In fantasy baseball, the catcher position isn’t the most glamorous, but there is an edge to be had at this position. Hey, it’s not quite as weak as many would say, despite what you may see in a multitude of fantasy baseball rankings. From the established stars currently in Major League Baseball like Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals and J.T. Realmuto of the Philadelphia Phillies, to one of the top fantasy baseball prospects in Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman, the catcher position actually has a good bit of talent. Everyone loves bold predictions, so here are my bold predictions for catchers in the 2022 fantasy baseball season.
Willson Contreras Sets New Career High in Home Runs
If you’ve read any of these catcher breakdowns by now, you will know that I’m as high as anyone out there on Willson Contreras. Without a true designated hitter (DH) in the Chicago lineup, Contreras should get a healthy number of at-bats as the team’s DH when he’s not behind the dish. His previous career high in home runs is 24 back in 2019, so it’s not like this is an overly lofty mark to exceed. Furthermore, over the final 48 games of the 2021 season, Contreras’ 18.25 AB/HR mark is a repeatable mark that would exceed 24 round trippers over a full season of work.
To make the math easy, let’s say in 2022, Contreras posts a perfectly even 19.0 AB/HR mark. Also, that is not a far cry from his career 21.7 AB/HR mark, or even last year’s 19.7 AB/HR mark for the season. His career high in at-bats was 544 back in 2018 when there was no designated hitter in the National League. Give Contreras 575 at-bats, and a 19.0 AB/HR comes out to 30 home runs.
For what it’s worth, he’s posted a double-digit barrel rate and a fly ball rate north of 33 percent in each of the past three seasons. Imagine if he cuts into his high ground ball rate just a little bit, especially with last year’s average exit velocity…
Oh, speaking of home runs…
Double-Digit Catchers Hit 20+ Home Runs in 2022
Take a look below at the number of backstops to break through the 20 homer plateau over the last handful of seasons:
# of Catchers with 20+ HRs
But Colby, double digits!? That’s a huge number! It is, but when you are pretty confident in seven to eight doing it, what’s just a couple more. Plus, this is about bold predictions isn’t it?
So, who do we know is getting there? Here are my no doubter, sure things, in no particular order of course:
Given that he’ll probably serve as the designated hitter a lot in Minnesota, Gary Sánchez is likely to do it, too. So, the above seven, plus Minnesota’s Sánchez gives us a firm eight. So, where do the next ones come from?
Toronto’s Alejandro Kirk has the power to do so, and his spring numbers are warranting a case for some DH at-bats, too.
Oakland’s Sean Murphy is unrivaled for at-bats, and he makes a ton of hard contact. His hard contact with a fly ball rate north of 40 percent will push him above the 20 home run plateau.
Would you be surprised if Elias Díaz in Colorado, Keibert Ruiz in Washington or Carson Kelly in Arizona hit 20+ bombs? What about if Max Stassi can stay healthy? Oh, don’t forget about Daulton Varsho, yes, we’re counting him.
Beyond that, what if Adley Rutschman goes on an insane tear when he’s healthy and enters the lineup for good? Tyler Stephenson has a great home park in Cincinnati, and Ryan Jeffers and Omar Narváez can get there with a bit of luck. Lastly, if the at-bats are there for Jorge Alfaro, and he doesn’t waste all of his home runs in spring training, he has a path to get there, too.
Wow, maybe 10+ catchers isn’t bold enough!
Three “Catchers” Steal More Than 10 Bases
Speed from this position? YES, there is!
Daulton Varsho counts as a catcher, so he’s one. He swiped six bags last year, and he’s 9-for-10 in his career at the big league level. Between A+ and AA in 2018 and 2019, he stole 40 bases, and was caught just eight times.
The next is a likely candidate in Philadelphia’s J.T. Realmuto. He reached double-digit stolen bases back in 2016 and then did so last year with a career-best 13 bags. The luxury of being able to DH should get him on base more, and while he may not surpass 10 by many stolen bases, he is a likely candidate for 10+ in the category.
So, who’s the third? Let’s get bold! San Diego’s Jorge Alfaro. The acquisitions of Luke Voit and Matt Beaty didn’t do Alfaro any favors, but Austin Nola is no sure thing to stay healthy behind the dish, and Alfaro can fill in in the outfield, behind the dish or at first base when needed. In 92 games with the Marlins last year, he went 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts, and San Diego isn’t afraid to put their players in motion.
So, how does Alfaro get to double-digit stolen bases? It may take an injury or two, but Alfaro can run, and San Diego will give him opportunities as they look to manufacture some runs. Lastly, keep this in mind:
Sprint Speed Percentile
Courtesy of Baseball Savant
Varsho. Realmuto. Alfaro. One. Two. Three.
Fantasy Baseball 2022
- The Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheet
- Catchers You Must Draft
- Catchers That Will Disappoint
- Catcher Values Boosted by Universal DH
- Undervalued Catchers
- 2022 MLB Free Agent Tracker
- Fantasy Baseball Podcast: Trades, Trades, Trades