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Mid-Round Catchers - Fantasy Baseball Draft Values and Targets

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Welcome officially to the 2022 fantasy baseball season! Now that an MLB deal is in place, a lot more fantasy drafts will be taking place – and we're here as always to guide you through it. Once you reach the middle rounds of drafts, everyone is looking to draft players with upside that can provide a great return on value. You can afford to start taking a risk or two on a variety of different players, including emerging prospects, overlooked veterans, players returning from injury, or even talented players who may have some playing time concerns. The early rounds are critical and the late rounds are where you can take your chances on dart-throw sleepers, but the middle rounds can absolutely make or break your roster as those picks are going to make up roughly half of your starting lineup.

Today, we're looking at some middle-round catchers for you to consider drafting in your season-long leagues this season. Are their ADPs undervalued? Will they make significant fantasy contributions and become a mid-round draft target that you're going to want to prioritize? Read on to see our take.

Our editors have hand-picked these specific MLB players for your draft prep enjoyment. Normally only available to Premium subscribers, the five outlooks below are meant to give you a taste of the in-depth analysis you receive with our industry-leading 2022 Draft Kit. Be sure to subscribe today and start reading all of our in-depth 2022 player outlooks, and many other premium articles and tools, available exclusively in our 2022 Draft Kit.

Be sure to check all of our preseason fantasy baseball rankings for Roto, Points, H2H, dynasty, best ball, prospects and more:

 

Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers

If it wasn't for Salvador Perez's remarkable 2021 season, Will Smith could have found himself being the first catcher drafted in 2022. Instead, he's currently the third catcher taken according to his current ADP (~64). That might seem a lofty ADP for a catcher, but Smith justifies it following his 2021 season in which he hit .258/.365/.495 in 130 games. Smith also hit 25 homers (third-most among catchers) and chipped in with three steals. Smith's 71 runs and 76 RBI both ranked second among catchers as the Dodgers' offense continued to put up runs, ranking fourth in runs scored (830). After putting up a 14.6% BB% in 2020, Smith showed it was no fluke with an 11.6% BB% over a full 2021 campaign, which ranked in the 83rd percentile.

Smith was one of only three catchers to have 500+ plate appearances in 2021 and if the National League does implement the designated hitter as anticipated, he should have no problem in reaching that number again in 2022. Being able to accumulate counting stats without being a drain on batting average is a strong asset of being a catcher in fantasy. Smith's underlying numbers don't suggest regression is due (.364 wOBA and xwOBA and a .250 average) and he shouldn't have any problem ending the season as the number one catcher in the National League at least

-- Jamie Steed - RotoBaller

 

Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho slashed .246/.318/.437 with 11 home runs, 38 RBI, 41 runs scored, and six stolen bases over 315 plate appearances in 2021. His overall numbers appear pedestrian on the surface, largely affected by a .142 batting average and .464 OPS prior to the All-Star break. The 25-year-old's sparse playing time and struggles led to a demotion in the first half before being promoted to the big leagues in mid-June. After the All-Star break, he flipped the script and shook off his terrible first half. Varsho became an everyday player for the Diamondbacks with a slash line of .290/.349/.530 with 10 home runs and five stolen bases in the season's final two and half months. He owned a .530 slugging percentage (posted a career .527 slugging percentage in the minors) and a 16.1% HR/FB rate in the second half of last season.

Varsho should be in the lineup every day and has multiple position eligibility in 2022 by starting 41 games at catcher and 49 games in the outfield. The Diamondbacks catcher showed that he could get on base through his 9.5% walk rate last season. He has wheels and could lead all backstops in stolen bases. According to Statcast, his sprint speed of 28.4 per second only trailed Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, who led all catchers with 13 steals last season. The Milwaukee product has the potential to be a top-five fantasy catcher with the upside to hit 25 long balls and swipe 15 bags if he can continue to build on his terrific second half of last season. According to RotoBaller's Expected Draft Values, Varsho's Steamer projection (.253-16-54) makes him roughly fair value at his current NFBC ADP of 102. With the upside he offers, he can certainly exceed that value.

--Brad Camara - RotoBaller

 

Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras posted some of the best numbers at his respective position last year, hitting 21 HRs with 57 RBI, 61 runs, and five stolen bases. He walked 10.8% of the time but also posted a 28.6 K%. So even with his .298 BABIP, 88th percentile average exit velocity, and 86th percentile HardHit%, the 29-year-old's batting average sat at .237 by season's end, and Contreras has now hit .239 over the last two seasons. Though he might represent a liability in that category, he has some of the best power at catcher, barreling the ball at least 10.4% the past three seasons, including an 11.1% mark in 2021. Contreras will never reach the 30 HR threshold if he hits the ball on the ground as much as his 51.6% rate from last season or his career 52.4% rate, but he should once again go yard about 20 times, considering how hard he hits the ball.

He has never been a base stealer, but his 64th percentile sprint speed suggests he can swipe another five bases next year. The backstop hits in a pretty ordinary lineup but should be right in the middle of it, giving him plenty of opportunities for RBI and runs. Contreras played 128 games last year despite missing about three weeks with an injury. If healthy, he should start at least 130 games in 2022. His ADP of 111 is fair given the weak catcher position, and fantasy managers shouldn't wait for Tyler Stephenson, the next catcher off the board.

-- Spencer Seguin - RotoBaller



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