Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Reality Check: There's a catch at catcher

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

They're two of the most added players at one of the weakest positions in Fantasy. They're homering in bunches, playing critical roles for teams that initially viewed them as no more than placeholders.

And yet they're still destined to lose their jobs later this year.

John Buck and Evan Gattis. They're alike in more than just their beardedness. And yet they require distinct approaches in Fantasy because of one key difference:

One has a long history of nothing. The other has a brief history of ... well, something.

Which sounds more appealing to you?

Oh, well, that's not entirely fair to Buck, is it? He had that All-Star appearance in 2010 with the Blue Jays, when he set career highs with a .281 batting average and 20 home runs. That's something, isn't it?

Sure, but he followed it with two nothing seasons for the Marlins in which he hit a combined .213. And for that little something he did in 2010, he still produced a .314 on-base percentage. Only 28 qualifying batters had a lower mark than that.

And only two of them were catchers.

So during his one "great" year, Buck was really just average. And what about this year? Even with everything he's done right so far, his on-base percentage is still only .318.

Oh, you Moneyball types kill me with your on-base nonsense. Baseball is a big game of Battleship. Hit or miss. That's all that matters. Batting average makes the world go 'round, and anyone who says otherwise can walk over here and see if I hit or miss.

About that. Apart from 2010, Buck's highest batting average for a single season is .247, and he entered this season with a career .235 mark. Yeah, he has some pop, but between the low contact rate and minimal walks, he's the definition of all or nothing.

Most Added Players (as of 4/16)
Player % change
1. Evan Gattis, C, Braves 63
2. Tony Cingrani, SP, Reds 51
3. John Buck, C, Mets 38
4. Jake Westbrook, SP, Cardinals 38
5. Barry Zito, SP, Giants 35
6. Chris Carter, OF, Astros 30
7. Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants 30
8. Brandon Moss, 1B, Athletics 28
9. Matt Adams, 1B, Cardinals 25
10. Andrew Bailey, RP, Red Sox 24

And too often, the nothing takes precedence.

Oh, pish posh. Didn't you see The Lion King? The past is the past. Learn from it or get hit by a stick. You remember A.J. Pierzynski? Carlos Ruiz? It's happening again, and it's mine this time! I know it! I've always known it! You won't trick me into dropping him, Scott White! You lose, suckers!

Ah yes, Pierzynski and Ruiz, two catchers who, at a stage when their best should already be well behind him, eschewed all historical data with career-best numbers. And they both did it last year, rendering all Fantasy writers' cries of track record, sample size and regression to the mean nothing more than white noise.

White noise? That's everything you write!

Oh, thank you, Statler. Give my regards to Waldorf, will you?

But come on. Just because you can identify an aberration or two doesn't mean it's the new basis for comparison. Think of all the players whose hot starts went on to mean absolutely nothing.

Having trouble? Well, that's kind of the point.

In 2004, Hee-Seop Choi hit nine home runs in his first 21 games. He would hit 21 more in his career. In 2005, Brian Roberts hit six home runs in his first 14 games. We all know him as a power hitter today, right? In 2006, Craig Wilson hit six home runs in his first 13 games. He finished that season as a bench player for the Yankees. Also in 2006, Jonny Gomes hit 10 home runs in his first 20 games. It wound up being half his total in a year he hit a Buck-like .216. In 2008, Casey Kotchman hit six home runs in his first 20 games. Yes, the same Casey Kotchman whose career high in homers is 14. That actually happened. In 2010, Jose Guillen hit seven home runs in his first 18 games. He hit .242 the rest of the way and hasn't played in the majors since.

Just last year, light-hitting, contact specialist Omar Infante hit five home runs in his first 13 games. Remember that? Probably not. It turned out to be completely irrelevant

The bottom line with these early-season overachievers, particularly ones with track records as extensive as Buck's, is that, outside of natural progression for a player in his mid-20s or some mechanical adjustment for a player who has long fallen short of his pedigree, they almost always revert to their usual selves.

Take Alex Gonzalez. His career batting average and OPS are about on par with Buck's, and he has demonstrated similar home run potential throughout his career. If he hit six home runs in his first 11 games, like Buck has this year, where would you expect him to go from there?

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

Well, he did hit four home runs in his first six games back in 2010 and had seven to go along with a .946 OPS by the end of April. But he proved to be exactly who we knew him to be the rest of the way, hitting .243 with a .701 OPS.

Look, if you came into this season planning to use catcher as sort of a vagrant position, continually swapping out your starter for the hot hand off the waiver wire, then yes, Buck certainly qualifies as the hot hand.

But if you have any hopes of landing a fixture at the position, you should look elsewhere, perhaps digging as deep as Tyler Flowers or Jason Castro or preemptively stashing a next-in-line type like Travis d'Arnaud or Mike Zunino. And certainly, if you still have a shot at Gattis, who remains unowned in more leagues than Buck, you have to make the switch.

Oh yeah, Gattis. Talk about fool's gold. The guy's 26, and he's just now reaching the big leagues? Hey, I've got another hot pickup for you: Mike Hessman. Or how about Crash Davis? Yeah, that's a good one.

OK, so maybe Gattis didn't appear on all the top prospects lists prior to this season, but only because he didn't have enough time to make an impression. He was a top recruit coming out of high school but battled addiction and depression soon afterward, going four years without playing baseball.

Once he got a chance to play in the Braves' minor-league system, he showed he hadn't lost his touch, beating up on lower-level pitching before proving himself at Double-A Mississippi late last year.

He's patient at the plate and makes hard contact when he does swing, hitting screaming line drives all over the field. And as for his power potential, one look at him tells the story there. I'm talking forearms the size of my neck.

Well, what about Brian McCann? A six-time All-Star getting displaced by some flavor of the week? That's rich.

But it's not so far-fetched given the way the Braves have already come to value Gattis' bat. In a lineup loaded with power hitters, he's the one batting cleanup with Freddie Freeman out, and while reigning NL MVP Buster Posey, another catcher, has to sit every fifth day for the Giants, Gattis gets to play other positions on his "off" days just so manager Fredi Gonzalez can keep his bat in the lineup.

Already this year, the Braves have used Gattis at first base. In the minors last year, he played mostly left field. It's not like he's a catcher, and so when McCann comes back, that's it. He's a slugger who happens to play some catcher, among other things.

And no, that's not a subtle jab at his defense.

Obviously, McCann will get his at-bats when he returns two or three weeks from now. He's a six-time All-Star, a leader and all of that. But he's also coming off shoulder surgery after a career-worst season and, as an impedning free agent, most likely isn't in the team's long-term plans.

Translation: Full-time at-bats probably aren't in his future.

Here's how I see it going down: McCann gets most of the starts at catcher, perhaps four a week, but Gattis gets more starts overall. The Braves have equipped him with the versatility to make it possible. Plus, all three of their starting outfielders are capable of playing all three outfield positions, so Gattis can fill in for any of them at any time.

Let's say one week he gets two starts at catcher, a spot start for Freeman and a spot start for B.J. Upton. Great, that's four starts. Let's say the next week he gets two starts at catcher, a spot start for Jason Heyward and a spot start for Justin Upton. Great, that's another four starts.

It's less than perfect, sure, but catchers don't play every day anyway. Four starts per week, for a player with Gattis' offensive ability, is potentially enough to make him a top-12 option at the position.

And of course, if Heyward or one of the Upton brothers gets hurt, as they've been known to do, he's back to playing full-time.

You know who might not be able to survive a playing time crunch? Buck. That d'Arnaud guy I mentioned earlier, the one who was ready to break into the majors before tearing a knee ligament last July, he's knocking on the door at Triple-A Las Vegas, and if Buck hits .180 over the next three weeks, as he's apt to do, the prize of the R.A. Dickey deal is likely to break it down.

And once he does, Buck might have to go the Craig Wilson route to get halfway consistent at-bats.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Royals C Salvador Perez homers in Game 1 World Series loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Royals catcher Salvador Perez went 1 for 3 with a solo home run in his team's 7-1 loss to the Giants in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday.

Perez struck the only blow the Royals could manage on offense, finally getting a run off Giants starter Madison Bumgarner after he allowed only two hits through six scoreless innings. By the time of Perez's bomb, the Royals were dug in a hole from which they couldn't escape. It's a rare sign of life from the catcher's bat, as he's hit just .135/.158/.216 in 37 postseason at-bats despite the Royals racking up win after win in the first three rounds.


Giants' Pablo Sandoval drives in two in Game 1 World Series win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval went 2 for 5 with a double and two RBI in his team's 7-1 win over the Royals in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday.

Sandoval opened and closed the scoring for the Giants in the win, delivering an RBI double in the top of the first inning (and later scoring on a Hunter Pence home run) then adding an RBI single in the seventh to push the lead to 7-0. While he has yet to deliver a home run this October, Sandoval has been hard to conquer at the plate, hitting .333/.396/.438 in 48 postseason at-bats.


Giants OF Hunter Pence homers in Game 1 World Series win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Giants outfielder Hunter Pence went 2 for 3 with two walks and a two-run home run in his team's 7-1 win over the Royals in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday.

Pence delivered a monster blast to center field in the first inning to put his team up 3-0, and the Royals would have little answer for another excellent performance by Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner. It was the first home run of October for Pence, who has hit .286/.388/.452 in 42 postseason at-bats.


Madison Bumgarner allows one run in Giants' Game 1 World Series win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner earned a win in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday, allowing just one earned run on three hits and one walk in seven innings while striking out five in his team's 7-1 victory over the Royals.

Bumgarner (3-1) continued to look excellent fresh off winning the NLCS MVP award. He fired six scoreless innings and was up 7-0 before surrendering a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. Bumgarner has delivered a 1.40 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 33:6 K:BB ratio in 38 2/3 postseason innings spanning five starts. He'll get the ball in Game 5 Sunday if the Royals can avoid a sweep. Game 2 is set for Wednesday in Kansas City.


James Shields comes up short in Royals' Game 1 World Series loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Royals pitcher James Shields was roughed up in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday, taking a loss after surrendering five earned runs on seven hits and one walk in three-plus innings while striking out one in his team's 7-1 defeat against the Giants.

Shields (1-1) hadn't been having a great postseason despite the Royals' impressive run of wins, giving up 10 earned runs in 16 innings heading into his Game 1 start. His night turned south immediately Tuesday, as the Giants followed up a one-out, RBI double with a two-run home run to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Shields retired seven straight heading into the fourth, where he opened the inning with a double, walk and RBI single to get the hook. The loss, which was the first of the postseason for the Royals, puts the AL pennant winner in a 1-0 hole going into Game 2 Wednesday in Kansas City.


Yankees SP CC Sabathia nearly '100 percent'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia said Tuesday that he feels "pretty much back to 100 percent" and expects a full 200-inning workload in 2015, MLB.com reports.

"It's definitely a huge relief," Sabathia said. "I feel good enough to do all my workouts, to play catch and kind of have a normal offseason."

Sabathia, who underwent season-ending knee surgery in July, starting throwing off flat ground in late September and plans to report to spring training early.


Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman likely to play first base in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Nationals third baseman/outfielder Ryan Zimmerman will likely shift over to first base in 2015, MLB.com reports. He's currently resting his right hamstring after suffering a Grade 3 strain in July.

"I'm sure I'll talk to them soon or they will talk [to the media]," Zimmerman said. "I think Anthony [Rendon] is the future third baseman. Obviously, he played great there. He played some second and some third. If he goes into Spring Training knowing that he is playing third base, he has a chance to be a very good third baseman.

"Obviously, I love playing third base. But some of the injuries over the last two or three years made it tougher for me to be an above average third baseman. It's hard to accept that, but I think that's the truth. Sometimes, the truth hurts sometimes. But Anthony has a great chance to be very good over there. I could be an above average first baseman if I work at it during Spring Training and the rest of this offseason. But that's not just my decision. Obviously, I'll talk with [general manager] Mike [Rizzo] and Matt and see what their plans are. I'm sure we'll find out in the next week or two."

The Nationals have first base open due to the impending free agency of 2014 starter Adam LaRoche.


Diamondbacks add Enrique Burgos to 40-man roster
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) The Diamondbacks have added pitcher Enrique Burgos to their 40-man roster, the Arizona Republic reports. He's now protected from the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

Red Sox OF Rusney Castillo day-to-day with hand/thumb injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo is day-to-day after suffering a bruised hand/thumb during Arizona Fall League play Monday, WEEI.com reports.

Castillo suffered the injury while getting jammed during an at-bat. He signed a $72.5-million deal in August that runs through 2020.


Report: Mike Zagurski joins Hiroshima Carp
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Pitcher Mike Zagurski has agreed to a deal with the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball, SportsNet reports. He delivered a 2.08 ERA and 83:29 K:BB ratio in 60 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level in 2014.

 
 
 
Rankings