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Staff Post: Catchers to avoid in 2022 fantasy baseball

The Fake Teams writers tell you who to avoid at backstop in 2022 fantasy baseball.

World Series - Atlanta Braves v Houston Astros - Game Six Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

After our catchers to avoid, Catcher Week is over! But never fear, First Base Week begins in earnest tomorrow morning! So be sure to circle back around for our consensus rankings, dropping bright and early on Monday.

All catcher ADP data is derived from NFBC 50 drafts, since December 28th—that gives us the most recent 20 drafts to examine.

Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves

NFBC ADP: 212.70
Draft rank: 12th

When healthy, d’Arnaud has been a solid bat. His 162-game pace over the past three seasons is 25 home runs, 101 RBI, and a .258 average. Not bad at all, especially for a catcher. The issue is health, and it’s a big issue. d’Arnaud played just 60 games last season. His career high is 112 games back in 2017. That’s too much injury risk for a top 10 option at catcher. I’m drafting a different position at his current ADP and waiting even deeper in the draft if I still need to fill catcher. (Garrett Atkins)

In the early stages of fantasy baseball drafts, Travis d’Arnaud is going decently early. I understand that he plays on the reigning World Series champions in the Atlanta Braves, but I don’t get the hype surrounding the veteran catcher. d’Arnaud hasn’t posted double-digit home runs in back-to-back seasons since 2014-2015, and he’s played more than 108 games in a season just once in his nine-year career in the majors. On top of that, d’Arnaud is set to turn 33 years old early next month, so there could be even more injury risk for a catcher that has dealt with his fair share of injuries throughout his career. I’d much rather wait on another catcher—or take another position—than draft d’Arnaud as a top 10-15 catcher this season. (Skyler Carlin)

Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays

NFBC ADP: 228.60
Draft rank: 13th

It’s not that I don’t like Kirk: I think he is a very solid hitter (106 wRC+ last season). But Danny Jansen was equally good in 2021 (105 wRC+) and is superior behind the plate, and Gabriel Moreno is the future at the position for Toronto. Oh, and Reese McGuire is still around. At some point, there needs to be a trade that clears the situation a bit, but as things stand, there is just too much competition for me to trust Kirk with reliable playing time. Again, he is a fine hitter, but I’d look elsewhere in drafts. (Andrés Chávez)

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays

NFBC ADP: 253.80
Draft rank: 16th

Mike has not strung two solid years together in terms of both home runs and batting average in his career. It’s quite clear his average will always suffer, but I’m more concerned with the possibility of a regression with the ball used—which would drop his 33 homers in 2021 down to a more normalized 20-22 this year. The strikeout rate will likely be among the highest in MLB and his HR/FB rate will drop from his HR/FB rate of 30.3% he had last year—back to the average of 17% he had across the prior three seasons. (Mark Abell)

Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees

NFBC ADP: 257.50
Draft rank: 17th

A partial 2016 (20 HR in 53 games, .299 BA) and a banner 2017 (33 homers, .278 BA) have kept Sanchez’s draft day light burning for a long time now. But beyond 2017, he has been an absolute DRAG in batting average, totaling seasonal marks of .186, .232, .147, and .202. Okay, so the .232 mark (along with 34 homers) was a solid enough effort for a backstop. But that’s the ceiling that you’re hoping and praying for when you draft him? A .230 batting average? Over the past four years, there’s been a 50% chance that his batting average begins with a ONE, not a two. That’s insane to me. And his expected marks over the last two years are .191 and .228. He has a career .251 BABIP and he’s slow, inside the bottom 20% of the league in sprint speed. Even if we give Sanchez a pass for the crazy Covid year of 2020—his contact rates were atrocious compared to his career marks—the outlook still isn’t pretty from where I’m sitting. Again, you’re hoping for contact rates that are four to five percentage points below league average, and hoping for a strikeout rate that isn’t north of 28 percent. Sure, he scalds the ball when he hits it, and he can take a walk. But his defense isn’t stellar, and his injury history and inconsistency means he’ll lose more at-bats than you like. At season’s end I think you’re hoping for a .220 BA and 25 homers...I’m just not into that profile. I can find power elsewhere.