There were some interesting moves this off-season for the Catcher position. Russell Martin signed with Toronto basically killing Dioner Navarro’s fantasy value (barring a trade). Miguel Montero was traded to the Cubs. Yasmani Grandal is now a member of the Dodgers. Derek Norris was shipped to San Diego. A.J. Pierzynski is in Atlanta. Christian Vazquez is now the primary catcher for the Red Sox. Pittsburgh will go with newly acquired Francisco Cervilli behind the plate. Evan Gattis is now a full-time outfielder. I’m sure there are one or two more, but you get the point. It has been an active off-season between trades and free agent signings. If you have been busy with fantasy football and have not been paying attention, you’ve got some catching up to do (no pun intended).
Below are our top 20 catchers for the 2015 season. We used a 10 games started minimum requirement for eligibility so you may need to check your league settings for players like Stephen Vogt and Carlos Santana. If you feel we overlooked someone or would like to debate a player’s ranking, feel free to do so in the comment section below.
There are some discrepancies with a few picks, but that is to be expected. Regardless of the order we each put them in, we all agree that the players ranked 1-15 all belong in the top 20. The final five were each left off at least one list; unless you play in a larger or two catcher league, these players should only be considered as a backup or late round sleeper.
As for the players ranked inside the top 20 that did not make it to the overall top 20 list, they are John Jaso, Dioner Navarro, Tyler Flowers, Alex Avila and Josmil Pinto. None of them appeared on more than 2 lists and did not receive a ranking higher than 17.
Players that you would reach for in the draft
Tommy: None. I will never reach for a catcher. Even though the league has tried to remove home plate collisions from the game, there is just too much that can go wrong when you invest early in a catcher. Last season, I invested early in Carlos Santana because he was not catching. While Evan Gattis could have a similar arrangement in 2015, I am not convinced that he will get enough ABs to take full advantage.
Once Posey is gone, I believe that Devin Mesoraco and Jonathan LuCroy are head and shoulders above the rest of the field so I might consider grabbing one of them if their ADP is only slightly higher than the rest of the catcher pack, but more than likely I will be waiting until the end-game to draft a catcher.
Kevin: I’m a fan of high-BA catchers, so guys like Salvador Perez, Lucroy, and Molina are attractive options.
Will: Travis d’Arnaud – I don’t generally reach for catchers, but if you wanna go by someone who I’d take higher than current ADP, I’d say d’Arnaud. Could hit 20 dingers, with decent average. I think he is a late rounder that could finish at least top 10 for catchers. Think this year’s Yan Gomes.
Evan Gattis – I know he is basically a one-trick catcher eligible player at this point, but with more time out from behind the plate he’ll probably lead all catchers in dingers. You’ll just have to make up average in other spots, although catchers that hit for average seem few and far between.
Yasmani Grandal – When he’s played he’s been a solid fantasy contributor and while Dodger Stadium is hardly Yankee Stadium, it will make Petco look like Yosemite. Grandal is my sleeper pick to breakout in ’15 at the C position.
Ron: Waiting on catcher is nearly always my game plan going into a draft, even in two-catcher formats and especially in shallow leagues. Any consensus top ten catcher would likely require a reach from me. If forced to choose, I’ll reach into the top ten for Salvador Perez as he is likely to come after some of the power bats at the position are selected.
Jim: Yan Gomes – There are some very good catchers available in 2015 so I don’t see a need to reach. If I were to reach for one though it would be Yan Gomes. He represents the last stable option according to my rankings as far as batting average and power go. Evan Gattis would be my alternate choice. I don’t trust the batting average, but the additional at bats playing the OF means the potential for more home runs, RBIs and runs scored.
Players you will avoid drafting
Tommy: Buster Posey is a great player, but the price is too prohibitive. It is too easy for catchers to wear out and go through prolonged slumps, like Posey did in the second half of 2013 for me to justify paying for the top catcher. Willin Rosario is so bad defensively, that the Rockies may be looking to move him to first base. The problem is that Justin Morneau already resides there, and given that both players have immense platoon splits, Rosario would be on the wrong side. If he is only facing lefties, his numbers will be very good, but his AB total will be too low for him to remain mixed league relevant. Rosario is a guy I want no part of unless the Rockies commit to playing him at least 4-5 days per week. He would have to catch to get than many ABs.
Kevin: I like Matt Wieters and think he can find another gear, but I’m not gambling on him in 2015 due to the injury. Also, Carlos Santana still gets too much love in standard 5×5; I’d only take him if walks matter.
Will: Yan Gomes – I feel a slight regression for Yanimal. I’m not saying he won’t be good, but he is going top three for catchers and top 100 overall. I am only avoiding him at the price you will have to pay for him.
Miguel Montero – I like the trade to the Cubs, but Montero is aging and, although he did get 70 RBIs last year, I only see that number dropping. 60 may even be a stretch in that department.
Ron: Mike Zunino has nowhere to go but up with his batting average. The idea of having to offset that much batting average with other picks on my roster is not appealing.
Jim: Wilson Ramos – I love his potential and he has the ability to be a top 5 catcher (or finish just outside), but his injuries make him too big of a gamble with all the other options available. I might gamble on him if I end up with a questionable option and want to hedge my bets, but he would not be my primary choice. I’d also avoid Russell Martin. He had a career year in 2014, but I expect his numbers to fall back down to his customary levels dropping him outside the top 15.
Average Joe, the players that you would wait on and settle for.
Tommy: I like whoever ranks toward the end of the C1 list. Brian McCann, Wilson Ramos, Derrek Norris, and Travis d’Arnaud could all make for excellent values. McCann’s best days are behind him, but he should still get close to 20 HRs and post decent RBI totals. Ramos hits too many grounders to ever take full advantage of his immense power, but he will contribute a solid average and decent power stats when healthy. Norris is nothing special, but will see more ABs in San Diego, and d’Arnaud looks primed for a breakout after a good second half.
Kevin: Especially in daily or 2 C leagues, John Jaso is a decent endgame pick. He has trouble staying healthy, but he’s capable of .270/50/10/50, and he can even throw in a few SB. Derek Norris went from one pitcher’s park to another, but he has sneaky 20 HR potential anyway.
Will: Wilson Ramos – Nothing particularly flashy about Wilson, but one of your better BAs for a catcher, with mid-teen homer potential, going outside the top 200 is fine by me.
Steven Vogt – Catcher eligible in ten game leagues, Vogt shouldn’t hurt your average and can sock 10-15 dingers. I’d be okay waiting for that.
Derek Norris – I am not expecting a breakout or anything, but I like Norris’ makeup and even in Petco, I think you get 10-15 homers and I think he will get the AVG up to the .260s
Ron: Wilson Ramos can easily put up top 10 production if he can ever stay on the field for a full season. Even if he cannot stay healthy, replacements are easy to find in single catcher formats.
Jim: Jason Castro – His average slipped last year (along with the rest of his numbers), but I think he’s a better hitter than we saw in 2014. I expect an average of around .265, 60 runs and RBIs and 15-18 homers. Not bad for one of the last catchers off the board. I can see similar numbers from Miguel Montero as well only with less power.
Late round picks that could make an impact
Tommy: I think Russell Martin played out of his mind last year, but I love the move to Toronto for him. He is likely to take Melky’s line-up spot. Even though the average won’t be higher than .250, the man knows how to get on base. Martin could lead all catchers in runs scored and he will chip in everywhere else also. I see him as a safe bet to produce as a top 10 catcher, but he will likely be overlooked on draft day because he always is.
Kevin: I don’t know how late he’ll go, because he was recently a big name, but Wilin Rosario could be a nice value. He had a bad year, and he won’t repeat his breakout campaign, but there’s still enough potential in his bat to give good catcher value in 2015. Otherwise I think Derek Norris qualifies because he doesn’t get much love.
Will: d’Arnaud and Grandal are my huge late round picks as well as players I would reach for.
Ron: Finally out of hitter’s hell, Yasmani Grandal is looking more appealing to me by the day. He should take the lion’s share of work behind the dish for the Dodgers and while Chavez Ravine is not exactly hitter’s heaven, a run at top 10 production is well within reach for Grandal. He can likely be had after the top 15 catchers are off the board in many leagues.
Jim: Mike Zunino – He showed good power in 2014, but the batting average was on par with J.P. Arencebia. If he can bring the average up, he could make a sneaky play at the end of the draft (or off waivers). Christian Bethancourt may see limited at bats to start with A.J. Pierzynski on board, but his bat could force Atlanta to give him more playing time by mid-year. If he’s not a late round pick, he’s someone to monitor closely during the season.
Defend Your Rankings
Players ranked higher or lower than the rest of the group that need some explaining.
Tommy: Matt Wieters – My Wieters ranking is as much an indictment of everyone else as it is a proclamation of love for Wieters. When looking at all of the options outside the top 4, Wieters seems safest to me. It was a very small sample size (26 games), but Wieters per game production exceeded all other catchers (even Posey). Much of this was due to an unsustainably high BA. He is always a good bet for 20+ HRs and if he can get the BA north of .260, he will be a top 8 C easily, with top 4 upside.
Kevin: Carlos Santana – I don’t buy into the decent BA Santana put up in 2013. In 5×5 leagues, the chance that he could hit .230 hurts his value. Also, though he did show an increase in HR in 2014, he needed his highest FB% over a full season, and his highest HR/FB. He may keep that up, but they may fall back a bit and cap him at 20-25 HR. This is still good, but if the stars don’t align, he could end up with his 2014 BA and his 2013 HR total, which is less appealing. Too much risk to be the #2 ranked catcher.
Will: Salvador Perez – If there’s a pitch Sal don’t like, well, we ain’t found it yet! (Pardon my poor grammar, mom) You need only have watched the World Series to see what I mean. Now granted Perez was playing a bit hampered, but that had no affect on his selectivity at the plate. In 2014 only Pablo Sandoval chased more pitches outside the strike zone, and in the second half of 2014 not one hitter that qualified for the batting title, chased more pitches. Plus when Sal does make contact on those pitches the ball isn’t exactly coming scorching off his bat. This probably played a large factor in him leading the majors in infield “flys” last season. Pitchers will continue to throw him garbage and unless he stops flailing away at everything, he is not going to have much fantasy value. Need more proof of that? In the second half his slashes were a paltry .229/.236/.360. That’s a line of slash numbers, to which I will happily say “no thank you”!
Ron: Yadier Molina – In recent years, batting average is the one solid 5×5 stat area where Yadier Molina has been a cut above most of the rest of the players with catcher eligibility. Unfortunately, to maximize the impact of batting average it also helps to post a significant number of at bats and traditional catchers simply do not rack up the ABs. Of the 108 players to log 500+ at bats in 2014, only four of them were catchers and none of those four were named Yadier Molina. With Molina’s recent injury issues making it increasingly likely he falls far short of 500 ABs again, I will not be paying the price to make his household name a part of my 2015 plans.
Jim: Devin Mesoraco – He had a huge April batting .468, the next highest month was July with a .267 and the other four months Mesoraco batted between .239 and .253. The .273 batting average is the only thing that separates Mesoraco from players like McCann, Santana and Gattis. He has similar power to each of those men, but all three of them have established their power over a few seasons making them more of a guarantee. I don’t hate Mesoraco, there are just a number of similar options I would rather own.
Still need more rankings, head on over to Fantasy Rundown where Goose will be compiling rankings for the 2015 season as well as prospect rankings and the best baseball links available this off-season.