Rosterable Catchers

Note: As noted in the comments, I missed Sean Murphy in the initial evaluation. He has now been added and hopefully, all the counts have been updated.

Every year around this time, I go through the catcher pool to see who I can tolerate. Either I’m getting soft in my advanced age or the catcher pool has improved since last season. I didn’t get nauseous during the process. I’ll myself through the ownable options for different league types.

When targetting catchers, I’d like them to do one of two things.

  • Provide 15 to 20 home runs power.
  • Not tank my batting average.

The first criteria is easier to find with 11 catchers projected for 15 or more homers. Seventeen catchers are projected between 10 and 14. On average in NFBC Main Event leagues last season, owners needed 363 homers to finish third or 30 HR per the 12 non-catchers. If an owner can get 36 homers from his catchers, the amount needed by the other hitters drops to 27.

Find batting average help is harder, if at all. The average seventh-place team posted a combined .262 batting average. Of the 31 catchers who are projected by our depth charts for 300 or more plate appearances, only five will help a team achieve just an average batting average. Most just drag it down.

With those two criteria out of the way, I’d have no problem rostering any of these 17 catchers.

  1. J.T. Realmuto
  2. Yasmani Grandal
  3. Gary Sánchez
  4. Mitch Garver
  5. Will Smith
  6. Christian Vazquez
  7. Salvador Perez
  8. Wilson Ramos
  9. Travis d’Arnaud
  10. Willson Contreras
  11. Sean Murphy
  12. Yadier Molina
  13. Jorge Alfaro
  14. Carson Kelly
  15. Kurt Suzuki
  16. Omar Narváez
  17. Buster Posey
  18. Francisco Mejía

Yep, 18 … I’m getting weak. These options allow each owner the chance at a decent catcher option. The biggest drains on batting average (AVG) are Grandal and Will Smith but both provide so much more that the AVG hit is well worth it. The power/AVG balance is reasonable with this crew.

With seventeen options, just about all single catcher formats are covered expect for 20-team mixed or 10 team-onlys. Moving on to two-catcher formats, owners can’t wait until the draft ends to be guaranteed least get one. In a 12-team, two-catcher league, six players not on this list must be rostered. In a 15 teamer, about half the catchers drafted won’t be from the above list. There are options but they run out.

I’m going to push hard not to bottom feed in the .220 AVG, 8 HR range. A combination of Narvaez (212 ADP) and Posey (276) would cost very little, not tank my batting average, and provide ~25 total home runs. I’m going to try not to win with my catcher options but I don’t want to lose because of them.

Now for the next tier.

  1. Tom Murphy
  2. Roberto Pérez
  3. Robinson Chirinos
  4. Mike Zunino
  5. Jason Castro
  6. Jacob Stallings
  7. Yan Gomes
  8. Danny Jansen

The first five listed are projected for a batting average of .220 or worse but at least 15 home runs. When bottom feeding for catchers, owners can’t be too picky, and this group provides some late power.

Of the other three, Stallings provides some batting average but no power. The last two provide a combination of a .240 AVG and 10 HR. These dregs are why I’d prefer to stay in the first grouping.

These eight push the total catchers to 26. All the 12-team, two-catcher formats are covered with owners picking their poison. And now to fill out those 15-team, two-catcher formats with these 11 stinkers.

  1. Stephen Vogt
  2. Tony Wolters
  3. Curt Casali
  4. Martín Maldonado
  5. Pedro Severino
  6. Tyler Flowers
  7. Reese McGuire
  8. Tucker Barnhart
  9. James McCann
  10. Austin Romine
  11. Victor Caratini

Starting with these guys, playing time starts to eliminate what little value each guy provides. With almost no season-long usefulness, owners need to stream that week’s flavor for maximum value. Eventually, one player might take a step forward and the catcher merry-go-round will end. If I had to draft any two, it would be Romine and Caratini. While both will play in limited roles, they are projected for an AVG between .250 and .260. With the AVG baseline, they won’t be hurting the team when they play.

And that’s it for my take on catchers. I’m sure a few may move up or down because of injury, but I’m done caring about this group. It’s time to move on to real topic.

We hoped you liked reading Rosterable Catchers by Jeff Zimmerman!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




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.

newest oldest most voted
TheTinDoor
Member
Member
TheTinDoor

I’d personally put Jansen at the end of the first tier.

13 HR last year in 384 PA; horrible BABIP tanked his BA but projected at ~.240; and Reese McGuire will really be … exposed … w/ additional playing time.

ice_hawk10
Member
ice_hawk10

i would not put him in the first tier, but i do believe he could have some upside. not a ton of power, but hit for an average that doesn’t kill you and post a respectable OBP.