We’re moving through Catcher Week here at Fake Teams, getting you ready for the 2020 fantasy baseball season. Here are my bold predictions for the position this year.
1. The last four seasons have shown the four highest strikeout rates for catchers (2016: 22%; 2017: 22.3%; 2018: 23.5%; 2019: 24.1%). This year the catcher position lands outside the top seven in strikeouts.
Justification: After years of raking the ball, I think we start to see more of an attempt at batted balls in play instead of swinging for the fences. Call this a bucking of the trends if you will.
2. From July until the end of the season, Joey Bart is one of the seven best catchers in the MLB.
Justification: He has some big shoes to fill sitting behind Buster Posey. But if Posey continues his downward slide I think Bart gets the nod this summer and really shines through the final stretch of the season. Joey played 22 games at Double-A last year, driving in 11 RBIs with nine runs while batting .316.
3. Tom Murphy is among the top five in home runs while ALSO being among the top five in batting average and slugging (minimum 300 AB).
Justification: Only two batters were among the top 15 in HR with UNDER 300 at-bats last year: Kurt Suzuki and Tom Murphy. Furthermore, only three catchers had 15+ HR while also batting above .270 and slugging above .500 (Mitch Garver, Willson Contreras and Tom Murphy) Tom was deterred only by his number of at-bats, due to sharing the helm with Omar Narvaez. However, now he will have the solo spot atop the Mariners depth chart.
4. For the first time since 2015, J.T. Realmuto is NOT in the top three in hits.
Justification. I’m not saying this is the demise or decline of Realmuto, but I think he has some hurdles to overcome in 2020. First, he’s fresh off meniscus surgery in his right knee and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Phillies give him more days off to make sure he’s not overusing it this season. Last season he played a career high 145 games amidst a groin injury and a knee injury. He’s entering the exact same season that Buster Posey reached when he starting playing fewer games and hitting the ball less.
5. Jorge Alfaro, who has never been in the top three, leads the league in stolen bases—a full 25% ahead of the next closest catcher.
Justification. Two catchers last year had at least eight steal attempts: J.T. Realmuto and Jorge Alfaro. As I mentioned, I think Realmuto is more cautious this season. The next handful who would compete are 37-year-old Yadier Molina, Isiah Kiner-Falefa (who is down on the Rangers depth chart), Yasmani Grandal (who is no longer on the steal-happy Brewers), and Austin Barnes (who is currently a backup). I think Christian Vazquez could be the one to give him a real challenge here.
2019 (Last Year’s) Bold Catcher Predictions
1 . A record number of home runs will be hit by catchers this year.
Result: Correct! With 749 Home Runs they CRUSHED the 2017 totals of 675. Then again, the league at large really had a fortuitous home run year.
2. Willians Astudillo finishes in the Top 50 in the LEAGUE in hits.
Result: La Tortuga spent time up and down the MLB all year as well as spending time platooning at his position. At the end he had just 190 at-bats with 51 hits. That put him 327th among all hitters and 38th among catchers. Incorrect.
3. Buster Posey returns to fantasy relevance with 70+ RBIs and Runs, finishing as a Top 3 catcher.
Result: He finished with 38 RBIs and 43 Runs, well short of 70/70 and was outside the top 10 catchers. Incorrect.
4. Yasmani Grandal triples his stolen base total from last year.
Result: With Five Steals he came SOOOOOO close to tripling his 2018 total. Almost.
5. Gary Sanchez does not finish as a Top 5 catcher for fantasy next year (currently projected as the 2nd best catcher).
Result: Among all of my predictions, this was by far the worst, Gary had a great year not only finishing first in home runs with 34 as well as 2nd in RBIs and 6th in runs. He might not have been the top catcher but he was surely in the top 5.