Please see our player page for Danny Jansen to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

Being a former junior-varsity back-up catcher with a pop time of about 5 and a caught stealing percentage of 0% — I have the perfect qualifications to write this column. 

Pop time for the un-initiated is another in a long line of new-age states that we nerds are using to quantify the game of baseball. The long and short of this stat is quite simple: it reflects how quickly a catcher can grab the ball from his glove and whip it to a certain base to catch the stealing runner. The lower the number, the better! However — that doesn’t tell the whole story of a catcher’s success rate at throwing out a runner. You can have a pop time of half a second and throw it over the second baseman’s head every single time and you quickly realize why you never made it to the varsity back-up catcher level.

For the purpose of this article I took a look at each team’s projected starting catcher (or catchers) and ranked them via their 2019 pop time (couldn’t find 2020’s data — sorry!) and paired this with their caught stealing percentage from 2019 and 2020 combined. There are some guys (like Ryan Jeffers) who didn’t record a pop time in 2019 so they’re only being judged on their caught-stealing rate. Unfair? Maybe. Happening anyway? Oh you betcha! 

Below I’ve grouped these guys together by the division they’ll be playing in so I can point out who benefits/suffers based on who they’re playing their most games against. I could’ve ranked and tiered them — but what fantasy info is there to glean from that if you’re not using defensive categories? At least this way, maybe you’ll see that a certain team/division has strong or weak catchers in it which helps certain runners or hurts certain pitchers.  

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*KICKS DOWN DOOR* (Loud non-descript 80s metal plays; a man steps to the mic). Are you ready? *Crowd Cheers* Are you ready for… *Crowds cheers more loudly* Are you ready for 2021 catcher ranks? Everyone stops cheering, looking at each other with bewilderment, turns away sadly and leaves. Except one man, the hero America needs. Position scarcity man, stands there unshaken by the thought of ranking catchers, for he remembers the hey day of position scarcity, he owned Mike Piazza and he’s never letting go. We’re ranking catchers this week. Enjoy!

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After we went over the top 10 for 2021 fantasy baseball and the top 20 for 2021 fantasy baseball in our (my) 2021 fantasy baseball rankings, it’s time for the meat and potatoes rankings. Something to stew about! Hop in the pressure cooker, crank it up to “Intense” and let’s rock with the top 20 catchers for 2021 fantasy baseball. Am I at all selling you on the top 20 catchers being good? No? Good, don’t want to give you the wrong impression. Here’s Steamer’s 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. The projections noted in this post are my own, and I mention where tiers start and stop. Anyway, here’s the top 20 catchers for 2021 fantasy baseball:

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So, I got the 5th pick. How’s your day going? At the Winter Meetings? That’s cool, same. Maybe you’ve seen me in the lobby, I’m wearing a floral arrangement on my head while I hide in a pot. Wait, there’s no Winter Meetings, that’s right. I mean there is, a group of billionaires are Zoom’ing into the Winter Meetings where the hottest commodity is a guy who was a backup catcher last year. Hey, Jon Heyman, stop leaking McCann news. I ate a few too many Olestra-laden potato chips and McCann is leaking! It’s none of your business! Last week, I took part in an NFBC team league, and here is, as the people say who are trying on hats, my recap. For those not in the know, this is a 15-team, two-catcher league that lasts for 50 rounds and there’s no waivers. You draft it, and manage it. Weekly moves for pitchers, bi-weekly (rawr!) for hitters, changing out on Monday and Friday. I didn’t want the fifth pick. I wanted any pick but the fifth pick. As I see it, there’s an obvious top four (Sexy Dr. Pepper, Tildaddy, FTJ, Mookie Best), then…Dot dot dot…Question mark. What now? I didn’t want to think for the 1st pick, but the automated draft picker thing (that’s its name) said I was the most qualified to think, so I thought. Or I just screwed up my pre-draft rankings for which pick I wanted. Like a teamster, I’m leaning on the latter. Anyway, here’s my NFBC draft recap:

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*insert musical note* Hello, darkness, my old friend. It’s something-something, me again. So, I don’t know the words. Are you here for musical theory or for a recap of the craziest season in recent memory? I thought so! Today’s jazz handsy recap is of the catchers. Please don’t ask if this is ranking for next year. It’s not a ranking for next year. It’s me recapping last season (last two months?). Please, for the love that all is holy, understand this. It’s all I ask of you. Well, that and shower me with praise. The latter isn’t hard, the former is. Also, remembering which is the ‘latter’ and which is the ‘former’ is hard too. Quibbles and semantics, my good man and five lady-mans. It wouldn’t be fair for me to preseason rank the players, then rank them again in the postseason based on my opinion, so these postseason top 20 lists are ranked according to our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater. It’s cold hard math, y’all! Anyway, here’s the top 20 catchers for 2020 fantasy baseball and how they compared to where I originally ranked them:

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Trevor Bauer (8 IP, 1 ER, 5 baserunners, 12 Ks, ERA at 1.73) is going to win the NL Cy Young. Sooner you come to terms with that, the better for your own mental well-being. You’ll be able to listen to relatives talk about how they saw Trevor Bauer on HBO’s Real Sports, and how Trevor Bauer invented ‘a ball spinning,’ and how he’s so old school with his notebook, but not a spiral notebook. No, no, no — a laptop that Bauer calls, “My Notebook.” You can hear about how Trevor Bauer’s best friend is his dad and how he can make any other pitcher better just by talking him through ‘The Process.’ You come to terms with all of this now, you’re gonna be happier later. Trevor Bauer does have two Cy Young-worthy years in the last three, so maybe there’s something to it. Not sure how that circle is squared with last year, which I still haven’t forgiven him for — 4.48 ERA in 213 IP absolutely killed me. For 2021, it’ll be hard for me to stay away, as it always is with Bauer. Hey, I’m a sucker for 12+ K/9 and the promise of a 2.5 BB/9 or lower. If Bauer can do that, he could have this level of success every season. Wonder if there will be people drafting him in the top five starters. Maybe if I’m in a league with Bryant Gumbel, or your uncle who watches him. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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His full name is Randy Arozarena, and he was kidnapped and raised by Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter as their own. On today’s podcast coming later today, I was surprised to hear Podcaster Ralph say he thought Randy Arozarena was for real. I honestly thought he was a hot schmotato, and the best part of him was his last name sounds like a Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lyric. Psychic spies from Tampa try to steal your fantasy team’s elation, and little girls from Sweden dream of me quoting me quotation, and if you want these kind of dreams of Arozarenication. Also, he has a readymade nickname, the Rice Bowl, because his name split up is Arroz Arena. Damn it, I love him now too! In Triple-A, Arozarena went 12/9/.358 in 64 games in 2019, and he has 25+ steal speed, and roughly 15-homer power. That’ll play the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the Rice Bowl. Yesterday, Arozarena (1-for-2) hit his third homer in two games, and is hitting .471. Even if he doesn’t keep up that, and Cash tries to platoon the Rice Bowl, he’s well worth picking up. Don’t worry, I haven’t said Randy Arozarena 2021 sleeper, so no jinx yet. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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The Mariners have been something of an s-show. On one hand, they’ve been an excellent source of cheap speed. On the other hand, Dee Gordon, J.P. Crawford, Shed Long, and Tim Lopes are a combined 9/76 with 3 steals over the last 7 days. Checks notes again. Throws up in mouth. Tosses notes into trash. Praise the fantasy gods for the Mariners newest speed demon Sam Haggerty (.7% ESPN, 1% CBS). The Mariners’ rookie batted second on Sunday and has a pair of steals and a homer in 20 plate appearances. He was never a power prospect in the minors but did steal 20+ bases in 2017 (49), 2018, and 2019. His speed kept his batting average decent due to a high BABIP. Haggerty is the proverbial shiny new speed toy in the Seattle lineup. Starting Friday, the Mariners get a four-game set against the Angels. The Angels have allowed the most stolen bases this year, so if you’re desperate for steals, grab Haggerty now to get ahead of your opponents.

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(NOTE: THIS POST WAS RELEASED EARLY YESTERDAY ON OUR PATREON. IT’S $5/MONTH.)

Was having a chat in the comments the other day with Razzball writer, Coolwhip, and I said to him something like, “Wonder if starters who throw weak-sauce fastballs are going to be better this year because there will be less effort, and leff esort (sic) this year is better because no pitchers can throw hard with no real ramp up to the season.” Leff esort is such a great concept. It’s like saying ‘less effort’ without opening your mouth, so it is being said with less effort — hence, leff esort. Leff esort is such an easy way to live, yet alone pitch. Could all those jacked 99 MPH fastballs be just too much this year and leff esort is the way to go? I don’t know. But it does seem like guys sneaking by on 91 MPH or slower fastballs are having a much better time so far. Aaron Civale couldn’t get arrested with his 91 MPH fastball (if there was a law against 92+ MPH fastballs), yet here he is. Giddy up, Ryan Yarbrough (88 MPH), you slow dog! Sure, you’ll do, Jon Lester (89). Hey, look at Ross Stripling (91), and you too, Matt Shoemaker (91). Merrill Kelly had moments of 92+ MPH fastballs in his first game, but he is more about his cutter (90 MPH), curve and change. Last September, Kelly also dominated, and I’m adding him everywhere. Maybe we’re all just trying too hard and we need leff esort. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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Live for today. That’s what they tell me. “They” are BASE jumpers, so I’m not listening to them, which is why I’m living in a bubble with the NBA players. “Hey, LeBron, where can I get some bubble tea?” “Ah, man, I hear ya, players be gossiping like crazy.” “What are you talking about? I want boba.” So, the Marlins vs. Orioles and Yankees vs. Phils had to be canceled due to an outbreak within the Marlins’ clubhouse. The Marlins couldn’t play back in Florida vs. the O’s, and might’ve infected the Phils’ visiting clubhouse, so the Yankees weren’t going in there. All in all, a totally well-functioning pandemic. By which I mean, it’s terrible for us, but this virus is doing well for itself. “Manfred, man” hasn’t been uttered so much since “Blinded By The Light” was a hit in the 70’s. Now PPD stands for Pandemic Please Desist. Right now, the MLB is waging an age-old war:  Everyone’s safety vs. Capitalism. Not to impersonate the Garbage Pail Kid, Nihilistic Ned, but capitalism usually wins that. Of course, don’t misunderstand my glibness for not caring (that sounds like a Common lyric); I’m just trying to be real with you. As for fantasy, I moved all Marlins, Orioles, Yankees and Phils out of my lineups until further notice, and tried to bench all Marlins in my weekly leagues. As they say, WHEEEE!!! Again, “they” are BASE jumpers. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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