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With the All-Star break now behind us, it's time to look ahead to the second half of the Fantasy Baseball season. While we already know who most of this year's breakouts are, looking at you Max Muncy, catcher remains one of the trickiest positions to figure out in fantasy circles.

Those who sacrificed early picks on players such as J.T. Realmuto and Willson Contreras are sitting pretty. Others who may have waited at catcher are now scrambling to find the next big thing. If you're in the second group, and I'm sure most of you are, this is the article for you.

The players listed below are the best options for fantasy success heading into Week 17. They've found themselves in situations where they'll receive regular playing time and have done well enough to warrant a pick up. While none will give you the production of a Realmuto or Contrearas, they're all good enough to help carry the load at the catcher position during Week 17 and potentially on ward.

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All catchers listed are owned in less than 50% of leagues and readily available. If you're in need of a backstop, these six five players are cheap options who can help take your team to a Fantasy Baseball championship.

 

Tier One

If you're in need of a catcher, these players are the ones you want to own heading into Week 17. They offer the most season-long value and are the players you want to target if you're struggling at the catcher position in your Fantasy Baseball league.

Elias Diaz (C, PIT) - 16% owned

Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz has been one of the most underrated catchers in fantasy circles during the 2018 season. Despite being the backup to Francisco Cervelli, he has been able to put up solid numbers. With Cervelli now on the disabled list with recurring concussion problems, Diaz will have an opportunity to run with the starting job, making him arguably the best catcher option off waiver wires heading into Week 17.

Diaz is hitting .283 with seven home runs, 23 RBI and 26 runs scored over 54 games in 2018. If he qualified, Diaz's .283 avergae would rank third in the MLB among catchers while his seven home runs and 26 runs scored ranks tied for 17th and 14th respectively.

Pittsburgh's new starting catcher has had a strong month of July, hitting .270 with two home runs, four RBI and a .514 slugging percentage, his highest since April. The Pirates have clearly noticed Diaz's rise in 2018 as he has batted cleanup in his last two starts. If he continues to bat fourth his run scoring chances will only increase.

This is Cervelli's second time on the DL for concussion systems, meaning there's a chance he spends more time than the minimum 10 days. Diaz will have an opportunity to shine as a starter in the middle of the Pirates lineup. He is having the best offensive season of his career in 2018, giving him the talent and opportunity to help your team to the fantasy championship.

Omar Narvaez (C, CWS) 2.8% owned / Welington Castillo (C, CWS) - 1.4% owned

The Chicago White Sox find themselves in an interesting position at catcher heading into Week 17. In the short term, Omar Narvaez has looked great and deserving of everyday starts. However, Welington Castillo is set to return from his 80-game PED suspension on August 24; the team didn't pay him $15 million over two years to sit on the bench.

Narvaez has been a pleasant surprise in 2018, despite splitting time with Kevan Smith, he has managed to hit .286 with three home runs 17 RBI and 12 runs scored over 52 games. He has been one of the best fantasy catchers during the month of July, hitting .458 with two home runs and seven RBI. His .458 average ranks first among all catchers during that span.

Narvaez has done nothing but hit over the past two months and is worthy of a pickup as long as he sees starts. Castillo still has a little over a month left on his suspension, making Narvaez worthy of a pickup during that time. Following Castillo's activation however it's anyone's guess as to how the White Sox use Narvaez.

Prior to being hit with his suspension, Castillo was hitting .267 with six home runs and 15 RBI. He's coming off of four straight double digit home run seasons, including a 20-homer campaign in 2017. Castillo has been one of the better fantasy catchers due to his underrated offensive firepower.

With Castillo expected to return in one month and just six days, he should be monitored closely and is worth a pickup in deeper leagues. However, Narvaez is still the primary waiver wire claim while Castillo is suspended as he'll see the majority of starts during that time. It'll be interesting to see how the White Sox divvy up their starts behind the plate, but Castillo should be 1a with Narvaez functioning as 1b.

 

Tier Two

These players offer high potential, but aren't as sound as the tier one options. If no tier one options are available in your league, tier two catchers work as solid streamers who could eventually turn into season-long options.

Austin Hedges (C, SD) - 6.1 % owned 

San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges has been featured on this list before and continues to see low ownership. Hedges has been on fire during the month of July and should see more opportunities as the Padres slip to the bottom of the standings. If he continues to hit the ball well, owners should be willing to add the Padres catcher during his surge.

Hedges is hitting just .232 on the season with four home runs, 17 RBI and nine run scored. However, after missing most of the month of June with an injury, Hedges has had an electric July, hitting .382 with two home runs and six RBI. His .382 average ranks fourth highest among catchers during the month of July.

The problems surrounding Hedges are that he hits at the bottom of the lineup and is in an offense that currently ranks 27th in runs scored. He won't have as many opportunities to produce or score runs as others on the list.

That being said, Hedges has been one of the hottest catchers in the MLB during the month of July. He's coming off of an 18 home run season and has the potential to match that number in 2018. As long as he is swinging a hot bat, Hedges is worth a pickup for catcher needy teams in 12-14 person leagues.

Jorge Alfaro (C, PHI) - 3.7% owned

Much like Hedges, Philadelphia Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro is also in the middle of a hot streak. While he's never been a great offensive threat, Philadelphia's lineup is vastly improved which should help Alfaro both score and produce runs.

On the season, Alfaro is hitting .254 with six home runs, 21 RBI and 22 runs scored. The home runs, RBI and runs scored are all career highs. Over the last seven days, Alfaro is hitting .455 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. During the month of July, Alfaro is hitting .276 with a home run, five RBI and four runs scored. He also holds an impressive .805 OPS which ranks 17th among all catchers.

Alfaro will continue to see starts as the Phillies see what they have in their young catcher. There's also a strong possibility that after missing out on Manny Machado, Philadelphia will add a big-hitting infielder prior to the trade deadline. Adding to a lineup that already features the likes of players such as Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Santana and Cesar Hernandez will only increase Alfaro's chances of both producing and scoring runs.

Alfaro may not be the most consistent or offensively inclined catchers in the league, but he has been hitting well on one of the hottest teams in the MLB. He's in the middle of the best offensive season of his career and is worth a pickup if he continues this stretch.

 

Waiver Wire Order

1) Elias Diaz
2) Omar Narvaez
3) Welington Castillo
4) Austin Hedges
5) Jorge Alfaro

 

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