Fantasy Baseball

2016 Fantasy Baseball: Catcher Projections

It might seem a little early to look projections, but it is never too early to prepare for next season. Besides, these kinds of projections go through a series of adjustments depending on what team they are playing for and who might be surrounding them. However, instead of making lists I like to put players into tiers. I know fans love lists. Heck, some sites make their bones off of showing slide shows to enhance their hits. Tiers are more helpful. It helps with planning for upcoming drafts. More importantly, with players changing teams during the winter, it means we don’t have to do any massive readjustments after the fact.

Instead of using traditional numbers, we will use value over replacement player. Baseball Prospectus defines value over replacement players as, “the number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances. VORP scores do not consider the quality of a player’s defense.” I have developed a formula to project VORP moving forward, but that is really a rough estimate. We will include the last three seasons to add context.

Tier One

Buster Posey— San Francisco Giants

2013: 37.7

2014: 50.7

2015: 60.8

Projected: 53.5

Buster Posey hasn’t been getting better so much as he has been playing more games at first base. He has had 600 or more plate appearances in three out of the last four seasons. That is unheard of for a catcher, but the Giants have to get him into the lineup anyway they can. He is their best hitter by far. Posey highlights the problem with rankings. Yes, he is the best catcher in baseball, but that ranking doesn’t do him justice. He is head and shoulders above everyone at the position.

Russell Martin— Toronto Blue Jays

2013: 24.0

2014: 43.1

2015: 31.8

Projected: 34.3 

Taking a look at VORP does reveal some things we wouldn’t see otherwise. The counting numbers make it look like Martin had a career season, but he was actually better in 2014. The concern with Martin is that he will be 33 in 2016 and catchers tend to lose their offensive effectiveness in their early thirties. A few haven’t, but I wouldn’t place my bets around Ivan Rodriguez or Carlton Fisk’s career arc.

Tier Two

Jonathan Lucroy— Milwaukee Brewers

2013: 21.8

2014: 55.7

2015: 12.8

Projected: 28.6

Looking at the projected number is one thing, but looking at the season by season totals gives us a lot more context. Almost every player has that magical season where everything comes together and that was 2014 for Lucroy. He began playing full time in 2011 and had not produced more than 24.3 VORP until 2015. What are the odds that he will produce those numbers again. Even the projected numbers might seem a little high now that the Brewers are in rebuilding mode.

Brian McCann— New York Yankees

2013: 25.3

2014: 13.5

2015: 26.5

Projected: 22.0

This number is a lot more realistic and one of the reasons why we don’t rank players. If someone wants to re-rank the players in tier two then they can do it easily depending on the circumstances involved. The Yankees are on the come and the Brewers aren’t. Besides, McCann seems to roll out of bed hitting 20 home runs and driving in 80 or more runs a season.

Derek Norris— San Diego Padres

2013: 22.1

2014: 20.8

2015: 19.8

Projected: 20.5

Norris has certainly been more consistent than the other two players in the second tier. The problem with VORP is that it is park neutral. Petco Park is one of the more difficult parks to hit in, so Norris’ numbers won’t look as good as others. Last season was a bit of a breakthrough season for Norris as he played full time for the first time in his career. So, while his value might not be what it was in Oakland, he is putting up better counting numbers.

Tier Three

When we get to tier three we end up looking at players with less a projected total between ten and twenty value over replacement player. In other words, there isn’t a huge amount of separation between all of them. This allows you to punt catchers if you are not able to get the top few guys. Obviously, comparing this position with other positions you will see that you might want to wait on catchers.

2013 2014 2015 ADJ Comments
Yan Gomes 27.3 34.3 7.0 19.5 Was 2015 an aberration?
Welington Castillo 22.8 19.9 16.4 18.6 Moving in the wrong direction.
Salvador Perez 33.1 16.2 14.7 18.3 Lack of plate discipline is catching up.
Travis D’Arnaud -1.8 17.8 24.9 18.0 The sleeper of the tier three group.
Yasmani Grandal 4.8 19.2 21.4 17.9 Borderline tier two guy.
Miguel Montero 8.2 16.3 22.1 17.9 He’ll be available late in the draft.
Stephen Vogt 5.0 13.3 25.1 17.8 He faded big time in second half.
Yadier Molina 39.3 18.0 8.5 16.8 Father Time always wins.
Devin Mesoraco 6.4 42.9 -1.5 14.6 Good bet to outproduce the estimate.
Jason Castro 39.4 10.9 7.0 13.7 2013 screams career year.
Wilson Ramos 16.4 17.3 8.7 12.9 Great when healthy. Never healthy.
Matt Wieters 27.7 8.8 9.2 12.2 Lost two seasons to bad shoulder.
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