I had high hopes for Yasmani Grandal this year, so when I purchased him for the fair (or so I thought) price of $12 at the Tout Wars Mixed Auction, I was pleased. Despite battling various injuries throughout his young career, Grandal was coming off back-to-back 15-plus home run seasons, and his consistently high walk rates gave him added value in Tout, which uses OBP instead of AVG. I figured that a career year was in store for Grandal, who was entering his age-27 season. Well, I figured wrong. We're at the season's one-third mark and Grandal has managed just four home runs, 15 RBI, eight runs scored, and perhaps more importantly, a mediocre .296 OBP. Sure, there's still plenty of time for him to turn things around, but I'm losing patience with this guy. I might even be willing to deal him for a backstop with a lower ceiling just to get him off my roster. But whenever I begin to regret the Grandal pick, I keep reminding myself that 2016 has been a disappointing year for catchers in general, with far more fantasy disappointments (Russell Martin, Derek Norris, Yan Gomes, Stephen Vogt) than solid fantasy producers. In other words, most of my league mates are dealing with the same frustration. Which players are the exceptions? It wasn't easy to come up with five catchers who have at least earned their draft day price tag, let alone reward their owners with a profit, but let's meet the members of this distinguished group.
Jonathan Lucroy ($17) - Health was the biggest question mark surrounding Lucroy heading into this season, as he was coming off a 2015 campaign in which he was limited to 103 games due to injury. But health has not been an issue at all so far, and the Brewers catcher is delivering elite-level numbers, batting .304 with nine homers, 28 RBI, 28 runs scored and a .364 OBP through 51 games. Lucroy is earning every bit of his $17 price, which did not reflect any health risk discount.
Welington Castillo ($8) - Castillo's 17 home runs in 80 games following his trade to the Diamondbacks last season raised the possibility that a 25-homer campaign could be in store for 2016. I wasn't buying it considering his career track record, and at this point, it's looking like 20 home runs is a more realistic goal. After leaving the yard six times in April, he's recorded just one home run since. But barring a massive power outage, the 29-year-old should deliver at least eight bucks in value.
Francisco Cervelli ($6) - Power has never been a part of Cervelli's game, and he has yet to homer through 46 games this season. But with 21 RBI, 19 runs scored and a .366 OBP, the Pirates backstop is quietly establishing himself as a quality top-15 fantasy catcher. In a 15-team mixed league, this means that Cervelli is a viable #1 catcher, and a viable #1 catcher for six bucks sounds pretty good to me.
J.T. Realmuto ($5) - Realmuto has followed up a promising rookie season with a steady sophomore campaign, highlighted by a .294 batting average through 50 games. The two homers are a bit disappointing but Realmuto is one of the few catchers who actually steals bases, and he's on pace for nine swipes this season. At 25 years of age, he still has plenty of time to improve across the board. Don't be surprised if his $5 price looks like a bargain come September.
Wilson Ramos ($3) - After drafting Ramos two years in a row in Tout only to be let down, I decided that enough was enough, so when the bidding stalled at three bucks, I resisted the urge to jump in. Of course, the year I finally cut ties with the Nationals catcher is the year that he finally breaks out. Entering Saturday, Ramos is hitting .342 with seven home runs and 29 RBI. Then again, Ramos' .357 BABIP suggests that his current batting average is bound to drop considerably. And his lofty RBI total has been aided by an unsustainable .400 batting average (18-for-45) with runners in scoring position.
But as much as I try to dismiss Ramos' red-hot start to 2016, I must admit that I messed up by not sticking with him for another year.
Any takers for Yasmani Grandal?