Fantasy Baseball

Heat Check: 2019 Fantasy Baseball Roberto Perez


Another season, another catcher quest conundrum. Like tight ends in fantasy football, the catcher position yields a draft day melee that makes even the youngest fantasy manager go gray. When to take J.T. Realmuto and whether you could steal Yasmani Grandal were mind-wearing draft day enigmas.

Some seasons a catcher breaks through via injuries or out of dire necessity. Stephen Vogt did not make his MLB debut until his age 27 season. After two seasons off the bench as a limited situational starter, Vogt finally secured his first starting job at the age of 30. His first season as a starter and his following age-31 season, Vogt was an AL All-Star and a top-7 fantasy catcher.

Which leads us to today’s Heat Check – Roberto Perez.

Perez has emerged over the past month plus as a viable starting catcher option across a variety of leagues and scoring types.

The top-5 catchers over the past 30 days in descending order with ownership percentage in parentheses: Ramos (86%), Grandal (91%), Realmuto (99%), Sanchez (99%), PEREZ (15%). Across the same period:

  • Perez was 14th amongst catchers across the same period in hits but balances his fantasy ledger with the 2nd highest walk total at 13 behind only Grandal.
  • Ranked 5th in runs (13).
  • Tied for 1st with Sanchez with 8 HRs.
  • Tied for 1st with Grandal 17 RBIs.
  • Ranked 6th with 40 Total Bases.

Catcher is a wasteland if you didn’t take the “elite” few options. And if you haven’t gobbled up the few average waiver wire options that have emerged, you are hurting for a solution. Is Roberto Perez the next in a small thin line of start-able catcher options for the rest of 2019? We lock in on whether Perez deserves a starting spot on your fantasy roster.

Heat Check: 2019 Fantasy Baseball Roberto Perez

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AGE: 30, 5th MLB Season (Drafted in 33rd Rd of 2008 Draft by CLE)
6/11 Ownership: ESPN – 0%, Yahoo! – 15%, CBS – 25%

Standard Batting
2014 25 CLE 29 95 85 10 23 5 0 1 4 0 5 26 .271 .311 .365 .676 89 31
2015 26 CLE 70 226 184 30 42 9 1 7 21 0 33 64 .228 .348 .402 .751 101 74
2016 27 CLE 61 184 153 14 28 6 1 3 17 0 23 44 .183 .285 .294 .579 52 45
2017 28 CLE 73 248 217 22 45 12 0 8 38 0 26 71 .207 .291 .373 .664 72 81
2018 29 CLE 62 210 179 16 30 9 1 2 19 1 21 70 .168 .256 .263 .519 41 47
2019 30 CLE 46 165 138 17 32 3 0 11 25 0 22 44 .232 .337 .493 .830 115 68
6 Yr 6 Yr 6 Yr 341 1128 956 109 200 44 3 32 124 1 130 319 .209 .304 .362 .666 77 346
162 162 162 162 536 454 52 95 21 1 15 59 0 62 152 .209 .304 .362 .666 77 164
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/11/2019.

2019 In Numbers

  • 15th at position with 17 runs, 10th with 25 RBIs, and 4th with 11 HRs.
  • 26.7% K% is 6.6% lower than 2018 (210 plate appearances). His career rate as of 6/11 is 28.3%.
  • With the 3rd best BB% at 13.3% amongst catchers,  Perez has registered the 7th best OBP (.337) and BB/K ratio (0.5). Overall, he has the 5th most BBs with 22.
  • A .493 slugging percentage is good for 5th at the catcher position, above elites like Realmuto (10th, .454 SLG) and “breakout potentials” like Jorge Alfaro (9th, .455 SLG).
  • His .261 ISO registers 3rd at the position behind only Sanchez and Robinson Chirinos.
  • His all-important wOBA is .349, good for 6th at the position behind stalwarts like Sanchez and Contreras.
  • He has the 7th best Hard Hit% at 38.8%, 11th lowest Soft Hit% at 27.4%, and sports the top HR/FB ratio at 34.4%. Alfaro (30%) and Contreras are closest (28.9%). He also sports the 4th best Oppo% at 31.6%, better than Ramos (29.9%), Grandal (29.9%), Realmuto (27.2%) and Sanchez (17.7%)
  • Though the contact tool is weak, his plate discipline is a plus-plus for OBA leagues: 1st in O-Swing% (20.9%), 1st in Total Swing% (38%). He’s middle of the pack with respect to Sw Str % at 11.4%, but the Home Runs are worth the Ks. Similar power-over-average catchers like Alfaro (20.8%), Chirinos (13.5%), and Sanchez (12.5%) carry higher numbers.

Pitch By Pitch: Perez at the Plate

Roberto Perez Pitch by Pitch 2019

Table/Chart Credit: Brooks Baseball

In 2019, Perez’s improvements facing four seams, sliders and cutters are worth taking note of:

  • Fourseam career slash prior to 2019 (2014-2018, 1481 pitches): .268 BA, .488 SLG, .220 ISO, .311 BAbip
  • Slider career slash prior to 2019 (2014-2018, 829 pitches): .063 BA, .086 SLG, .023 ISO, .138 BAbip
  • Cutter career slash prior to 2019 (2014-2018, 249 pitches): .180 BA, .260 SLG, .080 ISO, .286 BAbip
Roberto Perez Pitches

Table/Chart Credit: Brooks Baseball

On the heels of examining his lowered K% and increased plate discipline, you can clearly see his whiff/swing % has dropped across all pitch types. In this, his first year as a starter, we can see his increased fantasy potential despite being locked in against starting pitching from game 1.

Heat Check: Perez Vs. An Uninspiring Field

We always examine opportunity in fantasy as a guiding light to a waiver wire savior. In our case, Perez is a fantasy catcher starting option going forward due to the fact that he’s an actual living, breathing, starting catcher.

Although it won’t show up in your weekly fantasy box score, Perez led all AL catchers in range factor/9 innings every season between 2016-2018, albeit in limited appearances. In 2019, only 27 games shy of his career high, he is once again ranked 1st in the AL in range factor/9 innings and 1st in the AL in range factor/game.

Add to that that he is 2nd in the AL with 41.9% caught stealing rate and raw number of runners caught stealing at 11. And he’s also 4th in the AL in double plays (3) and assists (4th).

Perez’s elite defense should allow him to continue to hold down the starting gig in this, his first season as a starter. He’s locked into the full-time role and Francisco Mejia (traded for Brad Hand last season) and Yan Gomes (traded to the Nationals prior to this season) are out of the picture. 2018 first round catcher Bo Naylor, a top-10 prospect in the Tribe’s system, is 19 and batting .221 with .650 OPS in A ball. Perez has no real challenge to playing time (apologies to Kevin Plawecki believers).

Let me ask absurd and intimate questions: If Kyle Schwarber was still catcher-eligible, where would you draft him? Who would you roster him over in single-catcher start leagues?

2017 Schwarber slashed a .211/.315/.467.782 line with 16 doubles, 30 HRs, 67 runs, 59 RBIs and 0.39 BB/K ratio. Schwarber’s team was better, but catcher looks a whole different three years later. And with aging former studs Yadier Molina and Buster Posey fading, the definition of “top-10 catcher” is truly fluid.

Perez is somewhere between slightly less powerful Schwarber and Robinson Chirinos. And that gives him top-10 potential at the position rest of season.

The Verdict

PLUS Categories: OBP, HR, BB, RBIs, TBs.

NEGATIVE Categories: AVG, 3Bs, Hits

Is your league heavy, be it category or points, on a particular aspect? Check first if Perez fits the bill for your specific league. If you factor the above cat stats, then:

And for league general specifics:

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  • 2-Start Catcher leagues:  No doubt 100% owned.
  • AL-Only: Should be 100% owned.
  • 10 Team: Should be above 70% owned.
  • 12 Team: Based on your league scoring, he’s most likely a starter, but depends on what you roster and what your bench availability looks like.
  • 14+ Team: Owned and Started.
  • Dynasty: He’s 30, under contract next year, with two team options years following with 450K buyouts. Naylor could emerge in two years, but a bat could be brought in at any moment. I’d pass unless you’re looking for an immediate starter.

This last month of production was not a limited run power hour for Roberto Perez. It was the start of a top-10 catcher for the rest of this fantasy season.

Check out the rest of our 2019 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.

About Samir Qurashi

Samir Qurashi is from the Bay. He thinks football is a good time. You can get at him with any fantasy football questions on the tweeter: @FSPsamir and by electronica: He remains unspooked.

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