2014 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2014 Fantasy Baseball: 5×5 Catcher Rankings

rosario land

The first of my positional rankings pieces is finally published for your reading pleasure. They were created with a 5×5 rotisserie format in mind. Pertinent 2013 stats are included with each player, and the stats are from the highest professional level that player played at last season. After the rankings, you’ll find write-ups about five players who ranked significantly higher in my rankings than the expert consensus at Fantasy Pros, and five that ranked significantly lower.

1- Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

2013: 520 AB, 61 R, 15 HR, 72 RBI, 2 SB, .294 AVG, .371 OBP

2- Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

2013: 445 AB, 62 R, 11 HR, 47 RBI, 0 SB, .324 AVG, .404 OBP

3- Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies

2013: 449 AB, 63 R, 21 HR, 79 RBI, 4 SB, .292 AVG, .315 OBP

4- Brian McCann, New York Yankees

2013: 356 AB, 43 R, 20 HR, 57 RBI, 0 SB, .256 AVG, .336 OBP

5- Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians

2013: 541 AB, 75 R, 20 HR, 74 RBI, 3 SB, .268 AVG, .377 OBP

6- Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers

2013: 521 AB, 59 R, 18 HR, 82 RBI, 9 SB, .280 AVG, .340 OBP

7- Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

2013: 505 AB, 68 R, 12 HR, 80 RBI, 3 SB, .319 AVG, .359 OBP

8- Jason Castro, Houston Astros

2013: 435 AB, 63 R, 18 HR, 56 RBI, 2 SB, .276 AVG, .350 OBP

9- Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

2013: 496 AB, 48 R, 13 HR, 79 RBI, 0 SB, .292 AVG, .323 OBP

10- Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals

2013: 287 AB, 29 R, 16 HR, 59 RBI, 0 SB, .272 AVG, .307 OBP

11- Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles

2013: 523 AB, 59 R, 22 HR, 79 RBI, 2 SB, .235 AVG, .287 OBP

12- Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks

2013: 413 AB, 44 R, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 0 SB, .230 AVG, .318 OBP

13- Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves

2013: 354 AB, 44 R, 21 HR, 65 RBI, 0 SB, .243 AVG, .291 OBP

14- Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians

2013: 293 AB, 45 R, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 2 SB, .294 AVG, .345 OBP

15- Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds

2013: 323 AB, 31 R, 9 HR, 42 RBI, 0 SB, .238 AVG, .287 OBP

16- A.J. Pierzynski, Boston Red Sox

2013: 503 AB, 48 R, 17 HR, 70 RBI, 1 SB, .272 AVG, .297 OBP

17- Travis d’Arnaud, New York Mets

2013: 99 AB, 4 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB, .202 AVG, .286 OBP

18- Josmil Pinto, Minnesota Twins

2013: 76 AB, 10 R, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 0 SB, .342 AVG, .398 OBP

19- Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Miami Marlins

2013: 425 AB, 68 R, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 4 SB, .273 AVG, .338 OBP

20- Dioner Navarro, Toronto Blue Jays

2013: 240 AB, 31 R, 13 HR, 34 RBI, 0 SB, .300 AVG, .365 OBP

21- Russell Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates

2013: 438 AB, 51 R, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 9 SB, .226 AVG, .327 OBP

22- Welington Castillo, Chicago Cubs

2013: 380 AB, 41 R, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 2 SB, .274 AVG, .349 OBP

23- Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies

2013: 310 AB, 30 R, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 1 SB, .268 AVG, .320 OBP

24- Mike Zunino, Seattle Mariners

2013: 173 AB, 22 R, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB, .214 AVG, .290 OBP

25-Geovany Soto, Texas Rangers

2013: 163 AB, 20 R, 9 HR, 22 RBI, 1 SB, .245 AVG, .328 OBP

26- Derek Norris, Oakland Athletics

2013: 264 AB, 41 R, 9 HR, 30 RBI, 5 SB, .246 AVG, .345 OBP

27- A.J. Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers

2013: 390 AB, 43 R, 10 HR, 52 RBI, 0 SB, .238 AVG, .318 OBP

28- Yasmani Grandal, San Diego Padres

2013: 88 AB, 13 R, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, .216 AVG, .352 OBP

29- Ryan Doumit, Atlanta Braves

2013: 485 AB, 49 R, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 1 SB, .247 AVG, .314 OBP

30- Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers

2013: 330 AB, 39 R, 11 HR, 47 RBI, 0 SB, .227 AVG, .317 OBP

31- J.P. Arencibia, Texas Rangers

2013: 474 AB, 45 R, 21 HR, 55 RBI, 0 SB, .194 AVG, .227 OBP

32-Hank Conger, Los Angeles Angels

2013: 233 AB, 23 R, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 0 SB, .249 AVG, .310 OBP

33- John Jaso, Oakland Athletics

2013: 207 AB, 31 R, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 2 SB, .271 AVG, .387 OBP

34- Chris Iannetta, Los Angeles Angels

2013: 325 AB, 40 R, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 0 SB, .225 AVG, .358 OBP

35- Nick Hundley, San Diego Padres

2013: 373 AB, 35 R, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 1 SB, .233 AVG, .290 OBP

36- Erik Kratz, Toronto Blue Jays

2013: 197 AB, 21 R, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 0 SB, .213 AVG, .280 OBP

37- Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners

2013: 101 AB, 6 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, .208 AVG, .264 OBP

38- Josh Phegley, Chicago White Sox

2013: 204 AB, 14 R, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 2 SB, .206 AVG, .223 OBP

39-Tyler Flowers, Chicago White Sox

2013: 256 AB, 24 R, 10 HR, 24 RBI, 0 SB, .195 AVG, .247 OBP

40- Kurt Suzuki, Minnesota Twins

2013: 285 AB, 25 R, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 2 SB, .232 AVG, .290 OBP

41- Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics

2013: 135 AB, 18 R, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 0 SB, .252 AVG, .295 OBP

42- Ryan Hanigan, Tampa Bay Rays

2013: 222 AB, 17 R, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 0 SB, .198 AVG, .306 OBP

43- John Buck, Seattle Mariners

2013: 392 AB, 39 R, 15 HR, 62 RBI, 2 SB, .222 AVG, .288 OBP

44- Tony Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates

2013: 60 AB, 9 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB, .233 AVG, .288 OBP

45- George Kottaras, Chicago Cubs

2013: 100 AB, 13 R, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB, .180 AVG, .349 OBP

46- Brayan Pena, Cincinnati Reds

2013 Stats: 229 AB, 19 R, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 0 SB, .297 AVG, .315 OBP

47- Jose Molina, Tampa Bay Rays

2013 Stats: 283 AB, 26 R, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB, .233 AVG, .290 OBP

48- David Ross, Boston Red Sox

2013 Stats: 102 AB, 11 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, .216 AVG, .298 OBP

49- Hector Sanchez, San Francisco Giants

2013 Stats: 129 AB, 8 R, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 0 SB, .248 AVG, .300 OBP

50- Max Stassi, Houston Astros

2013 Stats: 7 AB, 0 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB, .286 AVG, .375 OBP

Ranked significantly higher than the expert consensus

Jason Castro- My Rank: 8, Expert Consensus: 12

I’m completely enamored with Castro. In 786 plate appearances over the last two years combined FanGraphs credits him with a line drive rate north of 25 percent, and an infield flyball rate south of three percent, the guy is making solid contact. That type of hard contact should help alleviate concerns about his BABIP taking a total nose dive from the .351 mark he sported last year. The 26-year old backstop was passable against left-handed pitching, but he creamed right-handed pitchers to the tune of a .286/.358/.506 triple slash line, so any gains against left-handed pitchers would be great, but he’s got the preferred platoon split if he is going to struggle against a pitcher’s handedness. The addition of Dexter Fowler helps strengthen the top of the Astros lineup, and that enhances Castro’s RBI potential. Toss in his favorable home ballpark and he was an easy top 10 pick for me.

Devin Mesoraco- My Rank: 15, Expert Consensus: 19

Like many highly touted prospect catchers before him, Mesoraco failed to kick the door down immediately. That said, he didn’t receive regular duty since he served as Ryan Hannigan’s backup, and with almost 600 big league plate appearances under his belt and the starting catcher gig all his going into this year, I think the bat to settle in and play at a solid level. Mesoraco walked at a high rate in his last two years in the minors, so it’s surprising to see his swing rates well above league average. Perhaps it’s a case of pressing in his limited opportunities to date, or it could be a case of him still trying to adjust to the bigs, but I do expect him to tone down his free swinging given his minor league track record. Furthermore, he has more punch in his bat than he’s demonstrated to date in the Show, and homer friendly Great American Ballpark will help him get the most out of his power. He’s no longer the shiny new toy that gamers tend to fall in love with, but Mesoraco is still just 25 years old and makes for a nice post-hype sleeper of sorts.

Josmil Pinto- My Rank: 18, Expert Consensus: 29

Sure, adding Kurt Suzuki to the Twins roster now creates some competition for playing time, but Pinto is being penalized far too harshly by my peers for that. Pinto’s calling card is his bat, which is good for fantasy, but he needs work on his defense and that was likely the motivating factor for the club adding Suzuki. However, Suzuki is no great shakes in terms of pitch framing according to StatCorner, which gave him just one positive per-game pitch framing grade since 2007, and that was back in 2009. He also isn’t particularly good at controlling the running game, and while he has a positive defense grade at FanGraphs, it’s not as if he’s a world beater defensively. Even if he opens the year as the starter, which is the expectation at this point, he’s just keeping the spot warm for Pinto, who should take the job fairly quickly.

The still rookie eligible catcher missed landing on Baseball America’s top 10 prospect list for the Twins, but he ranked fifth on Baseball Prospectus’ Twins top 10 list, and he even made the top 101 at BP ranking 56th. He began last year in Double-A and reached the majors, hitting over .300 at each stop and posting a slugging percentage north of .480 at each rung of the professional ladder. The right-handed hitting catcher doesn’t have elite offensive upside, but he does have above average offensive upside with plus power potential that should allow him to reach the mid-to-upper teens in homers this season if he receives over 450 plate appearances (which I expect him to).

Derek Norris- My Rank: 26, Expert Consensus: 33

Being on the short side of a platoon would make it awfully tough to justify my ranking for Norris, but I’m not so sure he won’t snag more at-bats against right-handed pitchers this year. Norris has hit an appalling .173/.271/.270 against right-handed pitchers in the majors, but that line comes in just 274 plate appearances. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll see Norris actually fared better against right-handed pitchers than southpaws in the upper minors, hitting .235/.363/.465 in 498 plate appearances from 2011-2013 in Double-A and Triple-A combined.

Further aiding his cause for more playing time is that he’s a superior defender to John Jaso, and it’s not all that close. Jaso is dreadful controlling the running game, FanGraphs has given him a negative defensive score the past two years, and StatCorner has graded him as a below average pitch framer every year he’s been in the majors. Conversely, Norris provides a positive defensive value according to FanGraphs, he was an above average pitch framer, though, he isn’t great at cutting down would be base stealers either. The third year big league catcher should best 400 plate appearances for the first time in his young career, and with the extra work he’d be a strong bet to reach the seats at least a dozen times while adding further value with six-to-eight stolen bases.

Hank Conger-My Rank: 32, Expert Consensus: 38

Like with Norris, I expect Conger’s defensive advantages over the catcher he’s competing with for playing time, Chris Iannetta, to result in an uptick in at-bats for him. The biggest difference between the two defensively is that Conger runs laps around Iannetta in pitch framing. In 675 career plate appearances against southpaws in his career, Iannetta has an .869 OPS, and that is likely to ensure that Conger is glued to the bench when a lefty is the probable starter against the Angels. That said, the switch-hitting Conger showed he could hit lefties plenty good enough in Triple-A in 2011 and 2012, and he should get the bulk of playing time against right-handed pitchers. The end result is a catcher that will probably fetch enough plate appearances to reach double digits in taters.

Ranked significantly lower than the expert consensus

Carlos Santana- My Rank: 5, Expert Consensus: 2

Santana is an excellent hitter that exhibits exquisite patience, 15.1 percent walk rate in his career, and above average power having hit 20 ore more homers in two of his three full seasons in the majors. Despite working deep counts, Santana has a strikeout rate south of 18 percent in his career. He also is one of the safest bets at the position to receive over 600 plate appearances since he’s done so each of the last three years. A big part of the reason Santana has been able to tally so many plate appearances is that he routinely gets playing time when he’s not donning the tools of ignorance. In the past that has meant that Santana has played some first base and he’s also served as the Indians designated hitter. This year the club is prepping him to play the hot corner, and it remains to be seen how that experiment will play out.

And there’s the rub with Santana. If he gets the bulk of his playing time at third base this year, will he carry fielding miscues over to the dish with him? Maybe, maybe not. Also, his career best .301 BABIP last year is 20 points higher than his career mark of .281, and some regression isn’t out of the question. All-in-all I still really like Santana this year, and a top five ranking is nothing to sneeze at. I just happen to like the guys I have ranked ahead of him more.

Yadier Molina- My Rank: 7, Expert Consensus: 4

Perhaps the experts that have Molina ranked inside their top five at the catcher position have his big 2012 season fresher in their mind than I do. I see a guy who is likely to hit over .300, but fall closer to that mark than flirting with .320 again. Nothing in his batted ball profile last year suggests his career high .338 BABIP wasn’t a bit luck aided, but his consistently high line drive rate and low strikeout rate setup a very high batting average floor. The juicy batting average is great, but he’ll need to do more than that to crack the top five at the position.

His 22 homer 2012 campaign is the outlier in the last three years, and Molina would do well to match the dozen he hit last year this season. The youngest Molina isn’t the base clogging machine his older brothers were, but he’s a below average runner that has never reached the 70 run scored plateau, and he’s fallen short of five stolen bases two of the last three years. A good lineup and a friendly lineup slot put Molina in a favorable position to surpass 75 RBIs for a third straight year, but the total package still comes up a tick short of a top five ranking by my estimation. Finally, Molina enters the year as a 31 year old that missed time with a knee sprain last season. He’s caught a ton of innings in his career, and eventually the sands of time whittle away at everyone, and Molina doesn’t often have the benefit of a “day off” at designated hitter like his American League peers.

Russell Martin- My Rank: 21, Expert Consensus: 18

From one 31 year old catcher to another, Martin, too, has caught a lot of innings in his big league career. He doesn’t run like he used to, and his stolen base success rate was the lowest of his career last year (64.29 percent). After stealing six bases in the first half of the season while getting caught twice, he stole just three bases while getting caught stealing three times in the second half. It would behoove Clint Hurdle to give Martin fewer stolen base chances this year. Russell “muscled” up for 15 homers last year, but hitting more than half of his batted balls on the ground in 2013 and playing his home games at homer suppressing PNC Park will make it difficult for him to exceed that total this year. Martin hasn’t been an asset in batting average since hitting .280 in 2008, and likely not coincidentally, his strikeout rate has gone up every season since then. Another season of hitting in the .220s feels about right. Steady playing time will make Martin a fine second catcher in two catcher formats, but he’s not a top 20 player at the position anymore.

Alex Avila- My Rank: 30, Expert Consensus: 20

I am baffled by Avila’s expert consensus ranking. Absolutely baffled. His strikeout rate exploded to 29.6 percent last year, his contact rate plummeted to 71.9 percent according to FanGraphs, and he needed an unsustainable line drive rate to muster a .227 batting average. The Tigers starting catcher has just seven stolen bases in his entire career, and he should be permanently planted to the pine when a southpaw gets the nod against the Tigers (.212/.306/.322 line against them in 388 plate appearances in his career). His 2011 breakout is looking like an aberration, and Avila is closer to waiver fodder than being a respectable second catcher.

Ryan Doumit- My Rank: 29, Expert Consensus: 25

There’s nothing wrong with Doumit’s skills, but a trade from the Twins to the Braves hurt his fantasy value a great deal. It’s highly unlikely that in a reserve role he’ll garner even 400 plate appearances. Even those that are pessimistic about Evan Gattis handling the starting catching job can’t feel too comfortable moving Doumit up their catcher rankings since Christian Bethancourt is waiting in the wings and is the best defensive option of the trio. The former Pirate and Twin will have value if an injury opens up regular playing time, and he’s a sneaky good option in daily fantasy leagues if he’s priced cheaply enough on days he’s expected to start, but yearly leaguers can’t feel too great about owning Doumit entering the season.

Previous post

Wednesday's DFS NBA 3/5

Next post

2014 Fantasy Golf Daily Fix: WGC – Cadillac Championship

1 Comment

  1. ra
    March 20, 2014 at 9:08 pm — Reply

    McCann ranks higher than Santana despite projecting lower in each of the 5 categories. I’ll take Santana, thank you, and invite you to play in my league 🙂

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.