2023 was one of the most exciting years for baseball in recent memory. Record-breaking seasons and surprisingly dominant teams stole the headlines this year. This excitement carried over to the ever-growing world of fantasy baseball. Welcome to our 2023 Fantasy Baseball Year In Review: Catcher.
This is a series where the Fantasy Six Pack Fantasy Baseball staff will provide a review of a different positional group. We are starting with the catcher position, working our way around the field and ending on the mound.
While being one of the most vital positions on a real life roster, catchers often don’t receive the same amount of love in the hitting-dominated Fantasy Baseball. Similar to a tight end in Fantasy Football, the thinking is that if you don’t get a great catcher (such as Adley Rutschman) early, it is best to wait for the breakout performer. That being said, there were some catchers who stood out this season, both for positive and negative reasons.
2023 Fantasy Baseball Year In Review: Catcher
Yainer Diaz, Houston Astros.
Because the Astros didn’t already have enough quality hitters?
No matter who leaves the Astros in free agency or via trade, a new young player will come in and be a better producer than the guy before. First, it was Kyle Tucker, then Yordan Alvarez, then Jeremy Peña, and now the aforementioned Diaz.
While Martin Maldonado is a fantastic defensive catcher, it is clear that he won’t ever be a quality MLB-level hitter. The answer for the Astros? Just bring up a rookie backstop.
All Diaz has done is hit. In 104 games, he’s hit for a .282 average, belted 23 homers and has driven in 60 runs. That’s on pace for 33 homers and 89 RBI in a 150-game stretch.
Despite not starting the season in the MLB, Diaz is second in home runs (behind Cal Raleigh’s 30), third in average, first in OPS, and seventh in fantasy points per game among catchers who have played 100 games. Yainer Diaz is also only 25, meaning that he’ll stay productive for a long time.
MLB catchers slugging at least .530 with 20 HR this season:
- Yainer Diaz
End of list.
— MLB Metrics (@MLBMetrics) September 4, 2023
Luis Campusano, San Diego Padres
Man, I would love to see this guy in a full season. Despite debuting in 2020, Campusano has only appeared in 77 total games throughout his career. Campusano has been injured a lot, which maybe isn’t the best sign for such a physically demanding position. However, when Campusano is on the field, he’s been really productive.
Campusano has hit throughout his time in the minors, sporting an even .300 average in 387 career games. He’s also kept a very even BB/K ratio throughout each level (average walk rate, above average K rate), so we can expect something in that ballpark going forward. Furthermore, he has belted 52 homers in those 387 career games, an average of 20 over 150 games.
Therefore, maybe Campusano’s success shouldn’t be a total surprise. He’s injected some life into San Diego, hitting .320 with an OPS near .850 in 50 games in 2023. If he can continue to stay healthy, look forward to a breakout 2024 for Luis Campusano.
From one knee, Campy knew it ? pic.twitter.com/5jacjJR7l7
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) September 19, 2023
Daulton Varsho, Toronto Blue Jays.
Daulton Varsho was a popular pick to be a top catcher this year, and for good reason. A speedy outfielder with catcher eligibility. How fun! Is this like Taysom Hill starting at QB but with tight end eligibility?
Unfortunately not. While Varsho is a standout defensive outfielder, his offensive numbers took a beating despite moving to a more hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.
Varsho posted above-average offensive numbers in Arizona, posting an OPS above 100 in both 2021 and 2022. Moving to Toronto also likely spelled the end of an everyday catcher spot. This meant that he could still play enough behind the plate for eligibility, while playing the outfield, known for producing better hitters. Everything seemed to be lining up.
However, Varsho’s power numbers have declined this year. His OPS is 70-80 points lower in years past, and his home runs per at bat has fallen by a full 1.5% since 2022. While the 20 home runs looks nice, the .220 average does not. Not a good trend for a guy whose days of having catcher eligibility are limited.
Big RBI triple for Daulton Varsho. ? pic.twitter.com/IWKcmJy8PE
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 24, 2023
Reese McGuire, Boston Red Sox.
Although Red Sox former GM Chaim Bloom was criticized for standing pat at the deadline for the last two years, the trade for Reese McGuire in 2022 looked like a gem. He hit .333 in Boston, and played well enough for the Red Sox to not re-sign Christian Vazquez.
However, McGuire has suffered through a dreadful 2023. He lost his starting spot to Connor Wong through injuries, his lackluster defense and base running mistakes.
At the plate, while McGuire’s .267 average looks solid, it’s a very deceiving stat. His well below average launch angle and barrel rate puts his XBA at .199.
Unfortunately, batting average was most of what McGuire had to go on in the first place. His one home run in 70 games this year and negative DRS behind the plate should limit his starting opportunities next year as well. Stay away from McGuire in leagues.
Reese McGuire thought this ball was over the green monster and the third base coach Carlos Febles told him to going so the Red Sox lose the game on a double play.
Absolutely pathetic. Baseball IQ is very low here. pic.twitter.com/IZWLkQvDK4
— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) August 5, 2023
Prospects to watch
Jeferson Quero, Milwaukee Brewers.
At only 20 years old, Quero is among the youngest players in AA. Despite this, he hasn’t wasted any time getting going in the minors.
How do you follow up a 19-year-old year where Quero hit over .300 and 10 homers in 90 games? By blasting 16 homers with an OPS of almost .800 in 2023, while continuing to play a solid catcher.
As he is still super young, Quero will likely start 2024 in AA, giving him a chance to improve his skill set even further. Look for Quero to make a huge impact in the MLB and for your fantasy teams by 2025.
Blake Mitchell, Kansas City Royals.
The first-round pick for the Royals in 2023 just exudes talent. As a high school senior, Mitchell hit 97 off of the mound, ran a sub 7.0 60-yard dash, and had an Exit Velo of almost 100 en route to being the 8th-ranked player in the class of 2023.
While rookie ball wasn’t the kindest to Mitchell, his 17 walks in 14 games still gave him an OBP north of .400. While he is still a raw talent, Mitchell has all of the tools to become a star catcher. Look for him to fill Salvador Perez’s shoes by 2026
That's a wrap for our Dynasty Baseball Year In Review: Catcher! Make sure you check out the rest of the F6P Fantasy Baseball content.