As fantasy managers, sometimes it can be difficult not to buy into the hype surrounding a player. Yet, every season, players do not return the value according to their ADP. Here are a 4 catcher busts for fantasy baseball. ADPs provided come from Fantrax and NFBC, and rankings discussed in this article come from the Fantrax staff consensus rankings.
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
4 Catcher Busts for 2023
BAL C Adley Rutschman – Fantrax ADP 78, NFBC ADP 62
In early Fantraxt drafts, Adley Rutshman is the third catcher selected according to Fantrax ADP and the fourth catcher selected in NFBC leagues.
For perspective, in Fantrax leagues, Rutschman has a higher ADP than Byron Buxton, Tommy Edman, Oneil Cruz, Bryan Reynolds, Starling Marte, and fellow catcher Daulton Varsho (who is also eligible at OF).
According to Rotowire’s projected Auction Values, Rutschman projects to earn $5. All of the aforementioned players drafted after him project to earn double-digit dollar values aside from Varsho’s $7 valuation.
Willson Contreras has an ADP of 130 in Fantrax leagues and projects to earn the same dollar value as Rutschman. Contreras also projects for a better batting average and more home runs, runs, and RBI according to The Bat X projection system. Sean Murphy (158 Fantrax ADP) projects for more home runs, runs, and RBI than Rutschman. Murphy’s projected AVG is only two points lower than Rutschman’s.
In 2022, Rutschman hit 13 home runs, scored 70 runs, tallied 42 RBI, and had a .254 average. He did this with a 7.9% barrel rate – the same rate as Bryan Reynolds and Tommy Pham. His 36.8% hard-hit rate was the same as Jonathan Schoop. These hard contact metrics and his production last season suggest a modest amount of power, but likely no more than 25 home runs.
While Rutschman is a talented player and may finish as a top-five catcher, his early ADP in Fantrax and NFBC leagues is too high. There is a very good chance that he will not return value for managers selecting him this early in drafts. This is why I ranked him 6th in our staff rankings. It is also why he is one of the top 4 catcher busts for 2023 fantasy baseball leagues.
KC C Salvador Perez – Fantrax ADP 110, NFBC ADP 63
Salvador Perez’s 110 Fantrax ADP is much more modest than where he is going in NFBC leagues. In Fantrax leagues, he is the fourth catcher selected and in NFBC leagues he is the fifth.
Despite his $19 projected valuation by Rotowire and being projected for the most home runs and RBI by a catcher according to The Bat X, fantasy managers should still be wary of drafting Perez too high.
Some concerns in his projections include his 11th-ranked batting average among catchers and his 10th-ranked wRC+.
It also appears that fantasy managers may still be drafting Perez based on his 48-homer season in 2021. Prior to 2021, Perez had never hit more than 27 home runs in a single season. He did have a discernable jump in barrel and hard-hit rates in his 2021 season. He also saw a spike in HR/FB rate. In 2021, his HR/FB% was 12% higher than his career average. In 2022, his HR/FB rate was .4% above his career average. His hard contact metrics also came back down to earth last season (11.2% barrel rate and 49% hard-hit rate).
Perez dealt with a thumb injury in 2022 that likely sapped some power, resulting in 23 homers, 48 runs, and 76 RBI. He finished with a .254 AVG with a BABIP just three points below his career average BABIP, and a .245 xBA. In 2021, he hit .273, but with a .298 BABIP. He also possessed a 45.7% chase rate, which would have been the second highest in baseball had Perez qualified.
Fantasy managers clearly have high hopes for the Kansas City slugger in 2023, but should temper expectations and wait just a little longer on drafting Perez. Those high hopes and his high ADP could make him one of the top 4 catcher busts in fantasy baseball this season.
MIN C Christian Vazquez Fantrax ADP 345, NFBC ADP 246
Christian Vazquez may disappoint fantasy managers this season as the 19th catcher selected in Fantrax leagues and the 17th catcher selected in NFBC leagues.
The Bat X projects Vazquez for 16th in home runs, 17th in runs, 16th in RBI, 13th in AVG, and 29th in wRC+ among catchers.
Martin Maldonado, Joey Bart, Elias Diaz, and Mitch Garver all project for more home runs, runs, and RBI than Vazquez. Diaz projects for the same batting average as Vazquez. All four catchers are being drafted after Vazquez in both Fantrax and NFBC leagues.
Among catchers projected for at least 350 PAs by The Bat X, Vazquez has the fourth fewest home runs and the third-fewest runs and RBI. Last season, 24 catchers had 350 or more PAs, while 25 are projected for 2023.
Similar to Salvador Perez, fantasy managers seem to be selecting Vazquez based on his 23 home run 2019 season. Aside from 2019, Vazquez has never had a season of double-digit home runs. The most likely reason for his outburst that season is the juiced ball.
Other concerns include a sub-100 wRC+ for six of his eight MLB seasons (including 2022), a 3.5% career barrel rate, a 33.1% career hard-hit rate, and a 44.8% career ground ball rate.
The Fantrax staff consensus ranking for Vazquez was 19, but I was lowest on him, ranking him 34. Even with a post-300 ADP, fantasy managers can find better value at the position. This makes him one of the 4 catcher busts for 2023 fantasy baseball leagues.
CIN C Tyler Stephenson Fantrax ADP 188, NFBC ADP 131
I was lowest on Tyler Stephenson, ranking him 21st among catchers in Fantrax’s staff rankings. He was 12th in our consensus ranks. He is going as the 9th catcher in Fantrax leagues and the 11th catcher in NFBC leagues. This should be a sign that fantasy managers are too high on the Cincinnati catcher.
The Bat X projects Stephenson for 13 homers, 57 runs, 57 RBI, a .265 AVG, and a 103 wRC+. Cal Raleigh, Danny Jansen, Gary Sanchez, Jonah Heim, Mike Zunino, and Mitch Garver project for more home runs than Stephenson. Jansen also projects for more runs and RBI than Stephenson. Raleigh projects for more RBI than Stephenson. All of those players have an ADP after the Cincinnati catcher.
Stephenson was out most of 2022 with a collarbone injury, making him difficult to evaluate. That being said, fantasy managers should not be fooled by his .319 average in 183 PAs last year, which was boosted by a .409 BABIP.
He has been below league average in barrel and hard-hit rates for his career. Although batters can still hit homers with a lower launch angle, like Stephenson’s career average 8.7-degree LA, it becomes more difficult to hit for power with lackluster hard contact metrics.
His 8.7-degree LA was the same as Tommy Edman, Jeremy Pena, and Randal Grichuk last season. The difference is that those players had higher barrel and hard-hit rates last year than Stephenson has averaged in his 605 career PAs.
This should be enough to give fantasy managers pause when considering selecting Stephenson at his current ADP. This information also makes him one of the top 4 catcher busts for fantasy baseball leagues this year.