I know what you are thinking, “Will, are you seriously going on about Travis d’Arnaud again?!” Well yes, yes I am, so deal with it. Now, I was quite high on d’Arnaud heading into the 2015 season, as he returned from the minors with aplomb and vigor (or something like that) at the tail end of 2014, going as far as to sport a .392 wOBA that September. Travis was up and coming in my humble, yet often seemingly wrong, opinion. What could be the issue? Give him a full season and he would be an easy sleeper candidate to sneak into the top five at the catcher position. You may scoff, but technically, you cannot say I am wrong there, right? That theory is based on a presumption of playing a full season. Alas, poor Travis did not play a full season in 2015. Injuries deprived young Travis of, what could have been, a full season of fantasy goodness. So, can you fault me for ranking him higher than most in my 2015 preseason rankings? What’s that? You can? Oh, right, I guess, maybe, possibly, in a way you could technically fault me.
See, I ranked d’Arnaud with high regard, banking on a full-ish, injury free-ish season from him. Now, just reading that sentence in a vacuum it seems reasonable enough, except the thing here is there is no previous datum that would make this a reasonable thing on which to place my bets. Over the last four seasons d’Arnaud has missed time due to injury. So, my ranking was based on production out of d’Arnaud in full season uninterrupted by injuries, but this was me exhibiting somewhat foolhardy behavior, given the anecdotal history. Sure enough, right in line with said anecdotal history, Mr. d’Arnaud succumbed to the good ‘ol injury bug in 2015, limiting him to just 67 games. Given all this information, it would probably be another lesson in foolhardiness to rank d’Arnaud up near the top of the catcher rankings in 2016. Now, I’m not saying that Travis will definitely not put together a full season in 2016, I mean, after all, even “injury prone” players put together a full season here and there, but let’s just say the odds are not in his favor. But what we need to know is how all this affects 2016 value, so get comfy, cause here we go.
The overall numbers were pretty decent for d’Arnaud in his limited playing time. In the 67 games d’Arnaud did play he sported a .355 wOBA, a .218 ISO and an .825 slugging percentage. Those are some nice numbers to build on, right? Travis also hit himself 12 dingers in his 268 plate appearances, while driving home teammates 41 times. Also, pretty darned decent, I’d say. Now, let’s project that out over a full season for a catcher using just simple math. X is to Y as….oh, sorry.
Let’s say a healthy season for d’Arnaud garners him double the plate appearance, because, well, A) that is roughly accurate and B) makes the math much simpler for me. Assuming it is as simple as doubling his counting stats, that would come out 24 homers and 82 RBIs, with 62 runs scored! That’s a decent little line (almost elite) at the catcher spot. In fact, only one catcher had more than 24 homers last season, while only two catchers topped an RBI total of 82. So, really you would be looking at a top tier catcher “if” d’Arnaud played a “full” season and could keep these rates throughout said imaginary full season.
Of course, if “ifs” and “buts” were candies and nuts we’d all have a fine little Christmas. We know, not only did d’Arnaud not pull off the “full” season but also that it is highly unlikely that he would continue to rake at that pace. In a more likely scenario for his “full” season you might see something like 18-20 dingers, 70-ish RBIs and 50-55 runs scored. Just for clarification, I did no statistical analysis for this, but rather pulled numbers I think seem somewhat reasonable and could be a tad high. But even if you lower those a bit, they still make for decent fantasy catcher numbers. So, for all intents and purposes, we are back to the injury quandary.
We’ve established that d’Arnaud has had some trouble avoiding injuries in the recent past, which is a big check mark in the “cons” column when deciding if you want him to be your fantasy catcher. Now, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv, so I cannot predict injuries in any sort of medical capacity. I am more in the ol’ “qué será será” school of thought. If it has been consistently happening, then it’ll probably happen again, “whatever will be, will be”. I would also wager that I am not alone on this particular bus. As a result, I feel like you will see d’Arnaud mostly being drafted as a late C1/ early C2 for the upcoming fantasy season, and when it comes down to it, I can’t say I disagree with that draft slot. That, however, makes d”Arnaud a huge potential steal….if he stays healthy or even just healthier than he was in 2015.
If you can get a solid first catcher then draft you some d’Arnaud and play the matchups, you might have whipped yourself up some nice fantasy goodness. Of course, some folks, in one catcher leagues tend to not like to permanently take a roster spot with a second catcher, and I don’t carry two backstops all the time myself. But if you can stack the rest of your lineup and end up with say, a Yasmani Grandal or Derek Norris type to complement Travis, you could be sitting pretty. Look, I like what d’Arnaud is capable of, and will gladly hold off a bit on the catcher spot and grab him in the middling rounds, and then find me a sneaky Caleb Joseph type for a decent catching tandem. Don’t reach, but if Travis d”Arnaud falls to you in the middle rounds of your draft, go ahead and snatch him up. Just don’t forget you may need a bit of security if (when?) he goes down.
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