Razzlings,

While the first two series of the MLB regular-season are cancelled, there is hope yet in these Razzhalls. RazzSlam has been chugging along. Additionally, The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (TGFBI) began this week. Most of the writers are participating in TGFBI as well as RazzSlam. While we have yet to see any baseball action, I feel comfortable enough to ask a slightly altered version of Hank Williams Jr.’s famous question: “Are you ready for some [basebaaaaall]?!”.

Resources like Rudy’s Draft War Room and the 2022 fantasy baseball rankings are extremely valuable when tracking your acquisitions and making decisions about your fantasy baseball draft. However, the combined effect of perceived position scarcity (Rudy wrote about this back in 2016 in Debunking Position Scarcity In Mixed League Fantasy Baseball) combined with preexisting injuries can leave one feeling indecisive. I often experience this feeling when drafting for catchers.

What are some common injuries for catchers?

Excluding COVID-related visits to the IL, 48 different catchers took a total of 60 trips to the IL for a total of 2,081 days on the IL in 2021. The most common injury types were strained hamstrings (7), concussions (5), and strained obliques (4).

As I have mentioned in previous editions of Ambulance Chasers, there will likely be an increase in non-collision injuries because of the shortened season. While collisions for catchers are notable, injuries for catchers most often occur in non-collision moments. While the MLB has implemented rules to help players avoid a collision, most catcher injuries, even concussions, and more serious injuries occur outside of collision events. Collision events just more frequently make the news.

What is the current injury outlook for catchers in 2022?

In 2021, Tomas Nido, Wilson Ramos, Cam Gallagher, and Austin Nola had the most individual trips to the IL with 3 each. Catchers Jake Rogers and Miguel Amaya had Tommy John surgery and are respectively questionable and out for 2022.

Regarding top catchers to draft, Yasmani Grandal (ADP average 109.6) was out with a torn knee tendon and surgery. While his recovery from surgery was speedy, he is 33 and has had a series of knee injuries over the past years that might spook some fantasy managers. As a White Sox fan, I worry about Grandal 24/7/365.

Mitch Garver (ADP average 214.6) also spent a lengthy amount of time on the IL in 2021 with groin issues and ensuing groin surgery and a strained lower back. Like Grandal, Garver is his in 30s. However, both Grandal and Garver had impactful returns from their injuries.

Tomas Nido (sprained thumb), Wilson Ramos (strained back), and Danny Jansen (hamstring) had recurring injuries that sent them on and off the IL. While some of these IL visits did not necessitate surgical intervention, keep your eye on these old injuries to flair up.

Catchers for the Chicago Cubs could not catch a break in 2021 (or maybe they caught too many breaks *bum dum tiss*). Cubs catchers Willson Contreras (ADP average 127.2), Austin Romine, Jose Lobaton, and Robinson Chirinos spent extended time on the IL. Contreras is also aging, and the Cubs relied on him heavily last year.

How can I mitigate catcher injuries?

The top 10 catchers are relatively healthy outside of Grandal and Contreras. In 2021, I drafted J.T. Realmuto (ADP average 58.4). At times, it seemed like he was the only reliable piece of my team. Hopefully, that level of steadiness is repeatable in 2022. Salvador Perez has an even greater level of reliability.

If you are looking for fresh legs, there are many younger catchers in the top  24-year-old Adley Rutschman (ADP average 178) is expected to make his major league debut this year. Rutschman is notable for receiving a record $8.1 million signing bonus with the Baltimore Orioles. Daulton Varsho (ADP average 120.8) and Alejandro Kirk (ADP average 281.8) are also top ranked catchers that are younger.

If you need a second catcher, there should be plenty of veterans available. My favorite option is Omar Narvaez (ADP average 297.8). Fantasy managers might sleep on Narvaez because of his ADP rank and proximity to the retiring Yadier Molina. Name recognition is a hell of a drug.

 

As always, knowing about catchers’ injuries histories is half the battle. The other half is having a good insurance plan in case the “knowing” part was not enough.


Who are you targeting as your catcher(s)?

Tell me in the comments or on Twitter: @keelin_12ft.

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Bob Burda
Bob Burda
3 months ago

Nice article. Reminded me to be wary of Grandal, Garver and Ramos in light of their age and injury histories. If I’m unable to get Perez early I’m likely to wait on the position and try to grab Sean Murphy (I like the power and he’s likely to hit a bit higher in the order if Oakland trades Olson and/or Chapman) or Kiebert Ruiz, who seems to have a clear path to playing time.