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Early 2020 ADP Reflections - Catcher

When a baseball season ends, the following season can’t come here soon enough for some fans, myself included. We start thinking about what we want to see from some players, which includes letdowns, bounce-backs, and even young prospect candidates. Instead of letting them bounce off the brain walls, let’s put these musings into digits. This includes things to watch out for as the season approaches that will affect drafts and in-season management. Some will force further research in the offseason.

This series will provide a few nuggets of info to look out for at each position, starting with catchers. Ok, nuggets at catcher might be a little exaggerated as the position seems to be a wasteland, as it was to start 2019. This also begs the question as to why most fantasy baseball series start with the catcher position. Maybe it is just to remove it from the path early, so there is nothing but sunny days ahead. Regardless, here's to hoping for a few pleasant surprises as there was last year. **toasts with bourbon du jour**

While this isn't a 2020 positional preview series,  a preview isn’t necessary for the catcher position as a whole; it is a disaster. Looking at early NFBC results, it appears vital to have a strategy for catchers going into drafts, particularly for Draft & Hold and two-catcher leagues. A recommended option would be to grab at least one reliable player in the first 10 rounds. An alternative is to grab a couple of mid-tier catchers, but this is where the flaws start to increase. It is not advisable to leave the 20th round without two catchers (if applicable). Regardless of your catcher opinions, the important thing is to make sure you have a strategy so you’re not wading in the pool of mediocrity.

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Accelerating Off The Line

*NFBC leagues have opened for business, and ADP information has started compiling for the 2020 season. Just keep in mind these are draft & hold leagues, which will have a slightly different strategy than traditional leagues. This is another reason to use the ADPs as a reference point, not as the gold standard of where to select players.

  • J.T. Realmuto (ADP: 62) is the cream of the crop but you won't have to pay 2019 prices despite a weaker player pool.
  • Yasmani Grandal (ADP: 105) falls right into another positive situation. The White Sox lineup is young with the potency to provide daily thumpings in the near future. He comes with a sixth-round ADP.
  • Superhero of the position in 2019, Mitch Garver (ADP: 113). Can you imagine if he took the bat off the shoulder more often (35%Swing)? People will gleefully jump to own him in 2020. That’s smart as the Twins lineup is still potent, and he doesn’t have to share duties with Jason Castro (ADP: 469). Of course, there is always La Tortuga, Willians Astudillo (ADP: 332), who returns to relevancy in two-catcher leagues and becomes a sneaky pick late.
  • Will Smith (ADP: 154) is the sixth catcher off the board. I’d like to have a piece of the Dodgers lineup too, but his current draft location might have me waiting.
  • Salvador Perez (ADP: 193) has dealt with injuries the last couple of years (knee and Tommy John surgery). A move to first base would be smart for Perez’ durability, which would subsequently benefit fantasy owners. A catcher with power and a solid average in the 12th round is useful only if he can stay on the field.
  • The light sleeper of 2020, Carson Kelly (ADP: 231). Everyone will see how well he did when removed from Yadier Molina’s shadow. He had a drastic improvement in Launch Angle (14.3-degrees), Exit Velocity (89mph), and BB rate (13.2%) and will likely produce more than the 18HR, .245AVG of 2019. No doubt, he'll become the "guy I want to grab” for many individuals. Of course, we will have to monitor his splits versus righties.
  • Back-stage passes for Omar Narvaez (ADP: 242) (.278/.353/.460 slash line) as he leaves Seattle for a new abode in Milwaukee. Watch how speaking a player's name in the same breath as the Brewers causes a surge in ADP.


Coasting Down Main Street

  • I want to see Sean Murphy (ADP: 246) overcome his knee issues. As it was only 60 plate appearances, nobody should be looking at his home performance (.143AVG and 57.1%Ground-ball rate), given a .154BABIP. He’ll get the start over Josh Phegley (ADP: 472).
  • How much did the thumb injury affect Yadier Molina's (ADP: 273) performance?  I’ll watch for quality, but he should still provide more quantity than most. Maybe it’s naivety, but his draft spot is worth checking to see if Molina can go another round versus the Father of Time.
  • Jorge Alfaro (ADP: 232) has the power and playing time to be a solid option. Can he be satisfied with what is in the box? Hopefully, the year of experience will encourage even the slightest of improvement in plate discipline (51% Chase and 64% Contact rates) to start the season.
  • Tom Murphy (ADP: 311) evidently doesn’t need Coors (18HR, .273AVG) and he now has the spot all to himself with the departure of Narvaez. Murphy's splits versus lefties (career .274) are nice; we will avoid games versus right-handers.
  • The past hasn’t been impressive, but Tucker Barnhart (ADP: 345) made some post-surgery adjustments at the plate for the second half of 2019. The results were very good in the walk (11.9%), strikeout (18.6%), and batting average (.273) categories. The cost is nothing to see if he can replicate the adjustments.
  • Is Victor Caratini (ADP: 386) the best non-handcuff handcuff of the position? Not yet, but he made a quality first impression and demonstrated an ability to get on base (.348OBP).


Stuck In The Mud

  • Many people are making every attempt to avoid Buster Posey (ADP: 278). His .260 average isn’t enough to justify less than 10 homers and a team context that provides inferior counting stats. I’d agree with the masses, even in two-catcher leagues. Current opposition stalls out in the 18th round.
  • Can Chance Sisco (ADP: 420) take advantage of Camden Yards this time around? He had an increased exit velocity(89mph), improved contact rate (72.6%), and reduced ground-ball rate (38.1%). It didn’t help his performance just yet. Will his ADP be low enough to throw a penny in the wishing well?
  • It is a slippery slide, and Danny Jansen (ADP: 298) is at the very bottom, covered in the muck of a forgettable 2019 season. Was it all that bad? In most cases, yes. Despite a 40% Hard Hit rate, it isn’t ideal to pull the ball 54% of the time and hit for a .175AVG against the four-seamer. However, if he can improve them and hold off Reese McGuire (ADP: 453), he might turn a profit, which will depend on where his draft spot ends up.
  • Zack Collins (ADP: 531) was the catcher of the future for the White Sox until the Grandal acquisition. As of now, Collins, Grandal, and James McCann (ADP: 287) will have to split time at catcher and DH. McCann’s .359BABIP and 89.9mph exit velocity provided a serviceable season for many owners but would be best suited in a new locale.
  • Mike Zunino (ADP: 467) has power and strikeouts(33.9%). I could buy the upswing. Ok, it's an easy bet given a .165AVG and 19.2-degree launch angle. Ay Oh! Dad joke complete. Now, can the Rays hitting coach help Zunino get better?

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