Can We Expect More from Gomes, Perez, Vogt?

Depending on the format, I’m not one to keep catchers who aren’t named Posey. However, I realize than in very deep leagues, or with full keeper rosters, others will have to make the cut. With that in mind, I wanted to give you my opinion on three catchers in my top-10 for dynasty leagues. Here they are, along with my personal ranking of them for dynasty.

Stephen Vogt (#2)

I said this for our rankings article, but because there’s no clear number two guy behind Posey, I’m opting for the 2015 breakout. Vogt got off to a very hot start, hitting over .300 in the first two months with 11 of his 18 HR. On the surface, when looking at his whole season, that screams “hot start, fading back to average,” especially for the home runs. July was his worst month of the year, with a spike in GB% and an anemic hard hit rate. However, there was some bad luck there as well, with a BABIP nearly half the league average. Yes, weak hits mean worse BABIP, and it doesn’t explain his giant drop in walk rate (his only month below 10%). Given these factors, I’d speculate that he was dealing with an issue (fatigue, minor injury). He got better in August, hitting .276 with 4 HR. A groin issue affected his September, so I’m giving that month a mulligan.

He had some good luck and some unsustainable HR/FB in the first half, and he had some bad luck and/or injury issues in the second half. As a full season they give a good baseline from which to make your projections. I think he’ll improve further in 2016. Give him full health in 2016, and add in the fact that he can play 1B to save on the wear and tear, and I could see a .275 BA with 20+ HR, assuming 450+ AB. His HR/FB isn’t amazing by the standards of other positions, but it’s perfectly fine for a catcher. Other guys like McCann may hit for more power, but Vogt offers an average to good BA as well. Oh, and he was fourth in RBI for catchers this season. He may be 30 and a late bloomer, but he has a solid skill set, and I’m going all-in for him.

Salvador Perez (#5)

Perez is one of the few catchers who often nets a high AB total. Maybe that has started to slow him a bit, with three years of declining BA and a walk rate that went from poor to horrific. (Though not every player needs to walk a lot, and he sports a high contact rate.) There’s also been a three-year decline in BABIP, so maybe he can right the ship and get back above .280. But the best consolation is that his HR has been on a three-year rise. Due to playing so many games, he’s reached 70 RBI for three straight years; his 70 RBI in 2015 was good enough for fifth among catchers. He’ll be 26 next year, so as a long-term investment, you can’t go wrong with a guy who plays a lot, can hit 20 HR, and has the potential to hit .290. Of the three catchers here, Perez is the safest option for dynasty leagues due to age and general reliability. I almost put him #4 on my list, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a few top-3 finishes in the years to come.

Yan Gomes (#7)

At first glance, fantasy managers may think 2014 was a fluke, and Gomes won’t reach that level again. They’re wrong. A knee injury very early in the season shelved him for a month and likely affected him to some degree after he came back. His HR/FB in the second half got close to where he was last season. His LD% was strong all year, hinting as potential improvement in his BABIP and BA. He’ll be in his late 20s moving forward, so there’s still room for growth, and that makes for a nice five-year investment.

That being said, I ranked Gomes after Perez for a reason. Gomes doesn’t walk much, just like Perez. The difference is in contact rate. Gomes struggled to stay above 70% this year, and it’s been on a three-year decline. That does pose a problem for his average moving forward. It’s not just the drop in BABIP that has lowered his BA; he’s swinging out of the zone more, and his K% is rising. He’s young enough to reverse this trend, but it does add risk to his future value. Right now, there are a lot of catchers who can hit 15+ HR but with a poor BA (below .240). I still value him as a top-10 catcher moving forward–again, no amazing options after Posey–but he could drop further if the BA continues this way. His ceiling is worth gambling on for now.

 

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Kevin Jebens
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.