2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide: Catcher Over/Unders
In years past, we’ve taken a look at my stat, total run index, and used it to forge our position rankings. Somewhere along the way I made a stark discovery: sometimes advanced mathematics and fantasy sports don’t mix. First, it was hard to make those figures translate into something fantasy players could readily use. You could rank players with it, but it wouldn’t tell you how many home runs a guy would hit or whether someone would steal 30 bases. Secondly, looking at a player’s sabermetric value is not necessarily the same as their fantasy value. So, it’s time for a change.
In this series, we will be going back to the future by looking at the basic fantasy categories. For each player we will look at their production over the past three seasons (or as long as they have been playing if it is less) and then project those numbers over 150 games played. We will rank those players based on their per 150 game results. It should be noted that these rankings should be taken with some levity. Most player rankings are based on performance trends and health projections. These are two things that the per 150 game rankings do not account for. So, we will also project whether each player come in over (better) or under (worse) than their projected position. We are evaluating the top twenty-four catchers in this edition.
Welington Castillo— Chicago Cubs
Per 150 Game Numbers: .257/14/46/55
Per 150 Catcher Rank: 20
When choosing over and under we have to consider a couple of different factors. First, catchers aren’t likely to play 150 games. That much is a given. However, we want to allow you to compare these players to other positions. Even given that caveat, Castillo projects as either a backup in Chicago or a platoon player somewhere else.
Jason Castro— Houston Astros
Per 150 Game Numbers: .250/17/61/64
Per 150 Catcher Rank: 17
The three year aggregate can be misleading. Castro’s 2013 season was brilliant and lured many a fan into thinking he was a fantasy regular. I was one of those. Instead, Castro has played a total of four seasons and only one really approached this aggregate. That’s what happens when one season is over and above the aggregate by a wide margin.
Travis d’Arnauld— New York Mets
Per 150 Game Numbers: .233/15/56/50
Per 150 Catcher Rank: 22
In an offseason piece on the website, we looked at potential breakout players and d’Arnauld was one of the biggest candidates among catchers to break out. He began to find himself late last season and we have to think that the development will continue. He could eventually turn into a .260/15/60/60 guy.
Evan Gattis— Houston Astros
Per 150 Game Numbers– .253/30/60/82
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 3
This is one is still up in the air because he may either move into the outfield with the Astros or move to first base and designated hitter. A move to the outfield means more games played and more counting statistics. The problem with Gattis is that he isn’t particularly patient at the plate and you can’t help but think that will catch up with him eventually.
Yan Gomes— Cleveland Indians
Per 150 Game Numbers: .276/20/65/70
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 11
This is a hard call. Gomes seems to get better with more playing time and Carlos Santana will be playing more games at first base than he will behind the plate. Vegas doesn’t allow you to push an over/under line, so I won’t cop out here either, but I think the numbers above are pretty close to what you would get over 150 games.
Chris Iannetta— Los Angeles Angels
Per 150 Game Numbers: .238/13/54/54
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 23
Yes, he barely makes the ranking list and yes I am betting the under. You get the feeling that the Angels are just waiting for someone to come along to take the job. Of course, this underestimates Iannetta’s ability to get on base. Unfortunately, a good percentage of leagues don’t even consider the on base element.
Jonathan Lucroy— Milwaukee Brewers
Per 150 Game Numbers: .297/16/67/79
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 5
One of the immediate things you will notice with per 150 game numbers is that they start looking really similar. Whenever you see something that looks different (in this case, batting average) you should stand up and take notice. Lucroy has come into his own the past two seasons and I see no reason why it shouldn’t continue.
Russell Martin— Toronto Blue Jays
Per 150 Game Numbers: .241/19/59/71
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 19
Far be it from me to question the Blue Jays on their signing. There is a lot more to consider here than just hitting. Martin is supposedly a top notch receiver and a clubhouse leader. That’s all well and good. I just don’t see Martin putting up the numbers he did last season. His .336 BABIP helped to inflate those numbers some. That being said, he should outproduce this ranking.
Brian McCann— New York Yankees
Per 150 Game Numbers: .238/26/60/82
Per 150 Catcher Rankings: 10
We just looked at the Russell Martin signing and it was modeled after this contract. Of course, 2014 was only one season of the five year contract, so it is impossible to label this contract one way or the other, but it is hard to think too positively about a five year contract to a catcher in his late twenties. That being said, he should have more batted ball luck this year.
Devin Mesoraco— Cincinnati Reds
Per 150 Game Numbers: .249/22/56/75
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 14
This largely depends on whether you think last season was a one year wonder or a predictor of things to come. Based on his pedigree I am going with a predictor of things to come. I think a 20 home run season is probably in the cards and he should do better in terms of run production and batting average.
Yadier Molina— St. Louis Cardinals
Per 150 Game Numbers: .307/16/68/76
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 7
This is what we call a sucker bet in the industry. Molina has had a few very good seasons in a row, but we saw some chinks in the armor last year. He spent some time on the shelf and did not put up the numbers he had in 2012 and 2013. He is getting older and catchers tend to suddenly lose offensive production in their early thirties.
Miguel Montero— Chicago Cubs
Per 150 Game Numbers: .253/15/57/77
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 16
He had a bit of a renaissance last season, but it should be noted that this renaissance still only produced a .243 average and 13 home runs. The Dbacks did the right thing when they traded him to the Cubs. He is probably on his way down and the numbers above do not reflect what he will likely do.
Dioner Navarro— Toronto Blue Jays
Per 150 Game Numbers: .284/16/46/68
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 24
The under bet is based on the fact that he is now the backup in Toronto. I fully expect him to be dealt somewhere by Spring Training, but until that happens he has to be at the bottom of the heap. You could also put former starters A.J. Ellis and A.J. Pierzynski here. Catcher is simply not as deep as the other positions.
Derek Norris— San Diego Padres
Per 150 Game Numbers: .246/14/56/63
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 21
The A’s love to use the power of the platoon. So, Norris’ move to the Padres is a mixed blessing. Petco Park might be the worst hitter’s park in baseball, but he should get more playing time in San Diego than he did in Oakland. So, the counting statistics should see a spike, but he likely will hit for a lower average and lower OBP.
Salvador Perez— Kansas City Royals
Per 150 Game Numbers: .279/17/59/77
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 9
Salvador Perez is what we would call a borderline starter. He will likely get the same kind of bump as other Royals on draft day. He played well last season and enjoyed good health for the first time in 2013 and he built on that success last season. In particular, the power numbers have been steadily improving with each season. Still, this ranking feels a bit too high for me.
Yosmil Pinto— Minnesota Twins
Per 150 Game Numbers: .257/21/67/58
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 12
The Twins signed Kurt Suzuki to a long-term contract, so Pinto will not be playing regularly at least initially. However, if he continues to hit for power and Suzuki turns back into a pumpkin then you will see Pinto get more plate appearances. If that happens then Pinto might actually approach these numbers. I wouldn’t bet on it happening in 2015.
Buster Posey— San Francisco Giants
Per 150 Game Numbers: .314/21/71/89
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 2
The Giants have been making noise about moving Buster Posey to first base. At the very least, he will continue to play a number of games there. If that continues then he will actually get into close to 150 games. In that situation, we can bet that he will approach 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs. He should be the first catcher off the board.
Wilson Ramos— Washington Nationals
Per 150 Game Numbers: .269/24/57/91
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 4
Ramos gets the under simply because history shows he isn’t likely to go through an entire season healthy. However, his per 150 game statistics reveal that he is underrated. If you choose to punt catcher on draft day you can select him later and get starter level performance while he is healthy. Just make sure you have another competent catcher on your bench when needed.
Wilin Rosario— Colorado Rockies
Per 150 Game Numbers: .277/27/77/89
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 1
Rosario is an enigma at this point. He had a down year last year which might make him a bit of a sleeper this year. Working through the various levels of Rosario is likely working your way through an onion. Rosario’s defense is limited and so his playing time might be more limited. That’s if he stays behind the plate. There are rumors of him being dealt which means he could wind up somewhere else on the diamond. That could mean even more plate appearances.
Carlos Ruiz— Philadelphia Phillies
Per 150 Game Numbers: .282/13/61/65
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 15
I’ve always really liked Ruiz, but he is a great example of the difference between real baseball and fantasy baseball. A career .357 OBP indicates that he has some hidden value in leagues that feature a walks or on base component. In standard leagues his lack of power will leave you underwhelmed.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia— Miami Marlins
Per 150 Game Numbers: .239/21/70/71
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 13
He was once part of a trade that netted the Atlanta Braves Mark Teixeira. Sooner or later, you learn to appreciate what a player is rather than what you expect him to be. He draws a fair number of walks, so like Ruiz, his value is hidden. Yet, most of the per 150 numbers come from a stellar 2012 season. That season sticks out like a sore thumb now.
Carlos Santana— Cleveland Indians
Per 150 Game Numbers: .245/23/72/79
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 6
He seems about as much a lock to play 150 games as any other player on the board. This is mainly because he has become more of a first baseman than catcher. As he moves out from behind the dish, the likelihood is that he will approach the same kind of 30/100/100 numbers we are accustomed to from other first sackers.
Matt Wieters— Baltimore Orioles
Per 150 Game Numbers: .248/24/66/75
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 8
Wieters is a perfect example of the divide between real and fantasy baseball. In real baseball, he leaves a lot to be desired. He doesn’t get on base and so his value is limited. In fantasy baseball, he fills out the stat sheet with impressive power numbers and run production numbers. Since he was hurt a year ago, we have to regard him with some skepticism though.
Mike Zunino— Seattle Mariners
Per 150 Game Numbers: .203/22/60/61
Per 150 Catcher Ranking: 18
The Mariners are adding a bunch of offense. Of course, this seems to be an annual affair with them. By the time you read this, they may have already have added Melky Cabrera in addition to Nelson Cruz. Add that to Robinson Cano and Austin Jackson from last season and you can see the pressure lifting from Zunino. He will likely break out at some point and 2015 might well be the season.