Owning Evan Gattis

I have to admit that when I saw the most recent catcher rankings from the legendary RotoGraphs Four, I was a bit taken aback when I saw Evan Gattis ranked as the 16th best catcher, residing above the likes of players such as J.P . Arencibia, A.J. Ellis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Sure, his first month and a half of the season as an everyday player was an exciting, feel-good story — going from janitor contemplating suicide to heroic major league cult icon — but with both Brian McCann and Jason Heyward returning to the lineup, he was headed for more of a reserve role. To me, these rankings put far too much weight on past performance than expected production moving forward. Gattis was a great early-season novelty, but the knowledgeable fantasy owner was well aware that his time was up.

As a Gattis owner anticipating his reduced role,  I was thrilled that he provided me with one last home run before he headed to my bench this week. After all, what was he going to do for me in such a limited role? Surely my regular backstop, Miguel Montero, would start to turn his season around and provide me with more productive numbers moving forward, right? Well, with two Gattis home runs and five RBI wasted on my bench compared to the one RBI I’ve received from Montero, I’m starting to wonder if I can actually get away with using the Braves’ part-timer on a regular basis and still come out ahead stats-wise. Who knows how long it will take Montero to pull himself out of this slump while Gattis continues to rake.

But while this week gives me an unequivocal yes to my question, the sensible owner in me understands that benching Gattis is probably the right move going forward. Sure, his ZiPS ROS projections say 14 home runs and 43 RBI, but are we really looking at another 293 plate appearances for him the rest of the way? He would need to average just over 17 plate appearances per week for the rest of the season to reach that number. That means roughly three to four starts each week with approximately three or four pinch-hitting appearances as well. Sounds like an awful lot, barring another injury to McCann, Heyward or maybe even Freddie Freeman or Justin Upton, if you ask me.

Then, of course there’s the question of whether or not he can sustain this level of power for the entire season. He is currently sporting a juicy .331 ISO with a 22.2-percent HR/FB, but I have a very hard time believing that these numbers can hold. Yes, he’s posted some excellent ISO numbers in the minors, but we’re talking about nothing higher than Double-A ball. I don’t mean to put my Captain Obvious mask and cape on here, but the word ‘regression’ is screaming through my head right now as his plate discipline numbers indicate several more swings-and-misses in the future.

But no one says we have to wake up from this nice, little Gattis dream just yet. If you have a little bit of room on your bench and can afford to carry him on your roster, I think it’s a wise move. Should your regular catcher land on the disabled list or you have a utility spot that needs a temporary fill, there’s nothing wrong with taking a shot that he receives a dozen plate appearances over the course of a week and offers you up a little boost in the counting stats.

If you’re in a keeper league, he even offers up a little more long-term potential as he could be the Braves starting backstop next year. With McCann being a free agent who has been plagued by injuries in recent years, the Braves will have to make a big decision as to whether or not they meet his (more than likely) lofty salary demands or go a much more economical route with Gattis. Considering what he probably cost you this year, he could make for an outstanding keeper next year should he walk into 2014 with the starting job.




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com


28 Responses to “Owning Evan Gattis”

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  1. d_i says:

    Evan Gattis = (.5*(Paul Bunyan+Babe Ruth)/2)+(.2*Mike Jacobs)+(.3*Roy Hobbs^Kila K)

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  2. JR Ewing says:

    Awesome! I was just re-reading Bender’s sonnet on Montero from late last year. Sorry to hijack, but what are your thoughts on Miguel right now? I know Miguel should have BABIP correction coming but what kind of stats do you expect? Zips and Steamer forecast him for lower remaining production than AJ Pierzynski for crying out loud. I need someone to talk me off the ledge here!!!

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    • Sgt Hulka says:

      It could be worse. You could own Jesus Montero.

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      • Jon L. says:

        I started the season with Montero as my catcher and Montero as my backup. Awesome picks, eh?

        My clubhouse has since instituted a no-Montero zone.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      I really wish I knew. I hate to say that’s it’s all bad luck but there’s really nothing in his data save for a high ground ball rate and a super-low BABIP. He’s not up there hacking away and it really doesn’t look like pitchers are throwing to him any differently. He’s definitely been the victim of some outstanding defense at times.

      I’m happy to stick with him for right now and hope things turn around, but in the two leagues I own him, one has a deep bench so I can stash him and the other, there’s just really nothing….and I mean nothing on the waiver wire so I’m sort of forced to. People have offered me catcher help but they’re doing it with the hope that I’m just desperate.

      Hang out on the ledge for a little longer. You’re in good company. If he doesn’t fix it soon we can jump together into Jose Lobaton’s arms.

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      • Kip says:

        Howard, in a 12-team redraft 5×5 with a not so large bench, do I hold on to Miguel and ride it out? I don’t trust Grandal or Gattis RoS over him…am I crazy?

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      • JR Ewing says:

        Muchos gracias. I will hold on for one more day. Is that Wilson Phillips?

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      • Bronnt says:

        I’m in an OBP league and it really stings-I thought Montero was a great value where I drafted him. I finally just traded to grab Brian McCann. I’d love to have somewhere to stash Montero on my bench, but it’s a keeper league and my bench is full of guys like Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton, so Montero is being dropped in this deal.

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  3. Donald Trump says:

    Gattis OPS in minors last year:.995 (.865 in AA)
    Gattis OPS in spring training:.1.165
    Gattis OPS in majors this year:.895
    Dude is a stud, even though we never heard of him prior to this year. they will have to start getting him more ABs. Gerlad Laird could get displaced/traded, giving Gattis 2 games per week at C, he would get another 1-2 left/1B (Heyward and Freeman have been disappointing and could get spelled once a week no problem).
    A catcher this on-fire needs to be owned in fantasy, and played in the majors.

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    • eyetwitch says:

      Freeman’s K rate has fallen and he’s sustained last year’s BB rate, his ISO is absolutely bound to come back in full force (while his avg and obp are quite nice, already).
      And Heyward is 7/23 with 3BB/2K since the surgery.

      Even Fredi is going to struggle to get them out of the lineup, with all his tinkering. If the Braves move Laird, Gattis might get 2 starts a week but zero pinch hits, because Fredi refuses to pinch hit the backup Catcher (unless there’s three total).

      Gattis has an excellent shot at being the starting catcher next year, but little hope this year to play regularly when the positions he’s capable of playing are the Braves best position players (Upton, Heyward, Freeman, Mccann). Sorry to rain on your parade…

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    • AF says:

      Um spring?

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    • Brandon says:

      You don’t ‘spell’ Heyward once per week – he was one of the 10 best position players last year.

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      • Fredi says:

        Maybe you don’t, but I do. Where’s Constanza when you need him?

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      • KB says:

        You might vs. LHP. At least to start a game. Heyward hit only .224 vs. LHP last season. Only .226 in his career.

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  4. Donald Trump says:

    that’s 34 HR in his last 450 at bats (majors, spring, minors), if we are counting.

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  5. fei says:

    who does everyone like better going forward, McCann or JP Arencebia?

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    • KMen says:

      Mccann, and it’s not even close

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    • Cousin Dave says:

      At catcher, Arencebia, although it pains me to say that. The issue is that McCann’s days as a 130-games-a-year catcher are about over. He is almost certainly bound for an AL team where he will catch 1-2 games a week and DH the rest of the time. Assuming that he remains healthy and hits well this year, the Braves will make him a qualifying offer, which he will refuse, and he’ll be on his way to a nice comfy AL stadium. The Braves won’t try to retain him past the qualifying offer becuase they’ll want to use the compensation pick as an offset, like they did this year with the comp pick for Michael Bourn.

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  6. KMen says:

    In my mind the advantage to having gattis this year is that I don’t think it’s a crazy idea for the Braves to shop Mccann at the deadline, if they really believe Gattis is their catcher of the future, which I think they do. They could certainly use the bullpen arms that he could bring back…

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  7. Bumpus Jones says:

    Gattis or Dunn?

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  8. KB says:

    I’d recommend owning/stashing Gattis @ least for the next few days since he should see @ least one start in the Mets series – vs. either Hefner, Gee or Marcum and then ATL has two games in Toronto next week where it almost seems like a certainty that either he or McCann will be the DH/C in those two games.

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  9. wily mo says:

    still think that rank was too high, considering this was the first game he’d started in the week since that article was posted. any week your guy hits a grand slam is gonna look ok on paper, but he’s not gonna do that in every start he gets, even if sometimes it seems like he will.

    i think his best hope for consistent playing time is Major Injury to someone; considering that there are 4 or 5 guys who would get him in the lineup if they went down (jupton, heyward, mccann again obviously, freeman, maybe even bossman junior with heyward or justin shifting to CF) it’s not *that* unlikely, but it’s still far from a given

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