As we have discussed the catcher position every Saturday for the past couple of weeks, it’s time to touch on my must draft catchers for the 2022 fantasy baseball season. We’ve talked about catchers that stand to benefit from the Universal DH, undervalued backstops, and guys behind the dish that will disappoint fantasy baseball managers in 2022. If you play in a one catcher fantasy baseball league, you’ll want one of these guys, and if you play in two catcher or best ball setups, get multiple guys on this list.
Without further ado, here are my must draft catchers for the 2022 fantasy baseball season.
Remember back in 2020 when Contreras led all catchers in plate appearances as a DH? Remember back in 2020 when serving as the team’s DH, Contreras posted a .992 OPS and .263 ISO across 57 at-bats? Remember back in 2020 when the catcher that had the second most plate appearances as a DH at the position was Contreras’ teammate Victor Caratini?
Despite a strikeout rate that has increased each of the past three seasons, Contreras has 20+ home runs in 2019 and 2021, not to mention a double-digit barrel rate in each of the last three seasons. He posted a career-best average exit velocity last season, and while his ground ball rate is still a bit higher than one would like, his hard contact pushes up his HR/FB rate when he does loft the ball. If Contreras parlays his fly ball rate from the second half of 2021 over the full season in 2022, while maintaining last season’s hard contact, Contreras will hit 25+ home runs this year, besting his previous career high of 24 in 2019.
This might not be the Cubs’ lineup of past seasons, but the Cubs did add Seiya Suzuki, Jonathan Villar, Andrelton Simmons, Yan Gomes and Clint Frazier to the lineup to help the cause. However, the Cubs did not add a Nelson Cruz or Jorge Soler type, meaning that the path to DH at-bats for Contreras on days that he doesn’t catch is still alive and well! When Contreras doesn’t catch, Patrick Wisdom can play third base, and Jonathan Villar can either head to the bench, or play one of the other infield spots.
Another catcher I talked about being undervalued finds himself here as well. Narvaez may not lead statistically in any position, but he’s a safe option behind the dish that should provide solid batting average. He’ll play on the larger side of the platoon, as Pedro Severino should only play sparingly (or against southpaws). Sure, his xBA of .235 is rather low compared to his .266 batting average, but he posted the fifth-highest batting average and seventh-highest on-base percentage of catchers with at least 300 plate appearances.
His numbers were fueled by a .300 batting average with eight home runs through his first 213 at-bats, before things slowed down for the backstop, and he cooled off considerably over the back half of the season. There is safety in security, and Narvaez is an excellent second catcher option, as his playing time is secure, and he seems to be a rather safe bet for a .250+ batting average with double-digit home runs.
For what it’s worth, using our projections at Fantasy Alarm, he’s one of just three catchers projected for at least a .265 batting average and 14 home runs, and he’s the only one going outside the top 15 at the position.
After talking about Narvaez being a safer option behind the dish, you can hang back another round or two, or maybe even three, and take ultimately one of the safer catchers in the fantasy game over the last handful of seasons in Yadier Molina. Molina has always been a wizard defensively, but his ability to play a ton of games and stay on the field allows him to accumulate stats at a very solid level. Over the last five years, he’s sporting a .264 batting average, and he’s posted double-digit home runs in each season in that span sans 2020.
His power numbers waned over the second half, but within the final 60+ games of the year, sure, he only hit four home runs, but he did hit three in the final 21 games. His barrel rate and average exit velocity returned to elevated marks following a down 2021, and he’s going to get a lot of at-bats for the Cardinals in 2022. Molina might not have the highest upside by any means, but he’s a high floor second catcher that is going way too low in drafts.
Fantasy Baseball 2022
- The Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheet
- Catchers That Will Disappoint
- Catcher Values Boosted by Universal DH
- Undervalued Catchers
- 2022 MLB Free Agent Tracker
- Fantasy Baseball Podcast: Trades, Trades, Trades