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So I’m new to the SP Streamer team. This is my first season with Michael and company. In an effort to let readers get to know me, please allow me to share some personal information about myself. Something that is less than gleaming and a matter of fact it’s quite embarrassing.

When I was younger I used to pick my nose. I wasn’t so subtle while doing it either. I would pick until every single bat was no longer dwelling in the cave. Thinking back on such an embarrassing time of my life, I can remember hearing this comment:

“Pick me a winner.”

I can remember saying to my younger self…”thanks, I will.” And I like to think I did.

Now let me pick some winners for your fantasy baseball team. Here are some catchers I think are worth streaming as the season starts. All of these backstops are widely available across fantasy baseball leagues. 

Check if the Rockies are at home

First things first, whenever team builders are thinking about streaming any hitter, they look to see if the Rockies are in the midst of a homestand.

Elias Diaz (~11% rostered)

Well, the Colorado Rockies play seven of their first nine games in Coors. Que up Elias Diaz. Diaz is listed as the primary catcher on the Rockies’ roster. Last season, Diaz bashed 18 home runs, contributed 96 runs and RBIs, and had a .219 ISO. Surprisingly, he finished as a top 12 catcher in points leagues. Elias Diaz hit 50% of his homers, batted .289, had an .874 OPS, and a 105 wRC+ at home.

The Rockies’ catcher will square off against the Dodgers, the Rangers, and the Cubs from 4/8 to 4/17. He is projected to see two LHP during the opening series. Unfortunately at home last year against left-handed pitchers, Diaz sported a below league average 88 wRC+ and 5 extra-base hits. And he’ll potentially be seeing a couple of good lefties. The Rangers and Cubs should present more favorable matchups for Diaz and the Rockies. Is the abundance of home games in one of the most advantageous ballparks enough to stream Elias Diaz? Keep reading and find out.

Hot bats coming into the year

Whenever streaming any player, one of the first things team builders should look for is what players are in the midst of a heater. Since Opening Day hasn’t yet come, the only statistics that can be examined are the ones compiled in Spring Training. 

Kyle Higashioka (~9% rostered)

Kyle Higashioka is closing in on winning the starting catcher job for the New York Yankees. He is batting .440 with seven dingers, 11 runs batted in, and a 1.742 OPS. Yes,that qualifies as a heater. The 31-year-old has never had sustained success in the bigs, but did display positive underlying metrics in 200 plate appearances in 2021. His xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA all suggest misfortune for Higashioka. He also had a Hard Hit % of 46.7% and a .207 ISO. He’ll face Boston, Toronto, and Baltimore in the first matchup of the season. The Sox have rotation questions, Toronto could present tough matchups, but then Baltimore will be advantageous. Fire up the new Yankees’ starting catcher? We shall see.

Editors note: Very small sample of 135 batted balls so take for what its worth, but if qualified Higashioka’s Barrels/PA % would’ve had him sandwiched between Devers and Renfroe

Sean Murphy (~39% rostered)

Oakland has set their roster ablaze and only a few have survived. Sean Murphy was one of them and he has in turn set Spring Training ablaze. In 25 spring at-bats, Murphy has hit 2 home runs, drove in eight, and is batting .520. Could this be the year that the former high-end prospect breaks out? Murphy has shown flashes over his three seasons in MLB but now he is projected to bat third for the Oakland A’s. He has over a 10% Barrel rate throughout his career and had over 100 runs plus RBIs in 2021. Sean Murphy will have his fair share of tough matchups to start the year. The A’s play the Phillies, Rays, and Blue Jays, but all games are on the road. So he will not play in his home park which ranks dead last for right-handed hitters according to baseball savant. Is it Sean Murphy szn? Maybe.

Easy matchups to start the season

Mike Zunino (~27% rostered)

Tampa starts off the 2022 campaign against the Orioles, then the A’s, then the White Sox. If you are talking about soft matchups, Baltimore is the king. In 2021 their staff was bottom three in these statistical categories:

  • HR/9 (1.66)
  • SIERA (4.64)
  • xFIP (4.91)
  • MaxEV (121.1 mph)
  • Brl% (9.4%)
  • HardHit% (41.2%)

Heading into 2022 their starting pitching rotation is projected to post a staff ERA around 5. Oakland had solid starting pitchers in 2021 but they went ahead and traded Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea. The A’s will also be without James Kaprielian. Their four projected starters on Roster Resource are projected to have an ERA of around four and a half. Matching up against the White Sox rotation can be tough to plan for. If the Rays face off against Giolito, Cease, and Kopech then it will be tough for a hitter with Mike Zunino’s profile to do well. But if they match up against Keuchel and whoever their fifth is with Lynn on the shelf then it gets a bit exciting. 

Zunino displayed a great deal of pop in ‘21. He swatted 33 homers, a 134 wRC+, and an insane 24.3% Barrel rate. He does split time with Frankie Mejía and if you follow Mike Kurland’s Spring Training Lineup Tracker (if you’re not, you’re doing your fantasy squad a disservice) the platoon will be hard to predict. Should you stream Mr. Zunino? Keep reading. 

James McCann (~7% rostered)

New York has maybe the softest projected start to their 2022 campaign. The Mets square off against the Nationals, Phillies, and D-Backs. Arizona and Washington are both projected to have starting staffs with ERAs around 5 and neither did much to improve from their poor 2021. Arizona ranked fifth highest in HR/9 and Washington second. Both rotations were hit hard in 2021 as well:

Arizona Diamondbacks

  •  39.2% Hard Hit rate
  • 8.2% Brl rate

Washington Nationals

  • 39.5% HardHit rate
  • 9.3% Brl rate

James McCann signed a multi-year deal but didn’t live up to the money in year one for New York. He hit 10 home runs and less than 80 runs and RBIs. McCann posted a .117 ISO and 80 wRC+. He is also spitting reps with Thomas Nido this spring. Is the easy schedule more important than the talent profile? Let’s find out. 

Conclusion

So I have rolled out the top five options. Presented reasons why these catchers could be worth streaming. Now here are my top five catchers to stream heading into the season. 

  1. Kyle Higashioka
  2. Sean Murphy
  3. Elias Diaz
  4. Mike Zunino
  5. James McCann

For more content follow me on:

Twitter: @MattyKiwoom

TikTok: @mattykiwoom

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Matty Kiwoom

Matty Kiwoom

My name is Matt and I'm a sports-a-holic. *pauses for warm welcome*

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