Please see our player page for Jacob Stallings 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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This is what they call in the biz a GAP — a General Appreciation Post. It has not been a general appreciation type year, but Juan Soto (1-for-4, 3 runs, 3 RBIs and a slam (12) and double legs (4, 5), hitting .345) aka Sexy Dr. Pepper makes me wake up at quarter to 6 every morning, jump out of bed like Dicky Fox and scream, “I love Juan Soto!” Then Cougs rolls over and mutters, “865,” which is the number of times she’s said to stop screaming that first thing in the morning. Listen, it’s been a trying year, and I appreciate all of you sticking with us through what was the craziest year on memory, and I’m not gonna get choked up, because I’m way more appreciative of Juan Soto. HE’S BETTER THAN TROUT. Sorry, but Mr. Al Caps is right. Sexy Dr. Pepper is 12 years old and he’s doing things not seen since 2002 when a headless ghost Ted Williams was teaching a bone-sober and dead Babe Ruth why he was striking out so much. It’s an absolute joy to watch. I think I like Treat Urner (3-for-6, 1 run and his 11th and 12th steals) partially because he plays with Juan Soto. In 2021, I’m not sure yet if I’m going to have Juan Soto in the top two, three, four or five, but this is only the beginning of that discussion which will go until 2030, when we’re all finally stepping out of quarantine like a bunch of vampires. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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There have been a lot of strange things about this off-season.  I mean, in addition to the obvious, like constantly worrying about the health of ourselves, our loved ones, and the fate of mankind while not having baseball as a job/hobby/distraction.  For me, one of the odder consequences of the delayed season is the fact that I have yet to draft an NL or AL-only team this year, as all of my private leagues are waiting to draft until we have a better idea what the coming weeks and months will bring.  Another very weird thing that seems to have happened to me over the last several months is that I have evidently developed a propensity for paying more than ever before for catchers on my fantasy baseball teams.

I realize now that this trend actually started back in another lifetime late November, when my first draft of the season took place.  I’ve drafted quite a few teams since then — mostly 15-team mixed format, 2-catcher leagues, with a standard 5×5 roto scoring system.  Unlike every other season of my fantasy baseball career, almost every one of them features at least one catcher that I had to pay for with either a mid-round pick of a handful of valuable auction dollars.  Last year, I literally did not even include catchers on my master spread sheet… I just had a handful of names in mind that I knew I could grab at the very end of a draft or with my last dollar in an auction.  This year, paying for a catcher was not a strategy that I came into draft season with; it just kind of happened.  Draft after draft, it just continued to occur: time to make a pick, and I felt a catcher was the best value on the board.  This happened back in my first drafts this winter, and continued through my last drafts a couple of weeks ago — so in terms of the catching position, my take on how to construct the best team really didn’t change once the uncertainty of the season’s timeline and potential format changes came into play.  What I’m also realizing is that I’m pretty happy with how most of my teams turned out overall on paper — to the point where, if worse comes to worst and we have no baseball in 2020 and I don’t get to see if my don’t-wait-as-long-as-usual-to-draft-a-catcher method worked, I will most likely jump right back in and employ a similar strategy in 2021.

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Here, friend, are some catchers that I will be targeting at my 2020 fantasy drafts after the top options are gone. I’m not going to get into the strategy of punting catchers. Been there, half-drunkenly wrote that years ago. Click on the player’s name where applicable to read more and see their 2020 projections and blurbs I wrote for them. This is a (legal-in-most-countries) supplement to the top 20 catchers of 2020 fantasy baseball. Now, guys and five girl readers, I am not saying avoid catchers like Yasmani Grandal if they fall, but, to get on this list, a catcher needs to be drafted later than 200 overall, and, to preemptively answer at least seven comments, yes, I will go around the entire infield, outfield and pitchers to target very late. Anyway, here’s some catchers to target for 2020 fantasy baseball:

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After much success last year in NFBC’s Cutline competition (around top 30 overall out of 1,000 teams), I decided to give it another go. Mind you, they only pay top 20, and I came in approximately (I don’t remember) 30th, so I didn’t win money last year, but money can’t buy happiness. Happiness can only be derived from seeing a Japanese mascot petting a dog. Nothing else counts towards happiness. Luckily, this league doesn’t have a happiness category. You might remember (likely don’t) that I autodrafted the first four rounds last year for my “much success” team, so in some ways this year’s league is a test of Man vs. Machine because I drafted this whole kit and/or kaboodle. Everyone likely knows what a Best Ball league is, but, if you don’t, it’s when you draft a team and the computer manages it for you by choosing who are the best players, and you get those stats. It’s basically one fantasy league removed from the robots taking over and killing us all. Now that I think about it, it’s not Man vs. Machine this year for me; it’s Man vs. Machine vs. Machine. HOLY CRAP, WE’RE OUTNUMBERED!  Anyway, here’s my NFBC Best Ball, Points League, 10 team draft recap:

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The Pirates have become one of my favorite teams for whatever reason but this thing could get ugly. This roster has gotten rid of players like Starling Marte, Gerrit Cole, Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows since the beginning of last season and it’s left this roster looking like a dumpster fire. That doesn’t even take into consideration that Jameson Taillon is injured too, leaving the Buccos in big trouble. I’m sorry Greg Brown but that Jolly Roger is going to stay put a ton this season.

If you have any comments or questions, reach me here or on Twitter @Bartilottajoel

Also, if you want to see some other team previews or my bust picks, click here!

The 2020 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join!

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In the last couple of weeks, we’ve taken an early look at first and second base and how those positions are stacking up for fantasy baseball this year, particularly in terms of how the state of the position might affect those of us in NL-only, AL-only, or other deep leagues.  This week, we’ll move on to catcher.  Why didn’t we just start with the catching position?  Mainly because talking about catchers felt like a phenomenally boring if not mildly depressing way for me to kick off my posts in 2020.  But the more I’ve thought about it, I’ve changed my mind significantly on that front.

Not only do I feel that there are more interesting catching options out there than there have been in a few years, but thinking about some of my teams last year is also reminding me that catcher is one of the positions that is most relevant to discuss when thinking about how to attack it based on differing league parameters.  Any given owner’s approach to drafting or buying a catcher might vary wildly even within the same drafting season depending on how that league’s rosters are structured, but the more we know about the position in general, the better.  All information in terms of catching options, how tiers are looking, and which of last year’s results might help us prepare better for this year, can help as we head into drafting for the current season — whether we’re choosing a team for a standard re-draft mixed-league with a head-to-head format that only uses one catcher, a 12-team NL-only roto keeper league that employs two catchers, or anything in between.

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