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2022 Fantasy Baseball: Catcher ADPs that feel like cheating

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Heath examines early ADP returns ahead of the brand new year of fantasy baseball.

San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Yours truly is on vacay this week, and with the downtime I aim to bore into November and December ADPs to see what sand is shifting. Today, it’s catchers. Tomorrow, I may do corner infielders. We’ll see which way the wind blows. For now, my full disclosure is that I’ve done three NFBC50s thus far, and I’ll be leaning into ADPs from November and December in that format. I think that format more closely mirrors what most drafters will experience in the new year, so that’s what we are drilling down into today, ladies and gents.

J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies

Nov. ADP: 56.93 (min. 47, max 65)
Dec. ADP: 62.64 (min. 53, max 71)

For reference, Salvador Perez—this year’s top catcher by ADP—has marks of 33.20 (Nov) and 33.57 (Dec). So he’s a bit more stable, I surmise in some part due to drafters from the early slots pairing Perez’s power with the speed of Trea Turner. But that’s only conjecture. For my part, in my three NFBC50 drafts, I’ve drafted from the the 10th, 11th, and 6th spots. So no Turner or Perez for me. I do, however, have two shares of Realmuto.

I drafted JTR at pick 10 in Round 5 in my first draft, as I felt really good about my core with two pitchers (Walker Buehler and Robbie Ray), Bryce Harper in Round 1, and Trevor Story in Round 3. Shortstop is likely a consistent theme for me in Round 3 this year, between Tim Anderson and Trevor Story. Anyway...

In my second draft (picking from slot 11), I took what the draft gave me and landed my third pitcher at the end of Round 5 in the form of Chris Sale (Buehler, Ronald Acuña Jr., Tim Anderson, and Shane Bieber were my other picks). Anyway, Team 12 then left JTR for me in Round 6, and honestly it just felt like such a safe pick at a crappy position that I had to do it. At the very least I think you’re “holding serve” with JTR in Rounds 5 or 6, and for my money I love those sorts of picks.

Lastly, in my third draft (picking from the sixth slot) I wasn’t ready for JTR in the middle of Round 5 based on my build (four early hitters). So I snagged my first hurler in Round 5 and watched JTR get drafted by Team 12 at the R5/R6 turn. And that’s about as far as he should fall, in my opinion. Anything into Round 6 for JTR is just highway robbery. His max pick of 71 at the end of Round 6 is just epic. If it went that way for me in any draft, I’d likely then be looking for a closer in Round 7.

Elias Diaz, Colorado Rockies

Nov. ADP: 293.20 (min. 265, max 325)
Dec. ADP: 271.21 (min. 245, max 291)

Diaz signed agreed to a three-year deal with Colorado on Thursday, November 18th—one worth $14.5 million. In 2021, Diaz struggled in April and May, but from June 1 onward he batted .283 with 17 of his 18 homers. He also caught 42.1% of would-be basethiefs, second only to Salvador Perez among catchers with 60+ starts (stat courtesy of MLB.com). In all, the new contract screams “starter,” and for a catcher bat in Coors Field, that’s absolutely worth paying up for. Though I don’t think a 250 ADP truly qualifies as paying.

In my third draft of the year, I snagged Diaz in Round 22 at pick 259, only about 10 picks ahead of his average and at the tail end of one heck of a catcher run. In Round 21 I took a third closer in the form of Matt Barnes, then watched Omar Narvaez, Yadier Molina, Sean Murphy, and Carson Kelly all get picked before the draft got back to me in Round 22, when I picked Diaz as quickly as I could. As the 18th catcher off the board, considering last year’s performance, his new contract, and the struggles of battery mate Dom Nunez last year...I don’t think you can go wrong here. Or at least, not too wrong. It’s possible we see his ADP chill out a little in January as news of the contract gets farther in the rearview...it’s also possible Diaz catches more helium the closer we get to draft season. That’s something I’ll be monitoring, but for my part I’m super-content to leap Diaz’s December ADP and draft him anytime around pick 245, which was his December min. pick. I don’t quite get Alejandro Kirk’s average ADP of 239.36 as the consensus 13th catcher off the board. I’d much rather have Diaz as the consensus 18th guy, some 30ish picks later on average.

Honorable mentions for me are Mitch Garver (more BA floor than you think), Sean Murphy (an underrated source of power), and Carson Kelly/Max Stassi (solid second catching options whose ADPs are not prohibitive).

What sticks out to you all? Are you buying a repeat of Diaz’s banner 2021 season? Does the cheap ADP of Dom Nunez help to sway you in that direction? That’s a super-easy (and cheap) way to protect your Diaz investment, past pick 560 on average.

And do you think the general consensus on JTR is a bit too low, like I do?