Keaton It Real: The Buyers and Sellers Guide to Catchers
I know it’s early for some to be thinking about whether to phone it in for the year or go for the title but this series is going to span over a few weeks so I figured I’d start it now and then, as the title suggests, you can use it as a guide down the road. Starting today and in the weeks ahead, I’m going to go position by position and highlight a few names I would target if I am going all in for a title this year, and a few names to target for a rebuild. Starting with my favorite position on the diamond, here are the catchers.
If you’re competing:
Jonathan Lucroy, LAA, Age: 32
So raw. Gone are the days where Lucroy will provide pratt much any kind of pop, but he does still get on base quite a bit for a catcher. Just about a month into the season now, his Statcast numbers are looking sharp too, posting his highest exit velocity (87.9 miles an hour) and highest hard-hit rate (41.7%) of his career. The past couple seasons have not been great for the vet so he shouldn’t be difficult to acquire, but if he keeps up this bat to ball numbers he can really help you out if you’re struggling for a catcher.
Austin Barnes, LAD Age: 29
Barnes had a ton of hype coming into last season that was immediately squashed about as hard as something could be squashed. I mean we’re talking Gronk spiking a gallon of milk squashed. Now that Yasmany Grandal is with Milwaukee, Barnes has been getting the lion’s share of the starts over Russell Martin and he’s been making use of them. The average isn’t anything to write home about, but at catcher, that doesn’t really matter. Barnes has walked 10 times to just 8 strikeouts so far this season, and he’s posted career-best exit velo and launch angle. Simply put the dude gets on base just about every time. He’s even knocked a couple of dingers. There are plenty of people who completely soured on him after last season’s hype debacle and if you need a catcher for a title run, he’s probably the best for the value it would take to acquire you can find.
If you’re rebuilding:
Joey Bart, SF, Age: 22
Bart is probably the hardest catcher to acquire right now but I really feel he will be worth it. Capable of offering average and power with a few steals to boot, he really does feel like Posey 2.0. Although recently hitting the IL with a hand injury after getting hit, he should recover just fine. Prior to hitting the IL, and although early in the season, he had shown some nice improvement on the strikeouts and walks, dropping his k% from 20.6% to 14.6% and increasing his walk rate from 6.5% to 7.3%. Simply put, if you’re rebuilding and looking for a catcher I’m starting with Bart.
Bo Naylor, CLE, Age: 19
Drafted in the first round of the draft last season, Bo’s ETA is a long way off but good chance he’s worth the wait. He’s much more athletic than his brother so he’s a good bet to stay behind the plate. He also showed surprising speed in a small sample last year, swiping 5 bags and tallying 3 triples in 33 games. Still a growing fella, his power right now is still projection but it’s projected to be in the area of a 60 to go along with a 55 bat which can be an impressive combo in a catcher. He showed an advanced feel for the strike zone too, posting a 15% walk rate. For his profile his strikeouts were in relative check too, settling at 20%. Right now Naylor isn’t on too many top prospect lists for catchers but I would expect with another good year that will change.
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