Fantasy Baseball: Catcher Rankings – Roto

Buster Posey

It’s no surprise that catcher is routinely the least appealing position in fantasy baseball. After all, these are guys who usually hit near the bottom of the order, get plenty of days off, and tend to wear down as the season goes along. With that said, there’s a lot of value to be gained from drafting a dependable backstop. Most notably, it will give you the roster flexibility to concentrate your waiver adds on higher upside players. So with that mind, here are my early 2016 roto rankings for the position (tiers are used to identify players with comparable value).

C    1B    2B    SS    3B    OF    SP    RP

Tier 1 (The Elite)

  1. Buster Posey (SF)

Posey’s elite status at the position remains unquestioned. He provides an unmatched combination of power and average while routinely playing 145-150 games.

Tier 2 (The Near-Elite)

  1. Kyle Schwarber (CHC)
  2. Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)

Schwarber’s power and upside justify this ranking, but I doubt I’ll own him anywhere this year given his inflated ADP. His high strikeout rate is a concern, especially now that teams have a better scouting report on him. I’m not saying he’s going to be a bust, but it may be hard for him to return draft day value. Lucroy is coming off an injury-riddled season and thus could come at a discount. If so, he’s certainly a guy I would target as I fully expect him to return to his previous level of production.

Tier 3 (The Dependable)

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

McCann and Martin are quality players in great situations (lineup, ballpark), and I anticipate both will produce numbers similar to last year’s. d’Arnaud has struggled with injuries the past couple seasons, but he’s still young and if he can stay healthy he should put up numbers in line with the rest of the guys in this tier. Meanwhile, Perez is another guy that I will probably avoid given where he will likely be drafted. I know he’s only 25, but he rarely gets a day off and is coming off two straight seasons with long playoff runs. Though I’m concerned, it must be acknowledged that his durability and usage still likely make him one of the safer catcher options available.

Tier 4 (The Hopeful)

  1. Stephen Vogt (OAK)
  2. Yan Gomes (CLE)
  3. Matt Wieters (BAL)
  4. Devin Mesoraco (CIN)

The upside of this group is actually in line with the previous tier, but it comes with a far greater deal of risk. Vogt was the only one of these players to appear in over 100 games last year and Wieters and Mesoraco each missed over half the season. Still it wouldn’t surprise me to see any of these guys hit 20 homers this year, a total that was reached by only three catchers in 2015. I’d highly recommend taking a shot on one of these players, though it’s probably best if you pair them with a safer option from the next tier.

Tier 5 (The Settlers)

  1. Derek Norris (SD)
  2. Wellington Castillo (ARI)
  3. Yasmani Grandal (LAD)
  4. J.T. Realmuto (MIA)
  5. Francisco Cervelli (PIT)
  6. Blake Swihart (BOS)

Seeing as many fantasy players like to wait on drafting a catcher, this is the group that will likely generate the most interest among those in 10 and 12-team leagues. Realmuto and Swihart are my favorites in this tier, mostly due to their age and potential. Realmuto’s ability to contribute 6-10 stolen bases is a huge advantage and Swihart really came on strong at the end of last season. Castillo is another interesting guy, especially given how well he played after being traded. In 80 games for Arizona he hit 17 homers and had 50 RBI. And while this far exceeded his previous career production rate, the favorable lineup and ballpark make him an intriguing option for 2016. Cervelli is a decent source of average and runs while Norris and Grandal are both safe bets to finish in the top 12-15 at position, albeit with very limited upside.

Tier 6 (The Last Resorts)

  1. Wilson Ramos (WSH)
  2. Yadier Molina (STL)
  3. Miguel Montero (CHC)

Ramos and Montero should give you 14-18 homers, but not much else. The power alone has value, especially in a two catcher league, but in other formats you can probably find a better option. Molina’s age and power drop off are clear reasons for concern. On the plus side, he’s a career .283 hitter who’s durable and in a good lineup. I certainly won’t be targeting him, but if you find yourself in a position where you simply need a catcher who won’t hurt you, he’s not the worst option.

Tier 7 (The Replacements)

  1. Nick Hundley (COL)
  2. James McCann (DET)
  3. A.J. Pierzynski (ATL)
  4. Robinson Chirinos (TEX)

At this point we’re on to players who only have relevance in deeper formats. With that said, I do like Hundley and McCann as value options in the right context. Hundley is going to play half his games in Coors and prior to getting hurt last year he was hitting .301 with 10 homers and 5 stolen bases. McCann played well last year in complementary role and if Detroit is going to let him catch 120+ games this year I can certainly see him moving up a tier or even two during the season. Again, these are players who likely won’t get drafted, but make for a solid temporary replacement if your primary catcher gets hurt.

Tier 8 (The Leftovers)

  1. Carlos Perez (LAA)
  2. Jason Castro (HOU)
  3. Dioner Navarro (CWS)
  4. Josh Phegley (OAK)
  5. J.R. Murphy (MIN)
  6. Chris Iannetta (SEA)

There’s really not much to discuss with this last tier. Perez and Murphy standout simply because it’s too early to conclude if they’re bad. Navarro and Phegley actually both have good power for the position, but they’re unlikely to get enough playing time to contribute in a meaningful way. Basically, if you’re using one of these guys you’re probably going to be streaming catchers on a weekly basis.

And if you need points ranking, you can find those here

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