2015 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2015 Fantasy Baseball: It’s Never Too Early — Catchers

gomes land
Yan Gomes
Source: Bob Levey/Getty Images North America

Some publications are getting a head start on the competition. With the college football season coming to a close and the NFL headed to the playoffs, some of you are looking for things to do to fill your budgeted fantasy sports schedule. You might as well get the jump on your competition by looking at early fantasy baseball mock drafts and early rankings from publications. At the moment, we have early rankings from ESPN and some of us here have some access to early mock drafts.

We throw out the usual caveats that we are looking at early returns, but we can begin to see some trends and can analyze whether we should read anything into those trends. We will look at the ESPN rankings and one expert mock draft to see who the biggest risers and sinkers are.

ESPNp

ESPNo

ExpertP

ExpertO

DIFFp

DIFFo

Buster Posey

1

31

1

44

0

-13

Jonathan Lucroy

2

90

2

49

0

+41

Yadier Molina

3

94

9

228

-6

-134

Devin Mesoraco

4

98

3

76

+1

+22

Salvador Perez

5

107

6

167

-1

-60

Brian McCann

6

125

5

130

+1

-5

Evan Gattis

7

150

7

171

0

-21

Wilin Rosario

8

173

10

230

-2

-57

Yan Gomes

9

208

4

110

+5

+98

Matt Wieters

10

215

11

249

-1

-34

Wilson Ramos

11

222

-2

-43

Russell Martin

12

240

12

257

0

-17

Yasmani Grandal

13

243

8

199

+5

+44

Miguel Montero

14

0

0

Travis d’Arnauld

15

0

0

Derek Norris

16

0

0

Mike Zunino

17

0

0

Jason Castro

18

0

0

Biggest Risers

Yan Gomes— Cleveland Indians

Position Rise: +5

Overall Rise: +98

Most of this rise comes from more guarantee of playing time. Carlos Santana is obviously not eligible at catcher in ESPN leagues or he would have been picked pretty high. Santana is penciled in to play first base or third base in Cleveland, so Gomes seemed destined to play 120 games. In his first two seasons in Cleveland he had BABIPs of .342 and .326. I don’t see him sustaining that, so picking him that high might be foolish, but he probably is better than where ESPN has him ranked.

Yasmani Grandal— Los Angeles Dodgers

Position Rise: +5

Overall Rise: +44

This is almost completely on the heels of the trade with the Dodgers. He is an excellent pitch framer, so he should get the majority of the starts regardless of the offensive production. He did hit 15 home runs last season in San Diego, so he should hopefully see an improvement in the power production. Unlike Gomes, his BABIP scores indicate room for growth (.257 and .277 respectively). A.J. Ellis is still there, so we should be careful not to throw too many eggs in the Grandal basket.

Jonathan Lucroy— Milwaukee Brewers

Position Rise: 0

Overall Rise: +41

Three consecutive successful campaigns make Lucroy the worst kept secret at the position. So, how could he be number two at both spots and yet be picked so much higher than the experts? This comes down to a difference of philosophy. You have to have a catcher, so some people will prioritize the position to make sure they have a good one. Others will simply go by best player available on draft day. The best advice I can give in early January is to monitor the situation, but more importantly, pick a strategy and don’t get flustered if others pick someone much higher than you thought.

Biggest Sinkers

Yadier Molina— St. Louis Cardinals

Position Sink: -6

Overall Sink: -134

I could bust out an actuary table on catchers, but it would be far too depressing. In 2002, Mike Piazza hit 33 home runs with a .280 average. He also drove in 98 runs that season. That was his age 33 season. He never approached those numbers again. Johnny Bench hit 24 home runs during his age 33 season. He never approached that again. Molina will turn 33 during the 2015 season. Past results are no proof of future performance, but Father Time is not fond of catchers. Chances are that Molina staves off Father Time for another season, but I wouldn’t pick him as the third best catcher on my board.

Wilin Rosario— Colorado Rockies

Position Sink: -2

Overall Sink: -57

Defense is making a big comeback at the catcher position. It probably has something to do with the fact that we are much more able to quantify the different things a catcher does defensively. Pitch framing is just the latest among these skills we can now measure. Rosario really isn’t all that good at any of them. That’s not a specific problem when it comes to fantasy baseball except the Rockies are going to try to find ways to mitigate the negative aspects of his game. They’ve recently signed Nick Hundley to bring in another capable receiver to take some of the load off. They might DH him when they play in American League parks and play him at first base on some days, but he isn’t likely to play the 130 or 140 games necessary to put up big time numbers.

Wilson Ramos— Washington Nationals

Position Sink: -2

Overall Sink: -41

I’m not exactly sure what is going on here. If healthy, Ramos is one of the more underrated catchers on the board. I suppose that could be the rub, though. Jose Lobaton doesn’t appear to be the kind of guy that can really supplant any regular catcher, so I would take this under advisement, but I wouldn’t pay too much attention to it. Even the experts chose Ramos as a starting quality catcher. They just thought he would be closer to the bottom of the list than to the top.

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