William Contreras Is Having One of the Best Fantasy Catcher Seasons Ever

William Contreras hasn't just been good, he's been historically good.

William Contreras has quietly, or maybe not so quietly, become one of baseball’s best hitters. As the calendar sits on the precipice of turning to June, he’s been fantasy baseball’s best catcher so far too.

Fantasy managers who selected Contreras reasonably early in drafts, he had a 73.71 ADP, per NFBC data, have seen the backstop flourish at the plate. In short, he’s already looking like the draft’s biggest steal.

The 26-year-old is batting .324 with a .396 on-base percentage, eight home runs, and three stolen bases through his first 245 plate appearances as of the beginning of play on Wednesday.

He’s also added 44 runs scored and 43 RBI, though more on them in a bit.

Elsewhere, the former Atlanta catcher is sporting a .370 xwOBA, a .285 xBA, and a .501 xSLG. His hard-hit rate is at 55.6%. All four rank in the 88th percentile or better. So too does his 74.8 MPH average bat speed, which ranks 24th overall (he also had a shorter swing than all but four of the batters ranked ahead of him) and tops among all catchers.

Here’s a list of players who rank in the 88th percentile in all five categories:

William Contreras is one of them.

So too is Corey Seager, and Bobby Witt Jr. is another.

The last three? Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge and Juan Soto.

That’s it. End of list. Fin. Whatever terminology or allusion you feel like deploying, that’s the end of the six-person list.

And really, that sort of encompasses just how good Contreras has been. Elite overall, and especially elite for the catcher position, something that stretches back historically as well.


The Underlying Data


Historically in the sense that what Contreras is doing is rare for the catcher position this century, a notion that further underscores the excellence of his 2024 breakout fantasy season.

In the Statcast era, and looking at only full seasons, just 73 batters have equaled or cleared a .370 xwOBA, a .280 xBA, and a .500 xSLG as Contreras has so far.

Accounting for players who’ve accomplished the feat more than once, it leaves us with a list of just 41 players to do all three since 2015.

Exactly one of them, Gary Sánchez in 2017, was from a catcher.

That season served as both Sanchez’s breakout and career year (to date). A season that Contreras has a very real chance at bettering in most statistical categories.



*All projection data via FanGraphs.

Now, there are some obvious caveats here in terms of runs scored and RBI where differences in lineups are concerned. And while Sanchez certainly benefitted from an ideal fantasy ecosystem at the time, there are few fantasy situations better than Contreras’ at the moment.

There’s the fact that half of his games come at American Family Field, a stadium with the fifth-highest home-run park factor in the last three years, per Statcast.

There’s also the fact that all, well, most all, of his games come with the added bonus of hitting in the top third of the Brewers’ batting order, either ahead of or behind Christian Yelich.

Yelich has yet to post an on-base percentage under .360 in his career, has a .387 metric this season, and has seven stolen bases this year after stealing 47 combined over the last two seasons.

Brice Turang’s emergence (he with a .358 on-base percentage and 19 stolen bases in 192 plate appearances) as a leadoff option in recent weeks has only boosted Contreras’ fantasy ceiling even more so.

Because it’s a considerably high ceiling, especially for a catcher.

Simply put, it’s rare to find a catcher making his kind of contact at the plate.

Contreras has also added a 10.1% barrel rate and a 55.6% hard-hit rate this season.

Once again looking at full seasons in the Statcast era, just 10 times has a catcher topped a double-digit barrel rate in a season. And only one, Salvador Perez in 2021, has done so with a better hard-hit rate than Contreras’ current number.

This kind of a season just doesn’t happen all that often. Or plain doesn’t.

And it’s not just the underlying metrics either, though they certainly provide an excellent foundation and groundwork when considering RBI and run-scored production – and when taking lineup construction and placement into account.


The Surface-Level and Counting Stats


Thanks in part to a double-digit walk rate, and thanks in part to a high average, Contreras is sporting a .396 on-base percentage so far. If he keeps making the type of contact he has been, finishing with an on-base percentage over the .400 mark is a very real possibility.

This century, only four catchers have topped a .400 on-base percentage in a season. Buster Posey did it twice, Jason Kendall did it once in 2000, Jorge Posada accomplished the feat four times and Joe Mauer did it in six different seasons.

Kendall, who also stole 22 bases in 2000 was the only one of the group to top eight stolen bases in a single season, something Contreras also has a real shot at doing after stealing six last year and racking up three stolen bases as of the beginning of play on Wednesday.

Furthermore, if Contreras’ projections are any indications, he has a chance to make even more history where counting stats are concerned, something that’ll be music to fantasy managers’ ears.

Both of FanGraphs’ Steamer and ZiPS projections have Contreras finishing somewhere over the 90 mark for both RBI and runs scored.

Only Posada (in 2007), Mauer (in 2009), and Mike Piazza (in 2000) have done that this century.

If Contreras’ Steamer and ZiPs projections play out, he would finish with more home runs, RBI, and runs scored than Posada, more RBI and runs scored, depending on which projections you prefer, than Mauer and more stolen bases than all three.

If you’re one of the fantasy managers who drafted William Contreras this spring, enjoy the production. That’s not to say it’s unsustainable, but more that it’s very rare that we’ll see a catcher be this productive at the plate any time soon.


Photos by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire and Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire | Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)

Ben Rosener

Ben Rosener is baseball and fantasy baseball writer whose work has previously appeared on the digital pages of Motor City Bengals, Bleacher Report, USA Today, FanSided.com and World Soccer Talk among others. He also writes about fantasy baseball for RotoBaller and the Detroit Tigers for his own Patreon page, Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild on Twitter). He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.

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