2014 Catcher Tiers: Roto

I'm banking on a big bounce back from Lucroy in 2016

For the second tiers article I make the walk 90 feet back to home plate from first to look at the catchers you will be drafting to anchor your fantasy teams this year. Now catcher is a tricky position in fantasy because so many of the players have significantly less AB’s than players of other position and so weighing up how much of a contribution a catcher will make to your team is always that little bit more difficult.

Once again within the tiers I will be outlining what categories players ‘excel’ at in comparison to the other players in their tiers. This is because in a roto draft you need to have a balance of categories in order to take home the prize. Winning steals by 70 but finishing last in every other batting category scores you just 14 points in a 10 team league but finishing 5th in all five categories nets you 30 points and that really outlines the need for balance across your roster.

Within each tier players are ranked according to ADP taken from fantasypros.com

Elite: Posey (HR’s/Average), Mauer (Runs/Average)

Both of these men will put up elite average for you and they are also fairly even in RBI and steals. Neither guy plays in a power friendly park so they aren’t going to be putting up 20+ HR’s like some of the guys in the tiers below but 15-20 HR’s from someone like Posey who will put up great numbers elsewhere is not to be ignored. Mauer will likely only hit 10-15 HR’s but with the added playing time from his switch to first base he should put up 90+ runs. Currently you can draft Mauer on average 20 picks later than Posey and their numbers are fairly similar.

Step Below: Santana (Runs), Molina (Average), Rosario (HR’s), Lucroy (RBI/Steals/Average), Wieters (HR’s/RBI)

Image Courtesy of MLB.com

This is a tough group to call but my personal favourite is Lucroy as he is the best all round of the group matching everyone but Santana in runs, beating everyone but Molina in average, second only to Wieters in RBI as well as the predicted leader of steals. His biggest flaw is perhaps HR’s where he is outstripped by everyone except Molina. Santana is an attractive option because he will gain extra AB’s now that he is playing a combination of first, third and DH. Rosario has perhaps the most potential to become an elite option being a power hitter in a power friendly park but with his average being the lowest of the group he could also end up dropping a tier. Molina has perhaps the highest floor but he also has the lowest ceiling and is the least exciting option of the group. Wieters just sneaks into the bottom of this group as he is a power hitting guy in a great line up. He should put up 20+ homers with 80+RBI.

Solid: McCann (HR’s), Perez (RBI/Average), Gattis (HR’s), Ramos (Average), Castro, Gomes (Runs), d’Arnaud (Average)

This tier is really the last tier of legitimate starters in a 12 team league before you get into the players with big flaws so if you haven’t already got your catcher by this point you need to make sure one of these is your man. McCann is being drafted around the same time as Lucroy but is projected worse than Lucroy in all but HR’s. His big advantage over the guys in this tier is he gets to hit in Yankees stadium which will favour his power. Perez is the guy many have primed for a breakout this year but playing in KC seriously hurts his power and stops him getting into a higher tier. Gattis may see extra playing time over other catchers with his OF eligibility and if he can carry last year’s form over he has the potential to step up at least one tier. Ramos will hit for around 270 but he doesn’t have the power of Gattis or McCann. Castro is just literally average for this tier in most categories and doesn’t excel anywhere. Gomes should see full time numbers this year with Santana transitioning to first/third/DH and should put up solid numbers but nothing more. d’Arnaud is another man whose power is hampered by his park but he should be a solid late round option to round off a roster.

1 Catcher Back Ups: Pierzynski (RBI/Average), Saltalamacchia (Runs/RBI), M.Montero (Runs), Martin (Steals), Navarro (Average), Mesoraco (Average), Zunino

Image courtesy of MLBreports

Thinking of one of these guys as my starting catcher makes me shudder because while none are truly terrible they are a complete step down from the tier above. Not one of these guys excels on the power front with all seven projected for 13 or 14 homers (the same as the worst guy in the tier above). Pierzynski flashed in moments with Texas last year and he has gone from one hitters park to another but he will still struggle to do much more than hit a decent average and put up decent RBI numbers batting in a good line up. Salty has moved to a worse park for hitters with a worse line up around him but he will likely get the opportunity to bat in the middle of the line-up allowing him to put up good runs and RBI numbers. Montero is very much middle of the road amongst this tier but has a slight bump over the majority is runs; he is a very unexciting option. Those steals I’ve outlined Martin being good for is nothing to write home about as its 5-10 at most and after that he is distinctly average. The last three in this tier have some interesting upside as they are all young guys looking at full time AB’s for the first year. Navarro will bat behind a strong line up so may get the plenty of RBI chances with a good average. Mesoraco has a real chance of putting up decent power in a homer friendly park and is perhaps your best shot for late power in this category. Zunino is the worst in the group for average and RBIs but should put up decent runs and average power.

2 Catcher: Avila (Runs/HR/RBI), Ruiz (Average), Ellis (Runs/RBI), Soto (HR’s), Jaso (Runs/Average)

Avila is the man with the most upside here in a fantastic line up but his 230ish average is a big drawback. Ruiz will hit for a decent average but his line-up is scratchy at best and he won’t hit for much power. Ellis is another upside play in that Dodger line-up and will hit for a better average than Avila but with less power. Soto is in the right place for power and will hit behind a fantastic group of hitters but his average is worse than bad. Jaso could play mostly at DH this year but in a team known for their platoons he will be in and out of the line-up a lot.

Desperation: Doumit (Average), Castillo (RBI), Pinto (Runs/Average), Norris, Grandal (Average), J.Montero (HR’s/RBI), Ianetta, Phegley (RBI), Suzuki (Runs/RBI), Vogt (Runs)

If you are taking one of these guys then you have either completely messed up your draft at the catcher position or you’re in a VERY deep league. If you’re shooting for upside then the two names I have for you from this group are Pinto and Grandal. Pinto needs to beat out Suzuki but if he does then the job could be all his and he has great potential even in a tough hitters park. Grandal is returning from a drugs suspension last year and his performance this year is a massive unknown, he should put up a strong average but he is struggling to return from injury in a bad hitter’s park. As for the rest of the group you’re only taking them if you’re desperate as there very little in the way of multi category help here.

So to sum up catcher if you’re in a 12-14 team 1 catcher league you are fairly sure of a guy from one of the top three tiers but once your league gets deeper than that you need to make sure you have one of those guys because this position gets messy fast. In a 2 catcher league its best to strike early but even the best catchers don’t match up to the top guys at other positions so my advice would be don’t sacrifice another position when you could wait a couple of rounds and get a similar level talent at catcher.

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