2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments — Catchers
If sports are anything, they are great sources of drama. The major networks now pay billions of dollars to broadcast major professional and college sports. As they say, live sports are TIVO proof. The best Hollywood writers in the world can’t write this stuff. The Kansas City Royals don’t appear in the playoffs for 29 years and suddenly they look like World Series contenders. Of course, few people concern themselves with the flip side of that feel good story. In July, the Athletics seemed on the verge of running away with everything. They had just added Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester, and Jason Hammel. Now, they are all planning early vacations.
Before the end of the season, I went through an entire series of breakout players at each position. I’ll begin the offseason by looking at the reverse. We will be looking at three players at each position that we could classify as disappointments. In order to classify as a disappointment, a player should be a consensus preseason starter in a standard 12-team league. With all of the positions, we will look at why they were disappointing and whether we can expect them to bounce back.
Joe Mauer— Minnesota Twins
(.277, 4 HR, 60 Runs, 55 RBI, 3 SB)
When someone disappoints it can be for only two reasons: they are injured or they under-perform. Joe Mauer moved to first base so that he would remain healthy and he had more than 500 plate appearances. Of course, this presents a problem in the future. He won’t be eligible at catcher in 2015 in most leagues. Mauer has never had a batting average this low at any point in his career. He still had a relatively healthy .361 on base percentage, but that came with very little punch. Even for Mauer, his power numbers were not good.
What about 2015?
Like I said, he will not be catcher eligible in most leagues next seasons. He last hit more than 20 home runs in 2009 and that was the only time in his career. Based on past performance, we can probably guess that he will hit .300 or better next season again, but even with that his value is going to be very limited. At first base, guys that hit .300 with around 10 home runs are not incredibly valuable. Mauer’s days as a fantasy regular are probably over. He might make a decent fantasy backup under the right circumstances.
Wilin Rosario— Colorado Rockies
(.267, 13 HR, 46 Runs, 54 RBI, 1 SB)
Our boss wanted us to look at players that fooled us before the season. I certainly had my share, but this was not one of them. When looking up the numbers, I assumed that Rosario had a bad season because of injuries and that might partially be true, but he had a similar number of plate appearances as previous seasons. Still, being limited to 410 plate appearances does give us some idea as to the limitations of his value. Had he been able to have 550 plate appearances like some of the other big time catchers he might have approached 20 home runs on the season. Unfortunately, he’s never had more than 466.
What about 2015?
I still would say that Rosario is a starting fantasy catcher. He’s just not a top five starting fantasy catcher. If you average his numbers together you get somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 home runs, 60 runs, and 70 RBI. Those aren’t elite numbers, but they are good enough for a fantasy regular. I’ve always liked Rosario just fine. I just never liked him as much as everyone else seemed to. What’s worse is that his numbers have gone down in each season since his breakout 2012 campaign. He cut down on his strikeouts last season, but he still doesn’t draw enough walks to keep pitchers honest. It’s a fatal flaw that keeps him from being an elite offensive player.
Matt Wieters— Baltimore Orioles
(.308, 5 HR, 13 Runs, 18 RBI, 0 SB)
The sad thing is that Wieters was on pace to have a career season at the plate. If he had been healthy the Orioles might be in even better shape, but we will never know. Like Rosario, Wieters has always been overrated when it came fantasy. He never had an OPS above .778 before the 2014 season, and he isn’t likely to be an .800 OPS player in the future. Yet, he had produced 20+ home runs three seasons in a row coming into the season, so it was reasonable to expect it again. If he had remained healthy he likely would have done it again.
What about 2015?
I would expect more of the same from Matt Wieters. His injury isn’t likely to have any lingering long-term effects, so we can expect between 20 and 25 home runs again if he remains healthy. Wieters is one of those players that seems to fill up a stat sheet even if he isn’t an elite player. That should probably land him somewhere amongst the top ten catchers drafted. The percentage statistics will probably continue to lag behind though.