Catchers. Yeesh. Not exactly an explosive way to open fantasy baseball coverage for the 2020 season, but a necessity nonetheless.
If fantasy football is your jam, then the easiest way to view the catcher position in baseball is to equate it to the tight end position in the NFL. You have one or two at the top of the rankings who are worthwhile contributors, then a whole lot of yuck. Sure, you can dress up a few and feel good about using them throughout the season, but overall, this position is your throwaway in fantasy baseball drafts.
Atop the rankings are J.T. Realmuto and Gary Sanchez. The former is the more well-rounded player who typically provides you with decent power, a little bit of speed and a solid batting average. The latter provides big power and strong run production but, in typical modern-day hitter fashion, a weak batting average. They’ll cost you a relatively high draft choice or require a strong bid in an auction, but similar to Travis Kelce, will provide you with a distinct advantage at the position.
As you move down the rankings, you are met with good, though not great, possibilities. Willson Contreras of the Cubs has promise, but has had inconsistent stretches and plays on a team that offers little protection in the lineup these days. Yasmai Grandal has power, but is changing leagues this season, and that always comes with the need for an adjustment period.
Mitch Garver and Will Smith have power promise, but similar to their NFL counterparts such as Austin Hooper and Evan Engram, there doesn’t appear to be a necessity to rush out and get them. If you’re in a two-catcher league, perhaps you invest a bit more to land one of them, but in a single-catcher league, waiting is highly recommended.
If you’re looking for that sleeper pick who has the potential to break out, though no one has him on their radar — a Darren Waller-type emergence, if you will — then take a look at Miami backstop Jorge Alfaro. He is routinely overlooked playing for the basement-dwelling Marlins, but has exhibited strong power numbers in recent seasons. Entering his physical prime at 26 years old puts him on-track for even stronger production.
His strikeout totals are a bit much, but he puts the ball in play so much otherwise, his average still hovers over the .260 mark. Like Waller, he will be ignored by far too many fantasy owners and, if not owned by you, will be the hottest waiver claim in the month of April.
Again, the catcher position is not something to stress yourself out about on draft day. You can certainly make that early move for Realmuto or Sanchez, but it is far from necessary, especially in single-catcher, mixed-league play. Don’t get caught completely sleeping on the position in a two-catcher format, but making it a priority is going to be a mistake. The position is weak enough overall to allow you time to draft more important position.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at Fantasy Alarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays at 4-6 Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy sports advice, MLB lineups and DFS weather updates.