Fantasy Baseball: Catcher Rankings – Points

Will Schwarber's approach at the plate pay off in 2016?

As it’s just past Christmas, I thought it was time to give all you fantasy baseball fans a present (albeit a late one) with some early catcher rankings for points leagues. Sadly, this is really only a small gift given the terrible state of the catcher position in general. The loss of Evan Gattis has compounded the misery of this position (he finished second in both formats last year!). But thankfully Kyle Schwarber played just enough games to qualify, so it could have been a lot worse. There are a lot of question marks here this year with the second half collapses of Stephen Vogt, Sal Perez and Yasmani Grandal castin doubts over what looked a solid group. Then you also have Jonathan Lucroy, who was a disaster for owners last season, and we also had injuries to Matt Wieters, Travis d’Arnaud and Devin Mesoraco.

Unfortunately, this is the issue with catchers; the job they do nearly every day is extremely stressful on their bodies and small injuries and niggles can have a massive effect on their season. Often it’s the niggles, which are the worst because they aren’t always disclosed and they play through them just at a lower level of performance.

This year my hitter rankings and tiers will be based off my own projections, which I have produced this year and they are the only projections I will be using during my drafts (I also use ADP for the site I am drafting on to help make decisions).

Each position will not only be ranked, but will be split into tiers as if I was drafting tomorrow. If you haven’t used tiers before it is a very helpful way of looking at how talent pools at that position and whether it is worth drafting a player right at the spot you are considering him. My general rule of thumb is I don’t want to take the first guy from a tier if I can avoid it (Unless there is only one guy in said tier!).

The Untouchable

  1. Buster Posey, SF

There is nothing really to say other than this man is a force of nature. Last year he outscored the second place catcher by over 100 points (The same as the difference between second and 11th) and he is projected not far off that this year (depending on how you judge Lucroy).

The Elite

  1. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL
  2. Kyle Schwarber, CHC

I am a big fan of Lucroy and I think he bounces back close to what he was before last year and reclaims his spot at number two. However, he is now far closer to the field than he is to Posey in this list. Schwarber being a catcher eligible this year is a massive bonus considering he didn’t play many games behind the plate last season. I love his talent and his power, but his strikeouts scare me to no end and its why I put Lucroy just above him. But there is a big gap between these two and Posey for me.

The Solid Options

  1. Salvador Perez, KC
  2. Russell Martin, TOR
  3. Brian McCann, NYY
  4. Travis d’Arnaud, NYM

This is a nice group to target the last one available because all three are solid, dependable players who play regularly either behind the plate or in the DH/1B spot. I nearly included Perez in the tier above on sheer volume of AB’s, but I don’t quite think he’s the hitter Lucroy is and he lacks the upside enough to be in the discussion with Schwarber. Martin will play virtually every day in Toronto with a stacked lineup around him and will have hot and cold streaks, but should be far away from the top five discussion come the end of the season. McCann is perhaps the closest to Schwarber in terms of power, but without the strikeouts, however, there just isn’t the potential monster 30-homer upside even in a friendly ballpark for him. d’Arnaud‘s season was derailed by injury last year but he should be capable of bouncing back this year will be comfortable top 10 option for fantasy owners. His injury issues from last year scare me far less than the guys in the next tier down.

The Breakable but Talented

Can Matt Wieters bounce back to his top 5 potential in 2016?

Can Matt Wieters bounce back to his top 5 potential in 2016?

  1. Matt Wieters, BAL
  2. Devin Mesoraco, CIN

My projections place Matt Wieters above McCann, but the injury fears hold him back. In deeper leagues (14 teams or Two-Catcher) then I perhaps slide him a few spots lower based on the risk of losing him for most of the season. If he can stay healthy then he is undeniably talented enough to be top five. Mesoraco is another guy with a ton of upside but lost almost all of last season with an injury making him tough to trust. There is potential 20-homer upside here but there is plenty of injury unknowns entering the season.

The Low End Starters

  1. Yan Gomes, CLE
  2. Derek Norris, SD
  3. Stephen Vogt, OAK
  4. Yasmani Grandal, LAD

I feel like Gomes is on my sleepers list every season and I always end up disappointed. He has mid-level power and mid-level strikeouts for the position, but I expect Cleveland to be real challengers in the central this year and I think he has a good year in the middle of a decent line-up. Norris had a really good start to 2014 before he slowed down in the second half and I have concerns this year about the amount of catchers that San Diego are stockpiling. Vogt was unbelievable last season and came out of nowhere to be a top 5 catcher last season. I’m not sure he can repeat this year in the team first mentality of Oakland but I think he is a solid starter. Grandal is the sort of guy that is nice to have because he plays a lot and has power but on the counter he disappoints a lot with low average and just general streaks of bad performance.

The Depends on Surgery

  1. Yadier Molina, STL

Molina could easily be a top 10 catcher, but he could just as easily be outside the top 20 depending on how bounces back from surgery. I am always concerned when a player is already slated to not play spring training because any minor setback means he is misses in season playing time.

The Could Break Out

Swihart will be looking to full fill his potential in 2016

Swihart will be looking to full fill his potential in 2016

  1. Blake Swihart, BOS

My projections have Swihart lower than I am comfortable with, but they are based off one small season sample size so I’ve boosted him to here where I feel he should only go up from come seasons end. This is a great guy to have if you can spare the bench space and perhaps already drafted Wieters or Mesoraco. Swihart is someone I will be happy with as my starter if I miss out on any value earlier in the draft and he sits there as the best guy available come the late rounds. I’m not selling him here but young guys playing catcher worry me as they learn their staff and focus on the toughest job in baseball.

The High End Two-Catcher Options

  1. Wellington Castillo, ARI
  2. Wilson Ramos, WSH
  3. Francisco Cervelli, PIT
  4. T. Reamuto, MIA
  5. James McCann, DET
  6. J. Piersynski, ATL

I don’t really have a lot to say about this group other than they should all play regularly and be solid enough to be better than the guys below but aren’t good enough for me to take over the gamble Molina and Swihart offer. I would be satisfied if I leave my draft with any of these as my number two catcher, but I would be disappointed if they are my number one. Castillo has some power upside given he will play half his games in ‘zona and a decent number in Coors.

The Two-Catcher Options with Upside

  1. Dioneer Navarro, CWS
  2. Carlos Perez, LAA
  3. Alex Avila, CWS
  4. John Ryan Murphy, MIN

The White Sox guys could easily be in the tier above if I knew one of them was going to start 100-115 games, but right now they devalue each other quite a bit. I like Perez but he is more of a defensive-like cather than an offensive one. Murphy will play every day in an improving Twins team and could give you some decent performances but won’t set the world on fire.

The I’m Only Ranking Them Because I Have To

  1. Nick Hundley, COL
  2. Miguel Montero, CHC
  3. Chris Iannetta, SEA
  4. Jason Castro, HOU
  5. Robinson Chirinos, TEX

These guys are all the number one options for their teams and can just fill a spot and give you AB’s. Sorry I cannot see any other positives to owning this group!

 

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