I just got done entering my catchers for our positional rankings series. After the first dozen players, I noticed the selection turns south quickly. The cliff happens around the 15th guy off the board. I think owners need to have a plan going into a draft or auction on how they want to approach the situation. Here are my ideas this year for different league sizes.
10-Team, 1 Catcher (#1 to #10)
- Buster Posey
- Gary Sanchez
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Russell Martin
- Yasmani Grandal
- Willson Contreras
- Salvador Perez
- Stephen Vogt
- Yadier Molina
- Brian McCann
I am fine with any of the above being my catcher.
12 team, 1 catcher (#11 and #12)
Still good. I can live with either of these two.
15 team, 1 catcher (#13 to #15)
I don’t mind Castillo as my catcher. As for the other two, they have some major question marks with Wieters unsigned and Mesoraco not playing for past two seasons. If I’m picking near the end of this list, I am not happy with my options. The next five also have major question marks with their performance or playing time but I could easily see one sneak into the top ten. With 13 of the options palatable, I will get one before the bottom of the barrel is reached.
20 team, 1 catcher or 10 team, 2 catcher (#16 to #20)
I moved Gomes up a bit from my rankings since I believe these five belong together. I would not feel good relying on any one of these five. Owners will have to roster some of them and the waiver wire options are slim.
I am going to try my hardest to get two of the top 13 in these leagues. I am not aiming for Posey but I don’t want complete zeros from the position.
12 team mixed, 2 catcher league; AL and NL Only 12-team, 1 catcher (#21 to #24)
These four have some major flaws, but each one has a useable trait. Murphy and Rupp have the potential for 20+ home runs while Cervilli and Hermann have decent on-base rates.
I know some owners are higher on Murphy’s talent but I think Wolters will be the Rockies starting catcher and pull half the season’s plate appearances.
With 13 catchers I like and 24 needed for all teams, I will probably not get two in the top half. Well, maybe I can. The top catchers are all gone by pick 200 in NFBC (round 16). I could fill my roster until Round 13 and then still take two desirable catchers.
If in an auction, I would throw out the #10 or so catcher I feel comfortable rostering. I might get him cheap with everyone not desperate for catching yet. Additionally, it will set an anchoring point for future catcher prices.
15 team, 2 catchers (#25 to #30)
- Tyler Flowers
- Red Sox Situation (Sandy Leon/Christian Vazquez/Blake Swihart)
- Jason Castro
- Geovany Soto
- James McCann
- Austin Hedges
Flowers is the top pick from these six with his ability to post an OK on-base rate and I about placed him with the previous group.
The Red Sox situation is a mess and right now I wouldn’t want to guess who comes out on top but hopefully more information becomes available as Spring Training progresses.
The last four have full-time catching jobs but no hitting talent. They are only useful for counting stats.
I will need to work at this level in my 15-team mixed Tout Wars league. Besides Flowers (who’s not good), I don’t want any of them. I need to concentrate on players ranked above them.
20 team, 2 catchers (#30 to #40)
- Christian Bethancourt
- Tony Wolters
- Martin Maldonado
- Jett Bandy
- Andrew Susac
- Carlos Perez
- Austin Barnes
- Hector Sanchez
- Omar Narvaez
- Dioner Navarro
One name sticks out from this list, Austin Barnes. While currently blocked by Grandal, he could be a useful source of stolen bases from the catcher position.
With twenty teams fight over 30 starting catchers, the pickings will be slim. Some teams will have be able to get two full-time catchers. Others won’t. I will go in with the following plan.
I will first pick up a top guy like Grandal. Then I will wait to see if I can get another full time catcher, if not I will get his backup (Barnes). I will at least get a team’s production from the spot. Some teams I could see this plan working with are the Astros (tough to pull off), Cubs, Mariners, Tigers, Indians, Brewers, Twins, Rays, and the Rockies. To get an idea of the league-wide and team specific depth at catcher, use this page as a reference.
AL and NL only, 2 catchers (#40 to #48)
- Christian Vazquez
- Roberto Perez
- Miguel Montero
- John Ryan Murphy
- Jose Lobaton
- Alex Avila
- Luke Maile
- Caleb Joseph
I am going to use the same approach as with the previous sized leagues. I’ll get one top tier guy and then try for a second full-timer but probably end up with my full-timer’s backup.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.