Waiting Game: Comparing Catcher Tiers

Method

This series goes position by position, comparing the average production you get out of the top 5 ranked, the next 5 players, and so on. We’re looking for where the value of players starts to drop, so that you can see how long you can wait on a position and what kind of hit in production you’ll take if you do. One thing to note is that I’m not restricting players to only one position for the stat information. If a guy qualifies at 2B, SS, and OF, his numbers are going to appear in all three sets.

There’s a lot of discussion about tiers in ranking players. Some fantasy managers live by it, because they like to make cut-off points where they feel the talent is noticeably different between one group of players and the next group. Other managers don’t like it and prefer a simple straight ranking. I’ve always enjoyed tiers, and depending on the format of your league, there really can be obvious gaps in talent level at a certain number of players. This seems especially true with the thin positions, like catcher and middle infield.

I’ve done two things here. First I use CBS’s ranking info for 5×5 roto leagues, and I show the average numbers for the top 5 players at a position compared to players 6-10, and then 11-15. Next I’ll take data from a private CBS points league and show the averages for the same breakdowns (1-5, 6-10, 11-15). Although it’s a custom scoring league, there aren’t major differences from CBS’s public points system, and anyway, a lot of times the points rankings are very close to the 5×5. The nice thing is that it boils down production to a common denominator (points) regardless of whether a player was more speed or power.

The 5×5 Roto Comparisons

Here are your 5×5 averages of the top 5 catchers, followed by catchers 6-10 and 11-15. I’ve rounded to whole numbers.

  • #1-5: 66 R, 22 HR, 79 RBI, .280 BA in 508 AB
  • #6-10: 48 R, 17 HR, 67 RBI, .262 BA in 460 AB
  • #11-15: 49 R, 12 HR, 59 RBI, .250 BA in 430 AB

The first thing I notice for catcher is the playing time difference. The top catchers are netting more AB overall because they’re good enough offensively to play every day, as opposed to splitting time between two lesser catchers on a team. The top tier’s runs are definitely up, again partly due to more playing time: there are 37% more R for a top-5 catcher compared to the later groups. The difference in BA is quite notable as well, and that’s with Carlos Santana’s .231 dragging down the top-5 average. Especially in leagues with only one catcher, there’s an obvious benefit to having a top-5 guy compared to a later one. What’s surprising to me is the power available in the middle tier. In ranks 6-10, two catchers still managed to hit over 20 HR, and another hit 17. When I look at the last tier, it’s clear that the overall talent is slipping, which is expected. Except for power there isn’t much of a gap between the 6-10 group and the 11-15 guys, but it seems that HR was the major contribution for many catchers, so missing out on that stat will hurt your team. There were seven C who hit 20+ HR in 2014, and ten hit 15+. Given that most catchers don’t have a great BA (9 of top 30 hit over .270, only 4 above .280), I’ll look for HR and AB.

The Points Comparison

It’s not as essential for a points breakdown at catcher, because you don’t have a lot of different types of players, such as speedsters versus power. However, here’s the breakdown.

  • Range, 1-5: 421.5 – 588, avg. 511.7 points
  • Range, 6-10: 379.5 – 411.5, avg. 398 points
  • Range, 11-15: 321 – 370.5, avg. 344.7 points
  • Difference between avg. of 1-5 and 6-10 = 113.7 points = 28.5% more
  • Difference between avg. of 1-5 and 11-15 = 167 points = 48.4% more
  • Difference between avg. of 6-10 and 11-15 = 53.3 points = 15.5% more

.

  • Range, 1-5: 421.5 – 588, avg. 511.7 points
  • Range, 6-15: 321 – 411.5, avg. 371.4 points
  • Difference between avg. of 1-5 and 6-15 = 140.3 points = 37.8% more

 .

  • Range, 1-10: 379.5 – 588, avg. 454.8 points
  • Range, 11-20: 272 – 370.5, avg. 320.3 points
  • Difference between avg. of 1-10 and 11-20 = 134.5 points = 42.0% more

As with the 5×5 rankings, there’s a noticeable gap between the top talent and the later talent, but the gap between the middle tier and the third tier is much smaller. What’s important to note is that the difference between top-5 and 6-15 is not much more than the difference between top-10 and 11-20. If you don’t want to “waste” an early pick on an elite catcher, you’ll at least want to grab a catcher in the top-10 for sure, because outside of that you’ll see a much larger drop.

The Bottom Line: Best not to wait too long on catchers. If you miss on a top-5, definitely get a top-10. Look for guys who give you the best chance at the most AB, and be sure to get power production from behind the plate.

Compare tiers for the rest of the positions

CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseThird Base ShortstopOutfieldStarting PitcherRelievers

Kevin Jebens

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Fantasy baseball player since 2000; winning leagues ranging from 12-team H2H to 18-team experts 5x5. Has written for various baseball blogs, including the 2013 Bleed Cubbie Blue Annual.

2 thoughts on “Waiting Game: Comparing Catcher Tiers”

    1. Thanks, Walt. I do this process with every points league I’m in. It was interesting to adapt it to 5×5. I’ll finish the series with a comparison of every position together, giving an idea as to what positions I’ll prioritize in drafts for next season.

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