by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Just how many catchers can we lose to the DL in the first few days of the season? It’s a fairly long list, and some of the names were being counted on in even shallower formats:
- T. Realmuto – Miami Marlins
- Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals
- Mike Zunino – Seattle Mariners
- Matt Wieters – Washington Nationals
- Tyler Flowers – Atlanta Braves
They may not be out for long, but with the position already shallow they all hurt. In single-catcher formats it may not be too difficult to find a short-term stop gap, but in two-catcher leagues (or deeper formats)? Let’s take a look at a few alternatives who are currently owned in 20% or less of both ESPN and CBS Sports leagues:
Kevin Plawecki – New York Mets
CBS Sports – 8%, ESPN – 5.5%
He’s going to share playing time with Travis d’Arnaud, but Plawecki is the better defensive player and it may not be long before he is getting the lion’s share of the starts (he started two of the first three games for the Mets). He also has shown a strong approach at the plate, which should translate into success in the Majors:
- Triple-A – 8.2% SwStr%
- Majors – 9.5% SwStr%
Couple that type of contact with strong line drive rates (24.8% and 23.8%) and some growing power (he combined for 22 doubles, 1 triple and 12 HR over 347 AB in 2017) and there’s a lot to like. The biggest question is the number of AB, but how many catchers play every day at this point anyway?
Tucker Barnhart – Cincinnati Reds
CBS Sports – 18%, ESPN – 8.3%
The attention has always been on Devin Mesoraco, but the team has finally turned the page from the injury plagued backstop and handed the starting role to Barnhart. Generally not known for his power, Barnhart showed a bit more upside in the second half of ’17 by hitting 5 HR along with 24 doubles. Now the “magical” age of 27, would it be a surprise to see him grow into a 12-15 HR threat? That’s not going to replace the power of a Zunino or Perez, but he also should add a better average (he hit .270 last season, courtesy of a 16.1% strikeout rate and 26.2% line drive rate). He’s not a sexy name, but he’s going to play and does provide value.
Manny Pina – Milwaukee Brewers
CBS Sports – 20%, ESPN – 1.8%
With Stephen Vogt on the DL the Brewers are giving Pina a chance. He showed some potential last season, hitting .279 with 9 HR (as well as 21 doubles) over 330 AB, though that doesn’t make him a lock to continue producing.
He doesn’t have tremendous plate discipline (10.4% SwStr%, 33.3% O-Swing%), and needed a .339 BABIP to maintain the average. That’s a tough sell, and it’s likely he’s more of a .240-.255 type hitter. That’s not a complete deterrent, assuming there’s power in his bat. He’s never going to be a 20-25+ HR threat, and at 30-years old do we expect him to suddenly grow (8.4% HR/FB last season)? He’s the type of player to roll for a short-term hot streak, but the risk likely outweighs the potential reward.
Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports, ESPN
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:
|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 03/24/18|