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Staff Post: Catchers to avoid in 2021 fantasy baseball

The Fake Teams writers tell you who to consider fading at catcher in your 2021 fantasy baseball leagues.

San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Okay gamers. Before you wig out over the first name, let’s get a few things straight. Just because a player is labeled an “avoid,” that doesn’t make him untouchable. Everyone has a price, and sometimes formats or ADP can dictate whether or not a player is fit for your fantasy baseball team.

What follows is the flip side of things. The dark side of the moon. Reasons why you may want to consider not drafting a certain player. And hold onto your hats, because we have two players that made our avoids AND our targets lists. In short, at the very least if you keep returning to this space, you’ll see differing arguments and be allowed to make up your own mind on things.

As always, argue with us in the comments about why we are wrong, or congratulate us on being correct...

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 34.41

If you look at catchers with 100 plate appearances last year, Realmuto (currently the #1 catcher) was 10th in batting average, third in RBI, second in runs, and first in home runs. That’s not bad right? Likewise, if you went to 2019 you would see a similar trend, top five in batting average, and second in RBI, runs and stolen bases. All the stars are aligning save one important metric among catchers: age. Buster Posey began his decline when he hit 30, Brian McCann saw a decline at 29 (though slightly revived later thanks to Yankee Stadium), Joe Mauer declined at 30 (thanks also to a concussion), and a few have declined at 32, like Ivan Rodriguez, and Mike Piazza. So there’s a chance Realmuto goes for a bit longer; however, I’m nervous.

Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 152.35

Varsho is being overdrafted, period! His 28.7% strikeout rate is comparable to Kyle Schwarber and Franmil Reyes. Unfortunately, he lacks the power upside of those guys. The xStats are nothing to write home about either. His .277 xwOBA was 23rd among 32 catchers with at least 100 plate appearances. He’ll get a look in the outfield, but I’d be shocked if he got anything north of 450 plate appearances in 2021. His current ADP on NFBC is around 150th overall, eighth at catcher. Just ahead of Sean Murphy and Austin Nola. I’ll pass at that price tag.

Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 186.06

Maybe you can tolerate the profile, but I can’t. Two of the last three years, he’s been inside the bottom 7% of the MLB in expected batting average, at .220 and .193, respectively. He was also in the bottom 2% of the league in strikeout rate in 2020, at 36 percent. Sure, he hits the ball really hard when he connects. Sure, the barrel rate is elite. But without a bunch of luck, he’s going to bat around .200 again this year. No amount of home runs is worth that anchor of a batting average. I’d rather take a shot on Mitch Garver returning to form, if it’s a power profile that I’m after. And I can draft Garver nearly 30 picks later.

Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (Andrés Chávez)

NFBC ADP: 258.76

As a general rule, catchers on the wrong side of 30 are risky investments. I love Posey as a real life player, but expecting something close to his peak production (he is at least four years removed from his ‘peak’) would be too much to ask. His wRC+ has been declining three seasons in a row, to a career-low 84 in 2019. He will enter 2021 at 18 months without competitive baseball, and he has Joey Bart breathing down his neck. Heck, he hit only 12 home runs in almost 900 plate appearances between 2018 and 2019. I’ll let someone else take a chance on his name value.

San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants (Joe Gentile)

NFBC ADP: 436.82

Bart was an intriguing breakout candidate going into the 2021 offseason, but with Buster Posey returning to the team in 2021 and the addition of Curt Casali, it looks Bart will start the season in the minors. He does offer a lot of potential with his raw power, but his poor plate skills and pitcher-friendly park could really hold him back from hitting that ceiling we all projected him for when he was taken with second overall pick in the 2018 draft.