Yasmani Grandal could be fantasy's top catcher as a White Sox

ByEric Karabell ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The defending No. 3 catcher by ESPN Fantasy's Player Rater, Grandal smacked a career-high 28 home runs in 2019. Sure, everyone - wink, wink - seemed to hit a career-high in home runs, but Grandal's performance in his lone Milwaukee Brewers season stood out because it was his fourth consecutive campaign with 22 or more blasts, and he found the time to draw 109 walks. That is so many walks. Unlike many, Grandal's plate discipline does not result in a stellar batting average, but he has a baseline in that statistic that shows little sign of age-related drop-off as he joins the Chicago White Sox. Plus, if the baseball changes to something more typical, Grandal's power should not be greatly affected.

As a result, good for the White Sox as they gain a significant bat without parting with any signature prospects. It is just money. Every team has it. Grandal not only offers a strong power floor but because he draws so many walks and switch-hits competently from each side, he deserves to hit higher in the lineup. In fact, Grandal batted second more than in any other lineup spot for the Brewers, and not surprisingly, he scored more runs than the average hitter would, not just the typical catcher. The White Sox have the makings of an exciting, young lineup, and the veteran Grandal plays a key role. In fact, now that he is finally in the American League, he can handle designated hitter duties on days he does not catch, so another season of 600-plus PA is reasonable.

Because of his durability and consistency, one could easily argue for Grandal as fantasy's top catcher, over Philadelphia's J.T. Realmuto and the Yankees' Gary Sanchez. Realmuto comes off his own terrific season. The concern with Sanchez - other than his defense - is batting average. It might not be far from what Grandal produces year over year, but there is bottoming out risk that came true in 2018. Either way, choosing a catcher in the first 10 rounds of a standard roto draft rarely seems worth it to me, as there are safer hitters to choose from that do not play catcher, thus they tend to play more. They hit for average. They steal bases. I wait on catchers and try to find the next Omar Narvaez. If you want to take Grandal in the first 10 rounds, or over Sanchez, it is defensible, but I will pass.