A few weeks ago, I was but a wee lad writing my first article for Razzball, and you were reading that article because you were either desperate for catcher advice in your fantasy league or because you just plain hate yourself. I recommended picking up J.T. Realmuto for a lengthy dice roll or Jarrod Saltalamacchia for some short term power, and we all laughed a little on the outside and cried a little on the inside.
Then Realmuto hit .500 over the course of the next week. .500, as in half of his at bats were hits. .500, as in the batting average of some of the top high school baseball prospects (except Realmuto, he hit .595 and had 119 RBI in 42 games. Found those stats by accident while searching for a picture of the Realmuto family crest.). .500, as in—OK, enough. It was only a week.
Realmuto cooled off a bit the next week, but he was still more than solid, especially for a catcher: 8-23, 0.348 BA, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R, SB, .739 OPS. Not too shabby, even if there isn’t a ton of power there. I would like to take this time to point out that my predictions (read: ANALYSIS) for Realmuto, Salty, and Wilson Ramos were all pretty much spot on. Ok, now that we got that out of the way, we can move on.
The free agent catcher wasteland is as bleak as it has ever been. I checked the top 3 free agents by position yesterday in my CBS league, and the top 3 catchers available were: Saltalamacchia, Chris Herrmann, and David Ross. I think most of us would agree that the logical reactions to those three are “old news,” “who?,” and “really?,” respectively. It’s bad, guys. Let’s start with the catchers to stay away from, first.
Schlubs to Avoid
Jarrod Saltalamacchia. We’ve been over Saltalamacchia already, and his ranking is currently inflated by that early power surge. He’s back to his old self, and James McCann is back in the picture now. His luster was already gone, and now he’ll be relegated to part time duty. Do we need to go over the numbers here? No, we don’t. Stay away.
Chris Herrmann. Yes, he’s currently slashing .277/ .324 / .569. Yes. he’s ranked in the top 250 overall right now. Yes, he has 4 home runs, a couple stolen bases, and some extra base hits. But come on. He’s a 28 year old with a career major league batting average of .196, and his minor league track record isn’t much better. If you don’t believe me, check out his stats. I’ll wait. He’s also second fiddle to Wellington Castillo, so he won’t exactly be racking up the at bats this season. Don’t let some early success at the dish fool you here. Stay away.
David Ross. Lol. Feel free to pick up Ross in August after your league’s trade deadline when you’re tanking for a better draft pick (not that you would ever do that, of course).
Yan Gomes. Don’t look now, but Yan Gomes might be heating up. He might not return to his 21 homer, .278 AVG days of 2014, but a healthy Gomes can provide some much needed power when he gets going. I was originally planning on calling this section “Hunks” because I thought it was a funny compliment to “Schlubs,” but I just couldn’t do it. These guys aren’t A.C. Slaters or Uncle Jesses. It just wouldn’t be right. If Gomes finishes the year with 25 home runs and an average above .250, maybe I’ll take it back. But let’s face it. We’re hoping for lightning in a bottle and other optimistic cliches here. His .195 BABIP and recent power surge are cause for some cautious optimism. If you’re desperate, Gomes might be worth a flyer. He’s owned in less than 80% of leagues.
But then what? After Gomes, there isn’t much else out there. Depending on your league’s ranking settings, your top catchers should be some combination of these guys:
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Wellington Castillo
- Brian McCann
- Yadier Molina
- J.T. Realmuto
- Buster Posey
- Wilson Ramos
- Francisco Cervelli
- Savlador Perez
- Stephen Vogt
Gomes is 11, and Yasmani Grandal is likely owned in your league. If he’s not and none of these guys are available, he’s probably worth grabbing. He’s cold right now, though, so fair warning there. If you’re in a pinch and looking to make a move, my money is on Gomes in the short term. And then there are your true desperation catchers in deeper leagues…
Emergency Use Only
Tucker Barnhart. Barnhart is vanilla, and he is about as vanilla as you can get. Nothing about his past or present is really sexy. He’s just a guy. But if you are still struggling to let go of Russell Martin or Derek Norris, he might be better than you guy you have right now, at least for a couple weeks. He doesn’t have much pop, and he is probably going to hit around .250. But he’s the guy now that Devin Mesoraco is out, and can we really keep waiting for Russell Martin. Grab Barnhart as a short term warm body only.
Carlos Perez. Geovany Soto went down today, and he looks like he is going to be out for awhile. Perez hasn’t hit for much this year, but he put up decent numbers at every level of the minors. With Soto out, he should get first crack at being the everyday guy behind the dish. Like Barnhart, Perez is an emergency only option who won’t offer much pop. He might offer a better average than Barnhart, but then again, he might not. He’s still only 25, so he may be able to turn it up a notch with some regular major league at bats. But he might not. He’s an unknown right now, and he is as much risk as he is anything else. If you are truly going to consider a guy like Perez, you’re probably the most desperate team in your league. You can add him to your scout team for a week or two and see how he does. No one is going to swoop in and steal him from you.