After six seasons with the Angels, Mariners, and Diamondbacks, Chris Iannetta is back where his career started. Iannetta spent the first six years of his career with the Colorado Rockies and had some moderate success. In each season that he had 200+ at-bats, Iannetta bopped at least 14 home runs and drove in at least 52 runners. I know those numbers don’t exactly stand out, but those were serviceable for a catcher at the time.
Whether it’s juiced baseballs or not, offense is on the rise across baseball, and that includes catchers. Those numbers that Iannetta posted during his first mile-high go around won’t cut it anymore. A .240-ish, 15-homer catcher just isn’t as valuable as it used to be. However, with Iannetta projected to be the primary Rockies backstop, he should be in store for the most at-bats of his career. His current career-high was 345 at-bats back in his final season with the Rockies in 2011.
Last season with the Diamondbacks was Iannetta’s best fantasy season since he left the Rockies. In 272 at-bats, he hit .254 with 17 home runs and 43 RBI. That .254 average was his highest since 2008 and 23 points above his career .231 average. With all that being said, he was still only the 21st best catcher in fantasy.
Making contact has always been an issue for Iannetta, but getting on base has not. His ability to work the count and draw walks has led to a career .347 OBP. If you play in leagues where walks and/or OBP are categories, Iannetta gets a small bump in value.
Overall, this trade raises Iannetta’s 2018 fantasy value. The Rockies have a slightly better hitter’s ballpark, and their lineup one through nine has more talent than Iannetta had around him in Arizona. If he can get around 400 at-bats, 25+ home runs are a real possibility. I still wouldn’t put him near catcher-one territory, but he’d make for a fine second catcher in two-catcher leagues. Iannetta didn’t crack my top-30 catchers for 2018 last week, but with this move to Colorado, I’d slot him 17th now.
There’s one other small piece of fantasy significance from this signing. And, no, it’s not that Tony Wolters’ already non-existent fantasy value is now completely dead. The Iannetta signing further delays the debut of Tom Murphy. There’s no doubting Murphy has the highest fantasy ceiling out of this catching trio, but he’ll likely start the season down at Triple-A now and will need an injury to Iannetta or Wolters to get his shot with the big club.
I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question that I didn’t cover here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.
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