If this were any other year this would be a devastating blow for those fantasy owners that used a high draft pick to secure the services of Buster Posey. Thanks to a power outage in 2017 his price tag was much lower this year, but that doesn’t overshadow the loss. Some may not see this as much of a loss. After all, Posey only had 5 home runs and most back up catchers have at least that right?
Despite what fantasy owners think of Posey he still provided value to fantasy owners. He was 2nd in batting average (.284) and OBP (.359) among catchers with a minimum of 300 plate appearances, 3rd in runs scored (47), and 12th in RBI. Yes, the power was (expletive deleted), but he delivered top-3 numbers in two categories and was a top-12 in a third of the four major categories we expect a catcher to perform. He was also 2nd in plate appearances and was one of six catchers who played in 100 or more games this year.
Say what you want about his performance this year. I for one loved having a catcher who will hit for average, play every day, and deliver solid counting stats – even if the cost is 10 or so home runs. So what do fantasy owners do now, especially those that are preparing for the playoffs?
Nick Hundley (Giants)
The obvious choice as he will take over for Posey on Monday and should receive the lions share of his plate appearances. He has already matched his home run total from last year and is one shy of his 2015 and 2016 total – he had between 100 and 170 more at bats those three years. His hard hit rate (42.6%), ISO (.197), and LD% (25.0) are all career highs and the fly ball rate remains the same – that’s good for more potential power and should net positive RBI results. The average is underwhelming; I can’t say much positive here, but between the hard contact and line drives maybe a few more balls will get through the middle with regular at bats.
Matt Wieters (Nationals)
Not an obvious choice given his lackluster track record and 2018 totals. Don’t forget that Wieters only had 83 at-bats prior to the all-star break. Since then he has had 88, 60 of them in August where he hit .317 with a pair of home runs and 10 RBI. He is also posting his best walk (10.3%) and strikeout (14.8) percentage of his career along with a career best contact rate (84.7%). He should be well rested considering how little he played this year so there no worry of September fatigue. Wieters is hot, and with regular at bats he could make up the batting average, some of the runs, and contribute a few more RBI than Posey.
Yan Gomes (Indians)
Like Wieters we wrote of Gomes a few years ago, but he just won’t go away. He is only a handful away from Posey in runs and RBI so that’s two categories down. He is also 9th in batting average among catchers with at least 300 plate appearances, but there is potential to bat better than his current .259. Gomes batted .284 in June and so far this month he is batting .367. Like Hundley, Gomes is hitting line drives at a career rate (25%) and hitting the ball harder than ever (44.4% – 31.8% career), but hasn’t improved his contact even with an increased swing rate. There are some red flags, but as long as he is hitting the ball this hard good things should continue to happen.
Michael Perez (Rays)
The Rays acquired Perez in a deal with Arizona for Matt Andrese and immediately promoted him to the majors. Prior to 2017 Perez had done very little in the minors, hitting below .250 from Class-A through Double-A and showing enough power to hit maybe a handful of homers. In 2017 he hit .279 in Double-A which earned him a shot at Triple-A this year, where he hit .284 with 6 HR. Since being promoted to the majors Perez is still batting .284 (over 67 at bats) with a home runs and 8 each in runs and RBI. The underlying metrics suggest he could sustain this average, and since he is the only reliable option on the team the at bats and opportunity are there. This isn’t my first choice, but in larger leagues he could make a sneaky option.
Manny Pina/Erik Kratz (Brewers)
Remember what Flowers and Suzuki did last year in Atlanta? Well, you won’t get that here, but the philosophy is the same – two may be better than one. Their season totals are fairly similar if you extrapolate Kratz another 100 at bats. Over the last 30 days they have split at bats almost down the middle. Pina hit .388 with 4 runs and 4 RBI over 49 at bats. Kratz hit .298 with 3 runs and 8 RBI over 57 at bats. Separate they are worthless, but combined you are looking at 7 runs, 12 RBI and a .340 batting average. If you have daily moves and have the time to log on lightly you might want to consider this combo.
The Best of the Rest
- Mike Zunino (Mariners): Home runs and RBI, but low run totals and a killer in batting average.
- Tucker Barnhart (Reds): Runs and RBI, but lower than average power with a batting average below the mendoza line – even worse in August.
- Kevin Plawecki (Mets): He got a higher number of at bats in August and has run and RBI potential, but little power and bad, but not horrible, batting average.
- Mitch Garver (Twins): The Bobby Wilson injury should give him a few more at bats. Similar run and RBI potential as Plawecki, but with a better average and a tick more power.
- Omar Narvaez/Kevan Smith: Both batting .280 and could be similar to Pina/Kratz in Milwaukee, but both become moot once Welington Castillo returns.
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