Yes, Buster Posey, we get it. You are worth a Johnny Bench rookie card, and you can deliver babies. They changed the catcher collision rule partly (mostly?) because of you. Is there anything you can’t do? Next we’ll be seeing “Posey in 2020” bumper stickers.
But what does Posey in the catcher slot mean for a fantasy team? Is he worth the high price he’ll cost at the draft? How do you justify reaching so early on a catcher when the next options don’t go until five or more rounds after him? Let’s see what we find.
The Rest of the Field
Early last offseason, I did a series looking at the average value of top-5 players at their position, compared to the rest of the field. The catching article revealed the large drop-off in quality after the top five catchers. Here are the averaged stats of each tier.
- #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
There’s a clear gap between the top options and the rest of the field. Let’s take a look at the names in the top-5 that aren’t Posey.
- 2015: McCann, Martin, Perez, Vogt
- 2014: Lucroy, Mesoraco, Gomes, McCann
- 2013: Molina, Lucroy, Saltalamacchia, Perez
- 2012: Molina, Pierzynski, Ruiz, Montero
Over the last four years, no other catcher has been in the top-5 for more than two years. There are names that provide good value every season, but the names do change, with newcomers having great years (Vogt, Gomes, Mesoraco) but then often fading. Veterans McCann and Martin used to be staples in the top-5, but some poor years (age, injuries) knocked them out. They’ve returned in 2015, but for how long? Yadi was my favorite option at catcher when he was hitting quite well and cost half the price of Posey, but several years of injuries, declining stats, and a rising price make him risky. The best argument for the catchers who randomly pop up into the top-5 is that they were likely endgame draft picks or waiver wire grabs, so the profit is high. But you can’t tell me with any certainty who’s going to be in the top-5 next year, with the exception of Buster Posey.
You can’t deny it when a player completely dominates a positional ranking for numerous seasons. For years it was Pujols and Miggy at 1B, and Cano at 2B. Now we have studs like Kershaw at SP, Trout at OF, Aroldis at RP, and Posey at C. Buster is putting up a run at catcher that is better than any other top dog since Pujols. The evidence stares us in the face, and we can’t ignore it any longer. Here are Posey’s stats from the last few years compared to the average of the top-5 from 2014 — which includes his numbers, remember.
- 2014 top-5 average: .280/66/22/79
- Buster Posey 2015: .318/74/19/95
- Buster Posey 2014: .311/72/22/89
- Buster Posey 2013: .294/61/15/72
- Buster Posey 2012: .336/78/24/103
We’re looking at the cream of the crop average for catcher, and Posey exceeds the average in 13 out of 16 instances. During this four-year run, here are his catcher rankings according to standard 5×5, working backward: first, first, third, first. In other words, Posey has been the top catcher more times in the last four years than any other catcher has made the top-5. You can’t get any more consistent than that.
As for the dominance factor, Posey ranked 47th overall last year out of all players. That’s not just good for a catcher — it’s good for the entire player pool and warrants a third round pick, which is where Posey has often been taken. Now let’s look at the overall rankings of the top-5 catchers for the last four years, with Posey’s rank in bold.
- 2015: 47, 107, 109, 172, 176
- 2014: 51, 101, 118, 126, 185
- 2013: 81, 90, 132, 157, 167
- 2012: 28, 59, 104, 127, 129
Posey barely misses out on three top-50 player appearances. Of all other catchers across four seasons, only three managed to break the top-100. Posey justifies the fact that he costs more than any other catcher because he consistently performs at an elite level. If he’s taken in round 3, he’s worth that price, and I can see justification for the end of round 2.
For points leagues, here’s the top-5 average WITHOUT Posey, followed by Posey’s results for four years and his average over that time.
- 2014 Top-5, non-Posey average: 465 points
- Posey 2015: 629
- Posey 2014: 588
- Posey 2013: 508
- Posey 2012: 640
- Posey average: 591
Again, it’s not just that he’s the top player most of the time. It’s the fact that he’s so far ahead of the guys behind him. Add in the fact that his 3-year average in AB of 541 is the highest as well (with only one other catcher above 500), and it really is “set it and forget it” for your fantasy team all year.
It’s time to stop using the argument that we’re “reaching” for Posey just to get a good catcher. He’s proven he’s capable of being a top-50 player in any season (or nearly EVERY season), which means he’s a legit 3rd round pick. The fact that he’s leaps and bounds above all other catchers is an added bonus to his value. I’ve been reluctant to jump on the Posey bandwagon because I normally don’t like spending early on catcher, but as we’ve learned with the recent SP surplus, and with high K% and lower BA among hitters, the game changes over time. Posey is beyond valuable as a catcher, and you shouldn’t hesitate to acquire him and never let go. Unless you really CAN get a Johnny Bench rookie card for him…
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