We wrap up catcher week with our 2016 rankings for the catcher position. While the catcher position is not deep in elite talent like other positions, it is full of serviceable options from top to bottom. For those of you that play in a 12 team/1 catcher league, there is no reason you should not come out of the draft with an above average catcher regardless of where you take them in the draft. If for some reason that player does not live up to expectations, have no fear as there is some upside to the lower ranked players and a number of undrafted options will step up during the season and produce.
In 2015 we saw Stephen Vogt, Nick Hundley, Francisco Cervelli, J.T. Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber and Welington Castillo finish in the top 14, and most of them went undrafted. This was good news for those who drafted injured or underperforming stars like Yan Gomes, Jonathan Lucroy, Devin Mesoraco, Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters, Yasmani Grandal and Travis d’Arnaud. That just goes to show you how the best made draft plans can go awry. Catcher is one of the most volatile positions in fantasy, right up there with closers. You can reach for your favorite player if you feel they are in line for a good season, but be prepared to adjust and alter your game plan quickly.
Taking part in our rankings will be Tommy Landseadel, Kevin Jebens, Jim Finch, Ron Vackar, Michael Zakhar and Neil (Mister DFS). Our six experts each ranked their top 20 catchers for the 2016 season. Players marked N/R were not ranked inside the top 20 by that particular person. We used a 10 games started minimum requirement for eligibility, but everyone listed here should qualify for catcher regardless of where you play.
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.
Buster Posey is the undeniable king of the backstops; there is nobody more consistent and reliable than him. After Posey, the top 10 can basically be shuffled around to your own liking. Kyle Schwarber makes his debut at number two, a spot that seemed reserved for Jonathan Lucroy one year ago. Schwarber is this year’s wild card as there’s no telling how soon after Posey he will go off the board. There were only three additional catchers that were ranked who did not make the top 20, Francisco Cervelli, A.J. Pierzynski and Robinson Chirinos. All three should go undrafted except for those in two-catcher leagues.
Players that you would Reach for
Tommy: Buster Posey and Kyle Schwarber – I am not saying that I would definitely reach for either guy, but they are head and shoulders above the rest. Posey is a great hitter with more ABs than any other C eligible player. He will hit .300 with about 20 HRs. That is worth paying for. Schwarber is much riskier because his glove and struggles vs. lefties could leave him out of the lineup a fair amount. That being said, he is the only catcher with 30 HR upside. After Schwarber and Posey are off the board, I see very little discernible difference between 3 and 14.
Kevin: Posey is obvious, but after that I’ll reach for Stephen Vogt. Don’t expect a full repeat, but I like him to be top-5 again, assuming health (which sapped his first half) and if he can hit lefties a bit more.
Jim: Just like last year, the only guy I’m reaching for (if I do reach) is the one that has done it year after year, Buster Posey. If I don’t get Posey I’ll settle for whoever I can get late and potentially play the waiver game during the season.
Ron: We all know what the answer to this question is supposed to be, but I’ll play along for the heck of it. I’d reach a little bit for Yan Gomes. An ugly slide at the start of the 2015 season derailed him and I’ll give him a pass because of it. The injury sustained should be well behind him now and his 26/9/35/0/.241 second half could easily turn into a 20 homer, 70 RBI full season in 2016. Through the first ten NFBC two-catcher slow drafts, Gomes was going off at 188 on average. Reaching a round or two would seem reasonable and you might get a stat line Brian McCann will produce some 70 picks earlier.
Zak: I don’t believe in reaching for catchers due to the demands of the position, the way it affects playing time, and limits upside of talented players. So even someone promising like Travis d’Arnaud will probably go too soon for me. That said, I am probably the last Matt Wieters believer and could see taking him when it gets down to where i like taking a catcher.
Neil: Welington Castillo. While he had a September swoon, Beef Welington had a wRC+ of 114 or better in 4 of the 6 months last season. Not many catchers have 25 homer potential.
Players you will avoid drafting
Tommy: Travis d’Arnaud – d’Arnaud has plenty of upside, but his downside risk is a lower than the ceiling is high given his likely draft day cost. When you combine his past injury history with the fact that he may be looking at a platoon in 2016, I would have a very hard time selecting d’Arnaud in the top 200 overall. Similarly, whoever you have ranked 3rd is not worth a pick in the top 120. If you don’t take one of the top 2 options, reaching for number 3 is a mistake.
Kevin: I can’t stand spending money on players who have recent injury histories. So players like Matt Wieters, Yadier Molina, Devin Mesoraco, and Travis d’Arnaud have extra risk in 1 catcher leagues where you need as many at bats as you can get.
Jim: Kyle Schwarber – I hear his praises being sung throughout the fantasy world, but all that hype is driving up his ADP. Schwarber has issues with lefties, will not see more than one week behind the plate with Montero on board, and is now part of a crowded outfield. Should his numbers slip, or fall flat during spring training, he could find himself in a time share or potentially back in AAA. He’ll be good one year, but I don’t see that year being this year.
Ron: I would avoid drafting Devin Mesoraco. What became of power hitter, Brandon Moss, last year after hip surgery is too fresh in my mind to want to go after another power hitter with hip issues. All the crouching and bending to go with the hip sounds like a recipe for me not wanting any part of Mesoraco. Plus, the Reds are in full jump-ship mode, and I don’t think that lineup is going to produce anything you want to have a piece of for 2016.
Zak: I would be surprised to see Russell Martin put up the power that he did last year. I expect his HR/FB to regress and that will hurt his counting stats as well. To me there’s very little difference between him and the next 5 or so catchers behind him, so you can get similar numbers for a more reasonable price.
Neil: Yadier Molina. He still has MLB value, but his days of having fantasy value are behind him. Had a sub .390 slugging percentage each of the last two years.
Late round picks that could make an impact
Tommy: Matt Wieters and Nick Hundley – Wieters should be back to playing every day now that he is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. He will never be elite, but he can easily be a top 5 catcher this year. Hundley is being overlooked also, despite the fact that he is the primary backstop in Coors Field. He is a good bet for .270 with 12-15 HRs and some healthy counting stats. Do not forget about him!
Kevin: It depends on where they go in your draft, but some newcomers are worth trying out for their first full year: Blake Swihart, J.T. Realmuto. Robinson Chirinos also has chance at 20 home runs if he gets playing time.
Jim: There is a lot of potential upside to the final catchers that will be on the board in the later rounds. Derek Norris, Wilson Ramos, Blake Swihart and J.T. Realmuto all have the upside to be top 10 catchers, and you should be able to get one or two of them in the later rounds. Grab two of those guys late and see who works out.
Ron: Two names that jump out at me for two-catcher formats are Robinson Chirinos and Hank Conger. Both players have some pop in their bat, and if they can hit .235-.240 they would be ideal second catchers to snag late while you focus on other needs earlier in the draft. Play in a deep enough format and you’re going to have to make sacrifices somewhere. If Chirinos and/or Conger manage enough at bats, there’s a chance to bank 15-18 homers. If it doesn’t work out, grab the next best thing on waivers.
Zak: Wellington Castillo was finally given a chance to show what he can do and finds himself in a good situation in Arizona. He could put up a season similar to someone like Sal Perez at a fraction of the cost.
Neil: Devon Mesoraco. People will shy away from him due to health concerns, but let’s not forget that he hit 25 homers with a .534 slugging percentage and a wRC+ of 146 in his last healthy season.
That Wraps up our catcher rankings. Check back next week as we bring you our Top 30 First Base options for the 2016 season.
Still need more rankings, head on over to Fantasy Rundown where Goose has been compiling rankings for the 2016 season as well as prospect rankings and the best baseball links available this off-season.