BP Fantasy Beat
This week we'll wrap up the individual looks at each position by reviewing a few catchers, and seeing what we can expect from them going forward in these last two months of the season. With the trade deadline in many fantasy leagues set for later this month, there's still time to sell high for this year or next year, or make deals for that final push in the standings. With catcher, as usual a weak offensive position (.251 average EqA), it's important to find a backstop who is going to produce and give you that extra edge in your fantasy lineup.
Navarro's BABIP this year is .331, well above his .294 mark from '06 and a very below-average .253 figure in '07. His 22.5 percent liner rate is at the root of this year's BABIP bump, but given his track record it's not a number that's out of the ordinary. His career liner rate is 21 percent, and that includes last season's 17 percent figure. In '06 he was at 23.5, and in '05 at 23.2 percent, so this year's figure isn't really out of the ordinary for him. As a result, Navarro's batting average is pretty legit, especially since he's managed to cut his strikeouts down from 17.3 to just 11.6 percent of all PA. With more opportunities to put the ball in play -- and fewer strikeouts factored into his batting average -- Navarro has been able to improve his production at the plate. The 24-year old is around his
The reason Snyder's batting average is low is something he has in common with his teammates, though, as he's struck out in over 28 percent of his plate appearances. Despite a .303 BABIP and line-drive rate of 19.3 percent, Snyder's slash stats are held back by his lofty strikeout total, though he's still a valuable player regardless, especially for his position. In leagues where BB, OBP or OPS are a factor, his plate patience is useful for the times when he can't put the ball in play, especially this year with a career high walk rate of 14.6 percent. In '08, Snyder is a valuable catcher behind the plate, but if he can manage to cut his strikeouts down to '07 levels while retaining the positive strides he's made since May of this year, he's going to be one of the best catchers around in 2009.
There are problems with his production, though. For one, his BABIP is .371, which is 65 points above the expectations set by his 18.6 percent liner rate. Adjusting for that difference would put Shoppach closer to .233/.291/.468, a significant change in production that makes more sense when you realize he's punching out in nearly 34 percent of his plate appearances. The small sample (217 at-bats), mixed with striking out in one-third of his plate appearances, has allowed Shoppach to attain a BABIP he shouldn't be able to reach consistently, and has him looking like a better hitter than he is in the meantime. Granted, he's still a massive source of power at the catcher position, as his adjusted ISO of .235 shows, but he has a sub-.300 OBP, which isn't a good thing in leagues that count some form of walks or OPS. If your league ignores plate discipline but you need help in power categories, Shoppach is the
The days when
Again, at other positions, you may be disappointed by developments like this, but at catcher, you take what you can get. Molina's BABIP is .323, roughly 20 points above the league average, but right in line with his 20.3 percent liner rate -- a career high for Molina. The BABIP should be sustainable, because his strikeout rate has dropped below his walk rate: Molina is punching out just 6.7 percent of the time, almost half of last year's rate, and 0.3 percent below his walk rate. Though he
Molina's entering his peak years and has become a better hitter during the last two seasons; there's still time for him to develop at least some semblance of power, but if he keeps up with his low strikeout/high single rates, he won't need the power to be able to help your team out. Granted, he's not exactly tearing things up in the run or RBI categories, but if you've miss out on the big guns at catcher, all you need is someone who isn't going to hurt you. Molina is turning into that guy, so if you're in need of a band-aid at season's end, snag the St. Louis backstop.