Catcher Tiers – June 2014

Good timing. The RotoGraphs consensus rankings for catchers went up yesterday. The more information the merrier. I’ve made some adjustments – a few significant – since the backstop tiers I developed for May. Between the two, you should have a good idea of how fantasy owners in your league might view certain crouchers for the rest of the season.

I’m single, so I’ve been known to purchase a frozen pizza or four. I haven’t tried them all, so in a few cases, I’ve taken the word of a reviewer and combined it with my feelings about the picture on the box and other information that I can interpret with uninhibited bias. What do you know?! Just like my tiers.

Buster Posey
Wilin Rosario

Their 2014 numbers haven’t shown it yet, but these two are still the class of the position, in my eyes too big for my stomach. They’re not delivery; they’re the class of it to the point that some names have dropped from the tier, but there aren’t others who have joined them. That won’t sit well with some folks, I’m sure of it. Rosario’s average and increased ground-ball rate might be a touch concerning if he weren’t so young, skilled and in a superb offensive environment.

Jonathan Lucroy
Yadier Molina
Joe Mauer
Brian McCann
Evan Gattis
Carlos Santana

Lucroy, in particular, and Molina are so close to making a jump, but I cannot justify it. Lucroy’s dough continues to rise to the point that I think I may be making an oversight where he’s concerned. He’s convinced me of his flavor. I’ve never tasted Freschetta brand, that I can recall, but I hear good things. Kind of like Molina, who I think has already peaked but whose decline in quality should be ever so slight, at least in the short term.

Santana’s failure to thaw, meanwhile, is quite concerning, but I’m more forgiving to this type of talent. I forget who said it, I want to say that it was Collette who said he’d expressed a fear that this would happen, in a recent podcast: Santana’s lack of a defensive home may be affecting his performance at the dish. I’m not sure how to account for that – and whether the Tribe will stick him in one oven, set the timer and call it a day.

Devin Mesoraco
Yan Gomes
Miguel Montero
Salvador Perez
A.J. Pierzynski
Josmil Pinto

Mesoraco predictably cooled off as far as the average is concerned once he returned from the disabled list for a strained hamstring, but it’s nice to see that his power stroke hasn’t missed a beat. Perez continues to disappoint, but he’s another brand in whom I’m willing to put some faith. The Kansas City Royals in general aren’t hitting, especially for power, and they’re trying a new recipe at hitting coach. This offense came to life a bit last summer, and I expect its crust to get a similar response this season.

Gourmet Store Brand
Wilson Ramos
Derek Norris
Jason Castro
John Jaso
Carlos Ruiz
Matt Wieters

The gourmet store brand – Safeway Select in my neighborhood, for instance – is really pretty good, and it can save you a buck or two. There’s always a chance that the quality goes down, but I’m fairly confident. Ramos is regaining the strength in his surgically repaired hand, a good sign. I wish I could be absolutely certain that he’ll avoid these freakish injuries.

I went over the Wieters situation last week. The Baltimore Orioles won’t put a timetable on his return, even if he does. His owners are looking at a best-case scenario like this one: He avoids surgery, returns before the All-Star break and doesn’t experience a setback, but his numbers slide a bit. That outlook still seems optimistic, to me, but I’m reluctant to let go of what I still think was going to be a bit of a breakthrough for him.

California Pizza Kitchen
Dioner Navarro
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Russell Martin
Welington Castillo
Mike Zunino

I must like Navarro more than some of those who contributed to the consensus. OK hitter, great surroundings. Not as much power as the rest of those in this tier, but Rogers Centre helps his sauce to taste a little more robust, and his BA skills are touch better than his classmates’. There’s some name recognition here, but the quality of the product isn’t up to par, for whatever reason.

A.J. Ellis
Chris Iannetta
Yasmani Grandal
Alex Avila
Nick Hundley
Hank Conger
Travis d’Arnaud

I think I tried Tony’s a long time ago, at a friend’s house or something. I don’t recall that I disliked it, but it didn’t make a good impression, either. There’s a hint of upside in several of the players in this tier. I’m keen on Hundley in deep mixed leagues now that he’s in Baltimore, assuming that Wieters misses the rest of the season. Hundley has a little power and now, potentially, a place to see it rewarded more often.

Kurt Suzuki
Tyler Flowers
Ryan Hanigan
Geovany Soto
Chris Gimenez

Just looking to get by? Try a baked roll, a couple of tablespoons of spaghetti sauce and some pre-dried cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve consumed an Ellio’s offering or two in my day, courtesy of an associate here and there. We’ve all tried players like these, too, in desperate times, and they’ve worked out for a while. I’m not sold on Suzuki yet and definitely not on Flowers; Hanigan can be just as useful once he returns from the DL, I think. The DL holds Soto back, for now, and Gimenez’s advantage is for that reason.

Generic Store Brand
Jordan Pacheco
Hector Sanchez
Ryan Doumit
Brayan Pena
Josh Thole

There may be a generic store brand out there that beats the commercial competition. When it comes to cheap, cardboard-flavored frozen pizza and low-grade catchers, there’s not a lot that separates them. Each of these backstops has some combination of avenues to playing time (or, in some cases, has already obtained) and a semblance (or more) of skills to make good on it.

Nicholas Minnix oversaw baseball content for six years at KFFL, where he held the loose title of Managing Editor for seven and a half before he joined FanGraphs. He played in both Tout Wars and LABR from 2010 through 2014. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasMinnix.

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Not sure about Rosario this high. I understand he’s missed some time with injury, but there are some deeply uninspiring names posting higher wRC+ and wOBA numbers.

I just don’t see how a guy projected to finish the year hitting around .250 with <20 homers is a top tier player.