Catcher has been a bit of an odd position this year, with pre-season favorites like Salvador Perez and Miguel Montero struggling; unexpected contributions from the likes of Josh Donaldson and Evan Gattis; and the early season suspensions to Yasmani Grandal and Carlos Ruiz. It’s no surprise that so many owners are trying to get this position figured out.
Howard Bender covered Castro just a few days back, and while I am a bit higher on Castro than he is, I’ll you go read that for a solid take on the Astro backstop.
Ok, are you back? Good. So now that you know that Castro is a solid if not perfect option, it’s time to look at his competition for your coveted roster spot.
Iannetta has a long history of tormenting fantasy owners. In 2006 he put up a stellar high-minors season, and the promise of 81 games a year at Coors Field led many a fantasy owner to count on him as their catcher of the future. In 2008 he delivered on that promise, putting up a .390/.505 line in 104 games with 18 HR, and a bright career seemed on the horizon. In 2009, the rates dropped (a .245 BABIP didn’t help) but another 16 HR in 93 games should have kept most owners happy.
Then he missed more than 100 games in 2010, put up a great OBP but weak SLG in 2011, and offered little to no value in 2012. In 2013, however, his high OBP ways have returned, as he has posted a .373 mark in 169 PA. The power has not come back – 5 HR isn’t terrible at this point but a sub-.400 SLG shows that there is not much more going on. His BABIP is reasonable and it’s really his walk rate (a career high 18.9%; he has only been over 14% once before at any level) that is driving his value.
Chances are this will come back down, and drain some of his usefulness, but if you are in need of an OBP boost (NOT an avg boost – yikes), the 30-year-old Angel may be a worth a flyer.
Yan Gomes is a different story. Still not yet 26, he wasn’t really on the radar for most fantasy owners before the season, but got his shot to join the Indians when backup catcher Lou Marson went down with an injury. Gomes played well in limited time, but his real shot came when 3B Lonnie Chisenhall was sent down to Columbus. The move sent Mark Reynolds back to 3B, and left starting catcher Carlos Santana with plenty of opportunities to play 1B or DH.
In just 23 games, Gomes has already smacked five HR and has posted a .613 SLG. A low BB% (2.5%) has left him with a very good average (.307) and a decidedly mediocre OBP (.316). But when you are hitting with the pop Gomes has shown, fantasy owners will live with that OBP.
The skill concern with Gomes is that a 17% HR/FB rate is not sustainable, although he has now posted a 16.7% rate over about a third of a season’s worth of career PA. That isn’t to say he’ll keep up the pace – but it isn’t out of the question, either.
The fantasy value concern is playing time. Gomes is a backup catcher and is effectively platooning with Jason Giambi, Ryan Raburn, and Mike Aviles. When he plays, he is a solid C play in ottoneu leagues, particularly points leagues where you can let his XBH make up for the lack of walks. But if Chisenhall keeps crushing the ball at AAA and gets another shot, moving Reynolds back to DH, Gomes could go back to a once-a-week type player.
If I am bidding on these three, my money is going towards Castro first, but then it depends what I need. If I am looking for a C2, a guy I can play 1-2 times per week to fill out my games, I’ll take Gomes over Iannetta. If I need someone I can play almost everyday, who can handle the bulk of the time at C, Iannetta gets the nod, due to roster positioning.
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