2017 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2017 Fantasy Baseball: Pre-Auction Catcher Tiers

This year brings something new for me, I will be participating in the first auction of my fantasy career. Playing in auctions in obviously exciting and scary at the same time. Every player is immediately available and yet none are a gimmie at the same time. A lot of planning will happen between now and auction time, but you can also use some of this information to help you in a traditional draft.

So, what you are about to read is a combination of pre-season auction values and projections from Baseball Prospectus. Their advanced metrics (primarily total average and value over replacement player) are based on neutral hitting environments. So, we went back and took the park factors for the last three seasons and applied a multiplier to give these numbers more specificity in terms of fantasy value.

The general idea is to split them into smaller groups based on auction value because those will also simulate their rankings in a traditional draft format. Seeing the auction prices gives you an inkling of where they might be drafted if you compare them across positions. The idea is that each grouping will have players that stick out positively and negatively. Those will likely become our sleepers and potential busts.

Group A

Dollars TAV VORP
Buster Posey 20 .286 45.7
Kyle Schwarber 20 .276 38.4
Gary Sanchez 15 .289 38.2
Jonathan Lucroy 14 .285 37.8
Willson Contreras 11 .270 33.5

This one is pretty straight forward, but some explanation of the numbers is important. TAV measures everything a hitter does, but places it in a neutral environment. We have placed them back in their home environments. In general, it is an excellent gauge for determining the quality of a hitter. Generally, anything above .260 is considered to be solid with .300 being the mark of a genuine all-star. The only TAV can’t tell you is how durable a player is.

This is where VORP comes into play. It is a qualitative statistic in that you are being compared to the replacement level player, but some players can have a higher TAV and a lower VORP because they are injury prone or expected to share time. Posey and Schwarber fare a little better here because they are expected to play some at first or in the outfield respectively. Looking at the numbers, there is nothing out of the ordinary here.

Group B

Dollars TAV VORP
Russell Martin 11 .267 28.2
Salvador Perez 11 .263 21.8
Yasmani Grandal 8 .268 29.8
Stephen Vogt 8 .256 18.8
J.T. Realmuto 8 .249 25.3

When you look at the dollar values and compare them with the players above you begin to see the reason why we break these players into groups. These players will be taken much later or will cost significantly less, but as you can see with a player like Grandal, he is projected to accomplish almost the same thing. Conversely, Salvador Perez and J.T. Realmuto have some limitations that make stand out as well.

Group C

Dollars TAV VORP
Yadier Molina 8 .255 19.0
Matt Wieters 7 .241 15.0
Wilson Ramos 7 .261   5.6
Tom Murphy 6 .280 20.7
Welington Castillo 6 .262 16.1

Obviously, Wilson Ramos sticks out like a sore thumb. He had surgery on his knee in October and typically, it takes at least six months to fully recover from an ACL tear. Then, he has to get back into catching shape. Fortunately, he may be able to return earlier and DH while he is still getting into shape. On the flip side, Tom Murphy has the look of a sleeper. Of course, he has had his own injury problems this spring. The others prove to be a good alternative to their more expensive counterparts.

Group D 

Dollars TAV VORP
Brian McCann 5 .253 19.2
Travis d’Arnaud 4 .252 20.5
Francisco Cervelli 4 .251 20.3
Yan Gomes 2 .264 14.9
Cameron Rupp 1 .235 12.3

Sometimes, commentary is more or less unnecessary. A picture paints a thousand words and in this case we see there isn’t much of a difference between groups B, C, and D. So, the question on draft day is whether you should fork over the cash (or higher pick) to get one of the guys from the first group or whether you can punt catcher until much later. Paying extra for someone from Group B would probably be a mistake at this point.

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