From Week 17
- Carson Kelly returned to action after missing six weeks with a fractured wrist. The Diamondbacks backstop started both games at catcher since returning, and his 23% roster% is likely to spike with any success in the upcoming week.
- Alongside Kelly in Arizona, Daulton Varsho will likely slide into the outfield. He will make his way into the lineup on most days but see his batting order spot drop closer to the bottom of the order. He remains available in 67% of leagues and with a rare speed+power skillset that could make him extremely valuable.
- Keibert Ruiz was traded from the Dodgers to the Nationals in the blockbuster deal, including Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. While he has not yet been called up, the Nationals also traded away Yan Gomes to Oakland, thus leaving an opening for the intriguing prospect.
- Kyle Higashioka did return from the IL. However, he will serve as Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher and get an occasional start here and there when the main backstop Gary Sánchez needs to rest his aching back. If Sánchez needs an extended rest, Higashioka becomes largely more valuable.
- Jonah Heim has continued to get a majority of the time behind the dish for Texas. He rewarded his club by smashing a pair of HRs in last night’s extra-inning victory. Even with Jose Trevino in the mix, I would lean toward keeping an eye on Heim in 15-team formats. The batting average won’t be helpful, but he showcases a fair amount of pop in his bat(.185 ISO).
- I have to mention Seby Zavala’s unbelievable night. He may never get enough plate appearances to be a viable streaming option, but last night Seby clubbed three HRs and tallied six RBI in total. Quite an outstanding night for Zavala, and he deserved mention. However, don’t pick him up unless you’re in an AL-only league.
- STOLEN BASE ALERT! A reader reached out to me and asked about finding a catcher with stolen bases. So, as we advance, I will be recapping any catcher that swiped a base that week. Jorge Alfaro(5), J.T. Realmuto(6), and Jose Trevino(1) each stole a base.
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 examine players who might provide added value for the upcoming week:
Garver has been a welcomed addition to the streaming pool. He touts a 17% barrel rate that’s helped translate into 11 HRs with a .900 OPS. This is precisely why were are targeting Garver, for the HR upside. The Reds get two games in the Great American Ballpark in the upcoming schedule and then four in Minute Maid. Both are tremendously favorable for hitters with power like Garver. Additionally, the schedule shows two DANGs (Day After Night Games) in the future, which could be a little concerning but let’s hope he puts a few over the fences and adds to his RBI total.
If you’ve been following this column for a little while, you’ve noticed me poking Kirk’s name in the Quick Thoughts portion quite often. Well, today is the day I finally suggest making him a streamer. Kirk looks to finally be healthy and able to contribute to a potent Blue Jays lineup. For now, he has only received starts when a southpaw takes the mound. However, I would be banking on Toronto wanting to get his bat into the lineup sooner than later. Which makes perfect sense, especially when you see he is starting to come alive (4-for-12 with a double).
The Blue Jays have eight games in the upcoming week. Included in those are one DANG and a double-header on Saturday (Aug 7th). Unfortunately, their future SP matchups might all be right-handed, but I am willing to roll the dice and hope for a huge boom from Kirk.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)