In this week’s 2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends column, we will look at the incredible season from Alejandro Kirk and where it falls in the pantheon of elite Fantasy catcher seasons.
We are fully aware that Alejandro Kirk is a catcher cheat code for Fantasy this season. He is catcher-eligible yet plays almost every day at designated hitter. That has allowed him to absolutely pile up big numbers this year.
Will it continue, and can we count on Kirk producing elite Fantasy value for the rest of the season?
There are some interesting and encouraging trends in Kirk's approach at the plate that should cause us to feel optimistic about the recent surge for the rest of the 2022 MLB season.
2022 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Alejandro Kirk is on the Verge of Fantasy History
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In the major leagues this season, there are 46 catcher-eligible players who have at least 100 plate appearances through games on June 27. One of those catchers has an average over .310. One of those catchers has an on-base percentage over .400. And one of those catchers has a slugging percentage over .500.
You may have guessed it by now, but the same catcher has each of those three milestones this year: Alejandro Kirk. On the year, he is up to .322/.411/.525.
In addition to those outstanding rate stats (best comp: Manny Machado at .328/.400/.545), he is up to 10 home runs, 36 runs, and 31 RBI. Amongst all catchers, he is fourth in homers, second in runs, and sixth in RBI. Should he continue his pace, that would put him among some of the best catcher seasons in MLB history.
Since 1930, only 13 catchers have had a season with at least a .300 average, .400 on-base percentage, .515 slugging percentage, 20 home runs, 70 runs, and 70 RBI (Kirk's current pace). The last one to do it was Victor Martinez in 2014 when he was second in MVP voting.
Can Alejandro Kirk Continue This for the Rest of the Season?
One of the best signs that Kirk has shown over the season is that he is getting better every month. His average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage have improved every month to the point where he is at .351/.457/.675 through the first 27 days of June.
While we can't expect an upward trend to continue on numbers like that. It's clear that Kirk's playing time and plate discipline are improving to the point where we can expect a new elite baseline.
After a cute little experiment where Kirk only played seven of 11 games when Gabriel Moreno was called up to help catch, Kirk it back to an everyday player. Over the last 11 games, he has started 10 of them including seven at catcher and for at designated hitter.
The fact that he has already crossed 30 games played as a catcher is great news for fantasy managers, especially in keeper and dynasty formats. He will be catcher-eligible everywhere again next year.
One key change has really driven Kirk's success after a relatively slow start in April. That month, he had an incredibly high 52.1% groundball rate. In fact, that number put him in the bottom-25 of all major leaguers that month. But it improved in May, and now is down to just 37.9% in June. To put it in perspective, he has the exact same groundball rate as Shohei Ohtani.
Alejandro Kirk is Fantasy's New Number-One Catcher
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With Salvador Perez having a lost season, J.T. Realmuto in a decline phase, and Yasmani Grandal unable to hit the ball this year, the door is open for a new number one catcher in fantasy. Willson Contreras held the title for the months of April and May, Will Smith has had moments of brilliance this year. But 2022 looks like it belongs to Alejandro Kirk.
I'm not saying that we are to this point yet, but the last three catchers to put up the numbers Kirk has this year (Martinez in 2014, Buster Posey in 2012, and Joe Mauer in 2009) were all top-two in MVP voting. That's unlikely to happen this year with the elite season of some of his American League peers, but it gives you a sense of the type of historic season that Kirk is currently having.
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