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Catchers and relief pitchers are the two most difficult positions to rank. If you play fantasy football than the best way to describe them is that they are like tight ends. If you do not play fantasy football than allow me to elaborate. The elite players at these positions can be true difference makers, but the middle always becomes a muddied pile. A grouping that is best described by a “shrug emoji.”
Shall we take a deeper dive into the catcher and relief pitcher ranks? I think we shall. Here are a few catchers and a few bullpen arms I think are worth taking a closer look.
Christian Vasquez (BOS)
Current ADP: 158.8
My C Rank: #6
The Boston backstop is one of my favorite targets at the catcher position. He was always touted as a player that would be defensively sound right away. The bat, however, would take longer. Christian’s offensive breakout started in 2019. And 2020 was another step in the right direction. Over those 2 breakout seasons, Vazquez batted .280 and hit 30 home runs. His advanced statistics are also positive. His exit velo, barrel percentage, and hard-hit rate are all improved over the 2 most recent campaigns.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 30, 2020
Christian Vazquez will be Boston’s starting catcher for the majority of games. He will slot into the 5-7 spot in the lineup. A lineup that I truly believe will be amongst the best in baseball. His counting stats will be big positive. For all you roto team builders, CV also steals multiple bags a year. The catcher is going anywhere from round 10 to round 15. Depending on your league’s size. Vazquez is a worthy target in that range. I think he a serious producer for fantasy teams this season.
James McCann (NYM)
Current ADP: 192.4
My C Rank: #7
This offseason, the New York Mets signed James McCann to a multiyear contract. Fantasy team builders have all come to know James McCann. He has been a mega producer, but he doesn’t play as much as others at the position. Here are some players that James McCann outscored on a points per game basis. Yasmani Grandal, Willson Contreras, and Gary Sanchez. McCann is a beast that can really hurt the baseball. He stands out in barrel percentage, exit velocity, and hard-hit percentage. Especially his hard hit %. The catcher is in the 80th percentile in the entire league.
He is currently penciled in as the Mets’ primary catcher, so we should see an uptick in his at bats. That will bring more home runs, runs batted in, and runs scored. It could prove to be an issue for his batting average. Over the past 2 years he has batted .281, but his expected batting average is a bit lower. Will the increased at bats be a major problem? Only time will tell. But if it isn’t than James McCann could be a league winner.
Wilson Ramos (DET)
Current ADP: 311.6
My C Rank: #15
The veteran is pretty much going undrafted in most leagues. I think Ramos is the primary end of your draft catching target. Wilson Ramos signed with the Detroit Tigers. As long as he is healthy, he should be getting playing time. The Tigers have become a situation that has been good for older, more boring, producers. Jonathan Schoop and CJ Cron are a couple that come to mind. Good news for Ramos’s counting stats. For instance, he does not strike out a lot, so which keeps him from negative scoring days. Ramos continues to display a good hard-hit percentage. Last year, Ramos finished as a top 15 catcher in most points leagues. He scored more points than Carson Kelly, Gary Sanchez, Omar Narvaez, and Danny Jansen.
Liam Hendriks (CHW)
Current ADP: 59.4
My RP Rank: #1
Chicago signed the former Oakland Athletics’ closer to a massive free agent contract. As it turned out, Hendriks certainly deserved it. I currently have Liam Hendricks as my number 1 relief pitcher in fantasy baseball. There is nothing on the back of his baseball card that warrants any concern. Matter of fact there is nothing worrisome on his baseball savant page either. You can see for yourselves just how nasty Liam Hendrik’s stuff is.
You will need to use significant draft capital to roster Hendriks. I think he is worth it. I even believe that the righty has a real chance to lead the MLB in saves. Chicago is poised to have a really successful season. That means a bunch of save opportunities for Liam Hendricks. The White Sox closer has been in the top 5 for saves the best 2 seasons. More on him later.
Edwin Diaz (NYM)
Current ADP: 85.8
My RP Rank: #4
The New York Mets closer has one of the widest range of outcomes in fantasy baseball. On one hand he could be dominate but on the other hand he could lose his job. Speaking of which, the Mets haven’t even committed to him heading into Spring Training. What can I say I am a dangerous man. Ranking Edwin Diaz so highly is rather daring. If he gets the job out of camp than he will be uber productive. Diaz’s ability to strike batters out is still amongst the highest in the entire league. Ninety ninth percentile to be exact. Opponents can’t hit Diaz either. Last season he was in the 98th percentile for expected batting average. The righty was also in the 100th percentile for whiff percentage. Edwin Diaz’s stuff isn’t the issue because he is as filthy as anyone in the game.
Edwin Diaz, 97mph Fastball (called strike) and 89mph Slider (Swinging K), Individual Pitches + Overlay. pic.twitter.com/mIH7AsbBq4
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 7, 2020
Alex Colome (MIN)
Current ADP: 160.8
My RP Rank: #6
Colome was another talented closer that switched teams this off season. Alex Colome goes from Chicago to Minnesota. He is the reliever that I mentioned earlier in this breakdown, so you know he racked up saves for the White Sox. Nicknamed “The Horse” because he has been very reliable over his career. The reality is that the guy just doesn’t get hit all that hard. Colome is in the 75th percentile for hard hit percentage, 65t percentile in exit velocity, and 95th percentile in barrel percentage. Even without big time strike out numbers, the righty is very productive.
The real question whether Colome is a high-end reliever in fantasy or not is if he gets the majority of save opportunities. Minnesota has a very good arm in their bullpen already. Taylor Rogers has been a weapon for the Twins for a couple of seasons. In my opinion, you do not bring in a guy with Colome’s resume and have hit set up. Rogers can be used in many high leverage situations. Ultimately I think Colome will be the closer and he will have tremendous value.
Make sure you check out my complete rankings on CouchGuySports.com. The first episode of the High Heat Fantasy Podcast is out now. Kevin and I breakdown the catcher and closer positions as Spring Training is kicking off. Good luck and study up.
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