Monday, January 13, 2014

Fantasy Focus: Catcher Rankings

The catcher position takes a bit of a hit in 2014 due to Mike Napoli's loss of eligibility for the position and Ryan Doumit's trade to the NL Atlanta Braves which is likely to severely depress his playing time. Buster Posey's disappointing 2013 season brings him back to the pack so the position not only gets shallower, but less exciting at the top.  Here is a list of my current catcher fantasy rankings along with last year's production of the standard fantasy categories:

1.  Buster Posey, Giants:  61 R, 15 HR, 72 RBI, 2 SB, .294 BA, 520 AB.  Obviously fantasy owners who draft Buster will be counting on this being his floor and a bounceback in 2014.  His ability to slide over to 1B gives him more AB's than most catchers.

2.  Brian McCann, Yankees:  43 R, 20 HR, 57 RBI, 0 SB, .256 BA, 356 AB.  McCann finally seemed to be healthy at the end of last season and that short porch in Yankee Stadium would seem to be tailor made for him.  Health has been the big issue for several seasons now.

3.  Wilin Rosario, Rockies:  63 R, 21 HR, 79 RBI, 4 SB, .292 BA, 449 AB.  A move to LF is reportedly being considered, but he will retain his catcher eligibility for at least 1 more season even if the LF gig is full time.

4.  Carlos Santana, Indians:  75 R, 20 HR, 74 RBI, 3 SB, .268 BA, 541 AB.  Santana plays 1B and DH's a lot, so is usually going to get more AB's than any other catcher, which is extremely important in fantasy baseball.

5.  Joe Mauer, Twins:  62 R, 11 HR, 47 RBI, 0 SB, .324 BA, 445 AB.  Obviously, the hope here is that moving to 1B fulltime will keep him healthier and get his AB up to around 600.  He retains catcher eligibility for 1 more season so 2014 is the year to take advantage of the extra AB's.

6.  Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers:  59 R, 18 HR, 82 RBI, 9 SB, .280 BA, 521 AB.  Very underrated catcher who took a step up in power in 2013.  He's always given great BA and he even chips in a few SB's!  He's a solid value if he's the 6'th catcher off the board or lower.

7.  Yadier Molina, Cardinals:  68 R, 12 HR, 80 RBI, 3 SB, .319 BA, 505 AB.  Molina gives you tremendous durability and steady production.  He's starting to get a bit long in the tooth and you have to wonder how long he can keep it up.

8.  Matt Wieters, Orioles:  59 R, 22 HR, 79 RBI, 2 SB, .235 BA, 523 AB.  Perennial breakout candidate who will probably never break out.  Gives you dingers.

9.  Salvador Perez, Royals:  59 R, 13 HR, 79 RBI, 0 SB, .292 BA, 496 AB.  Another value pick if he's the 8'th or 9'th catcher off the board.  Value drops off significantly after him.

10.  Jason Castro, Astros:  63 R, 18 HR, 56 RBI, 2 SB, .276 BA, 435 AB.  Castro the Astro.  Emerged as a third tier starting catcher last year.  You can wait on him and hope he makes further progress in 2014.

11. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marlins:  68 R, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 4 SB, .273 BA, 425 AB.  He was my fantasy catcher at the end of last season and I was satisfied with his production. He even won me a SB category one week with a SB in a Sunday night game!  The problem with him is despite being a switch-hitter, he really only hits from the left side and his power may take a hit moving to Miami.

12.  Wilson Ramos, Nationals:  29 R, 16 HR, 59 RBI, 0 SB, .272 BA, 287 AB.  Could be a major value if his AB's get closer to 500.  Not a bad choice if you don't want to spend anything on the catcher position.

13.  AJ Pierzynski, Red Sox:  48 R, 17 HR, 70 RBI, 1 SB, .272 BA, 503 AB.  Shows up to play every day and you can pretty much count on this production from him which is not that much less than what you might get from the top 3-4 dudes.

14.  Evan Gattis, Braves:  44 R, 21 HR, 65 RBI, 0 SB, .243 BA, 354 AB.  Started out like a house afire last year, then tailed off considerably.  Is probably first in line to be the starting catcher in Atlanta with the loss of Brian McCann.  Playing time is a bit iffy as is the sustainability of his offensive production.

15.  Devin Mesocoro, Reds:  31 R, 9 HR, 42 RBI, 0 SB, .238 BA, 323 AB.  Ryan Hanigan's move to Tampa Bay clears the way for Mesocoro's playing time to increase.  A new manager might help too!  With an additional year of experience and a step up in playing time, we could see a modest breakout in 2014.

16.  Russell Martin, Pirates:  51 R, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 9 SB, .226 BA, 438 AB.  Martin gives you dingers and a few SB's but his BA will never do you any favors.

While it would be nice to have one of the top 4 or 5 guys on your fantasy team, I would not want to spend more than a 8-10 round pick or $15 in an auction on the position.  There is enough production in the 10-15 range here that you can probably afford to wait until the end of the draft and fill your catcher position for essentially nothing.

4 other names to watch closely:  Thanks to a tip from Pato in the comments, Yan Gomes with Cleveland is a sleeper to watch.  He could make it possible for them to move Santana to full time 1B/DH.  Mike Zunino of the Mariners and Travis D'Arnaud of the Mets are poised to move into starting catcher roles.    They both have high ceilings but have gotten off to slow starts in their MLB careers.  Yasmani Grandal should be back at full strength for the Padres and ready to challenge Nick Hundley for the starting role there.


  1. Do you think Hector can put up Wilin's numbers playing in Colorado or Lucroy's in Milwaukee?

    1. Given 400+ AB's per season and a little experience, yes, I think Hector Sanchez has the potential to be at least a 2'nd tier starting catcher in MLB.

  2. No Yan Gomes on your list? Seems like he could be a sleeper if Cleveland decides to move the black magic woman to first base. Catcher is such a black hole in fantasy now more than I can remember and I'm going to wait and take more chances on guys like Gomes or Perez or Gattis.

    1. I'll check out Yan Gomes. Gotta admit the Cleveland roster is a bit of a black hole to me.

    2. Gomes looks good. Thanks for the tip, Pato.