Ranking catchers is dumb. There are four or so that matter and then the rest are practically the same. Seriously, there are only four catchers from last year that met the minimum plate appearances to qualify compared to 2016’s eight and 2015 and 2014’s nine. Plate appearances matter in fantasy. You need your players to play often. Get a good catcher that plays regularly and puts up solid stats. You can slot him in and forget until you make the playoffs. After those guys though it’s the Wild West. Take the Dodgers. Yasmani Grandal had 482 PAs last year and had another solid year behind the plate. However, he’s a catcher, can’t DH and has a teammate named Austin Barnes. Barnes would play mostly against lefties but began taking more and more games away from Grandal. They both hit well overall last year, and as it stands now, they could easily split playtime. That isn’t a good sign for either player. The same goes for most other catchers too. They don’t play every day except for the select few. However, there is one that could, and his name is Evan Gattis.

Who wasn’t pumped when Pablo Sandoval migrated from catcher over to third base? A fulltime third baseman in the catcher slot? I’ll take two! Evan Gattis had an interesting season last year playing 49 games behind the plate, 29 at DH and 1 at first. He spent some time on the DL with a concussion and a wrist injury. Despite the injuries, the lack of playing time (his career low) can be contributed to not having a solid spot in the lineup. Brian McCann is usually behind the plate and Carlos Beltran had taken over the DH duties for the majority of the season. Now that Beltran has bowed out of baseball, Gattis’ spot is clear. He’ll be the fulltime DH for the Astros, while letting McCann take a breather at catcher every now and then. A fulltime DH with catcher eligibility should catch your eye.

Having played in only 84 games last year, Gattis did not have a notable year. If his numbers from 2017 were to be expanded closer to a full length season, they are roughly the same as his past but do fall a bit short. Let’s compare last year to his solid 2016 season.

Season G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG
2016 128 499 32 58 72 2 8.6 % 25.5 % .257 .273 .251 .319 .508
2017 84 325 12 41 55 0 5.5 % 15.4 % .193 .278 .263 .311 .457

If you expand 2017 to 499 plate appearances and keep the rates consistent, Gattis would have put up about 18 homers, 63 runs, and 84 RBI. That is not bad but where did his power go?

Gattis’ ISO was below .200 for the first time in his career and his OPS was .767, below his career average. Both of those are concerning, however that could be attributed to his HR/FB rate. It was by the far the lowest it ever has been for him at 11.2%, dropping 13 points from 2016. Most of his other batted ball statistics remained comparable. He did start hitting some more line drives and less grounders, but kept the fly balls the same. Not much change in how hard he’s been hitting the ball either. The decrease in HR/FB while all else constant wasn’t terrible for him though. He ended the season with a career high in doubles. In 84 games he hit 22 doubles which was 2 more than in 2015 where he played in 153. He’s still hitting the ball well. It just wasn’t making it over the fence. His low home run total from 2017 shouldn’t worry you much at all. Expect an increase in HR/FB, less doubles, more homers, and not much else to change.

Outside of his drop in homeruns, Gattis saw a sharp decline in strikeouts. Only striking out 15.4% of the time, 2017 was by far the lowest strikeout rate of his career. His contact rates point in the same direction.

Season O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact%
2013 71.9 % 82.8 % 77.8 %
2014 62.4 % 82.1 % 73.2 %
2015 66.8 % 84.6 % 77.0 %
2016 63.3 % 83.3 % 75.0 %
2017 67.1 % 88.3 % 79.6 %

He made more contact across the board. Most notably his zone contact rate jumped to 88.3%. Nothing wrong with more contact and more balls in play.

A full season of Gattis’ 2017 would put him in the top 5 for runs and RBI and top 10 for HRs. He holds his own with batting average too. A healthy 2018 mostly in the DH spot should give Gattis plenty of opportunities. His homerun rate should increase back to normal pushing him back to the mid-20s. Don’t forget he’ll be hitting in one of the best offensive lineups around. Should he get 500 PAs (barring injury or sucking, he should) he’ll be a top 5 fantasy catcher in 2018 putting up something like 63/25/83/.260.

  1. Darek says:
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    Jimothy- Don’t let Grey read this! It will burst his make-fun-if-the-CBS-guy bubble!

    Which leads to the question- when is it a good gamble to take Gattis if you subscribe to this analysis. Obviously in the top 100 there is too much risk (age, AB concerns, performance concerns). Fantasy pros average rank is 141; 156 in NFBC drafts. So that is 12-14 round range. How early would you feel comfortable targeting him?

    • Jimothy

      Jimothy says:
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      @Darek: Ha! I know! When I first saw the CBS guy I couldn’t believe it but I may have fallen for his propaganda. I want to say it’s ok to draft him closer to where Perez goes. I would assume Perez will go a 2-4 rounds before Gattis usually would but if they get the same amount of playing time, Gattis will perform comparably if not better. If you have your eye on Gattis, then take the risk 2 rounds earlier than expected.

      • Darek says:
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        @Jimothy:

        Steamer originally had him for like 600 PAs. With the catcher scarcity boost some $ projection systems give, it was leading some to crazy high valuations. But if he is a near full time DH om one of the best teams and puts up 2016 type numbers…

        I like the Perez barometer you suggest. His fantasy pros rank is 119 and NFBC is a little higher at 98. If he goes I might start thinking about taking Gattis in the next few rounds. It’s a bit of a risk, but round 10 or so is the time to take a few risks.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Darek: The CBS guy had him in the Top 50 or something.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        He’s ranked 19th overall! I mean, cmon

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Grey: Hahahaha!

        • Jay

          Jay says:
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          @Grey: That reminds me, who was that one dude who ranked Mauer like second overall or something… the year after he went like 325/11/who cares/who cares?

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            I’d go as far to say .325/who cares/burp/bleh/fart

            • Jay

              Jay says:
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              @Grey: Haha. Pioneer and lunatic are a fine line I feel!

      • Darek says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:

        Yeah. Even if one bought the projections and optimism, it seems like you’d have to hedge your bets a little and aim to be a “little” high not “crazy” high.

  2. FBV says:
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    Since both have C eligibility Schwarber at ADP 160 or Gattis at ADP 310? Who’s ADP you like better?

    • Jimothy

      Jimothy says:
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      @FBV: Oh wow. That Gattis ADP. I like that a lot. Is this dynasty/keeper at all? If so Schwarber has much more value but Gattis at twice the ADP hands down. That’d be a steal.

    • sport says:
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      @FBV: Fantrax has Gattis going 156 ADP

  3. Kris says:
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    Just curious if you see any chance Gattis gets sat or put in a rotation at DH with Yuli and Marwin. Figured 2 of the 3 would likely play daily (1B and DH) while the third sits. For some reason ESPN has AJ Reed listed atop the depth chart at DH…not sure I agree, but that’s why I don’t work for the ‘worldwide leader’

    • Jimothy

      Jimothy says:
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      @Kris: The Astros’ MLB depth chart page has Yuli and Marwin in 1B and LF starting respectively with Gattis at DH. Also the Houston Chronicle reported Gattis will server as the DH in 2018 (but the report was from November). Things can change in spring training. I have not seen much regarding Reed. Reed has way more to prove to get a spot than those three do. I definitely believe it’s Gattis’ spot to lose.

      • Kris says:
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        @Jimothy: Kinda what I figured. The Reed thing was a fluke I’m sure, but with the plethora of OF guys on the Stros (Marisnick, Fisher, Reddick), I was just thinking Yuli or Gattis was a cold streak away from losing playing time. Of course like you said, Spring Training will sort it all out. But I like the position placements you outlined in your first sentence.

  4. Steve Stevenson says:
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    AL-only 2 C league, can keep 10. I’m keeping Gattis at $1, and my next 8 keepers total about $30. Would you make Sal Perez at $14 my last keeper? The value’s not great, but there are going to be several teams looking for C at the auction and the only ones getting much PT who are likely to be available are Sisco, R. Martin, J. Castro, and maybe B. McCann, W. Castillo and Gomes depending on what others decide re: keepers. Other options to keep would be E. Escobar at $3 or Beltre at 20.

  5. I got $100 for groceries, $1400 for liquor and $6,000 for you to bail a couple of shit puppets out of jail says:
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    wow i completely either forgot that panda was a catcher or he was like 1 year before i started playing fantasy. very hard to believe that guy’s body could’ve handled that job now.

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