Revisiting the Catcher Position in Ottoneu

I play in a couple of dynasty leagues, one of which is a 12-team, one-catcher 5×5 roto league in which I spent much of the off-season trying to trade J.T. Realmuto because I also had Keibert Ruiz. Ruiz has been disappointing and is no longer on my roster, but I picked up David Fry and so I am still trying to trade Realmuto. And despite a typically solid start from Realmuto, there are still no takers. Yet I feel like my rosters have had a ton of disappointing catchers. The aforementioned Ruiz. Bo Naylor. Yainer Diaz. So why does no one want or need Realmuto? What is happening at the catcher position?

Let’s start by looking at my pre-season Ottoneu catcher rankings.

 

Chad’s Pre-season C Rankings
Rank ▾ Name Position Eligibility Tier
1 Adley Rutschman C $21-$27
2 William Contreras C $15-$20
3 Will Smith C $15-$20
4 Willson Contreras C $10-$14
5 Sean Murphy C $6-$9
6 MJ Melendez C/OF $6-$9
7 Yainer Diaz C/1B $6-$9
8 Gabriel Moreno C $6-$9
9 J.T. Realmuto C $6-$9
10 Cal Raleigh C $6-$9
11 Logan O’Hoppe C $6-$9
12 Francisco Alvarez C $6-$9
13 Keibert Ruiz C $6-$9
14 Salvador Perez C/1B $6-$9
15 Mitch Garver C $6-$9
16 Bo Naylor C $6-$9
17 Jonah Heim C $3-$5
18 Alejandro Kirk C $3-$5
19 Henry Davis C/OF $3-$5
20 Danny Jansen C $3-$5
21 Ryan Jeffers C $1-$2
22 Luis Campusano C $1-$2
23 Ethan Salas C $1-$2
24 Tyler Stephenson C $1-$2
25 Samuel Basallo C/1B $0-$1
26 Ivan Herrera C $0-$1
27 Shea Langeliers C $0-$1
28 Elias Díaz C $0-$1
29 Austin Wells C $0-$1
30 Harry Ford C $0-$1
31 Gary Sanchez C $0-$1
32 Tom Murphy C $0-$1
33 Freddy Fermin C $0-$1
34 Travis d’Arnaud C $0-$1
35 Jeferson Quero C $0-$1
36 Kyle Teel C $0-$1

That is every catcher above the $0 tier. In an earlier version of the rankings I had Heim 20th and made this comment:

We’re 20 C deep and if you told me anyone here or above is your starter this year, I would think that is just fine. When was the last time that was true at this position?

Part of the reason I wanted to trade Realmuto in that dynasty league was because C felt so deep – and so deep with young talent – that it was a good opportunity to re-set at the position. Part of the reason no one wanted Realmuto was, well, the same reason. Even if we just focus on somewhat young, exciting catchers, almost every team could have had one of Rutschman, William Contreras, Yainer Diaz, Moreno, Raleigh, O’Hoppe, Alvarez, Ruiz, Naylor, or Heim and felt good about their long-term coverage at the position. And that is before we account for Realmuto, Willson Contreras, Garver, Smith, Perez, Murphy, Melendez, etc. who are not as young or not likely to be C-eligible in the future, but had teams covered for this year, at least.

It wasn’t just in that dynasty league – across all my Ottoneu leagues, I was finding it hard to move catchers. It used to be hard to trade a catcher because they were all bad and if you had a good one, you couldn’t possibly give them up. That seemed to switch this off-season.

And here we are, two months into the season, and everything is totally different and exactly the same.

Here are the top catchers by P/G, minimum 50 PA, and where I had them ranked pre-season.

 

Current Ottoneu C Production
Name FPTS/G FPTS Current Rank Chad’s Pre-season Rank
David Fry 7.3 299 1 Not Ranked
Willson Contreras 7.0 216.1 2 4
William Contreras 6.6 398 3 2
Salvador Perez 6.2 368.4 4 14
Will Smith 6.1 313.5 5 3
Adley Rutschman 5.8 318.5 6 1
Danny Jansen 5.7 182.6 7 20
Ryan Jeffers 5.7 299.6 8 21
Connor Wong 5.0 215.3 9 41
Jacob Stallings 4.7 128.2 10 Not Ranked
Joey Bart 4.7 102.9 11 50
J.T. Realmuto 4.7 223.2 12 9
Patrick Bailey 4.6 170.1 13 37
Elias Díaz 4.5 222.8 14 28
Kyle McCann 4.5 107.3 15 Not Ranked
Shea Langeliers 4.4 230.6 16 27
Travis d’Arnaud 4.2 183.5 17 34
Logan O’Hoppe 3.9 201.3 18 11
Tyler Stephenson 3.9 192.3 19 24
Cal Raleigh 3.8 206.3 20 10
Gary Sánchez 3.7 149.9 21 31
Iván Herrera 3.5 150.3 22 26
Jose Trevino 3.4 126.8 23 Not Ranked
Yainer Diaz 3.3 176.7 24 7
Freddy Fermin 3.3 112.2 25 33
Francisco Alvarez 3.3 52.7 26 12
Victor Caratini 3.3 98.1 27 Not Ranked
Jonah Heim 3.2 169 28 17
Korey Lee 3.1 134.5 29 Not Ranked
Jake Rogers 3.0 114.7 30 Not Ranked

Four of the top six are basically as expected. The rest of the top ten is chaos. Now, I could go player by player and tell you that I regret not believing in Jeffers or that I am still out on Wong and Stallings, but that isn’t what I want to look at.

Instead, what stands out to me is that even with all those unexpected names in unexpected places, catcher still feels like a position where there is more than enough talent to go around in Ottoneu and other one-catcher formats.

Looking at that list, anyone with a player in the top 8 spots by P/G is probably feeling good, though in a couple of cases they may be anxious about having a split backup. Managers with Realmuto, Elias Díaz, Yainer Diaz, Raleigh, and Alvarez probably still feel pretty good about their catcher. Langeliers, O’Hoppe, and Stephenson may have shown enough to keep their managers patient (I am certainly still being patient with O’Hoppe).

And then there are guys like Moreno, Melendez, Ruiz, Naylor, and others who aren’t even in this top 30, but many managers are likely still holding out hope. Or those players have been cut, but teams see them as free agents and are willing to potentially risk picking them up rather than trading for a catcher.

Which brings me back around to my Realmuto situation – he just doesn’t have trade value. And it isn’t because he isn’t performing. Being 12th doesn’t make him an elite performer, but it’s not hard to imagine him surpassing at least Bart, Stallings and Wong shortly. Looking forward, he is still a pretty clear top-ten catcher, in my opinion.

But even as the position has shifted significantly since March and April, it remains oddly deep. Deep enough that many, if not most, managers are going to feel confident about their catching situation.

As we enter trade season, I am rethinking how I am treating catchers. In leagues where I am competing, I may take a shot at buying higher-priced catchers, especially from managers who have another catcher they like. There is so much depth that I think the top-end guys feel more expendable, which might make them easier to pick up on the cheap. In leagues where I am selling, I am not going to bother shopping my catchers. I’ll put them on the block, but it’s pretty clear they are just not that highly sought after, and it isn’t hard to see why.





A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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JustAnotherBaseballFanmember
12 days ago

I know this is folly, but I would like to think that taking on Realmuto would be of interest to someone because when one looks at their starting roster, it begins with Realmuto. Something about seeing names ‘on paper’ might give someone more confidence about how their team will perform all year. Seeing Stallings, Bart or Bailey probably doesn’t give off the same feeling.

With that in mind, I am not sure that others will sell off their name-value catchers on the cheap. I bet not everyone sees the stats the way that this article lays out.