While you don’t normally put lofty expectations on your catchers to produce big-time fantasy numbers, the slow starts of players such as the Monteros, both Jesus and Miguel, as well as Salvador Perez, have been extremely frustrating for owners thus far. Knowing what they are capable of producing, no one wants to drop them from their roster, but there’s a definite need to pull them from the starting lineup and plug in a more productive option, even if just for a short time. If you have the bench space available to make such a move, then here are a couple of backstops who should be able to help you out. Don’t expect either to be your long term solution, but for right now, they’re worth a look.
Russell Martin, PIT — Ownership: ESPN – 24.8% Yahoo – 28.0%
Believe it or not, there’s no catcher you’d rather have in your lineup right this minute than Martin. Over the first two weeks of the season, Martin was batting just .068 with virtually no production in the counting stats and was quickly being dropped from fantasy teams left and right. Since April 15th, however, the veteran backstop is batting .396 (21-for-53) with six home runs and nine RBI, bringing his OPS up to a healthy .904 mark. He may not be walking as much as he typically does, but he’s also not striking out as much either. Meanwhile, his contact rates look outstanding and he’s seeing the ball extremely well. Obviously we don’t expect him to continue at such a torrid pace, but should he just maintain his current overall rates, not just those of the last two weeks, he should remain productive enough to work as a stopgap for you until your regular catcher starts to come around. Sigh. If only he could steal bases like he used to…
Nick Hundley, SD — Ownership: ESPN – 1.8% Yahoo – 4.0%
Though we’re already a month into the season, truth is, Hundley is actually auditioning for a starting job right now. With catcher-of-the-future Yasmani Grandal set to return from his suspension at the end of the month, Hundley is basically playing on borrowed time. But while the Padres may not be actively looking to shop him, his trade-friendly contract and potentially expendable status are going to make him a hot commodity to a number of teams looking for help behind the dish. With virtually nothing to lose, Hundley has taken an extremely aggressive approach at the plate. He’s swinging at more than half of what’s being thrown at him and so far, it’s paying off with an average of .329 with three home runs and 11 RBI. But take the .442 BABIP, the 29.4-percent strikeout rate and 14.0-percent swinging strike rate and it’s fairly obvious that Hundley’s luck will eventually run out. But for the time being, at least until your regular catcher begins to heat up, you may as well try to ride this wave for a little while longer. The expected drop-off won’t come all at once, so you probably have another two weeks of strong play coming from him before you start to notice any significant decline. By that time, hopefully, your regular backstop will have come around.