Catcher Tiers — April 2014 by Howard Bender March 29, 2014 As we get ready to start the 2014 MLB season on American soil this Sunday, it’s time to break out the Positional Tiered Rankings for the first month of the season. I started with the RotoGraphs Positional Rankings and then added in statistical history, projections and my own thoughts for each player and grouped them together to house similar value levels with each other. It’s a helpful tool to use for trading purposes as you can gauge just how much value you may be giving away or getting back in a deal. Here’s how I’m seeing the catcher position this year: The Plaza Buster Posey Wilin Rosario Carlos Santana Brian McCann There’s nothing like staying at The Plaza — classic New York, luxury suites, the finest amenities. But to stay there, you’ve got to pay top-dollar. No different with the catchers in this tier. You’ve got power, batting average and eligibility both behind the plate and at first with Posey and Rosario. You’ve got power, on-base percentage and more multi-position eligibility from Santana. And finally, I put McCann in this tier because of the move to Yankee Stadium and what should be a very prolific offense. He’s hit no fewer than 20 home runs in each of the last six years and moves to a fantastic park for left-handed power. I see the home runs and RBI increasing and with that, I think his batting average will also see a boost. Ritz-Carlton Joe Mauer Jonathan Lucroy Yadier Molina Salvador Perez Jason Castro Wilson Ramos Matt Wieters It’s time to continue my annual battle with the Mauer-lovers as I keep him in the second tier. Sorry, folks. Just because he’s playing first base doesn’t mean his stats are going to increase. He doesn’t hit for power, he doesn’t steal bases and I just don’t see the runs scored being what they used to be. The RBI? Maybe. But it’s a much different lineup now than it was when he actually was an elite catcher. The increase in at-bats playing first will help his average have a greater impact, but with the question marks surrouning the runs and RBI, I have to drop him down a tier. For everyone else here at the Ritz, well, some have average, some have power, some have promise and some have all three. I might be slightly on the fence with Wieters in this tier, but I do like him more than anyone in the next tier. The Hilton Evan Gattis Miguel Montero Yan Gomes A.J. Pierzynski Gattis has the most power potential which is why he’s in this tier, but I’m just not a fan and feel like he’s going to have playing time issues down the road. I expect a bit of a bounce-back for Montero, Gomes should be solid as the new primary in Cleveland and while Pierzynski leaves hitter-friendly Arlington, he gets Fenway which plays nicely to left-handed power. Comfort Inn Devin Mesoraco Travis d’Arnaud Welington Castillo Alex Avila Russell Martin Risers and fallers here in the middle as Mesoraco, d’Arnaud and Castillo all have great potential while Avila and Martin can both be decent options but have their fair share of shortcomings. Holiday Inn Express Jarrod Saltalamacchia Yasmani Grandal A.J. Ellis Carlos Ruiz Dioner Navarro Navarro is the guy I see jumping to the next tier the quickest, but I’ll hedge for now here in the first month. Salty has solid power potential but Marlins Park is going to sap a lot of it. Ruiz, Adderall or not, is still on the way down, Grandal has potential but question marks with the home park and the post-Biogenesis life and Ellis is usually a good OBP guy with maybe a little pop lurking there. Red Roof Inn Mike Zunino Tyler Flowers J.P. Arencibia Ryan Hanigan These guys are the primary backstops for their team but each has a very similar problem. Zunino has promise but Buck is there. Flowers has potential, but he’s struggled at the plate and could give way to his back-up a couple of days each week. Arencibia has great power and a great situation, but his batting average is so bad that even his light-hitting back-up could start to poach time early. And of course, Hanigan has a veteran back-up who is strong defensively and well-liked by all on his team. Super 8 Motel Josmil Pinto Kurt Suzuki Chris Iannetta Hank Conger John Jaso Derek Norris Steve Vogt Pinto has the edge over Suzuki but they’re in a platoon. Iannetta is the primary but Conger is going to start stealing time more and more. And finally, who knows how things are going to unfold in Oakland as all three have their strengths and weakness and what separates them really isn’t very much. Habitat Suites John Buck Adrian Nieto Jordan Pacheco Gerald Laird Ryan Doumit Robinson Chirinos Jose Lobaton Here come the back-ups. Maybe they’ve got some value in AL or NL-only leagues, but mixed league action just isn’t looking too good. Bates Motel Hector Sanchez David Ross Martin Maldonado Francisco Cervelli Nick Hundley Tuffy Gosewisch Josh Thole Jose Molina George Kottaras Geovany Soto If any of these guys are your catcher, even in the deepest of leagues, give your league-mates the carving knife and just hop into the shower. You’re done.