Catchers make your lineups miserable at times! 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. If you can properly use that extra spot, some people go catcher-less, a legitimate strategy in a head-to-head league. 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, Mike Zunino, and Kyle Farmer. 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? Eric Haase, James McCann, 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.
Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves: 4/11 (.364), 1 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI
d’Arnaud didn’t make it into nearly enough games, as I suspected. Yet, he put up a tremendous stat line by collecting a pair of hits in two games. Included in this week was a blast in Baltimore. Also, d’Arnaud showcased his patience and walked four times as well. This was an easy streaming call, and I’ll take the win.
Much like d’Arnaud, the playing time was not there. However, Varsho didn’t do enough to get the win for us. This is a shame because he put up a 37.5% hard-hit rate and found himself in the outfield for two games. Nonetheless, streaming catchers that slash .333/.400/.778 with a 1.178 OPS will typically lead to good weeks. So close, but this one is a loss.
Grabbing the catcher with multiple starts in Coors Field typically pays off in the long run. Long term, this didn’t matter as we only needed a week. And BOOM, Díaz delivered in a big way. In fact, in the last week, he even led all catchers in runs. Alright, enough gloating, let’s take the W and move on.
Swan’s Streaming Record: 18-16
Quick Thoughts From Week 20
- First, congrats are in order for Travis d’Arnaud and his family as they welcome the new addition. There is no timetable for his return, but Atlanta will turn to William Contreras(recently activated) and Stephen Vogt. Additionally, it’s a busy week for d’Arnaud as he signed a two-year contract with a club option for 2024.
- Adley Rutschman was promoted to Triple-A, where he shows a 171 wRC+. If you’re looking for a potential difference-maker at catcher, you’ll have to start looking to stash him soon. He is rostered in 13% of Yahoo leagues, and that number will grow as we get closer to a September call-up.
- The Detroit Tigers placed Eric Haase on the 10-day IL, retroactive to August 16. This dropped his roster% below 50% and put him in the streaming catcher category. This makes things challenging for Detroit as they now rely on a duo of Grayson Greiner and Dustin Garneau. Both have poor strike-out rates and not much power either.
- James McCann was placed on the 10-day IL due to back spasms. The injury is not too severe, and the Mets are hopeful it will just be a minimal stint. New York Mets also placed Tomas Nido on the 10-day IL, retroactive to August 15. These injuries will give catching duties to Patrick Mazeika and former Baltimore backstop Chance Sisco. Quick note, Mazeika shows a little pop with a decent walk rate and a 120 wRC+ in 42 Minor League games.
- On Tuesday, the New York Yankees activated Gary Sánchez from the COVID-19 IL. Rob Brantley was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A East). Currently, it’s been a 50/50 split with Kyle Higashioka, which is likely to ease Sánchez back into an everyday role.
- Washington Nationals turned catching duties to Riley Adams for the majority of the week. He repaid the decision by going 7-for-15 with three extra-base hits and four RBI. He could be intriguing in deeper leagues or NL-only formats as his wRC+ sits at a 168 since the start of August.
- 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. Sadly, no catchers stole a base in Week 20.
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:
This week for streamers is a bit more complicated than most. We have Hurricane Henri wreaking havoc on the northeast, and some of the top options are injured or not available to start the week. In summation, we have to dive a little deeper than usual to find viable alternatives.
Kelly has not shown the power from earlier in the season. He is only slugging .308 with a .058 ISO. While both suggest this wouldn’t be an optimal streaming pick, plenty plays in Kelly’s favor. We could see a limitation in games due to weather and a lack of options, as I mentioned. However, that won’t concern Kelly as the Diamondbacks play seven games this week — three at PIT, four at PHI.
So what can we expect if the power is not there? Well, with only one DANG (Day After Night Games), there is a solid chance Kelly makes his way into the lineup for five games. This is a considerable boost over the field, as a few teams only play five games this week. Additionally, Kelly is walking at a 16% clip and has had a .371 OBP since his return. In conclusion, he is getting on-base, picking up some runs, and not submarining your batting average.
Among all catchers with a minimum of 100 plate appearances, Stassi’s 130 wRC+ puts him in sixth-place. One of the main components of his success is the ability to crush RHP. His .231 ISO and .896 OPS piques my interest since he likely faces Spenser Watkins and Jorge López inside the hitter-friendly Camden Yards. Fingers crossed that no games are affected by the weather. Following the Baltimore series is a brief two-game stint in Petco vs. a Padre’s team struggling to find any SPs.
Again, there is a bit of risk in this streamer. But, the profile is there for a big week if he can smash these suspect RHP when opportunities arise. We should be hoping for 1-2 HRs and plenty of RBIs since the high K% could hinder the batting average.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)