Last year I decided to tackle the early 2014 rankings while the rest of the Assembly were doing keeper rankings for Dynasty leagues. I will do the same thing again, but this time I decided to bring in some help. This year for the early 2015 rankings, I thought it would be fun to bring in a few celebrity “Experts” to spice things up and see where guys from the other sites are ranking players. OK, they are not celebrities and don’t call them “Experts”, but they are very good at what they do and have been around the block enough times that their opinions carry weight in the fantasy community.
Joining me for these early rankings (along with where you can find them) will be:
Seth Klein (@SethDaSportsMan) from Fantasy Pros and contributor at Razzball
Doug Anderson (@rotodaddy) from Fantasy Sports Network
Timothy King (@TKing978) from The Sports Script and host of Fantasy Forecaster on Blog Talk Radio.
Chris Meyers (@FantsyChillpony) from David Gonos and contributor for Fake Teams.
David Kerr (@AskROTObaseball) from Fantasy Squads and host of the Ask ROTO baseball Livecast
Each week we will be bringing you our top (and bottom) players at each position for those baseball junkies who crave fantasy baseball all year round. Before we get to the rankings, lets take a look at this year’s free agent class (and there are not that many impressive names). Russell Martin, Kurt Suzuki, A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross, Giovanni Soto, J.P. Arencibia, Gerald Laird, Wil Nieves, George Kottaras and John Buck. Nick Hundley and Jeff Mathis are also free agents but they have a club or player option available with their respective clubs. Regardless of if they stay or go, neither one has much relevance in fantasy. In fact, other than a handful of names, most players listed here will have little to no fantasy impact even if pressed into a full-time role due to an injury. Russell Martin and Kurt Suzuki can still be worthy players, and A.J. Pierzynski might still have something left in the tank. With the right team these men could be useful in 2 catcher leagues, but in standard leagues they should be available on waivers.
The rankings below represent the top 20 catchers for the 2015 season. We used a 20 game minimum for games played to qualify so several players who may be eligible in your league might not have made the cut. Carlos Santana only played 11 games at catcher so he will not be listed here. Neither will Stephen Vogt who missed the cut by 5 games. Any player listed with an N/R was not ranked in the top 20 by that particular person.
It is pretty clear that while we may not all agree on where every player should be ranked that the players ranked 1-17 deserve to be ranked inside the top 20. It’s those fringe players ranked at the bottom we disagree upon, most of whom will go undrafted except in 2 catcher and deep leagues. As for the catchers that did not make the top 20, Carlos Ruiz placed on two lists but neither ranking was above 18. The remaining catchers below Ruiz were ranked by only 1 of our 6 “Experts”. You might catch lightning in a bottle with one of them off the waiver wire, but you can basically ignore them on draft day. They are Josmil Pinto, Christian Bethancourt, Tyler Flowers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and John Jaso.
Player(s) that you would reach for in the draft
Seth: Wilson Ramos – Loved him going into this year, but he fell victim to more injuries. If he can just stay healthy (or avoid kidnapping), Ramos has the capability to be a 20+ HR guy who can hit for a .275-.285 average. If the Nats ever move him up in the order he would be in a prime spot to rack up RBIs as well. Travis d’Arnaud is another consideration.
Doug: Travis d’Arnaud – Showed a lot in 2nd half with 2nd highest SLG% among catchers. Have a feeling he’s about to break out for real.
Tim: My official strategy of waiting on a catcher won’t change in 2015. Owning Posey or Lucroy would be fun and all, but I’m drafting big time thump and elite arms at the time in the draft when those guys will go. However, in waiting on catcher, I’d take a Wilin Rosario or Travis d’Arnaud before their ADP – I like them both as upside plays next year.
Chris: Jonathan Lucroy – Hands down the number one catcher in 2015. Also Buster Posey, if he falls to the 4th or 5th round I will pounce like a cat. Posey is the only catcher I would do this for.
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 if Atlanta decides to bring up Christian Bethancourt and give Gattis additional playing time elsewhere.
Player(s) you will avoid drafting
Seth: Mike Zunino – The homers are great, but they come at the expense of batting average, and he’s not afforded many RBI opportunities hitting at the bottom of the M’s lineup. He has a staggering 33.2% K rate with just a 3.6% walk rate, and with those ratios, his sub-.200 batting average doesn’t look like it’s going to improve any time soon. Let someone else pay for the dingers and drop him a month into the season. Other players I might avoid are Kurt Suzuki, Evan Gattis and Jarrod Saltalmacchia
Doug: Russell Martin – Was coming off 5 straight years of .250 batting averages. His 2014 BABIP was 70 points higher than 2013. There will be no repeat.
Tim: I’ll be avoiding Russell Martin like the plague. His .290 batting average was supported by an unsustainable .336 BABIP and should plummet in 2015. At age 32, Martin’s power is waning and speed is just about non-existent. He’ll finish well outside of the top 10 next year.
Chris: Russell Martin – Had another good season in 2014, but I am avoiding him in 2015. His age and decline is coming soon.
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 which should land him a nice contract somewhere, but I expect his numbers to fall back down to his customary levels dropping him outside the top 15.
Average Joe, the player that you would wait on and settle for.
Seth: Dioner Navarro – Navarro’s been around awhile, but he didn’t seem to learn how to hit till last year. Truth be told, he was on my list of busts this year solely due to how late in his career his breakout season occurred. He proved me wrong, though, following up his 2013 campaign with an even better one in 2014. He’s not flashy and won’t hit 20 HR, but he plays almost every day and will give you consistent stats. He bats in the heart of one of the more potent lineups in the game and plays in one of the better hitter’s ballparks in baseball. He went undrafted in most 12-team leagues this year and should be available in the very last rounds next year as well. Other considerations are Russell Martin & Carlos Ruiz.
Doug: Any catcher 8-14 in my rankings.
Tim: Brian McCann is a player I’d be OK settling on in the middle rounds. I think we see more from him in 2015, and a push towards .250 and 30 homers is not out of the question. McCann likely to be overlooked by many in 2015 after a super slow start to his Yankee career.
Chris: Miguel Montero – Montero is in the 10th-15th ranked C in most rankings. I will gladly wait for him and use him as my number 1.
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 18-20 homers. Not bad for one of the last catchers off the board.
Late round pick that could make an impact
Seth: Wilin Rosario – He was the fourth catcher off the boards in most drafts this year, and boy did he let us down. He struggled to stay healthy and his playing time and numbers suffered. Through July, he was hitting just .240 with 9 HR and 36 RBI – rather disappointing numbers for a guy who had combined for 49 HR and a .282 BA the previous two seasons. However, once August and September rolled around, he really turned it up a notch, hitting .340 with 4 HR and 18 RBI. Many owners probably aren’t paying attention to his solid final months and will be hesitant to draft him next year, leaving him ripe for the taking. Presumably, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez will be back, and the Rockies will also hope to field a lineup featuring Nolan Arenado, Justin Morneau, Corey Dickerson, and Charlie Blackmon. There will be offense aplenty in Colorado. Remember, Rosario won’t turn 26 till February, and still has plenty of chances to prove owners wrong. Other considerations are Josmil Pinto and Jorge Alfaro.
Doug: Yasmani Grandal – He has a history of hitting for average in the minor leagues. If he can bump his average up to even .260 he becomes a sneaky source of power. Deeper Sleeper: Josmil Pinto has serious power, a history of hitting for solid averages and not a lot in front of him in Minnesota.
Tim: I already mentioned d’Arnaud, who I really like to bust out in 2015. Otherwise, I look for Yasmani Grandal to put together a very good season next year. It will be interesting to see what he can do given a full year of at bats. I’m also intrigued by the power upside of Mike Zunino – whether or not he will develop or continue along the path of JP Arencebia remains to be seen.
Chris: Travis d’Arnaud – He will likely be floating around late and I am ready to buy into him as a streamer in 2015. If you miss a top 10 catcher sit on Travis, and stream if it doesn’t work out.
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).
Early 2015 Rankings
Want to hear more about the players ranked here, listen to David, Seth, Doug, Tim, Chris and Jim discuss their rankings every Wednesday on FantasySquads Radio – AskROTObaseball Livecast hosted by David Kerr.
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.