Many fantasy managers make the catcher position an afterthought in Yahoo! leagues. After all, with just 12 catchers needed to fill out the lineups in a standard league, there is a lack of urgency to land a quality backstop in early April.
But the reality is that stats generated from the catcher position count equally with those produced at other spots. And we have seen some wild catcher production thus far this season. Check out these numbers:
· Four of the top-5 catchers are all rostered in less than 40 percent of leagues.
· 13 of the top-18 catchers are rostered in less than 40 percent of leagues.
· Among the top-18 catchers, there are more (7) rostered in less than 10 percent of leagues than there those (5) who are rostered in at least 50 percent of leagues.
Some of these backstops are fool’s gold and are likely headed for a fall in the near future. But a few deserve a higher roster rate. Let’s separate them.
Sean Murphy, Oakland A's
The rebuilding A’s are giving Murphy a heavy workload and have used him exclusively in the top half of their lineup. The career .225 hitter will hurt your batting average but should go deep 20 times.
Jonah Heim, Texas Rangers
The switch-hitter hit .196 last year but has shown intriguing plate skills by striking out just once in 17 plate appearances thus far. Mitch Garver is blocking Heim from being a No. 1 catcher, but Garver could pick up some starts at DH.
Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants
Long predicted for stardom, Bart has gone deep twice while also collecting his first career stolen base. But a closer look at the 25-year-old’s statistics reveals 13 strikeouts in 26 plate appearances and a .571 BABIP. I’ll need to see better skills before recommending him.
Austin Nola, San Diego Padres
After enduring three IL stints for separate ailments in 2021, Nola has opened this season with improved health and a large workload. The career .270 hitter has primarily hit second in the lineup and has the potential to score plenty of runs despite mediocre power skills.
Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays
Jansen was incredible down the stretch last year, producing a 1.147 OPS after returning from the IL on August 31. He was also off to a good start this season before landing on the IL with an oblique strain that will sideline him for several weeks. I can’t recommend stashing a non-superstar catcher, but don’t forget about Jansen by June.
Francisco Mejia, Tampa Bay Rays
Mejia lacks plus power but hit .260 last year and is off to a good start (.736 OPS) this season. Meanwhile, the Rays' other catcher, Mike Zunino, is batting .056. There is a clear path for Mejia to eventually take over the No. 1 job.
Verdict: MONITOR CLOSELY
Elias Diaz, Colorado Rockies
Diaz has benefited from the Rockies' April schedule, as he has played most of his games thus far at Coors Field. The 31-year-old has a career .695 OPS overall but an .832 mark at his hitter-friendly home park. There is a creative path to getting some value out of Diaz in shallow leagues.
Verdict: STREAM DURING HOMESTANDS
Tom Murphy, Zack Collins, Austin Barnes, Andrew Knizner, Jose Trevino
I’ll lump all five of these catchers into one group, as they are each off to good starts but lack the necessary playing time to be a long-term difference-maker.