Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - Catchers
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had the mentality that you needed to act early and take one of the top catchers in the league in your fantasy baseball draft. That was until recently when I came to the realization that that is not the case.
When it comes to the likes of JT Realmuto or Gary Sanchez, you’re giving up a fourth-or-sixth round pick respectively to take either, that is if you can even get them at their ADP without reaching. That may seem fine and dandy, but remember that you’re giving up on a top end 50-to-75 player for someone who will see, at most, around 400 at bats during the season. Sure Realmuto, Sanchez and the likes are far above the field in terms of production in fantasy among their position, but is it worth giving up 100-to-150 at bats elsewhere? I don’t believe so.
With that being said, this year I’ll be looking to the later rounds to fill my catcher position. May it be waiting to be one of the last players in my league to snag a catcher, or drafting two to alternate during the season.
During this series of articles, I’m going to provide you with my favorite sleepers position-by-position.
Tom Murphy (Seattle Mariners)
Positional Rank: 15th
2019 Stats: .273 BA, 18 HR, 40 RBI, 32 R, .324 OBP, .535 SLG
2020 Projection (via RotoChamp): .252 BA, 25 HR, 64 RBI, 49 R, .306 OBP, .509 SLG
Murphy saw just 260 at-bats last year playing behind Omar Narvaez who has since made a new home in Milwaukee. Just as Narvaez had a career year a season ago and was a fantasy gem, I can see the same happening for Tom Murphy. Although Murphy saw 168 less at-bats than starter Navarez a year ago, he hit just four less homers and 15 less RBIs. As Navarez was hitting a homer every 19th at-bat and an RBI every eight, Murphy posted a homerun every 14th at-bat and an RBI every sixth-and-a-half. At Murphy’s pace last year, given Narvaez’ at-bats, he would have posted 30 homers and 69 homers. Those are great numbers for a catcher you’d get in round 21 of a 12-man league. Now, we just can’t assume he’s going to have the same production he had a year ago, but of the late round catchers, he has the highest ceiling too as he’ll likely hit cleanup for the Mariners in 2020. He’s going to get around 400 at bats and he’s a catcher I’m looking to cash in on late.
Travis d’Arnaud (Atlanta Braves
Positional Rank: 18th
2019 Stats: .251 BA, 16 HR, 69 RBI, 52 R, .312 OBP, .433 SLG
2020 Projection (via RotoChamp): .248 BA, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 44 R, .307 OBP, .425 SLG
When it comes to deep catchers, we like to stay in the American League because we get the designated hitter slot for when catchers get their off days from behind the plate. However, when it comes to d’Arnaud, his landing spot this off-season was just too great to ignore. He played the majority of the season last year in Tampa Bay, but heads just north to join the defending National East Champion Atlanta Braves. d’Arnaud isn’t going to blow you out of the water with his production in the batter’s box, but he does enough to warrant a fantasy start in many leagues. He’ll be towards the bottom of the Braves’ lineup, but with as deep and talented as that team is, there is no weak spot on that team. d’Arnauld can also play some first base, where he could see a few games this season, giving him a few more at-bats. If he can get to about 340 at-bats on this Braves’ team, he’ll have a fantastic season.
Roberto Perez (Cleveland Indians)
Positional Rank: 20th
2019 Stats: .239 BA, 24 HR, 63 RBI, 46 R, .321 OBP, .452 SLG
2020 Projection (via RotoChamp): .221 BA, 17 HR, 51 RB, 37 R, .305 OBP, .410 SLG
If you’re playing in a categories or roto league, Perez may not be the best bet for you. He’s not your catcher who hits for average. He also doesn’t bost the best on-base percentage. However, last year, he was top five in home runs and top ten in RBIs and slugging percentage among catchers with at least 300 at-bats. If you play in a head-to-head points league, Perez could be your guy. Last season he had a career high 389 at-bats. I don’t see him getting to that number again, but in terms of power hitting catchers, you’ll be hard pressed to find one better than Perez, especially in round 24 of 12 man leagues.