There are certain catchers out there — Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Brian McCann, Miguel Montero, just to name a few — that are automatic starts for you. They get left in your lineup, through good starts and bad, because you know, for the most part, the level of overall production you’re going to get. But for those that don’t own a top-rated backstop, sometimes you have to play the waiver wire and go with the hot hand. With that, we’ll leave the top guys out and talk about some risers and fallers at the catcher position that you may want to put in, or take out, from your lineup.
Matt Wieters, BAL — A couple of weeks ago, Dave Golebiewski did a nice write-up on the steady progress Wieters has made and all signs point to continued success. While his batting average has never been anything exciting, the slight growth in power (ISO has risen each month over the last three) and the steadily reducing K% are certainly promising for the last two plus months of the season. His batted ball numbers still seem to be all over the place, but the increasing wOBA should make any fantasy owner comfortable with him moving forward. It’s also nice to see manager Buck Showalter staying cognizant of the fact that his backstop needs the rest to stay healthy and hopefully retain his current level of production. Expect to see a few more appearances as a DH in the coming months.
Michael McKenry, PIT — While it’s true, McKenry’s numbers are nothing to get too excited about, it’s hard not to show some enthusiasm about all things Pirates these days. Due to injuries to both Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit and the uninspiring play of Wyatt Toregas, the former Rockies prospect was given the opportunity to play regularly back in late June and, after an expected slow start, has turned it on during the month of July, hitting .296 with 1 HR and 6 RBI while reducing his K% and starting to draw some walks. His mino rleague numbers dictate a decent average with some good pop in his bat, so while he is showing improvement, you might want to take a chance on him. Snyder is barely a month removed from back surgery and Doumit has just started a rehab assignment in High-A ball, so McKenry should continue to start over the next few weeks and find himself emerging on our Catcher Rankings for August.
Carlos Ruiz, PHI — Based on the outstanding month of July that Ruiz had, you should be surprised to see him listed in the Fallers section. After all, he hit .353 for the month, hitting safely in 14 of his 16 games, and raised his overall batting average more than 20 points in that span. But while that’s fine for right now, all indicators point towards a downward spiral. First of all, July was supported by an unsustainable .405 BABIP. No way is that going to increase or even stay remotely the same. Then, if you look at his splits over the last 3 months, you’ll see a steadily declining BB%, an increasing K%, and a GB% that has risen every month since the start of the season. He may flash some promise here and there, but, on the whole, he is not someone upon whom to rely moving forward.
Ronny Paulino, NYM — When Paulino returned from his PEDs suspension at the end of April, he immediately began to steal time away from Josh Thole. And when he hit .333 in 16 games for the month of May, his playing time situation was set to improve even more as he started to garner starts against lefties, something not in the Mets’ original plans. Paulino continued his onslaught against NL pitching as he went on to hit .364 through the month of June with a decreased K% and a juicy 31.9 LD%. However, all of this was sustained by a .400+ BABIP which has now finally come back down from the stratosphere here in July. With a 52.5 GB% and a now non-existent walk rate, Paulino has started to drop back down towards his career norm which, while not the worst in the world for catchers, is nothing special and easily replaceable during the unproductive times. As the Mets begin to dump players and salary, there’s a chance Paulino ends up somewhere else, but for now, it looks as if new proud papa Thole will start to see a little more action than he has in the previous two months.