Welcome to our series of Dynasty League Rankings. These rankings will be a little different from the keeper league rankings, and obviously the 2014 rankings. For this series, we’ll be looking at the next 5-7 years of production. There won’t be a lot of minor league players in these rankings, especially if they won’t be producing in the big leagues in 2014 or 2015.
The idea behind this list is that you are drafting a new team in a new dynasty league, with the desire to be competitive for the next 5-7 years. When we look at catchers in this type of ranking, it’s important to note that the average career length of a catcher is 5.2 years. In other words, while Tommy discusses when to draft catchers here, it applies even more so in this type of league.
Let’s get to it.
1. Buster Posey. While we’ve seen a significant drop from Buster’s 336/408/549 of 2012, we’re still looking at the best catcher in the game. At 26 years old, he should have his best years ahead of him. Posey is an elite contact hitter with an 87.5% contact rate (91.8 in zone). I love to see the improvement in his K/BB% this year, and while his slugging dropped, I expect an improvement next year as his HR/FB% returns to his career levels. The price may be high to acquire Posey versus Santana or Rosario, but it doesn’t change his ranking.
2. Carlos Santana. I came very close to ranking Santana #1. His combination of Power (#2 in extra base hits) and OBP (#2) and the ability to play everyday (#1 in PA) is simply awesome. Just a few short years ago, Keith Law ranked him as the #3 overall top prospect, one spot ahead of Posey. The hit tool is there, and while 18 HRs doesn’t scream power, he has the same slugging percentage as he did in 2011 when he cracked 27 HRs. While everyone reaches for Posey, I’m hanging tight.
3. Wilin Rosario. At 24 years old, Rosario has the most raw power of the catchers. While I expected a drop in his AVG in 2013, he improved it to .290. This is remarkable considering his 3% BB rate and 23% K rate. I see him hitting .270 for the next 5-7 years. His power is real, although don’t expect a return to his insane 25% HR/FB rate in 2012. He’s at a more reasonable 17% in 2013. I don’t feel the love here, but he’s young enough to prove me wrong. He sits comfortably at #3.
4. Yadier Molina. At 31 years old, it would be easy to dismiss Molina in dynasty leagues. His 8 WAR in 2013 behind the plate tells you not to. While he may never hit 20 HRs again like in 2012, his 39 doubles in 2013 leads all catchers. His AVG is 2nd only to Mauer, and his SLG is 2nd among qualified catchers to Rosario.
5. Brian McCann. A lot is predicated on where he might end up. If he ends up in the AL, with the ability to keep his knees healthy as a part-time DH, McCann could be the best catcher in the game in 2014. Now that’s a lot of conjecture, but McCann has hit 20+ HRs for 7 of the past 8 years, including 2013 in less than 350 ABs. While just 29 years old, McCann should put up enough production in the next 5 years to earn this spot.
6. Matt Wieters. Who shares the lead with Rosario for HRs by a catcher? Yep, it is Wieters, of the acclaimed pedigree. At 27, he’s now hit 20 HRs for 3 straight years. He’s also an elite defensive catcher, which keeps him at the position for the next 7+ years. While his .230 avg is discouraging, it’s been driven down by a .240 babip. A slight uptick and he’s .240 approaching .250. So while his power is similar to Rosario, his average could catch up to him. Couple that with a respectable 8% BB rate and there is good reason to wait on Wieters as well.
7. Salvador Perez. The youngest of the catchers ranked so far, Perez has turned a disappointing first half of 2013 into a quietly solid season. Perez is a great contact hitter (87.5%) like Posey, however, without the ability to draw a walk. He should maintain an AVG of .290 which would put him near the top of the leader board for catchers. He’s slugging .480 in the second half of this year, after .470 in 2011 and 2012. If he can hit .290 and chip in 15 HRs a year over the next 7 years, he’ll likely out-earn this ranking.
8. Wilson Ramos. Ramos has the highest SLG% of any catcher in 2013. He may have missed most of the first 3 months of 2013 but he’s now appeared in 23 straight games, proving his health and durability. He has exceptional power (15 HR in 265 AB), hits for a good average, and while his 4% BB rate is horrific, he’s posted solid rates of 12 and 9 in the past 2 seasons. He’d be my breakout pick for 2014, if he hadn’t broken out in the second half of 2013! Just 26 years old, the future is looking bright for Wilson Ramos.
9. Jonathan Lucroy. I admit to being the last guy on this bus. In fact I’m probably still standing in the rain, waiting to get on. If I wanted to be overly critical, I’d point out that without a hot July, Lucroy falls from 4th to 10th in points leagues. However, there’s something to be said about a catcher with an 8% BB rate who only strikes out 12% of the time. Lucroy also has some power chipping in 17 HRs in 2013. You could do a lot worse at the catcher’s position than this 27-year-old.
10. Travis d’Arnaud. Our first prospect to be ranked is Travis d’Arnaud. The Mets have committed to d’Arnaud as their starting catcher, so while he doesn’t have any great MLB numbers to build on, you can expect a full 7 years of production from his bat. d’Arnaud was the number one catching prospect in baseball, with great bat speed and the ability to drive the ball. He has 20 HR potential as well as the ability to hit for a decent average. 2013 has been cruel as far as results go, but no one on this list has the potential to jump up the rankings more than him.
11. Joe Mauer. If I believed there was any chance that Mauer retains catcher eligibility for the next 4 years, I’d have him much higher. Mauer is already DH’ing a quarter of the time in 2013. While eligible, Mauer makes a great catcher in every format for his ability to hit for a high average. As a 1B or DH, there just isn’t enough power there to go along with it.
12. Jason Castro. Castro the Astro had a real breakthrough season in 2013. With 18 HRs and a .275 AVG at 26 years old, it would seem he is poised to break into the upper echelon of the position. A 26% K rate and a batting average driven by a .351 BABIP makes me concerned that there may be a step back in 2014,however. He is a hard contact type of guy, who will likely come cheap, even with his upside.
13. Evan Gattis. Gattis is primed to take over the catching position for Atlanta in 2014. He has shown great power in his first season with 20 HRs in just over 300 ABs. It’s important to hold expectations in check as he’s yet to catch more than 52 games in a year. Ever. Will his body hold up? Will he continue to hit .220 against RHPs? There’s some thump in that bat, and that is exciting at the catcher position, but it is unreasonable to expect the same pace (or 19% HR/FB) in 2014.
14. Yasmani Grandal. Grandal was a highly-touted prospect before bursting onto the scene in 2011 with a half-season line of .297/.394/.469. A 50 game suspension, some mixed results followed by knee surgery puts the start of 2014 in doubt. You can’t put a lot of stock in his 100 ABs from 2013 even though they amounted to a .218 AVG. He has a great BB/KK rate and is a pretty good contact hitter. He could really move up this chart next year, but with the cloud of PED use surrounding him, it may be a crap shoot. There’s upside here and you could do worse on a flier.
15. Welington Castillo. Castillo has turned himself into a premiere defensive catcher. This bodes well for his ability to man the position for the next 7 years. While he has displayed little to no power, Castillo has a good hit tool and should be able to hit .280. He also draws walks which is really nice in points leagues. If the power comes, which he showed in AAA, there is potential for a top 10 catcher here. A lot has to break right, but he’s said to be a very hard worker. I’d bet on him.
16. Mike Zunino. Zunino was rushed to the big leagues, before finding success in AAA. So what happens when you bring a guy up who has struck out 28% of the time in AAA? He bats .210 and Ks 25% of the time. It seems like the Mariners can’t handle hitting prospects. There is power in this bat though, and Zunino is only 22 years old. I just wouldn’t invest too heavily in him as he’s likely a couple of years away before he has any fantasy value.
17. Devin Mesoraco. I hate Dusty Baker for his handling of young players. At 25, Mesoraco should be slowly coming into his own. He has decent pop and good contact ability, but unless his performance screams “Hey, I’m better than Hanigan”, he seems destined to play every other day. The situation is worth watching, as he has a fairly high ceiling (18-20HR, .275), but the floor is lower than almost all of these others.
18. Josmil Pinto. A nice little debut from Pinto, batting .350 and slugging .600 in September. Pinto was a pretty underrated prospect who had a nice BB/KK rate to go along with some good power. The knock is his defense, but all reports are that he’s been average since his call-up. He has a 15HR and .280 AVG type ceiling. At 24 years old, he’s a nice sleeper pick, just with a little less certainty.
19. Alex Avila. Disclaimer: Ranking #19 among catchers is not an endorsement. However, Avila is only 26 years old, and he already owns a 19HR season while batting .295. I watched him tire as that season wore on and he hasn’t come close to duplicating those numbers since. He’s hot right now, batting over .400 since his return from a concussion. Avila can chip in 10-15 HRs and bat .250. He’s solid enough defensively that I can see him being a #1 catcher for a team over the next 5 years.
20. Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Sent to Texas with Andrus, Harrison, and Feliz for Teixiera, Salty is one of the top prospects of 2007, Saltalamacchia never really lived up to the hype. He never accumulated a positive WAR during his Texas tenure. Fast forward to 2012, and he had his best year at 27 years old clubbing 25 HRs. Unfortunately, he also struck out 31% of the time, and had a 20% HR/FB rate, leading many to assume that he’d slip in 2013. He didn’t disappoint there. Even with an inflated .361 BABIP, he’s a 15 HR, .235 AVG guy. Not a lot to see here.
21. Russell Martin. Martin is another guy who can chip in 15-17 HRs while batting .240 and swiping a couple of bags. He’s 30 years old though, and I’m not looking at 5 more years from him. Enjoy him if you must, but there’s greater potential below.
22. Max Stassi. Stassi played 2 games and then suffered a concussion with the Astros this year. He’s got the usual K% concerns in the minors, but he has power to spare. He’s also a fine defensive catcher. I don’t know how things shake up in Houston with Castro and Stassi, but Stassi could hit 20 HRs in the majors. His lack of discipline won’t win him any batting titles, but he’s a nice name to put on the shelf and remember. He won’t be a star, but he could be like the guy he’s blocked by.
23. J.P Arencibia. At 26 years old, with parts of 4 seasons behind him, Arencibia isn’t likely to get any better. There’s 20 HR power there, but guys who strike out 30% of the time, will never produce much else. He’s not even a great receiver. The Blue Jays made a critical error moving Travis d’Arnaud.
24. Miguel Montero. .469, .432, .368. That’s Montero’s slugging over the past three years. It was a good run while we had him, but Montero is drifting into the sunset. At 30 years old, we can hope for a couple of 14-16 HR seasons, but it’s time to look elsewhere for your catching needs.
Check out the rest of the Dynasty League Rankings.