For the Braves’ catchers and bullpen, there is limited fantasy value. A big reason is the catcher situation is again a timeshare, while the bullpen could see roles changed each game. As a result, each situation should be monitored as injury or ineffectiveness could make a player a bargain. Here are some thoughts on each group of Braves for fantasy purposes.
When it comes to catchers in reality, the Braves have actually been quite productive on offense over the past few years. One reason for the production is an effective platoon strategy between Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers. While the duo certainly produced above average offense, the timeshare made both options individually difficult to rely on in fantasy. This includes the frustration of not knowing when either would start, and a lack of counting stats to really contribute.
With Suzuki now in Washington, Flowers finds himself in another platoon with Brian McCann. Despite the platoon, Flowers should not be completely off fantasy owners’ radars. Over the past three seasons, only 28 catchers have seen 900 plate appearances. Of those 28 players, Flowers is 11th in OPS, 10th in average, and 4th in OBP. In other words, while his counting stats may be limited, Flowers certainly is an asset in leagues with many percentage stats.
For fantasy drafts, Flowers likely should only be picked in very deep redraft and dynasty leagues. If you are in a 2 catcher league, he likely should be picked in the 15-20 range of all catchers. Furthermore, if an injury were to happen to McCann or Flowers, the other would likely become a very popular waiver pickup. Overall, Flowers is more of a Watch List priority than draft priority unless the league is customized towards percentages or starting multiple catchers.
A lot of the same logic that applies to Flowers can also apply to McCann. However, McCann may carry a bit of extra value compared to Flowers for a few reasons. Yes, last year McCann was hurt at times, and therefore had his worst year as a major leaguer. Beyond the injuries, it's simple logic that age is beginning to catch up with McCann.
However, despite last year’s lack of production, McCann still may have some value. In the same group of catchers with at least 900 plate appearances between 2016 and 2018, McCann was 11th in home runs and 15th in RBI. He was arguably a top 10 fantasy catcher in both 2016 and 2017. McCann’s power potential arguably makes him a better source of counting stats than Flowers. Furthermore, McCann will be mainly facing right handers. While he may not get more than 350 plate appearances, hitting behind the talent in front of him could make him relevant when he plays.
McCann should not be on the dynasty radar due to his age, but likely could be a last round snag at catcher in redraft leagues if you treat them like kickers in fantasy football. Just like flowers, while neither is a reliable option in a platoon, both could gain significant value should the other get injured. As a result, both should be on your watch list as a good waiver pickup if they become the clear backstop in Atlanta.
But, in all seriousness, there just simply is not any value here. If Minter and Vizcaino return to health, they could be valuable waiver wire pickups in redraft, though they likely will cut into each other’s value. The Braves seem open to taking a closer by committee based on situation approach with the pen. However, if either has continuous injury struggles while the other returns to health, then you have a potential top 20 closer.
Obviously, a lot of this is changed if the Braves were to add a certain piece to their current corps. Minter should be a late target in dynasty drafts due to his talent and age, especially if your league has holds. Overall, as ugly as it may be to watch, keep tabs on the bullpen health to find potential bargains.
Rookie Draft Suggestions:
For the Braves rookies, many will be available in rookie drafts. In standard 12 team minors or rookie draft situations, here is an idea of where to draft each:
Kyle Wright- third round
Austin Riley- late second, early third
Christian Pache- late fourth, early fifth
Bryse Wilson- late fifth
Touki Toussaint- late fourth
Ian Anderson- early third
Drew Waters- sixth, though he could be someone to reach for after a stretch of pitchers
Again, these suggestions are based off a minors-only draft setup.
Hopefully, this series has offered some insight and perspective on how to approach the braves in redraft and dynasty leagues. Overall, there is plenty of potential value on players who were not drafted. As a result, as you pay attention to the Braves, use it to your advantage to gain some value in fantasy leagues.