Willson Contreras

Willson Contreras

30-Year-Old CatcherC
St. Louis Cardinals
2023 Fantasy Outlook
Contreras posted a career-high 132 wRC+ which could have been even better, except he had to deal with a multitude of injuries, most notably recurring hamstring and ankle woes. Even so, Contreras managed 487 plate appearances, the third most of his career. Serving as the designated hitter 39 times helped keep Contreras' bat in the lineup when he was hurt. Fueling the career year was a personal-best 21.1% strikeout rate and a career-high 48.6% hard-hit rate. Contreras 21.2% HR/FB was typically high, but a 33% flyball rate limits Contreras' power. Many expected Contreras to be dealt at the trade deadline, but he finished the season with the Cubs before declining their qualifying offer. Contreras signed a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the rival Cardinals and will presumably hit in a favorable spot in a far superior lineup -- the park move was neutral. The top end of the catcher pool is improving, but Contreras still warrants upper tier status. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
$Signed a five-year, $87.5 million contract with the Cardinals in December of 2022.
Replacing Molina in St. Louis
CSt. Louis Cardinals
December 7, 2022
Contreras and the Cardinals agreed Wednesday on a five-year, $87.5 million contract, Jeff Passan of ESPN.com reports.
ANALYSIS
In bringing aboard Contreras, St. Louis has found a replacement for longtime catcher Yadier Molina, who retired following the 2022 campaign after 19 seasons with the Cardinals. With Molina's production having waned in recent years, the 30-year-old Contreras will provide a major upgrade at the position, particularly on the offensive end. Over the past two seasons, Contreras' 121 wRC+ ranks third among all catchers who have logged at least 500 plate appearances over that stretch. While joining a strong Cardinals lineup that includes Nolan Arenado and reigning National League MVP Paul Goldschmidt in the heart of the order, Contreras should have a good chance at improving upon the run and RBI totals he logged with sub-.500 Cubs teams both of the last two years.
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Batting Stats
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2022
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
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Batting Order Slot Breakdown
vs Right-Handed Pitchers
vs RHP
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
1
57
15
4
vs Left-Handed Pitchers
vs LHP
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
7
24
2
1
Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2020
 
 
+6%
OPS vs LHP
2022
 
 
+7%
OPS vs LHP
2021
 
 
+21%
OPS vs LHP
2020
 
 
+46%
OPS vs RHP
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2020vs Left .827 302 42 16 41 4 .244 .334 .492
Since 2020vs Right .780 891 120 34 97 6 .240 .351 .428
2022vs Left .859 123 15 8 14 1 .219 .325 .533
2022vs Right .801 364 50 14 41 3 .251 .357 .444
2021vs Left .891 132 21 8 23 2 .284 .356 .534
2021vs Right .734 351 40 13 34 3 .219 .333 .401
2020vs Left .566 47 6 0 4 1 .195 .298 .268
2020vs Right .827 176 30 7 22 0 .260 .375 .452
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2020
 
 
+4%
OPS at Home
2022
 
 
+1%
OPS at Home
2021
 
 
+4%
OPS on Road
2020
 
 
+29%
OPS at Home
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2020Home .804 628 91 27 82 6 .242 .354 .451
Since 2020Away .775 567 72 23 56 4 .240 .339 .436
2022Home .821 257 39 10 33 4 .259 .362 .459
2022Away .809 230 26 12 22 0 .224 .335 .474
2021Home .764 247 33 14 34 2 .212 .316 .448
2021Away .792 236 28 7 23 3 .264 .364 .428
2020Home .850 124 19 3 15 0 .265 .411 .439
2020Away .661 101 18 4 11 1 .220 .287 .374
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Stat Review
How does Willson Contreras compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity and Barrels/PA % are benchmarked against 2019 data (min 400 PA) and Hard Hit Rate is benchmarked against last season's data (min 400 PA). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • BB/K
    Walk to strikeout ratio
  • BB Rate
    The percentage of plate appearances resulting in a walk.
  • K Rate
    The percentage of plate appearances resulting in a strikeout.
  • BABIP
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many of a batter’s balls in play go for hits.
  • ISO
    Isolated Power. Slugging percentage minus batting average. A computation used to measure a batter's raw power.
  • AVG
    Batting average. Hits divided by at bats.
  • OBP
    On Base Percentage. A measure of how often a batters reaches base. Roughly equal to number of times on base divided by plate appearances.
  • SLG
    Slugging Percentage. A measure of the batting productivity of a hitter. It is calculated as total bases divided by at bats.
  • OPS
    On base plus slugging. THe sum of a batter's on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
  • wOBA
    Weighted on-base average. Measures a player's overall offensive contributions per plate appearance. wOBA combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Hard Hit Rate
    A measure of contact quality from Sports Info Solutions. This stat explains what percentage of batted balls were hit hard vs. medium or soft.
  • Barrels/PA
    The percentage of plate appearances where a batter had a batted ball classified as a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
  • Expected BA
    Expected Batting Average.
  • Expected SLG
    Expected Slugging Percentage.
  • Sprint Speed
    The speed of a runner from home to first, in feet per second.
  • Ground Ball %
    The percentage of balls put in play that are on the ground.
  • Line Drive %
    The percentage of balls put in play that are line drives.
  • Fly Ball %
    The percentage of balls put in play that are fly balls.
BB/K
0.44
 
BB Rate
9.2%
 
K Rate
21.1%
 
BABIP
.270
 
ISO
.224
 
AVG
.243
 
OBP
.349
 
SLG
.466
 
OPS
.815
 
wOBA
.359
 
Exit Velocity
90.4 mph
 
Hard Hit Rate
41.5%
 
Barrels/PA
6.8%
 
Expected BA
.256
 
Expected SLG
.463
 
Sprint Speed
22.7 ft/sec
 
Ground Ball %
51.4%
 
Line Drive %
15.6%
 
Fly Ball %
33.0%
 
Advanced Batting Stats
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Additional Stats
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2022
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
Contreras is facing an uncertain 2022 given it's the final year of his contract and the Cubs are all but certain to move the veteran catcher. Contreras resumed his power-hitting abilities in 2021, but did so while posting a career-worst 28.6% strikeout rate which pulled his average down to a career-low .237. His plate discipline was mostly consistent with previous efforts and the strikeouts were more correlated to him taking called strikes (16% rate was also a career worst). Sensing a trend here? Being a veteran who was around for the good times only to see all of your friends leave cannot be easy. A new location may not offer the same playing-time guarantees that Contreras enjoys in Chicago. Regardless a change of scenery should serve him well in 2022.
Contreras is capable of better than what he produced at the plate in 2020, as his 109 wRC+, the product of a .243/.356/.407 slash line, represented the second-lowest mark of his five-year career. In the context of a rather weak catcher pool, however, those numbers were perfectly adequate. He chipped in with seven homers, tying him for fourth at the position. His 25.3 K% was the worst mark of his career but was barely worse than his 24.9 K% from 2019. When he did hit the ball, he actually hit it harder than ever before, generating a career-high 47.8% hard-hit rate that helped him to a .441 xSLG. Contreras has pretty much settled into a stable spot in the catcher hierarchy through five big-league seasons, sitting not quite at the top of the pile but not far from it. Since his debut season, he ranks in the top seven among backstops in all five standard fantasy categories.
Contreras was an above-average offensive catcher in 2019 for the third time in four seasons. The one "down" season saw him perform at a league-average level relative to his position. Last year looked a lot like the guy we fell in love with in 2017, which is what owners who bought him on the cheap wanted to see from the catcher. He maintains his excellence against left-handed pitching, but the bounce-back numbers from 2019 came from his resurgence against righties as he improved his OPS against them by 150 points over 2018. The Statcast numbers do not validate the performance as most of Contreras' expected statistics are nearly a full deviation below his actual outcomes from 2019. That's despite the fact his 42% hard-hit rate was easily the best of his four-year career. Bake in some regression in the numbers, but the skills here have proven to be relatively stable even if the outcomes are a bit wonky.
Contreras was one of many disappointing catchers as 2018 was an off year for the position. His primary downfall was a precipitous drop in power, fueled by a plummeting HR/FB mark. Contreras hits over half of his batted balls on the ground so he needs to maintain a lofty HR/FB level to generate power. While some pullback from 2017's 26% was likely, falling to a meek 9% was a shock, though supported by a drop in hard-hit rate in a year where the average rate increased. Contreras' plate skills held steady as did his BABIP, so his batting average drop was due to homers converted to outs. Contreras will be 27 years old this season, so chances are 2018 was more fluke than fact. Expect a power rebound, though capped by a 30% flyball rate. Since he'll remain a bell cow behind the dish, hitting in the meat of the Cubs' order, Contreras is a strong candidate to return top-five backstop status, likely at a discounted price.
Although he was limited to just 117 games last season, mainly due to a hamstring injury which cost him almost a month, Contreras still finished as a top-six catcher in standard formats. He posted a mighty healthy .223 ISO, which would have been a top-50 overall mark in baseball had Contreras logged enough plate appearances to qualify, and he improved both his strikeout (22.9 percent) and walk (10.5 percent) rates from his already strong marks as a rookie. The 25-year-old barrels the ball up consistently and he hits same-handed pitching well, as evidenced by his .273/.347/.486 career line against righties (.292/.379/.514 against lefties). Contreras has established himself as a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat in a good offense, and his ability to play the outfield and first base in a pinch helps pad his counting totals a little more than other starting catchers. Buster Posey may go ahead of Contreras in a lot of drafts, but Contreras could outproduce the veteran in 2018.
After taking a big step forward at the plate during his 2015 campaign at Double-A, Contreras raked at Triple-A Iowa to begin the season and forced his way onto the Cubs' 25-man roster in short order. Especially for a 24-year-old, his performance was impressive, as he continued to show a discerning eye (9.2 percent walk rate) while flashing 20-25 home run pop. Additionally, Contreras proved to be an above-average defender, which should give him the starting job again in 2017 regardless of what the team does with Miguel Montero. Although his overall line fell during the second half, Contreras cut his strikeout rate from 26.9 percent to 22.1 percent during that span. Moreover, Contreras demonstrated the ability to handle righties and lefties, swatting 10 of his 12 homers against the former while maintaining a slightly higher OPS against the latter (.854). Contreras' pop and run-production potential give him a chance to finish as a top-five catcher in 2017.
Contreras spent the whole year with Double-A Tennessee in 2015 and easily had the best season of his professional career. The 23-year-old backstop batted .333 with 75 RBI and 71 runs for the Smokies and has played his way into the Cubs' long-term plans. With Kyle Schwarber possibly sticking in the outfield, another good year in the minors for Contreras could put him in contention for a spot on the 2017 roster. His BB:K ratio was abysmal coming into 2015, but he learned to take pitches last year, and it paid off in spades. That 57:62 BB:K is appealing, especially coming from a catcher, but he'll need to do it again before we should get too excited.
More Fantasy News
Hits open market
CFree Agent
November 8, 2022
Contreras declined the Cubs' $19.65 million qualifying offer and became a free agent Tuesday, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports.
ANALYSIS
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On bench for season finale
CChicago Cubs
October 5, 2022
Contreras isn't starting Wednesday against the Reds.
ANALYSIS
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Hits 22nd home run
CChicago Cubs
October 4, 2022
Contreras went 2-for-3 with a walk and a solo home run in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Reds.
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Riding pine Monday
CChicago Cubs
October 3, 2022
Contreras isn't in the lineup Monday against Cincinnati.
ANALYSIS
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Sitting Friday
CChicago Cubs
September 30, 2022
Contreras is not in the starting lineup Friday versus the Reds.
ANALYSIS
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