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Staff Post: Catchers to Avoid in 2019

The Fake Teams writers conclude Catcher Week with their backstops to avoid. No, we didn’t list everyone...

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics
Mike Zunino’s power will play anywhere, but that batting average is too much to ignore.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

It is hard to believe that the MLB season is upon us, and our first positional week is in the proverbial books. But alas, time marches on and we must discontinue all this chatter about backstops. Besides, if you’ve made it this far you’re depressed enough already. Tune back in on Monday of next week as we’ll begin coverage of first basemen. That’s sure to be a more pleasant endeavor.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

Gary Sanchez and J.T. Realmuto (Zack Waxman)

NFBC ADPs: 56 and 57

This holds true in particular for deeper leagues, but I avoid Realmuto and Sanchez at their draft costs. In the NFBC, these catchers are going off the board as the 56th and 57th players on average, not making it out of Round 4. Much of the built-in cost is the disparity between their value and the replacement value of the position—positional scarcity. However, in a deep draft like this consisting of 15 teams, all positions will become scarce. By Round 23 you are really searching for rosterable players at all positions. Passing on a Springer, Aguilar, Haniger, Seager, Donaldson, or an elite closer for an inferior player does not make sense to me when all positions become scarce. In a 12-team, one-catcher league, once the first seven or eight catchers are off the board, I’m honestly avoiding everybody. I’ll wait until the very end of the draft because most smart owners will only draft one catcher. This likely leaves me with one of Jansen, Alfaro, or Mejia. In my most recent 12-team draft, I deployed this strategy. By the last round both Jansen and Mejia remained, and I was the only team without a catcher. Jansen got taken as someone’s second catcher, but I was happy with Mejia as the second to last pick of the draft.

Gary Sanchez, Yankees (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 57

I mentioned this in my bold predictions, but in many drafts Sanchez is seen as a Top 30 pick (his ADP ranges between 17 and 33). The ceiling is assuredly high with him, but you don’t want to be this risky inside your first three rounds. You want safe. Last year, Gary Sanchez hit below the Mendoza Line, was accused of giving less than 100% effort, and got hurt. Those are three big red flags for an early pick. AVOID AVOID AVOID.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Tampa Bay Rays
Yan Gomes is now in Washington and will battle Kurt Suzuki for playing time.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Yan Gomes, Nationals (Punk Is Dead)

NFBC ADP: 242

Yan Gomes was decent last season, I’ll give you that. But even if you include last season, Gomes averages just 96 games played per season since 2015. He’s even worse in OBP leagues because he never draws walks.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros
No longer a Mariner (now a Ray) but our staff writers are still down on Zunino in 2019.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Zunino, Rays (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 255

I can’t stomach Mike Zunino in any format. The power production just isn’t enticing enough to overcome the massive anchor of a batting average. I’d prefer a Tucker Barnhart type and to find some power in another way, say with Randal Grichuk late. And if you want a cheap catcher with power, consider Robinson Chirinos in Houston, who has a similar offensive profile as Zunino but is far cheaper (and in a better team context).

Mike Zunino and others (Joe Gentile)

Catchers usually go late in the draft. so no catcher comes to mind to avoid. I would’ve said Zunino like Heath if I had to pick one guy, but I will be a little different and not give any one name to avoid. Instead I will say that you should avoid drafting any catcher inside the Top 100. I love J.T. Realmuto, and his per-game value could put him just inside the Top 100. The same case could also be made for Gary Sanchez, but the downside is that the catcher position is the most grueling position in baseball. This causes catchers to get more rest than the usual position player, which hurts their overall value. My plan this upcoming season is to sit back and wait until the end of the draft, and grab a player like Elias Diaz or Danny Jansen to fill my catcher position.

And that’s it for catchers, ladies and gents. Onward (and upward) to the first base position, starting this coming Monday!