Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fantasy Focus: Worst Case Scenario- Catcher

One of the exercises I like to do in preparing for a fantasy draft is look at what I call Worst Case Scenarios at specific positions.  What I mean by that is what might be available at a given position if I wait until the last pick of the draft for it, or if I run completely out of money in an auction and have just $1 to spend.  Or, what if I wake up the morning after the draft, look at my roster and say OMG, what was I thinking?!

There are several ways to look at this.  For me, there are two key numbers I look at:  1.  How many teams are in your league which tells you something about how many players are going to be rostered in the league at a given position.  2.  How many total players are going to be drafted?

I play in a 10 team league, so there will be a minimum of 10 players drafted for each position.  We don't distinguish OF's so that means there will be a minimum of 30 OF's.  We also have IF, and 2 UT slots which are usually filled by corner IF's or OF's, but occasionally by a MI and rarely by a catcher.  We roster a total of 26 players when you count bench slots, maybe 28 if you count DL slots, so there will be 260 players drafted, with a few going on the DL as soon as the season starts for those managers who draft an injured player to stash him for later in the season.  Of course, you can do the same exercise for a 12 team league or larger.  The larger the league, the slimmer the pickings at the end of the draft and the more pressure to spend for a better player early.

Catcher is a nice place to start for several reasons:  1.  Catcher tends to be an offensive challenged position and most catchers do not play every day, so managers are less likely to carry more than one catcher.  2.  Catcher is a position that is vulnerable to injury and as in #1, they don't play every day anyway, so most managers would prefer to not spend their auction $$$ or high draft picks on a catcher who might end up injured or not play every day.

With that introduction, let's take a look at who you want to have marked down as you Worst Case Scenario pick at catcher in case someone else targets the same $3 catcher you do and starts a bidding war you would rather not get into or in a snake draft if someone takes your last catcher 2 picks before your turn comes up.  The good news here is that if you are in a 10 team league and someone grabs your #10 catcher early, there is about a 95% chance that another catcher you ranked higher will drop to you!

Here is a list of Yahoo's top 10 catchers as of right now:

1. Buster Posey
2. Joe Mauer
3. Carlos Santana
4. Victor Martinez
5. Yadier Molina
6.  Matt Wieters
7.  Wilin Rosario
8.  Miguel Montero
9.  Mike Napoli
10. Salvador Perez.

Note that the first 4 names and 6 out of the 10 have missed significant time in their careers due to injury.

My personal targets for my draft are Wilin Rosario in the $10-12 range and Salvador Perez in the $3-5 range.  I am not a fan of Napoli at all.  Montero is reliable but unexciting.  So, who will be left on the board if other managers have the same idea and target Rosario and Perez too, and I don't want to be stuck with Napoli?  Here is Yahoo's next 5:

11. Brian McCann
12. Jesus Montero
13. AJ Pierzynski
14. Jonathan Lucroy
15. Ryan Doumit

Out of those 5, I'm staying far away from McCann due to injury concerns, and I would rather forfeit my league than roster AJP for reasons only Giants fans can appreciate.  Montero is an interesting name who had a solid season last year which nobody seems to appreciate because expectations were so high.  There is a strong feel of post-hype sleeperishness about him which I like a lot.  It doesn't hurt that they are moving the fences in at Safeco Field.  Mark Jesus Montero down as a Worst Case Scenario Catcher pick.  I like Lucroy to as he will help bolster your BA which not all catchers will do.  He's a bit power challenged, but should give you at least double digit dingers and has hit for more power in the past.  Mark another one down!  Ryan Doumit was my pet sleeper from last year and he may be again this year.  He will play mostly other positions but as long as he has fantasy eligibility at catcher, who cares?  He should also be good for a .260-.280 BA with close to 20 dingers.  #3 on my Worst Case Scenario list.!   Since were are talking cheap here, Alex Avila #16/#239 may worth a flyer to see if he can have a bounceback season.

Looking past the #260 overall ranking, there are 3 names that I think is worth keeping in mind:

Welington Castillo, #329.  Castillo should be the Cubs #1 catcher this season.  He hit 5 HR's in 170 AB last year with a .265 BA.  Looking at his minor league record, he could well maintain the BA with around 15 HR's in a full season worth of AB.  Playing time is half the battle in fantasy baseball so having that starting gig in Chicago gives him a leg up. There is some thought that his peripheral numbers portend a regression, but he will also be able to call on big league experience to improve those peripherals.

AJ Ellis hits for a decent average and gets on base at a prodigious rate, but doesn't give you much else.  He did hit 13 HR's last year but his combination of high walk rates and hitting down in the order probably actually hurts his fantasy value as it limits his contributions in counting stats, RBI and Runs.  Still, having a catcher who won't kill your BA is probably a plus.

Jason Castro appears to be finally in line to get a full season's worth of AB's with the downtrodden Astros.  He hit .257 with 6 HR's in 257 AB last year and is ranked #910 overall.  He ain't gonna be drafted!

Worst Case Scenario Catcher Draft Board:

1.  Jesus Montero
2.  Jonathan Lucroy
3.  Ryan Doumit
4.  Alex Avila
5.  Welinton Castillo
6.  AJ Ellis
7.  Jason Castro

One final thought:  If the A's end up running a straight L-R platoon with Derek Norris and John Jaso, so that you can predict when each will be playing based on the handedness of the opposing SP, it might be worth rostering both players and running your own platoon!

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