If you’re a new or inexperienced fantasy baseball player, one trap you shouldn’t fall for is overdrafting catchers. There’s a couple of reasons for that, so let’s get into it.
The Numbers of Games Played is Key
For starters, the obvious reason as to why you shouldn’t draft a catcher too high is that catchers don’t play as many games as players in other positions. Consider this from last season: in 2019, just four catchers (J.T. Realmuto, Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos, Christian Vazquez) had 500 or more plate appearances last season. And out of those four, only Grandal had more than 600 plate appearances.
Move over to the second base position, and you’ll see a different story. Last season, 19 players who are eligible for the second base position in 2020 had 500 or more plate appearances, with Royals infielder Whit Merrifield leading the pack with 735 plate appearances.
That’s the main issue with catchers. Since catchers traditionally have more off days due to various reasons (personal catchers, day games after night games), ballplayers who play at that position don’t play as many games as infielders and outfielders, and thus, have less value.
Considering that most, if not all, baseball fans, know this already, I probably didn’t need to bring this point up. However, it’s still worth beating into heads as we move closer to the start of the season.
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You Can Get Value Late
There’s also another reason why you shouldn’t overdraft at the catching position. Valuable catchers, who may not be household names, can be found later in the draft. Sure, there’s a lot of talented catchers that are in the top 100-150 in the fantasy rankings. However, there are quite a few good catchers that can be found late in the draft.
Let’s start with Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez, who has a Yahoo! ADP of 204.0. Vazquez was one of the four catchers who had 500 or PA in 2019, and Vazquez finished last season with 23 home runs (seventh among catchers with 300 or more PA in 2019, 72 RBI (fifth among catchers (min. 300 PA)), and batted .276 (third among catchers (min. 300 PA)) in 2019. If he puts up similar numbers in 2020, you could grab a potential top-5 2020 catcher later in your fantasy draft.
And then there’s Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez. Narvaez was never known as a power hitter in the Minors, as he only hit seven home runs over 1543 AB prior to reaching the Majors. However, 2018 was a bit of a turning point for Narvaez, as the Venezuelan native started pulling the ball more, as well as hitting more fly balls. Fast forward to last season, and the 28-year old turned in a phenomenal season with the Mariners.
Last season, Narvaez batted .278 (second among catchers (min. 300 PA)), while knocking 22 home runs (seventh among catchers) and 55 RBI (16th among catchers) with the M’s last season. On top of those numbers, Narvaez’s launch angle rose from 13 in 2018 to 17.8 in 2019, while also seeing increases in his FB% (8% increase in 2019) and Pull%. The 28-year old can be found late in drafts (230.0 ADP in Yahoo!), and while we’ll see whether he can continue to put the ball in the air without sacrificing too much, he could be a sneaky good catcher in 2020.
And if you can’t get either of those two, consider Jorge Alfaro (228.3 ADP in Yahoo!) or Sean Murphy (239.2 ADP in Yahoo!). Alfaro had a solid first season in Miami (18 HR, 57 RBI), although the number of times he struck out last season is concerning. Murphy, meanwhile, is a highly-regarded Athletics prospect who put up great numbers in the Minors and could be a nice grab for 2020.
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