Look, I won’t sugarcoat it: Catcher isn’t the prettiest position these days. Unless you were lucky enough to have drafted Adley Rutschman (and if so, please use this opportunity to take your victory lap), it seems like the most we can expect is around 20 homers that won’t torpedo your average, plus maybe a couple steals if we’re feeling frisky.
But that’s all the more reason to try and play the hot hand at the position, especially if you punted in drafts — you can’t get spectacular fantasy production from any one guy, but if you ride the streaming wave for a few hot weeks, you could cobble together something resembling an elite offensive player. With that mind, here are the widely-available targets who caught our eye over the past week.
Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Week 5 catcher targets
Elias Diaz, Colorado Rockies
Roster percentage: 41%
Diaz is obviously due to regress a bit from his currently gaudy slash line, and I’m not actually convinced he’s a different hitter than he’s been the last few years — his underlying metrics are about the same, and his ground-ball rate has spiked to what would be a career-high. Still, Coors Field is Coors Field, and Diaz has firmly entrenched himself as the starting backstop in Colorado — with a heavier load than most backstops. Catcher is the rare position where volume is more than half the battle, so as long as Diaz keeps starting most of the Rockies’ games, he’s worth an add.
Cal Raleigh, Seattle Mariners
Roster percentage: 29%
The homers have been slow to arrive so far for the man they call Big Dumper, with just two so far this year after he popped 27 a year ago. But be patient: Raleigh’s strikeout rate and chase rate are both down, while his walk rate is up, signaling that the third-year pro has made real strides in his approach at the dish. He’s still capable of crushing the ball, with a max exit velocity in the 98th percentile, and he’s still among the league leaders in barrel rate — the metric most conducive to producing dingers. A power surge is around the corner.
Christian Bethancourt, Tampa Bay Rays
Roster percentage: 5%
I wanted to go with Bo Naylor in this spot, as the former first-round pick and top Cleveland Guardians prospect keeps on mashing in Triple-A, but the team seems set on delaying his call-up until some time this summer. So instead let’s go with Bethancourt, the latest product of the Rays magical hitting factory. I mean, look at this Statcast page:
Yeah, that’ll play. Bethancourt’s K rate is down while his walk rate and launch angle are up, as he’s hitting far more fly balls than in years past. Talk about elevating and celebrating:
Christian Bethancourt just Adrian Beltre’d one. Rays are rolling again. pic.twitter.com/lKKJ6rdQJp— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) April 16, 2023
Will he cool off eventually? Most likely. But he’s getting regular playing time in the best lineup in baseball, so ride this while you can.