by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The assumption was that Sandy Leon would be the starting catcher for the Boston Red Sox and Blake Swihart owns the biggest name (despite his struggles and recent demotion). However, could Christian Vazquez actually prove to be the starter and a fantasy asset?
He is the superior defensive catcher, though it was fair to doubt that he’d get back to that level after losing a year due to Tommy John surgery. That doesn’t appear to be an issue any more as manager John Farrell was recently quoted by Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald (click here for the article) as saying:
“You’re always hopeful that the second year off of Tommy John, there’s going to be the less arm-strength swings or the peaks and valleys. That’s been on display. His arm strength is close to where it was pre-surgery. His footwork has been very quick from the first day of camp. He’s come into camp in great shape. He’s doing the things he’s capable of defensively, for sure.”
It’s often that defense can get a player into the lineup, but that doesn’t make him a fantasy option. It’s if he can take advantage of the opportunity and prove he can produce with the bat as well that’s important. Through Sunday, a .233 average with 1 HR over 30 AB doesn’t quite show that type of upside, does it?
A career .266 hitter in the minor leagues, he’s also never shown the ability to hit for much power (40 HR over 2,193 PA). It’s not like he’s shown any type of potential at the upper levels of the minors either:
- Double-A (481 PA) – .275/.360/.371
- Triple-A (445 PA) – .273/.339/.376
While he has shown that he can make consistent contact in the Majors (6.7% SwStr%), is that really enough? He consistently drives the ball into the ground, both at the upper levels of the minors (1.42 GO/AO at Double-A, 1.73 at Triple-A) and in the Majors (2.06 GO/AO), making it impossible to hit for much power. Even without power he’d be passable, assuming he can hit .280+, but he’s simply not good enough of a hitter to reach that type of level.
A .260 catcher, at best, with no power and no speed? Simply put, no thank you. Vazquez winning the starting job is good news for the Boston pitching staff, but from a fantasy perspective it takes away a potential option (Sandy Leon) at an already shallow position.
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference
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Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:
|1.||Andrew Vaughn||B+||Chicago White Sox|
|2.||Triston Casas||B+||Boston Red Sox|
|3.||Evan White||B||Seattle Mariners|
|4.||Michael Toglia||B-||Colorado Rockies|
|5.||Tyler Nevin||C+||Colorado Rockies|
|6.||Lewin Diaz||C+||Miami Marlins|
|7.||Ryan Mountcastle||C+||Baltimore Orioles|
|8.||Gavin Sheets||C||Chicago White Sox|
|9.||Jared Walsh||C||Los Angeles Angels|
|10.||Seth Beer||C||Arizona Diamondbacks|