• Art Tornabene

Catcher and Stolen Base Streamers for the Week 5/10-5/16/2021


Catchers this season have managed only a .223 batting average league-wide (776 hits in 3486 at-bats). When narrowing the scope to only those catchers with at least forty-five plate appearances (a number arbitrarily chosen, but which also lowers the total from eighty-one to the top forty-one catchers), the position batting average jumps to .234 (644 hits in 2749 at-bats) which is in line with how the league is hitting as a whole. And the injuries…

If you think your catching luck has been poor, to replace Omar Narvaez, the Brewers have had to rotate Luke Maile, Jacob Nottingham, and Manny Pina. In his absence, that sparkling trio has three hits in twenty-three at-bats. Narvaez should be returning from his hamstring injury soon, perhaps this week. Be checking the news on that and prepared to insert him into your daily league and NFBC weekend lineups. Hopefully, you have been waiting on Narvaez, and this is welcome news. If you had Travis d’Arnaud, however, I got nothing for you.

Last Week’s Suggestions

Mike Zunino - For the six games played thus far this week, Zunino has had multiple at-bats in four. Francisco Mejia saw the at-bats in the other two games this week, going one for six. Zunino has proven a productive add thus far and can be kept on your active roster in most two-catcher leagues. He does not have one-catcher league viability, and I don’t think he will get it, but as long as his power is running hot, he is a strong option.

Kyle Higashioka - Higashioka saw multiple at-bats in three of the first five games of the week. Gary Sanchez is one for five in the other two games with a home run. Higashioka has not had good results this week, having only one hit in eleven at-bats. That one hit was a home run, however, which provides some consolation. The best move at this point is to stand pat (a phrase which the Wall Street Journal says has its origin in 19th-century poker, I googled it!). The Yankees did not announce a change to then backtrack on it a week later. Higashioka should be held for the moment.

Suggested Roster Adds

William Contreras - Atlanta (0% rostered)

Contreras has come on to the scene strongly since d’Arnaud went down for what may be the entire season but will be at least a few months. In five appearances since first arriving on May 2nd, Contreras has had at least three at-bats in each game and has five hits in nineteen at-bats (.263 average). On top of the solid average, Contreras has one home run, four runs, and six runs batted in. Projections don’t have him as a plus performer, with “The Bat” system the most bullish on his prospects at a .248 batting average with five home runs, twenty-two runs, and twenty-one runs batted in. I think these are conservative projections. Contreras has been hitting in the sixth and seventh spot in the batting order for Atlanta, which is a nice spot for runs batted in, and he has shown a better batting average for much of his minor league career.

Danny Jansen - Toronto (39% rostered)

Yes, I am suggesting going back to this well one more time. For one thing, strong-hitting Alejandro Kirk was yesterday transferred to the 60-day IL. Current backup Reese McGuire was recalled from the alternate training site only as a backup and despite some decent power, he has never been able to grab more playing time for himself in his previous three seasons in the bigs. And for another thing, Jansen is on a home run streak of three straight days heading into Sunday. These are his only three hits for the whole week, but they are undoubtedly a sign that Jansen is starting to swing a better bat. With no real challenge for playing time among his backups, Jansen’s plate appearances should be among the best among the catchers in baseball. It is easy to forget that Jansen is still only twenty-six years old, and was among the more promising young backstops only a few seasons ago. Prospect growth isn’t linear is tattooed on the brain of every experienced fantasy player, but it can be hard to remember or rely upon when it comes time to make roster decisions. I am not suggesting this is his break out, but I would be comfortable with a bid on him as a second catcher in my two catcher leagues.

Stolen Bases

The Dodgers remain firmly entrenched atop the leader board as the team with the most stolen bases against them, allowing six in the past week to bring their total up to thirty-six against them on the season. The Angels are allowing an 87.5 percent success rate, nearly six percent worse than the Dodgers, and surged into the second-place spot with twenty-eight allowed on the season. The Mariners have been the least successful at stopping would-be base thieves, and are allowing a 92% success rate thus far (23/25) which makes them thus far the team with the fourth most stolen bases against them on the season. The Red Sox and Diamondbacks are the only other teams to have allowed at least twenty stolen bases against on the season.

Last Week’s Suggestions

Lewis Brinson - Brinson exited Thursday’s game with soreness in his left middle finger and has not played since. He is currently considered day-to-day. Prior to the injury, Brinson had put forward a solid week. Three hits in ten at-bats, with one of the hits being a three-run home run, but unfortunately no stolen bases. Speedster Magneuris Sierra and infielder/outfielder Garrett Cooper have stepped in to fill the void so far. Monitor Sunday playing time for Brinson. If he is still sitting with the injury and you need a bat, feel free to drop.

Leury Garcia - The Chicago speedster worked to salvage what had begun as a fairly brutal week with a two-hit in four at-bats Saturday, including a run and run batted in. However, the week leading up to Saturday had been so wanting that the two for four only raised his week to three hits in fifteen at-bats, a .200 batting average. With starts and at least three at-bats in every game this week, Garcia looks to have a nice lock on the playing time and still possesses the speed required to contribute in stolen bases. His on-base percentage of .229 has to start to improve for that speed to matter.

Nicky Lopez - Lopez saw multiple at-bats in the first five games of the week before being replaced by Hanser Alberto for the start on Saturday. Mired in a one-hit in seventeen at-bat week, including no hits in his last fourteen, Lopez could probably use the downtime. Whether this spells doom for Lopez’s playing time in the future is harder to say. Alberto is not exactly tearing the cover off of the ball in his at-bats either. This is one to monitor, though hopefully you have another shortstop option to choose from until clarity arrives. I may just drop Lopez, personally.

Suggested Roster Adds

Harrison Bader - OF St. Louis (37% rostered)

Bader’s return from the Injured List has seen him playing every day, and producing. Since being called up, Bader has at least three at-bats in every one of the Cardinals games. In those nine games, Bader has stolen two bases in two attempts, had three home runs, and driven in eight runs. This is not only a suggested speed add, with a speed score in the 93rd percentile according to Baseball Savant, this is a suggested add for all purposes as I expect Bader to be a popular pick up. If you are in one of the leagues where he is not yet rostered, it could be well with your time to look into whether you could use Bader. The Cardinals play six games in the upcoming week, three at Milwaukee and three at San Diego. Steals are more likely to come against San Diego, as they have given up the sixth-most in the league on the season.

Niko Goodrum - 2B/SS Detroit (46% rostered)

Goodrum is coming off of a very solid week for Detroit, managing a hit in every game played, with eight hits in twenty-one total at-bats (.381 batting average). On top of that, Goodrum scored three runs, collected four runs batted in, and stole two bases! Granted, those steals came against the aforementioned Boston Red Sox, and their top five worst stolen base defense and this week does not pose as enticing an opponent for that, but these aren’t the only two steals on the season for Goodrum. He has stolen bases against the New York Yankees and, also this week’s opponent, the Kansas City Royals! The Royals being one of the stingier teams to face this season. The other opponent is not as stingy, the Chicago Cubs, so adding a hot bat to your lineup with a recent willingness to mix it up on the base paths and a sprint speed in the 75th percentile (according to Baseball Savant) could turn in a profitable week for your fantasy teams.

As always, best of luck in your leagues this week!