With the exception of a few dependable options like Jonathan Lucroy, Wilson Ramos, and Buster Posey, the catcher position has (somewhat predictably) been one of the least offensively productive positions in fantasy baseball this season. Yasmani Grandal and Yan Gomes currently have sub-.200 batting averages. Yadier Molina and the recently injured Francisco Cervelli have combined to hit one home run. Arizona backup Chris Herrmann has been a top 10 player at the position thus far this season. I suppose that the term dumpster fire would be a more apt description to characterize the catching landscape. It should come as no surprise, then, that recent Chicago Cubs call-up Willson Contreras (30.5% owned; +27.4% over the past week) is this week’s most added player in ESPN leagues. Considered by many to be the top offensive catching prospect in the game, the 24-year-old rookie slashed .353/.442/.593 in 55 Triple-A games this season and launched a homer in his first MLB at-bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday night. His ability to make contact (13.3% K%) while hitting for power (.240 ISO) in the Pacific Coast League this year displayed a rare combination indeed, especially for a catcher. Miguel Montero and David Ross are the incumbents in Chicago, but they shouldn’t provide much resistance for playing time if the rookie hits the ground running. Contreras is certainly worth adding if available. There’s massive upside here at a thin position.
Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:
Danny Espinosa: 20.4% owned; +11.0%
Entering this season, Espinosa was thought to be just a temporary stopgap for the Nationals at the shortstop position until Trea Turner was ready to assume the starting role. Those plans may have changed, at least in the short-term. Not only has Espinosa played above average defense according to nearly every metric at a premium defensive position, but his bat has been on fire in recent weeks as well. From May 26th through June 12th (15 games), Espinosa has managed a .278/.316/.759 slash line with 15 runs, 8 homers, 10 RBI, and 1 stolen base. Hello! Unfortunately, he’s still just slashing .217/.314/.403 on the season, and hitting in the bottom third of the order isn’t likely to help his counting stats in the long run. Other than trading some ground balls for fly balls (45.7% FB% in 2016 – 7.8% above his career average), there doesn’t appear to be anything drastically different in Espinosa’s approach, which means that he’s likely to cool off in the near future. Ride him while he’s hot, but don’t expect it to last too long. TRASH.
Cameron Maybin: 46.3% owned; -5.5%
The recent struggles (and subsequent demotion) of Anthony Gose as well as the injury to J.D. Martinez have provided Maybin with plenty of job security in the Tigers outfield. His strong production (.352/.407/.398) since joining the team off of the disabled list in mid-May has catapulted him into the #2 slot in the lineup, behind Ian Kinsler and in front of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Not a bad spot to be in. His current walk rate (8.4%) is higher than his career average, and his current strikeout rate (13.4%) is lower than that of great hitters such as Cabrera, Robinson Cano, and Mookie Betts. Maybin is also among the league leaders in stolen bases (8) despite those 6+ weeks that he missed at the start of the season. If he was dropped in your league, go get him and enjoy the three category production. TREASURE.