Francisco Cervelli
Francisco Cervelli
33-Year-Old CatcherC
Atlanta Braves
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Cervelli hit .259 with 12 homers and 57 RBI -- good enough to finish as 2018's ninth-best fantasy catcher. At age 33, Cervelli seems to be developing more power, as many catchers do later in their careers. He lifted his flyball rate to 41.7%. Unfortunately, he landed on the DL due to a concussion for the fourth time in two seasons, which should temper optimism about his future playing time. In past seasons, Cervelli embodied a "won't hurt you" fantasy catcher. He typically averages somewhere around .250 while perhaps sitting near double-digit homers. In OBP setups, Cervelli warrants more confidence, considering he sports a .362 career rate and hasn't dipped below a 9.0 BB% since 2014. The Pirates could ship Cervelli to hitter-friendly waters as they continue to retool their roster with the long-term picture in mind. After all, they have Elias Diaz, who as things stand now projects to steal at least a couple starts per week from Cervelli. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a one-year contract with the Braves in August of 2019.
Pops homer in KC
CAtlanta Braves
September 25, 2019
Cervelli went 1-for-2 with a solo home run Tuesday in the Braves' 9-6 loss to the Royals.
Cervelli occupied the designated-hitter spot for the first of two games in Kansas City and was able to cut the Braves' deficit to four when he slugged his third homer of the season in the fifth inning. According to Mark Bowman of, the final bench spot on the Braves' postseason roster will likely come down to either Cervelli or rookie Austin Riley, and the veteran seems to have the edge at the moment. Along with providing a third catching option and backup at first base behind Freddie Freeman (elbow), Cervelli is also running hotter at the plate than Riley, who has struck out in 16 of his 31 at-bats since rejoining the Braves earlier in September.
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Batting Order Slot Breakdown
vs Right-Handed Pitchers
vs RHP
vs Left-Handed Pitchers
vs LHP
Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2017
Since 2017vs Left .709 206 20 6 30 2 .225 .345 .364
Since 2017vs Right .755 662 65 14 70 1 .253 .354 .402
2019vs Left .510 35 3 1 3 0 .156 .229 .281
2019vs Right .690 125 12 2 9 1 .229 .323 .367
2018vs Left .803 103 11 4 16 2 .244 .388 .415
2018vs Right .811 301 28 8 41 0 .264 .375 .436
2017vs Left .677 68 6 1 11 0 .237 .338 .339
2017vs Right .722 236 25 4 20 0 .252 .343 .379
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2017
OPS on Road
OPS at Home
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
Since 2017Home .714 414 38 8 41 3 .237 .358 .357
Since 2017Away .770 454 47 12 59 0 .255 .346 .424
2019Home .699 66 8 1 7 1 .236 .354 .345
2019Away .615 94 7 2 5 0 .198 .266 .349
2018Home .748 206 17 5 23 2 .236 .373 .376
2018Away .869 198 22 7 34 0 .281 .384 .485
2017Home .674 142 13 2 11 0 .238 .338 .336
2017Away .744 162 18 3 20 0 .259 .346 .399
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Stat Review
How does Francisco Cervelli 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.
    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.
BB Rate
K Rate
Exit Velocity
86.9 mph
Hard Hit Rate
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Defensive Stats
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Cervelli has averaged 402 plate appearances with a .274/.365/.369 line and a 0.58 BB/K over the past three seasons. That's hardly exciting offense, but he's fueled by that helpful batting eye and he hasn't had a contact rate below 77.2 percent in any of those years. It's a skill set that won't harm two-catcher lineups. However, while backstops often generate more offense late in their careers, the soon-to-be 32-year-old seems like a weak bet for such a breakthrough, considering his career 50.0 percent groundball rate, which pegs him for single-digit homers most years. Injuries have piled up, including hand- and hamstring-related absences last season, but Cervelli boasts a fine reputation as a pitch framer. That should help keep him in the primary role to begin 2018.
For the eighth time in nine MLB seasons, Cervelli missed significant action after breaking his hamate bone in June. Never known for power, the catcher hit just one home run (on Sept. 22) in 393 plate appearances. Cervelli's slash line of .264/.377/.322 varied little before or after surgery. While he offers little in the way of power -- his seven homers in 2015 represent a career high -- he does hold a .280 career batting average. The backstop, who's consistently been ranked among the top pitch-framers in baseball, signed a contract extension in the summer worth $31 million for three years. He'll see as much time as his fragile body allows as one of Pittsburgh's highest paid players.
Cervelli exceeded expectations in 2015. First, and most importantly, he stayed healthy and caught a career-best 128 games. Second, he softened the blow of losing Russell Martin to free agency by slashing .295/.370/.401 with seven homers and 43 RBI. Even a .360 BABIP is offset by the fact he carries a career mark of .344 — surprisingly high for a catcher. Cervelli threw out only 22 percent (29 of 102) of would-be basestealers, but there’s no reason why he can’t put up relatively strong offensive numbers again in 2016, provided he can stay healthy. Just keep in mind that he has slugged .389 in parts of eight major league seasons, never exceeding four home runs at any level before last year.
Two weeks into the 2014 campaign, Cervelli suffered a severe right hamstring strain while attempting to beat out a groundball at first base. Given the extent of the injury, the Yankees went ahead and bypassed the 15-day DL, instead giving Cervelli a 60-day designation and recalling John Ryan Murphy to serve as the backup to Brian McCann. Cervelli didn't need much more than the 60 days, as he returned to the active roster June 17, and went on to slash .314/.386/.461 with two homers in 114 plate appearances after the All-Star break. He began experiencing painful headaches in September, a troubling sign given his history of concussion issues, but Cervelli would return to play in nine more games before the end of the year, and the Pirates, whom acquired Cervelli in November, seem to have every intent to keep him behind the plate. In fact, he is expected to be the successor to the starting role in Pittsburgh, with Russell Martin departing via free agency in the offseason. Cervelli could make for an intriguing second-catcher option in deeper leagues just based off the workload, but he's never hit more than four homers in a season as a professional.
Cervelli had a clear path to playing time with the Yankees in 2013, but the combination of a concussion and a Biogenesis-related suspension left him behind Chris Stewart in the pecking order. The Yankees will bring Cervelli back for 2014, and if he does get playing time he can put up a decent empty batting average that can help in very deep leagues. However, he will be limited to a backup role if he makes the roster out of spring training following the team's addition of Brian McCann in November.
Cervelli has had a tumultous offseason, as he's appeared on client lists for the controversial Biogenesis lab, but has denied using any banned substances. Cervelli spent much of 2012 in the minor leagues after the Yankees turned to Chris Stewart, a superior defender to Cervelli, as their backup catcher behind Russell Martin. With Martin gone, the Yankees appear to be leaning toward Cervelli's offense over Stewart's defense as the near-term starter, but what offense Cervelli does provide only might consist of some empty batting average and decent on-base skills. Cervelli's most extended major league trial saw him hit .271 with a .359 OBP and 38 RBI over 266 at bats in 2010, and he's been trending downward ever since. He also may just be keeping the seat warm for Austin Romine later on in 2013, and perhaps for the far superior hitting prospect Gary Sanchez in the 2015 range.
Cervelli is a serviceable enough backup catcher, and the Yankees like both his defense and his personality, but if Jesus Montero can demonstrate even a basic level of competence to play 20-30 games behind the plate, Cervelli is likely to be out of a job. He's unlikely to hit enough to ever be a full-time starter, but he should carve out a career as a backup somewhere.
With Jorge Posada battling injuries and demonstrating increasing defensive deficiencies, Cervelli logged over 300 plate appearances last season. He makes decent contact and was good at generating walks (.359 OBP), but his .335 slugging percentage means the Yankees are basically devoid of any power from the catching position when he's in the lineup. Posada will transition to DH in 2011, leaving Cervelli and Russell Martin to handle the bulk of the playing time behind the plate until prospects Jesus Montero and Austin Romine are ready to enter the picture.
Cervelli’s defensive prowess is rarely questioned; it’s his production with the bat in his hands that has some scouts believing he’ll top out as a reserve catcher in the bigs. He made some strides at the plate in 2009, hitting .298 with a .309 OBP in 94 at-bats with the Yankees, though he’s still almost completely devoid of home-run power. Still, his superb work behind the dish led New York to let the aging Jose Molina walk, so they may rely primarily on Cervelli as the No. 2 backstop behind Jorge Posada in 2010.
A wrist injury took away most of Cervelli's 2008 season, but he did manage to put together a .315/.432/.384 line at Double-A before getting a late-season callup to the Yankees for depth behind the plate at Triple-A. He hasn't swung the bat well enough in the minors to get fantasy owners excited about him, but Cervelli is excellent defensively and should have a future in the big leagues as a capable reserve. Jorge Posada is expected to be ready for Opening Day, so veteran Jose Molina will slot in as the team's backup catcher barring an unforeseen setback. Unless another devastating injury strikes, Cervelli will spend most of 2009 at Triple-A preparing to take over as the eventual No. 2 backstop in New York.
More Fantasy News
Back in action
CAtlanta Braves
September 21, 2019
Cervelli (finger) is in the lineup Saturday against the Giants.
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Dealing with minor finger injury
CAtlanta Braves
September 18, 2019
Cervelli hasn't played since Sept. 10 after sustaining a laceration on his left ring finger, Mark Bowman of reports.
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Cleared to play Monday
CAtlanta Braves
September 2, 2019
Cervelli (quadriceps) will start at catcher and bat seventh Monday against the Blue Jays.
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Remains out Saturday
CAtlanta Braves
August 31, 2019
Cervelli (quadriceps) remains out of the lineup Saturday against the White Sox.
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Out of Friday's lineup
CAtlanta Braves
August 30, 2019
Cervelli (quadriceps) is not in the lineup for Friday's game against the White Sox.
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