Catcher Facts For The 2022 Season

Trust me I know the catcher position is insanely boring and especially boring when you have to analyze the players. Well, as I prepare for my draft season I did break down every possible catcher for the fantasy season. Here are some fun facts and opinions I gathered while doing so, maybe this can help ease your pain.

When you think of power in terms of catchers you think of course think Salvador Perez and Mike Zunino. Perez broke the catcher record with 48 home runs while Zunino put up an impressive 33 home runs. But only Zunino had a higher max exit velocity than Willson Contreras who had a 115.4 Max EV.

Contreras finished the 2020 season with 21 home runs in 483 plate appearances and not only does the Max EV call for the potential for more power but so does his EV/FBLD. He was third overall in the category for catchers and less than one mile per hour behind Salvador Perez. Contreras has been selling out for power and with the likelihood of a DH we could see well over 500 PA’s from him making him an intriguing option. An option that could provide both power and a little bit of speed.

Let’s bring Yasmani Grandal into the picture. In the second half of the season, Grandal went on a crazy good run, one that was better than any other catcher. He had a higher OPS and wRC+ than any other catcher in the second half. In fact, over the entire season, he was better than the rest in those two categories. That’s not all on Grandal, compared to other catchers he was top five in EV/FBLD as well as top 15 in zone contact, no other catcher was able to do that.

Mitch Garver only saw 243 plate appearances in 2021 due to a groin injury. In those plate appearances, he ranked (among other catchers) second in Barrel rate and third in wOBA. Don’t forget Garver’s 2019 season where he hit over 30 home runs. In terms of playing time, it is basically between Garver and Jeffers. Jeffers hit just .199 last season with an 82 wRC+, .270 OBP, and .289 wOBA. Not great. It’s hard for me to not see Garver getting the majority of playing time and I would guess over 400 PA’s barring health.

A late-round shot in the dark type of catcher could be Manny Pina. Yes, 34-year-old Manny Pina. Pina signed with the Atlanta Braves on a two-year contract to be their backup catcher. He will be behind the extremely injury-prone Travis d’Arnaud, so if you see Steamer’s PA projection of 235 you should expect more. While opportunity will be important for Pina I think we need to take a look at his second half of 2021.

Albeit a small sample of 100 plate appearances in the second half Pina hit .247 with eight home runs. His OPS skyrocketed to .892 and his wRC+ to 134. Why? He started to lift the ball more increasing his line drive rate, fly-ball rate, and his barrel rate. Pair all of this with his impressive zone contact rate and you could have a solid contributor for deep leagues who you can take in the 50th round of a draft champions league.

Speaking of zone contact rate Tyler Stephenson had a higher rate than any other catcher in 2021 (91.4%). The 25-year-old impressed in 2021 hitting 10 home runs while hitting .286 in 402 plate appearances.

Currently, the backup catcher on the Reds is Andrew Knapp, sure he could steal some plate appearances but the Reds are cleaning house and they need Stephenson’s presence in the lineup. The possibility of an NL DH will help out Stephenson tremendously. He could easily see an extra 150 plate appearances next season which could leave you with a catcher who hits 15 to 20 home runs all while hitting an above league average of say .264 (steamer projection). That’s huge, that’s Realmuto without the speed.

Personally, I am a big fan of the statistic exit velocity per fly ball line drive. Reason being is simple, if a hitter hits the ball hard but consistently into the ground how does that help you? Remember Vald Guerrero Jr. before 2021? That was him. One catcher who pops out at me in terms of EV/FBLD at the catcher position is Max Stassi. Last season he had an EV/FBLD of 93.6 MPH, which ranks seventh amongst catchers who are projected to have over 300 plate appearances. His EV/FBLD is ahead of catchers like Will Smith, Dalton Varsho, and J.T. Realmuto. To note Stassi did have a much better first half compared to his second half but even if he is in between he could be a catcher with decent power and a lot of playing time.

The catcher position can be super boring and analyzing them can feel like a chore but I thought these were some fun facts about the position.

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7 months ago

Michael, you do great work. You live on the West coast, right?