Two-Catcher League Targets (2023 Fantasy Baseball)
Is it a fun, additional challenge? Or is it a needless cause of headaches? Maybe it’s both. In any event, the two-catcher format setting has become quite common around the fantasy-baseball landscape despite the fact that it is often difficult to simply find one player to hold down the lineup spot for the season.
Catcher is arguably the shallowest position on draft boards year in and year out. It actually appears like it could be even more so here in 2023, with an unproven influx of young talent set to get behind the plate for various MLB teams. After the top dozen options, things really become murky. That spells trouble in a league that includes two starting-catcher slots per roster.
The players below are viable options to fill that second-catcher role. They can each be found outside the current Top-12 catchers based on consensus ADP and offer solid production potential and fantasy value when drafted appropriately in two-catcher leagues.
Two-Catcher League Targets
Here’s a look at three catchers that could be worthwhile draft selections in this format.
Ruiz was a feature part of the package of prospects that the Dodgers sent to the Nationals in exchange for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner back at the trade deadline in 2021. Many had high hopes for Ruiz entering his first full big-league campaign last year, but those that invested were mostly left disappointed from a fantasy perspective.
In 2022, Ruiz managed a meager .251/.313/.360 slash line with just seven homers across 433 plate appearances. Those numbers are not inspiring at all, but they also do not tell the entire story. According to Statcast, the 24-year-old backstop’s expected batting average (xBA) was .277, while his expected slugging percentage came in at .403. Ruiz makes a ton of contact (86.3% in 2022), hits plenty of line drives (22.8%), and, though he may never deliver a bunch of home runs, he should bring a nice bump in AVG. His six stolen bases from last season may tick up a tad too.
The veteran of the bunch here, d’Arnaud enjoyed a nice rebound campaign last year. After largely struggling over 60 games in an injury-hindered 2021 season, the 2022 All-Star posted a .791 OPS with 18 homers and 60 RBI in 107 games. Yes, the Braves made a big trade this offseason to acquire a new starting catcher in Sean Murphy. That does not mean d’Arnaud is simply going to be relegated to backup duties.
At now 34 years of age, the d’Arnaud is likely to be limited to only catching a third or so of the Braves games. However, given his abilities with the bat, the veteran will likely see significant at-bats in the DH spot as well. He only needed 426 plate appearances to put up those 2022 stats. Something close to that could be attainable again in 2023.
Speaking of the Braves, Langeliers was a prized prospect in the organization less than a calendar year ago. In a mid-March trade last year, the young catcher was shipped to Oakland, where he immediately became the A’s future at the position. That future began on August 16 of this past summer when Langeliers made his MLB debut.
Before his call-up to the bigs, Langeliers produced a strong .876 OPS with 19 HR over 92 games at Triple-A. Things didn’t go quite as well for him during his 40-game stint with the A’s last year, as he hit just .218 with an ugly 34.6 K% across 153 plate appearances. Still, his power tool remained charged.
Langeliers belted six homers among his 17 total extra-base hits while posting a .212 ISO against MLB pitching. It is also encouraging that his best stretch with the A’s came in the final couple of weeks of the regular season. Over his last 12 games in 2022, Langeliers put up a .970 OPS with three long balls and four doubles. Fantasy managers will probably have to stomach a low AVG and high K-rate, but it’s worth the power potential Langeliers brings as a No. 2 catcher very late in drafts.
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Nate Miller is a featured writer at FantasyPros and a nine-year veteran of the fantasy sports industry. For more from Nate, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @Miller_RotoDad.