This is the first series of our 2015 fantasy baseball rankings looking at the position of catcher. I think the depth falls off pretty quickly at this position, especially if you play in a two catcher leagues. With several catchers suspended to start the season, Carlos Ruiz, Yasmani Grandal and several others coming back from injury, Victor Martinez and Brian McCann, there is a little bit of uncertainty here.
Based on their breakout performances last season, I would not want to own Yadier Molina, Wilin Rosario or A.J. Pierzynski because I think the price is going to be too high as fantasy baseball owners often times pay / draft based on last year’s stats. I think there are several mid-level catchers that offer good value this season such as Jonathan Lucroy and Salvador Perez if you are looking for a catcher to possibly exceed expectations.
Here is a look at the top 20 fantasy baseball catchers for 2013.
1. Buster Posey – the National League MVP had a monster second half with a .385 batting average, 14 home runs and 60 RBI. His ground ball rate limits his home run upside for now.
2. Carlos Santana – his second half of the 2014 season gave a preview of what’s to come with 13 home runs and 46 RBI after the All Star break with a .281 batting average and more walks than strikeouts.
3. Joe Mauer – inability to take southpaws deep (one home run in 188 at bats in 2014) keeps home run total in check. As always, you are paying for his batting average.
4. Matt Wieters – for the second consecutive season, his batting average was .100 points higher against southpaws than against right-handed pitching. Until he can hit higher than in the .220 range against righties, his overall average is going to suffer.
5. Yadier Molina – has turned ground balls into line drives and fly balls with a 11 percentage point drop in his ground ball rate over the last two seasons. While he had an outstanding 2014 campaign, don’t pay for those numbers this season.
6. Miguel Montero – his 2014 season was a closer mirror to 2011, except for an elevated walk and strikeout rate. His power production has been hampered by Chase Field with 48 career home runs on the road and only 25 at home.
7. Brian McCann – coming back from a torn labrum and the original prognosis was he might miss a week or two to start the season. RBI total has dropped three consecutive seasons, but he should reverse that trend this season if fully healthy.
8. Victor Martinez – missed all of the 2014 season and is coming back from microfracture surgery, but is expected to be 100% by spring training. Watch closely for updates on his status throughout spring.
9. Wilin Rosario – crushed left-handed pitching with a .348 average and 14 home runs in 112 at bats. Coors Field will help to offset his low walk rate so batting average should be in the .260 to .270 range.
10. Jonathan Lucroy – his counting stats were the same as in 2011 and it was done in 114 fewer at bats. The batting average is due to come down, but if he can maintain the gains in his decreased strikeout rate, the drop won’t be as significant.
11. Mike Napoli – power numbers were there, but average came back down to earth even lower than expected and his strikeout rate was way up. Had his hip flagged in his physical with Boston which has held up his contract.
12. Jesus Montero – improved his contact rate the second half of the season, but had trouble hitting at SAFECO Field with .227 average and struggled vs. right-handed pitching, hitting .228.
13. Salvador Perez – makes great contact, leading to a .311 batting average in his first 437 major league at bats. A solid second tier catcher once the top 10 are off the board.
14. Ryan Doumit – the numbers were not surprising, just that he was healthy enough to amass them was. Given the limited depth at catcher, I might be willing to pay to see him do it again.
15. A.J. Pierzynski – a career year at age 36, surpassing his previous best in home runs in a season by nine. I vote on the side of a fluky season than a sudden rebirth of skills.
16. Alex Avila – missed time with a strained hamstring and knee strain and never got untracked at the plate. Needs to rebound against left-handed pitching after hitting .176 in 85 at bats in 2014.
17. Carlos Ruiz – suspended the first 25 games to start the 2013 season due to amphetamine use. Don’t expect him to hold his power spike from last season.
18. J.P. Arencibia – has a realistic shot of hitting the most home runs of any catcher if he gets the at bats, but his batting average is too much of a drag to own unless you are in a very deep league.
19. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – the classic catcher conundrum, do you want to accept the power for the ding in batting average? Inability to hit left-handed pitching limits home run upside. Could be moved to a new team once Napoli gets officially signed.
20. Russell Martin – batting average fell for the fifth straight season and counting stats will be down across the board with the move from the Yankees to Pittsburgh.