Fantasy Baseball: Sleeper Catcher Options

Orioles Chance Sisco

Finding a sleeper catcher for fantasy baseball is easier than you may think. While they may not approach Gary Sanchez, Buster Posey or Willson Contreras, they will provide value and let you take players at other positions. Ben Rolfe and I picked out a few names for you to target if you’re waiting on the catcher position or miss out on the initial run. These names also make a ton of sense as C2’s in two catcher formats.


Chance Sisco | Baltimore Orioles

Today we are going super deep at catcher and my immediate choice this deep is a guy who has shown he can hit in the minors and is looking like he might get the chance to be a starter in Baltimore. Yes Cisco lacks developed power at this stage but Camden Yards feels like a good park to breaking through that ceiling and getting into double digits and perhaps even higher.

Cisco’s real talent comes in his ability to make contact and get the ball in play which for the 27th ranked catcher on fantasypros is a massive bonus. Normally at the bottom end of catcher you are looking at an average wasteland with upside being a 0.250 average but Cisco has the potential to push closer to 0.300 than 0.250. In 2016 in AA he hit 0.320 and whilst he dipped down to 0.270ish in AAA last season he did seem to start figuring it out as the year went along and hopefully his skills can be utilized in the majors as the season develops.

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The bigger downside than the power is the potential playing time for a guy who is not a great defensive catcher. The upside here is that the Orioles know that Caleb Joseph isn’t a hitter and as long as Cisco can be competent he will always have the leg up over Joseph. If he can just get close to 350-400 plate appearances then Cisco is going to be a valuable guy in two-catcher leagues and has the potential to be a low end starter this year in the one-catcher format as well

Tyler Flowers | Atlanta Braves

My issue with the catcher position is that hitting wise players who are good are often pretty average in the grand scheme of fantasy and players that are bad really suck. Sadly that is the way it seems to have always been with catcher in the past; you are either good or bad there doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground.

Hopefully that landscape is changing somewhat and the man leading the revolution is Tyler Flowers who has now put together two straight years of just middling stuff as a catcher eligible fantasy option. Now this isn’t going to sound like a ringing endorsement for a player but believe me for a catcher this is as enthusiastic as I get so the fact I am taking the time to make this case should be all the endorsement you require. His average the last two years has been 0.270 and 0.281 and while he hasn’t hit many home runs (20 in total) he hasn’t hurt your team either.

Therein lies the problem with catcher; if they hit 20+ home runs in a season that’s great but often it comes at a back breaking average with very few runs and RBI. Flowers has not been great with runs and RBI (90 last year and 68 the year before) but this is a much improved Braves team he will be playing in and when you add in that he is projected to start the season hitting 4th I expect to see him get much closer to the 100 combined number and perhaps even more if he can hit well enough to stick in the middle of your line-up.

The only downside to taking Flowers I that he is never going to be a guy you look and think “hell yeah I nailed that one” and for some people that’s an issue. However, he is also not going to be the guy you look at and think “that pick really really sucked” and for me at the catcher position that is more important than anything. I have become a big advocate for upside in fantasy baseball and especially roto but at the catcher position I think the best strategy if you are going to take a catcher late is to play it safe and that is exactly what Flowers offers. In a one catcher league you can get him as the last pick of the draft and there will be plenty of flash in the pan options on the waiver wire as the season progresses and in two catcher leagues he will still go late enough that his lack of upside shouldn’t prove an issue as the season goes on. For once it makes sense to pick safety over sexy.

Robinson Chirinos | Texas Rangers

Robinson Chirinos at least as of now, should be the primary catcher for the Texas Rangers. Now that could change, especially with Jonathan Lucroy still hanging around but for now that is the case. If we are being honest Lucroy was pretty terrible in 2017 and has been in decline since 2014 with the Brewers. The Rangers should give Chirinos a shot to play the majority of the time. Let’s cross our finger and hope thats what we get.

As Ben pointed out so eloquently, the catcher position is flaming dumpster especially when you get beyond the top options. Chirinos however, has the ability to approach 500 at bats this season. Which is something that is key. Coming off a season where he hit 17 home runs, 20 plus dongs would be very attainable in 2018.

The batting average will be a questionmark. In 2017, he hit .255 which was a decent jump from previous seasons. The biggest change was his ability to improve his walk rate. Even if his average dips back down, the .240 plus range feels fair. Once again, catcher is hot garbage.

Chirinos will hit 7th this season, which means hitting behind Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor among others. He should see some decent opportunities to drive in runs. A total around 100-120 runs/RBI combined you have a player that will challenge for a top 10/12 spot at the position.

James McCann | Detroit Tigers

Looking for a catcher that will not kill you? James McCann is your guy! While he won’t do any one thing that helps him stand out from the pack, he should do enough to help keep you in contention.

The expectation is McCann will see north of 400 ABs in 2018 while hitting behind Miguel Cabrera, Nicholas Castellanos, and Victor Martinez. While this isn’t the Tiger lineup of seasons past, its still very serviceable. Opportunity to produce should be there.

Expect McCann to hit around .250 with double digit homers, and close to 50 RBI and 50 Runs. He might even steal you a base or two. But for a guy that might not even be drafted in a most leagues, he will be fine option with top 15 type upside.


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