This article is part of our The Z Files series.
If it seems like the catcher pool is better than anyone expected coming into the season, that's because it is. Depending on the valuation process employed and league format, in aggregate, the backstop pool is earning 10 to 15 percent more than initially projected. An average of RotoWire, Baseball HQ and Mastersball spring projections was used to compute initial anticipated earnings. Even with the improvements, the average earned per catcher still trails that of the other position players. In addition, the catcher replacement level remains wretchedly low, it's just that several receivers are earning more than projected.
What follows is the list of catchers performing better than projected in order of greatest increased earnings to date, with a brief review of their prognosis for the rest of the season. The numbers are derived from a 15-team mixed league using standard 5x5 rotisserie scoring.
Josh Phegley: Coming into the season, it wasn't clear how the Athletics would distribute the playing time behind the plate, with Phegley most likely earmarked for his typical small side of platoon duties. However, he hasn't exhibited significant splits in recent seasons and sure enough, it wasn't long before the veteran became the regular backstop. As it happens, Phegley is crushing southpaw pitching this season while remaining productive against righty throwers as well. He's well on his way to setting a new career high in plate appearances, something he could accomplish by the All-Star break or soon thereafter. Statcast metrics such as average exit velocity suggest