Pickups, Random, Uncategorized

There is no Hope: Catcher Waiver Wire

The catcher position is a mess this year. League wide the position is underachieving. We are early into the season, but 2016 is on pace to be the worst offensive season for catchers over the last five years. You have to go back to 2002 to find a season in which catchers were this inept on offense.

Year wRC+
2016 82
2015 85
2014 93
2013 92
2012 95

 

Catcher has been so bad that Chris Herrmann is the 7th overall catcher on the ESPN player rater having only amassed 103 PA. Bryan Holaday is the 20th overall catcher. That’s how bad it has been. God help you if you’re in a deep, two catcher league this year.

I feel terrible for everyone who has had to dip into the catcher waiver wire this year. It’s an absolute atrocity. Dumpster fire might be too kind of a phrase. Is there anyone worth taking a gamble on? Seriously is there anyone? Below are three catchers under 20% owned who might be worth picking up if you are in a freefall with your current option.

 

Derek Norris

Norris’s power has remained with 6 HR in 190 PA but his AVG has been an awful .207. His .244 BABIP is certainly a result of bad luck given his 20.9% line drive rate. Norris should get close to 15 HR with an AVG that doesn’t tank your team.

Nick Hundley

Hundley was never going to his .301 again but he’s definitely the catcher I would pick up if my team had AVG problems. He’s hit .276 so far this year in a miniscule 69 (nice) PA sample size. Given his Coors track record, that seems more legit than not. 5-7 HRs and a .270 AVG should be expected barring more injuries.

Cameron Rupp

It’s hard to be positive about some of these guys but Rupp has some power and his competition, Carlos Ruiz, hasn’t done much either. Rupp’s .277 AVG won’t last with a .352 BABIP but he should hit some dingers.

 

Let’s say none of those guys tickle your fancy (they really shouldn’t. We’re picking between piles of shit at this point after all). Here is the alternative strategy: stash a DL/MiLB guy at Catcher and eat the zero every week. At this point the catcher wire is so bad that it might end up hurting your team to start one. Unless they consistently hit HRs, they’re almost certainly going to hurt your team. The R and RBI totals for these guys are negligible at best since most are hitting at the bottom of the order. The SB totals are zero (unless you get really lucky). The one area where they can have tangible negative impact is in rate stats.

The average AB per game this year is about 3.8. Let’s just estimate that each team plays 6 games per week. The standard ESPN roster contains 13 offensive players including one catcher.  The below chart shows what your team AVG would look like depending on how many hits your catcher contributed assuming the rest of your team hit .300 for the week. I am also making the assumption that the catcher isn’t full time and only logs 5 games per week.

C Weekly Hits C Weekly Avg Team AVG
0 0 0.280519481
1 0.05299295 0.283960581
2 0.1059859 0.287401682
3 0.15897885 0.290842782
4 0.21197179 0.294283883
5 0.26496474 0.297724983

 

The most relevant data point here is the row with 4 weekly hits which gives a weekly average of .212. This is essentially the batting average of the current crop of waiver wire catchers. As you can see, if your catcher hits .212 for the week and the rest of your team hits .300, your final average will be about .294. That’s not a big drop but the week where your catcher struggles big time could drop your team AVG as much as 20 points. Is it really worth the minor counting stat gain to continue to take the hit in AVG? I’m not so sure. In a standard 5×5 AVG is just one category and not as important but in a 6×6 it becomes a realistic debate whether or not to field an active catcher as two categories can be negatively affected.

My plan moving forward in leagues where I don’t have an established catcher is to stash and take the zero. Going with that here are the top guys I would stash.

 

Willson Contreras

Contreras is tearing up AAA with a .346/.439/.592 triple slash in 212 PA. The Cubs have stated that they won’t rush him, but Ross and Montero have been near zeroes at the plate. If they don’t improve at the plate, the Cubs will have to consider Contreras at some point.

Robinson Chirinos

Chirinos is recovering from a broken forearm and should be going on a rehab assignment this weekend. Chirinos hit 10 HRs and bat .232 last year in 273 PA. Nothing special in the BA department but Chirinos’s power is what sets him apart. It’s much easier to tolerate the .230 AVG if power is a regular occurrence.

Mike Zunino

Zunino is tearing up AAA with 12 HR and a .265/.352/.530 triple slash in 210 PA. Zunino’s MLB struggles have probably scared away most owners, but if he can come up and hit 10 HR over the last 3-4 months he will be worth owning.

 

I know it’s not a great list, but I’d rather wait on these guys to either get healthy or get called up then to continue to run out a .200 hitting catcher who is lucky to get one HR per week.

The bottom line is you are in trouble this year if you’re on the wire searching for a catcher. The best you can do is someone who will tank your average and might hit a HR or two. As an alternative you can always take the zero and stash one of the DL or MiLB guys. In the long run, it might end up being the best move.

 

TL;DR State of the catcher waiver wire:

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