While Yadier Molina may not be hitting for as much power as he has in the past two seasons, he remains a strong three-category contributor on par with the likes of Joe Mauer and maybe even a slight step above. Molina’s eight home runs may seem pedestrian, but his 54 RBI rank fourth amongst catchers, his 46 runs scored ranks third, and his .330 average ranks first among all qualified catchers. Speed isn’t exactly the first thing you think of, but his three steals have him tied for fourth. Replacing him here at the start of August isn’t an easy task, but remember, we don’t need for a replacement to do what he’s done, we just need one to do what Molina was going to do.
Obviously a lot has to do with the depth of your league. Replacing Molina in a 10-team, single-catcher league is a breeze compared to doing it in a 16-team, two-catcher league. Your options are so much more plentiful. You won’t find someone who will do everything Molina did, but you can cherry-pick some stats based on what it is you need most. Batting average help might be tough to come by, given that only three qualified catchers are hitting over .300 at the moment, but you might be able to find some help from the likes of Yan Gomes or even Dioner Navarro. Even guys batting in the .270’s such as A.J. Pierzynski, owned in just 57.5-percent of ESPN leagues, should at least be reasonably helpful as they won’t rise you to the top, but they certainly push you down to the cellar.
The home run production really isn’t tough to replace as there are a number of catchers you can use who will hit a significant number of dingers between now and the end of the season, but with such high totals in RBI and runs scored, you, again, may just have to go after someone who does one and not the other. J.P. Arencibia (owned in 26.6-percent of leagues) and Ryan Doumit (12-percent) can probably come close in RBI based on where they tend to hit in the lineup while Jason Castro (22.4-percent) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (6.7-percent) would be solid assets for runs scored. Salvador Perez might be a guy capable of doing both with a helpful average, but considering his up and down year, the .208 average with no home runs for July just might trump the seven runs and 11 RBI and be the reason he is really owned in just 68.7-percent of leagues.
Deeper league/two-catcher league owners are going to have a tougher time, without question. Your available player pool probably starts with the likes of Gomes and Navarro, but also with Wilson Ramos, Alex Avila or Welington Castillo. If that’s the case, then it’s really about just finding the one stat they contribute to the most. Pick your weak spot and go after it. If the pickins are even slimmer after that, it might just make sense to leave it blank rather than pick up someone who could go 0-for-20 in the span of a week.
It all sounds a bit depressing, doesn’t it? You just have to roll with the punches. The good news in all of this, though, is that the MRI on Molina’s knee came out clean and we’re probably not looking at an extended absence. Phew!
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at email@example.com