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
2015 Draft Prep Guide
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
Dodgers C Yasmani Grandal with team in St. Louis on Friday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:47 pm ET) Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has finished his rehab assignment and rejoined the team in St. Louis on Friday. Grandal is currently on the 7-day concussion list, but is likely to be activated in time for Saturday's game, according to the Orange County Register. 


Gibbons: Blue Jays C Dioner Navarro likely back early next week
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:44 pm ET) John Gibbons has stated that Blue Jays backup catcher Dioner Navarro could return early next week, per MLB.com.

Navarro has been out for six weeks with a hamstring injury. He is 1-for-4 with two walks in two rehab games for Triple-A Buffalo.


Mets 3B David Wright (back) gets epidural injections on Monday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:43 pm ET) Mets third baseman David Wright received epdiural injections on Monday. Wright, who was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, has been seeing a back specialist in California. 

Wright is expected to remain in Los Angeles next week, according to ESPN.com. The team has not provided any further details on his progress, though he does not appear close to returning to his rehab assignment. 


Mets' Travis d'Arnaud suffers setback on rehab assignment
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:41 pm ET) Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud suffered a setback on his rehab assignment, which will delay his return to the lineup. 

He took himself out of a rehab game Thursday for Class A St. Lucie after feeling pain in his wrist. He saw a hand specialist, who diagnosed the injury as a bone bruise in his right hand.

Earlier Friday, manager Terry Collins said d'Arnaud would need 20-25 at-bats on his rehab assignment before coming off the disabled list. He is 0 for 6 with one RBI, one walk and one strikeout through his first two games with Class A St. Lucie.


Nationals planning to use Taylor, Moore, Robinson in left field
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:33 pm ET) The Nationals plan to rotate Michael Taylor, Tyler Moore and Clint Robinson in left field with outfielder Jayson Werth reportedly out until August due to his wrist injury, manager Matt Williams said Friday.

However, Williams left the door open to changing those plans if Taylor, Moore or Robinson heat up offensively.


Recovering Rays P Matt Moore fine after Thursday outing
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:33 pm ET) Veteran starting pitcher Matt Moore survived a scare during a extended spring outing for the Rays when he took a line drive off his chest. The latest good news is that he pitched three innings Thursday without further issue, per the Tampa Tribune.

Moore, who has been out since last April after undergoing Tommy John surgery, is expected to join the Rays in late June or July.


Angels SS Erick Aybar (hamstring) out of Friday lineup
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:22 pm ET) A left hamstring issue has Angels shortstop Erick Aybar set to sit Friday night against Detroit. He sustained the injury on Thursday.

Aybar did run his hitting streak to seven games before going down.


Padres CF Will Venable sits against lefty on Friday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:18 pm ET) Padres outfielder Will Venable is out of the lineup for Friday's matchup with the Pirates. Venable had started each of the last eight games for the Padres, going 11 for 32 with a double and three RBI in that stretch.

But, with the Pirates throwing a left-hander on Friday, Venable will take a seat. He is just 2 for 9 against southpaws this season.

Switch-hitter Abraham Almonte will get the start in center field and bat seventh on Friday against starter Francisco Liriano. 


Brewers SP Matt Garza pushed back to Monday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:09 pm ET) Brewers starting pitcher Matt Garza will not start Sunday, as prospect Tyler Wagner will be promoted from the minors to make his MLB debut against the Diamondbacks. Manager Craig Counsell said Garza has been pushed back to Monday against the Cardinals.

Counsell said earlier this week he was thinking about pushing back Garza's next start since he was struggling. 

Garza has lost his last four decisions and has seven losses in 10 starts. He has an 11.66 ERA over his last three starts.


Brewers officially tab Tyler Wagner to start Sunday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:05 pm ET) Brewers starting pitcher prospect Tyler Wagner will make his MLB debut Sunday against the Diamondbacks, the team announced Friday. Matt Garza was originally scheduled to start Sunday, but manager Craig Counsell had thought about pushing him back in the rotation since he has been struggling.

The 2012 fourth-round pick is 5-1 with a 2.01 ERA in nine starts for Double-A Biloxi this season. The right-hander has 38 strikeouts and 15 walks in 53 2/3 innings.


 
 
 
Rankings