2016 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2016 Fantasy Baseball: Catcher Projections

There are many ways to rank players. I don’t claim to have a monopoly on the truth, but I hope my methods balance analytics with common sense. The analytics part is probably the most involved. We take runs above replacement from the past three seasons according to three different sources (Baseball Prospectus, Baseball Reference, and Fangraphs). We apply a multiplier to make sure the most recent performance is given the most weight. That creates an index score for each platform. We then take the average of those three to provide a single score for each player.

The qualitative analysis is a lot earlier. We will simply talk through the specifics on each player and vote over or under on each player. In other words, will they outperform the projections or will they underperform those projections? Sometimes, the progression of the numbers tell the story and sometimes we just go with our gut.

1. Buster Posey— San Francisco Giants (51.4)

2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 37.7 50.7 60.8 53.5
BR 45.0 54.0 47.0 49.0
FG 44.8 51.9 53.6 51.6

I’m not quite sure everyone has a full grasp of what Posey has accomplished to this point in his career. He has had four consecutive seasons with 40 or more runs above replacement according to baseball-reference.com. That doesn’t happen at the catcher position that often. At 29 (as of the start of 2016), he likely has three or four more prime years to go. Verdict: Under

  1. Russell Martin— Toronto Blue Jays (35.3)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 24.0 43.1 31.8 34.3
BR 25.0 40.0 33.0 34.0
FG 37.6 45.2 32.6 37.6

Russell Martin has had a fascinating career to this point. Through his age 25 season, Martin looked like Posey does now. He had several lackluster seasons after that, but he has had a resurgence the last three seasons. He will be 33 in 2016, so I don’t see this level of production continuing for long. I don’t know that I would be on 30+ runs in 2016. Verdict: Under

  1. Jonathan Lucroy— Milwaukee Brewers (29.1)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 21.8 55.7 12.8 28.6
BR 32.0 54.0 13.0 29.8
FG 31.6 56.1 9.9 28.9

This is pretty simple really. Jonathan Lucroy isn’t as a mediocre as he was last season, and he isn’t as brilliant as the season before. The answer is probably somewhere closer to what he produced in 2013. That would put him a hair under his 2016 projection. Verdict: Under

  1. Kyle Schwarber— Chicago Cubs (26.5)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 15.2 15.2
BR 18.0 18.0
FG 17.5 17.5

We’ve applied a playing time multiplier to Schwarber’s numbers to assume 500 plate appearances this year. He will open the season in left field should he remain in Chicago. You might as well take advantage of his catcher eligibility while you can. Verdict: Over

  1. Brian McCann— New York Yankees (23.2)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 25.3 13.5 26.5 22.0
BR 26.0 16.0 26.0 22.7
FG 25.6 21.7 27.7 25.4

The concept of over and under is supposed to correspond with runs above replacement, but in McCann’s case it refers to the fact that he always seems to produce gaudy counting statistics. He always produces home runs, runs, and RBI. So, I bet the over based on that and not the actual value attached: Verdict: Over

  1. Derek Norris— San Diego Padres (23.1)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 22.1 20.8 19.8 20.5
BR 22.0 30.0 25.0 26.2
FG 20.3 23.4 23.0 22.7

Norris is the antithesis of Brian McCann. He has traditionally been involved in more platoons. That has enhanced his value because his exposure to bad matchups has been limited. It also means the counting numbers won’t overwhelm you. With Austin Hedges and Cristian Bethancourt in the fold, his playing time might be limited again. Verdict: Under

  1. Francisco Cervelli— Pittsburgh Pirates (21.8)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 5.9 7.9 32.2 19.7
BR 7.0 12.0 35.0 22.7
FG 7.2 11.5 35.9 23.0

On the one hand, 2015 was the first year that Cervelli had been a regular catcher in his career. He has a .284 career average, so his .295 average wasn’t completely out of left field. Then again, he did have a .359 BABIP in 2015. I don’t like the odds of that happening again. Verdict: Under

  1. Salvador Perez— Kansas City Royals (20.6)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 33.1 16.2 14.7 18.3
BR 28.0 23.0 17.0 20.8
FG 34.2 27.9 15.2 22.6

Perez comes from the Brian McCann tradition of contributing more counting numbers than actual value. That being said, I worry that all of the Royals will be overvalued following two consecutive pennants and one World Series titles under their belt. Verdict: Under

  1. Yan Gomes— Cleveland Indians (20.5)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 27.3 34.3 7.0 19.5
BR 26.0 37.0 5.0 19.2
FG 30.8 40.9 8.0 22.8

A lot was made of the fact that Yan Gomes, Jason Castro, and Salvador Perez are the only American League catchers to hit ten or more home runs three seasons in a row. So, 2015 wasn’t a complete loss, but it was a disappointing campaign. Will there be a hangover in 2016? Verdict: Over

  1. Yadier Molina— St. Louis Cardinals (19.1)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 39.3 18.0 8.5 16.8
BR 42.0 16.0 9.0 16.8
FG 50.9 26.5 12.7 23.7

When you close in on 1500 games you caught, you are definitely getting closer to the end then you are to the beginning. The numbers above reflect a trend that the projection does not. I would pay more attention to the trends than I would the projection. Verdict: Under

  1. Welington Castillo— Arizona Diamondbacks (18.0)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 22.8 19.9 16.4 18.6
BR 24.0 14.0 17.0 17.2
FG 29.3 22.3 11.9 18.3

2015 was a renaissance year for Castillo once he found his way to Arizona. Ironically, the Dbacks seem to be on the rebound themselves now that they got Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller. The question for Castillo is whether he will ride that wave with them or whether 2015 was a fluke. Verdict: Over

  1. Yasmani Grandal— Los Angeles Dodgers (16.9)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 4.8 19.2 21.4 17.9
BR 6.0 23.0 19.0 18.2
FG 5.6 8.8 21.4 14.6

Grandal got into some hot water following his rookie season when he got a suspension for PED use. His career has finally gotten back on track. Where you rank him depends on whether your league incorporates an on base element. If it does then he might be top ten material. If not, this is probably an appropriate placement for him. Verdict: Over

  1. Miguel Montero— Chicago Cubs (16.7)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 8.2 16.3 22.1 17.9
BR 10.0 18.0 21.0 18.2
FG 5.4 10.4 19.2 14.6

When you get to this point on the list you see two distinct characteristics: first, each player has a flaw that keeps them from being a legitimate starter. The second characteristic is that there isn’t a whole lot of separation between these guys. Montero will probably enjoy some bump based on the Cubs improved offense overall. Verdict: Under

  1. Travis d’Arnaud— New York Mets (16.6)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP -1.8 17.8 24.9 18.0
BR 0.0 20.0 21.0 17.2
FG -1.8 11.9 21.9 14.6

If we remove 2013 from the equation then d”Arnaud becomes a top ten catcher. That is probably a more accurate description of where he should be. In fact, you might elevate him to be where Yadier Molina is currently ranked and feel fairly comfortable. This about as bankable an over as you will find. Verdict: Over

  1. Blake Swihart— Boston Red Sox (16.1)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 10.1 10.1
BR 13.0 13.0
FG 13.7 13.7

Like with Schwarber, we apply the rookie multiplier to account for the shortage in at bats. I’m not as confident in Swihart’s playing enough to meet that multiplier or with his performance overall. However, when you consider he is rated as a fantasy backup he represents a flier that might be worth taking. Verdict: Under

  1. Stephen Vogt— Oakland Athletics (15.9)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 5.0 13.3 25.1 17.8
BR 5.0 11.0 29.0 14.0
FG 5.6 12.8 21.6 16.0

In the first half, Vogt had a slash line of .287/.374/.498 in over 300 plate appearances. After the all-star break he could only muster .217/.280/.349. He officially has turned back into a pumpkin. He does have pretty good on base skills, but in a standard 5×5 league that and three bucks will get you an overpriced cup of coffee. Verdict: Under

  1. Jason Castro— Houston Astros (15.5)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
2013 39.4 10.9 7.0 13.7
2014 40.0 14.0 8.0 15.3
2015 40.3 13.0 12.6 17.4

2013 screams career year for Castro, but the last two seasons have shown he has some baseline of performance and coming in as the runner up for the Gold Glove award proves he will get to play more often than not. When you get to this point on the list you ultimately take what you can get. Verdict: Under

  1. Devin Mesoraco— Cincinnati Reds (14.1)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 6.4 42.9 -1.5 14.6
BR 4.0 44.0 -1.0 14.8
FG 2.4 40.9 -2.0 13.0

2015 was a lost season for Mesoraco and therefore he might be the most difficult player to predict for this coming season. On the one hand, he has the typical career year like many of the other guys. Then again, he’s had only one full season as a catcher, so maybe he is the sleeper of the whole draft. Verdict: Over

  1. Dioner Navarro— Chicago White Sox
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 15.3 17.2 4.7 10.6
BR 19.0 21.0 5.0 12.7
FG 19.2 18.8 4.7 11.8

A blind pig finds mud every now and then. The Chicago White Sox have struggled in their transactions over the last decade. It was probably why they kicked Kenny Williams upstairs. Navarro was a perfectly productive catcher before the Blue Jays acquired Russell Martin. Navarro will be the Sox’s best catcher since A.J. Pierzynski. Verdict: Over

  1. Matt Wieters— Baltimore Orioles (11.5)
2013 2014 2015 ADJ
BP 27.7 8.8 9.2 12.2
BR 19.0 9.0 10.0 11.2
FG 23.7 8.1 9.1 11.2

Matt Wieters lost parts of two seasons to the same bad shoulder. It isn’t so much consistently being injury prone. After all, it’s the only significant injury in his career. Last season’s numbers were done after the all star break alone, so you could easily envision him doubling these numbers. If he lasts to this point in the draft I would nab him with the off chance that he would outproduce the regular. Verdict: Over

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