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Alejandro Kirk a good fantasy baseball option at catcher

Catcher still feels like a position in fantasy that we don’t often talk about during the season.

They’re kind of like the slow cooker on your fancy roster: you draft the best available, put it in your lineup, and forget about it until a buzzer goes off – which either signals the end of the season, a injury or other type of malfunction.

Unfortunately, many catchers have malfunctioned – and this is a fire in your house (à la “This Is Us”) type problem. This left fantasy owners plugging in inferior players or going so far as to leave the position empty (in leagues that don’t yet have rules to prevent such a thing), using that extra slot to stream a starter or by take an extra reliever.

It’s hard to blame owners who use this strategy when top five options like Salvador Perez, Will Smith and Yasmani Grandal are having the worst career years so far (even if the analysis supports a big turnaround), and the next best options — outside of Keibert Ruiz, Daulton Varsho, struggling rookie Adley Rutschman and Tyler Stephenson — aren’t that appealing.

While there’s been a big drop in receiver offensive productivity, that doesn’t mean there aren’t options that can help.

Alexander Kirk
PA

Toronto’s Alejandro Kirk (26.3% held) started slow, hitting .232 with two RBIs, one run and .555 OPS in his first 20 games. But in his next 24 games, Kirk was 27 for 77 (.351) with three home runs, 11 RBIs, 16 runs and a .992 OPS. He only struck seven times while walking 10 times during that span and raised his average to .301.

In eight games heading into Friday, which included a six-game hitting streak, Kirk was 13-for-29 (.448) with two homers (both came Tuesday), six RBIs, 10 runs and a 1.293 OPS.

Among players with a minimum of 150 plate appearances, Kirk had the fifth lowest strikeout percentage (9.2) and the 35th best walk rate (11.8%). His batting average was the 21st best in the majors, and his on-base percentage ranked 19th.

If you think Kirk’s low takedown rate is a fluke, it’s not. In four minor seasons, he struck out 69 times in 675 plate appearances (10.2%) while hitting .318 with a .919 OPS. He is a contact hitter at heart, and his 87.9% contact rate was the eighth-highest rating in the majors entering the weekend.

Playing time isn’t an issue for Kirk either, as he’s played 27 of Toronto’s first 50 games behind the plate and 13 as a designated hitter.

Alexander Kirk
USA TODAY Sports

Rather than plugging in a player like Gary Sanchez, Mitch Garver, or Sean Murphy who offers RBI power and assist but nothing else, Kirk is a great option that will allow you to fill your receiver spot and get results that will ultimately help your team.

Kirk isn’t the only underserved receiver.

Atlanta’s Travis d’Arnaud remains somewhat available at 35%, but his replacement, William Contreras, is only listed at 25.1%. In his first 19 games, Contreras hit .302 with seven home runs, 14 RBIs, 13 runs, one stolen base and 1.095 OPS. He hit in 26.8% of his shots, but he also walked in 11.3% of them, and his maximum exit speed of 113.4 mph ranked in the top 8% in the league. Atlanta went so far as to play him in the outfield just to keep their bat in the lineup.

The Red Sox’ Christian Vazquez (46% owned) was on the verge of the top 10 at the start of the season, but the fantasy managers lost confidence after hitting .208 with a .537 OPS in his first 18 games. Vazquez was 25 for 70 (.357) with one homer, 16 RBIs and .900 OPS in his next 20 games, bringing his average to .293 going into the weekend.

Two other potential options, available in more than 50% of ESPN leagues, include the Angels’ Max Stassi, who is hitting .233 this season but was 8 for 25 (.320) with an .894 in his first seven games. off the injured list, and Jonah Heim of the Rangers, who entered the weekend with a respectable .263 with six home runs, 18 RBIs, 18 runs and .807 OPS.

Big hits

Francisco Lindor SS, Mets

Before injuring his major when he arrived in Los Angeles, he had an RBI in each of his last 10 games. He was 15 for 40 (.375) with two home runs, 20 RBIs, 11 runs, two stolen bases and a 1.075 OPS during that span.

Framber Valdez SP, Astros

In his last seven starts, he’s lowered his ERA from 4.50 to 2.57 after going 4-1 with a 2.02 ERA, 38 strikeouts and averaging .207 opponents.

Framber Valdez
Framber Valdez
USA TODAY Sports

Luis Arraez 1B/2B/3B/OF, Twins

Despite going 0-for-9 in his last two games heading into Friday, he was hitting .416 with five RBIs, 16 walks, 19 runs and .976 OPS in his previous 21 games.

Sonny Gray SP, Twins

Was 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA, 34-7 walk rate and 0.182 ERA in five starts in May (3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his last three departures).

big puffs

Alec Bohm 3B, Phillies

In 16 games from May 17 to Wednesday, his average went from .315 to .263 after going 12 for 67 (.179) with 24 strikeouts and a .461 OPS.

Zack Greinke SP, Royals

Not only did he not win a game all season, but he went 0-3 with a 6.67 ERA, six home runs allowed and an average of .335 opponents in six starts in May.

Zack Greinke
Zack Greinke
PA

Steven Kwan OF, Goalkeepers

Despite sniffling just eight times in 25 games from April 23 through Wednesday, the rookie was 17 for 89 (.191) with six RBI and .538 OPS. He hit .143 with a .468 OPS in his last 11 games.

Trevor Rogers SP, Marlins

Allowed 13 ER in his last 12 ²/₃ innings (9.24 ERA) while going 0-1 with five homers allowed, eight walks and an average of .315 opponents.

Check the swings

  • Paul Goldschmidt entered Friday with a 24-game hitting streak for St. Louis. During that remarkable streak, he was 41 for 96 (.427) with nine homers, 33 RBIs, 20 runs, one stolen base, .854 hitting percentage and 1.331 OPS.
  • Another impressive run: Colorado’s Brendan Rodgers had a 20-game hitting streak Friday, going 29-for-80 (.363) with four homers, 14 RBIs, 17 runs and 1.001 OPS during that stretch. Had at least one hit in 25 of his previous 27 games.
  • How good has Jameson Taillon been? Not only did he have a perfect eighth game on Thursday, he didn’t allow more than three earned runs in any of his 10 starts. He’s 6-0 with a 2.02 ERA, 36-4 walk rate and .220 opponent average in his last eight starts and is still, somehow another, available in more than 30% of ESPN leagues.
  • Frankie Montas hasn’t won a game since April 18 for Oakland, but that doesn’t mean he’s hurt fantasy owners. Allowed more than two earned runs in just two of his last 10 starts, and had a 2.31 ERA, 40-7 walk rate and .219 average in May, despite going from 0-3.

Team of the week name

Marilyn Melancon

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