by Mickey Bell
All ownership percentages are taken from Yahoo as of August 16.
Roberto Perez (5% owned)
Perez, who finally got a chance to start in 2019 after Yan Gomes was traded to the Nationals, rewarded Cleveland with 24 HR and a 0.774 OPS. His barrel rate was in the 76th percentile last year. According to Cleveland’s manager Tito Francona, Perez is expected to return on Tuesday from a shoulder injury that has limited him to 3 games in 2020. While he will probably be a detriment to your average, Perez should get you plenty of home runs.
11 to 20%
Austin Nola (19% owned)
Aaron’s big brother mostly played 1B and 2B for the Mariners last year and finished the season with an impressive 0.796 OPS. This year, he has been given the starting catching job and has an 0.853 OPS so far. Not much has changed in Nola’s hitting profile from 2019 to 2020 but his hard hit percentage has increased 34 to 48% and he is pulling the ball more. Nola usually bats fifth so his 8 RBI are a little disappointing or perhaps just unlucky.
21 to 40%
Jorge Alfaro (36% owned)
Alfaro was the 11th best catcher in 2019 with 18 HR, a 0.262 average, and 4 steals (surprisingly, he is in the 90th percentile in sprint speed). Alfaro has not yet played this year after testing positive for COVID-19 and there have not been many updates on his behalf, but hopefully he returns soon. He strikes out too much, but that is not a stat in most fantasy leagues. With an elite arm and solid defense, he will stay on the field and his 81st percentile barrel rate in 2019 shows he can crush the ball when he makes contact. He shares a lot of qualities with Roberto Perez but provides a better average and has the ability to steal bases.
Pedro Severino (40% owned)
Only Salvador Perez and Isiah Kiner-Falefa have more at bats than Severino among eligible catchers. Even though Chance Sisco is getting some starts and playing well too, the Orioles like Severino enough to play him as the designated hitter and pinch hit him quite often as well. While he does not generally hit the ball very hard, the ball can fly when he gets good contact. He already has five homers for the Orioles, a hot offense who play their home games in hitter friendly Camden Yards. He already has 15 RBI batting mostly in the 5, 6, and 7 hole in the lineup.
40 to 60%
Travis d’Arnaud (59% owned)
While I considered Kiner-Falefa (52% owned) with his 3B eligibility and five steals, his hitting profile and previous season results are underwhelming. Kiner-Falefa has 87th percentile sprint speed and does not strike out, but his average will drop and he will be lucky to hit more than a handful of home runs this year.
Instead, my pick here is d’Arnaud who has done nothing but hit since being picked up by the Rays in May 2019. He had 16 HR and a 0.263 AVG last year in 327 AB for Tampa. He signed with Atlanta for 2 years, $16 million in the offseason. It is still early but his StatCast numbers are off the charts this year (see photo below). He is hitting 0.333 with 3 HR and a 0.944 OPS.
Image credit: Baseballsavant.com