This is it folks. I can feel baseball getting closer. It’s either that, or Rob Manfred has moved into my basement bunker and has been whispering sweet nothings in my ear. What this weird aside presupposes is, why not both? And despite having a subconscious urge to add a DH to my daily routine, we’re going to shake things up and instead of covering a value pitcher or a Padres anything, I wanted to focus thy gaze (do you even gaze, bro?) upon J.T. Realmuto. Wrongly-used partial middle “ye” English vernacular aside (the yeee!), I’m here to establish that J.T. Realmuto is a very good baseball player. In fact, he’s probably the best catcher in the league right now, both in fantasy and in real MLB terms. And while it’d be quite the content strategy to end the post here and consider this mission accomplished, I’d prefer to make the case that while Realmuto may be the real acuerdo, he’s not the
droid catcher you’re looking for. In fact, drafting him may actually handicap your team the entire season, even if that season is shortened down to something like 12 total triskaidecagon-headers…
So first, I’m no professional contrarian, so let me just reinforce what I dabbled in above; J.T. Realmuto is a very good player. Last season, in 145 games, he hit 25 homeruns with a .275/.328/.493 triple-slash line. And while not super-duper intuitive (forgive the technical term), his career has been on an obvious upward trajectory, with his wRC+, ISO, and OPS all improving steadily across six seasons in the majors. Combine that growth with his stable strikeout and walk numbers and BABIP during the same time frame, it’s fair to say that his Steamer projections of a .270/.329/.478 and 24 homeruns seems highly attainable. Currently being drafted as the 52.6 overall pick (high of 37, low of 55) in the expert consensus rating, Razzball currently ranks him 103rd overall, though as Grey noted in his specific catcher “Corona” rankings update, while Realmuto was once the only catcher in his top-100, the pandemic and its impact has driven his value down. However, holding onto Grey’s cogent caveat (perfect band name btw) until later, here’s how the mustache (and the man behind the mustache) thought about him pre-“virus-that-I-wouldn’t-mind-kicking-in-the-balls”…
Last year I ranked Realmuto first and he finished 1st. Put away the kindling and stake. There’s no reason to burn me for being a witch. I’m smart, not witchy. As I’ve said numerous times before, it still doesn’t mean I’d ever mess with a top catcher. Jerry Tomato Realmuto can fall to the end of the top 100 and I wouldn’t mess with him. To put it the exact same way again, don’t draft top catchers. Also, Jerry Tomato had routine knee surgery, which I’m guessing will affect his running game, because there’s no such thing as routine knee surgery on a catcher. Finally, something said before by me twice already in this blurb, don’t draft top catchers. – Grey.
Now when you add in the caveat of a shortened-season, it’s quite easy to see what Grey sees. And while that vision may or may not be somewhat blurred from his own mustache hairs on the horizon line, basic math is a godsend. Less games means less counting stats, ergo, Realmuto is now to be named Fakemuto! Terrible wordplay aside, yeah, this concept should hold true. However, I’d be remiss to point out a valid argument that could be made, and that’s the catcher position itself is thinner than Trea Turner on a diet. “Catcher” is the wasteland of fantasy baseball, a place where one could conceivably draft Jeff Mathis and still feel generally like a good person. Dearthness (totally a word) matters. Using basic math again, since it’s the only math I know, scarcity also provides value. Or using ichthyological terminology, a big fish in the big pond has less value than a big fish in a small pond. A good example of this dynamic would be the fact that Realmuto has a current ADP of 52ish while the next catcher is Gary Sanchez at 76ish, and then Yasmani Grandal at 96ish. THE POWER OF ISH.
If fantasy baseball took place in a vacuum, it’d look like the Padres the last two decades, a whole lot of sucking. Also, you could probably ascertain that a catcher’s value is augmented by their positional scarcity, therefore the stats you receive have greater weight than that of other positions.
But nothing in baseball happens in a vacuum, and we must keep context in the conversation. And the context should be easy for most to pinpoint and evaluate. Afterall, Grey’s already written the Cliff Notes on it. That being said, I think it’s important to stress the fact that J.T. Realmuto’s ADP shows that many are still not paying attention to what exactly is going on here: and that’s losing value on your team by trying to gain value through drafting this catcher.
Grey alludes to it directly by player comparison here. The gist of what he says basically is: “Here’s what Realmuto does, now look at all these other players late in the draft who provides similar numbers.” I’d go further here and strengthen Grey’s argument by stating that it isn’t just about the production you can get just by waiting for other, cheaper catchers or players. In fact, it’s the entirety of my own separate argument that this post was meant for yeeeeee to gaze upon: Don’t just look at the players you can grab later, look at all the other players you can grab instead of Realmuto at his spot. Manny Machado anyone? How about Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Joey Gallo? I think if you look at all the batters in that range, you won’t just find other options, you’ll probably find better ones. And then add that production with the players you could get later, ala what Grey suggests, and then baby, you got a stew going.
And that’s not to say J.T. Realmuto isn’t great for your team. His prospects still remain quite strong, I mean, we’re still talking about a catcher in his prime, in a hitter-friendly ballpark, with no glaring red flags in his profile. But as Grey has said, and as I’ve tried to expand upon, it’s more about buying him in the first place.
J.T. Realmuto is a great baseball player, a great fantasy producer, and a player you should absolutely stay away from.
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him @jaywrong, or read his rarely (like never) updated blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow.