Two-Catcher League Targets (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
Given the lack of top-tier depth at the catcher position, it’s often difficult enough to find just one backstop on draft day to regularly deploy in fantasy lineups. Many hardcore fantasy baseball nuts, however, actually enjoy playing in a more challenging setup commonly known as Two-Catcher format. As can be surmised from the name, this type of league features lineups that deploy two starting catchers instead of one.
This format can certainly change the way one approaches a fantasy baseball draft, as it brings with it the task of finding a second relatively productive bat at such a seemingly shallow position. What constitutes a player being worthy of a starting spot must be altered in this, usually late-round, search. The following five names, all of which sit outside the Top-12 in catcher ADP around the industry at the time of writing, are ones to seriously consider for that number-two catcher spot this year.
Sean Murphy (OAK) – ADP C-13, Overall-247
The A’s top positional prospect according to MLB.com, Murphy got a cup of coffee in the bigs last September. He immediately impressed by going 12-for-29 with four homers and five doubles across nine games over the first couple weeks of the month. Following that burst onto the scene, Murphy wrapped up the campaign with an ugly 1-for-23 stretch that included nine whiffs, but that should not scare anyone away, as his track record shows plenty of contact and typically with authority.
Prior to that small sample, Murphy posted a .293/.384/.500 slash line with 11 long balls in 177 plate appearances in the minors. That showed a solid improvement at the plate for the now 25-year-old who has always been viewed as a glove-first catcher. There really does not seem to be anything remotely challenging Murphy’s playing time in Oakland, and despite that little slide at the end of last season, he has all the makings of a Top-10 fantasy catcher even in his rookie year.
Yadier Molina (STL) – ADP C-14, Overall-249
Going from a rookie to a future resident of Cooperstown, Molina was still getting it done last summer after turning 37 years young on July 13. As a matter of fact, he had his best stretch with the bat after returning from a month-plus stint on the DL on August 13. Over his final 42 games of the regular season, the nine-time All-Star hit a steady .285 alongside an .802 OPS with six home runs and eight doubles.
A solid batting average with a serviceable RBI total is the name of the game with Molina as far as fantasy goes. Although, it is worth pointing out that he is just one year removed from a 20-homer campaign and has averaged better than six stolen bases per season since 2017. For his cost, Molina is about as safe as it gets at the position.
Tom Murphy (SEA) – ADP C-17, Overall-264
After spending the previous four years trying to prove himself in limited opportunities with the Rockies, Tom Murphy, not to be confused with Sean Murphy, finally showed what he could do, particularly in the power department, for the Mariners in 2019. In his age 28 season, Murphy blasted 18 deep drives while posting a stout .858 OPS and .262 ISO over 281 plate appearances.
Murphy does pile up the strikeouts (31 percent in 2019), but given his pull-happy power, the home runs should far more than makeup for any lack in batting average. He did throw up a .273 avg last season, but a repeat of that seems doubtful. Omar Navarez has departed from Seattle via trade, so Murphy should see the lion’s share of time behind the plate in Seattle this year, giving him ample opportunity to eclipse the 20-homer mark.
Roberto Perez (CLE) – ADP C-21, Overall-290
Another under-the-radar catcher that experienced a power surge last year, Perez virtually came out of nowhere to belt 24 home runs, tying him for fifth at the position. Considering that his batted-ball profile was largely quite similar to what it was in 2018, a year that saw Perez slug a meager .263 compared to a .452 mark in 2019, it requires a bit of digging to see what resulted in such an uptick.
Well, the eruption of power from Perez seems to mostly come from how much more often he squared up the baseball last season than previously in his career. For those that do not know, Barrels is a measure derived from MLB’s Statcast that, in short, determines the frequency of a “well-struck” ball by a given batter. Perez did not top 6.6 percent barrels in any year from 2016-18. In 2019, he produced a far superior 11.0 percent which ranked him 80th among all players with 200 or more plate appearances. Not too shabby for a player that should be around in the last round or two of most drafts.