The catcher position can be 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. 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-rostered catcher. For this list, it means anyone over 50% rostered (according to Yahoo). The ineligible catchers are J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith, Willson Contreras, Salvador Perez, Daulton Varsho, Keibert Ruiz, Travis d’Arnaud, Adley Rutschman, Christian Vázquez, Sean Murphy, Alejandro Kirk, MJ Melendez, and William Contreras. That’s THIRTEEN catchers.
I’m going to say this now — if you’re in a 12-team league or fewer, don’t stream right now. Try trading for someone’s backup instead of diving in the bargain bin for the players who meet my threshold. But we’re going to go ahead anyway.
Who is Eligible?
So who is left? Jonah Heim, Gary Sánchez, Christian Bethancourt, Joey Bart, Danny Jansen, Omar Narváez, Jacob Stallings, Tucker Barnhart, Austin Nola, Francisco Mejía, Austin Barnes, Eric Haase, Luis Torrens, Max Stassi, Jorge Alfaro, Yan Gomes, Gabriel Moreno, Ryan Jeffers, Kyle Higashioka, Jose Trevino, and more. That extensive list 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. On the other hand, maybe you took a flier late in the draft and are still debating whether to hold someone like Austin Nola. Maybe you drafted Yadier Molina but didn’t feel confident he’d return to his old self.
I say 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.
- 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. We must 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, if other factors exist, a catcher can still be a streaming win without home runs.
- Counting stats (R+RBI) is the lowest stat consideration because you’re not expecting them from your catcher, and they’re a nice bonus.
Shea Langeliers, Oakland Athletics: 3-for-17 (.154), 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI
Welp, the strikeouts reared their ugly head again. And that’s what really held back the production. In Week 21, Langeliers struck out seven times (41.7% K-rate). Yikes! However, when he made contact, it came at 50% hard-hit and 20% barrel rates. Unfortunately, we have to take a loss.
Kelly and the D-backs had an extra game in Week 22, which helped provide added production opportunities. Furthermore, much like we thought, he sat for the DANG (Day After Night Game) on Thursday. The funny part is, from a Statcast perspective, he was not very good (15.4% hard-hit rate), but he finished the week with a 116 wRC+; on the back of a .753 OPS. Win!
Dave Swan’s Streaming Record: 21-19
Notes & Transactions From Week 22
- The San Francisco Giants placed Joey Bart on the 7-day IL after taking a foul ball to the catcher’s mask and experiencing concussion-like symptoms. Conversely, Andrew Knapp’s contract was purchased, and Knapp and Austin Wynns will share responsibilities behind the plate in Bart’s absence. But not for too long as Bart is expected to rejoin the following week.
- The Chicago White Sox activated Yasmani Grandal from the 10-day IL and option Carlos Pérez to the Triple-A affiliate. Since Grandal’s return on Wednesday, he played catcher three consecutive days before Seby Zavala gave him a breather last night. While playing should be in Grandal’s favor, he sees career lows in ISO (.069), OPS (.587), and wRC+ (74).
- Salvador Perez sat out Saturday with another hand injury. The X-rays came back negative, and he is listed as day-to-day. He will likely return to the lineup by Week 23.
- Willson Contreras has missed a significant amount of time lately with an ankle issue. Yan Gomes has found extra playing time in his place, but an IL stint for Contreras doesn’t look imminent.
- Eric Haase took a foul ball off the abdomen and was removed from Friday night’s game. He remained out on Saturday, with Tucker Barnhart taking his place. From reports, it doesn’t sound like an IL stint is coming.
- The Boston Red Sox recalled Connor Wong, giving the team three backstops (Wong, Kevin Plawecki, and Reese McGuire). Deservedly, Wong will get plenty of looks behind the plate. During October, Wong put up a .368/.411/.838 slash line and belted nine HR in the minors. Additionally, Boston doesn’t have much to play for this season, and Wong could become a regular behind the plate.
- The Washington Nationals promoted Tres Barrera, who is yet to make an appearance. Barrera’s addition gives the team three catchers and likely signals playing time vs. LHP since Keibert Ruiz has only started five of the last 13 games against a southpaw. Still, the team already has Riley Adams, so expect Ruiz and Adams’ playing time to dip slightly.
- The Houston Astros used a September call-up spot on Yainer Diaz, who even got a start at DH with Yordan Alvarez on the IL. While he isn’t going to get AB ahead of Christian Vázquez or Martín Maldonado, he’s interesting. Over 445 minor league AB (244 Double-A, 201 Triple-A), Diaz swatted 25 HR with a strikeout rate below 20% in both stops. He holds catcher eligibility but could sneak onto a lineup card as a 1B.
- The Philadelphia Phillies promoted Donny Sands to the MLB roster. With J.T. Realmuto and Garrett Stubbs already cemented into the roster, Sands isn’t stealing everyday AB. Instead, Philly could get him into games during the late innings to see what he can do. In 201 Triple-A AB, Sands showcased a 130 wRC+ and great batter’s eye (38:44 K/BB ratio).
- The Los Angeles Angels moved Kurt Suzuki to the bereavement list and recalled Chad Wallach.
- Injury Updates!
- Tyler Stephenson (CIN) underwent surgery to repair his fractured clavicle. The team moved him to the 60-day IL, and he isn’t eligible to return from the IL until the end of September.
- Joey Bart (SFG) was placed on the 7-day IL with concussion-like symptoms but is expected to miss only the minimum time. The return date would be Tuesday.
- Mitch Garver (TEX) underwent season-ending surgery to repair a flexor tendon. The recovery time is six-to-eight months, and he should be dropped in all redraft formats.
- Mike Zunino (TBR) underwent season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
- Jorge Alfaro (SDP) was experiencing knee discomfort and was placed on the 10-day IL. He began a rehab assignment on Friday and is expected to return early next week.
- Ryan Jeffers (MIN) has a fractured right thumb and will miss six-to-eight weeks. Additionally, the injury will require surgery. He was transferred to the 60-day IL, which means a return date is pushed back until late September.
Week 23 Streamers
If the leading streamer is not on your waiver wire, there will be a streamer for 12 or 15-team leagues and additional options. Let’s examine players who might provide added value for the upcoming week:
I’ve been apprehensive about streaming Sanchez this season. Partly because he’s become a drain on batting average, and the playing time comes and goes like the wind. However, Sánchez has a few advantages this week that other available catchers do not.
For starters, Minnesota plays seven games this week, something that only eight other teams can say. The Twins draw a four-game series at his former stomping grounds (Yankee Stadium), followed by a three-game set at Cleveland. Additionally, all seven games are slated to square off against RHP.
Why is that important? Typically, Sánchez sits vs. LHP because his wRC+ is 30 points lower than against RHP. In nearly all aspects, he’s succeeding much better against RHP. The strikeout rate is 4% better and flexes an ISO (.193), which is over 50 points better. If Sánchez can keep the pesky strikeouts at bay and use his power to slug his way into production, he’ll put up solid numbers as our streamer.
Díaz jumps WAY up the ranks this week. Although, for good reasons! The Rockies draw six home games (three vs. MIL, three vs. ARI), with a day off on Thursday. Furthermore, six games are on par with the rest of the MLB, but Coors Field is a significant park factor boost for hitters. Díaz is touting a .770 OPS at home, which is nearly 200 points higher than on the road.
What’s interesting for Díaz is the power is significantly down from his previous season (2021: 371 AB-18 HR, 2022: 403 AB-7 HR). While the barrel rate is down 1.9%, his hard-hit rate is up 2.1%. With power down across the MLB, the resurgence of power would be nice but not entirely mandatory.
What we need for a productive week from Díaz is counting stats and a decent batting average. That’s where Coors Field thrives, and right-handed batters have a 19% better chance of getting a hit and a 14% better chance of putting one out of the park. Although, Díaz’s success will come from compiling counting stats, not the long ball.
I’ll add a list of potential streamers by weekly rank each week. For example, if Gary Sánchez is already rostered in your 12-team league, next in line should be Cal Raleigh, and so on down the list. 15-team leagues are much deeper, so attention to Roster% is added to the process. If a 12-team player is available, they are considered the player before the 15-team streamer. Lastly, the Roster% is based on Yahoo leagues.
|Yasmani Grandal (CHW)||41%|
|MJ Melendez (KCR)||54%|
|Keibert Ruiz (WSH)||56%|
|William Contreras (ATL)||62%|
|Christian Vázquez (HOU)||62%|
|Gary Sánchez (MIN)||38%|
|Cal Raleigh (SEA)||15%|
|Jose Trevino (NYY)||20%|
|Jonah Heim (TEX)||45%|
|Elias Díaz (COL)||8%|
|Danny Jansen (TOR)||17%|
|Shea Langeliers (OAK)||16%|
|Carson Kelly (ARI)||15%|
|Eric Haase (DET)||7%|
|Omar Narváez (MIL)||5%|
|Yadier Molina (STL)||6%|
|Austin Nola (SDP)||11%|
|10-team Streamers (70%-50%)|
Featured image by Jacob Roy (@Jake3Roy on Twitter)