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February 27, 2012

Resident Fantasy Genius

Fantasy Tier Rankings: Catchers

by Derek Carty

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These are the catcher fantasy rankings for 2012. Check out our previous closer installment here.

My pre-season fantasy rankings return this week, and the rest of the positions will be coming fast and furious over the next couple of weeks to help get you ready for draft day.

As a reminder, five-star players are generally going to be your star-level producers that will be selected within the first couple of rounds, usually worth upward of $30. Four-star players are the next step down, worth more than $20. Three stars are worth more than $10, two stars will be in the single digits, and one star will be roster-filler and late-round fliers. Of course, this is just a general guideline. While the rankings will generally follow PECOTA, I will deviate when I feel strongly that a player will over or underperform his PECOTA projection.

I’ve also decided to give my choice for a value pick in each tier—a guy who I think will be worth more than your leaguemates do, or a guy who I believe stands a good chance of beating his PECOTA projection.

For reference, the dollar values were created by our PFM using a league format of 12 teams, 5x5 scoring, and 23-player rosters—broken down as C (2) 1B (1) 2B (1) 3B (1) SS (1) CI (1) MI (1) OF (5) UT (1) P (9)—and $180 of the $260 budget allocated for hitters and $1 minimum salaries. A minimum of 20 games needed to be played at a position in the previous season to qualify. We’ll be providing values for both mixed leagues and AL-only/NL-only leagues. While this is the industry standard format, your own league structure may differ, in which case you can customize the PFM to your own needs.

Four Stars

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

AVG

HR

SB

RBI

R

Mike Napoli

TEX

$28

$22

547

0.269

31

6

85

77

Carlos Santana

CLE

$28

$20

685

0.252

27

5

85

91

Brian McCann

ATL

$20

$21

562

0.275

22

4

74

73

Much love for Napoli, who I owned absolutely everywhere last year. He’s finally getting the attention he deserves from fantasy owners. Unfortunately, that means I won’t have him on many teams this year, but I did manage to get him for a reasonable $21 in the CBS AL-only Experts League. He’s easily the top option at the position now that playing time is no longer a concern.

Santana has some of the best power among all catchers, and while his batting average left much to be desired last year, his strong bat projects for better going forward. McCann may not have the upside of Santana, but he makes up for it with consistent, year-in-and-year-out excellent performance from behind the plate.

Four-Star Value Pick: You’re not going to get a value on anyone here, so I’ll take Napoli, please.

Three Stars

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

AVG

HR

SB

RBI

R

Buster Posey

SFN

$13

$17

526

0.282

15

2

63

67

Joe Mauer

MIN

$20

$19

587

0.315

12

2

68

81

Miguel Montero

ARI

$17

$17

588

0.266

19

1

74

73

Ryan Doumit

MIN

$15

$16

593

0.267

16

3

70

71

Alex Avila

DET

$15

$15

589

0.259

18

3

68

73

Matt Wieters

BAL

$9

$12

523

0.262

15

1

59

62

Russell Martin

NYA

$12

$15

534

0.265

13

11

54

66

Geovany Soto

CHN

$12

$15

505

0.259

19

1

64

65

Yadier Molina

SLN

$9

$15

537

0.279

8

6

52

62

Those in this next group all project to be very good options, but they’re not without risk. The top two guys alone are coming off injury-plagued seasons that destroyed their 2011 value. PECOTA is betting on bounce-backs for the two of them, though the system is significantly lower on Posey than I am. As long as he’s healthy, though, Posey is loaded with talent and should be one of the better-producing backstops in fantasy. Mauer has upside too, but now that he’s playing half his games in Target Field, I have a hard time seeing his power numbers returning.

PECOTA wouldn’t put Matt Wieters in the Three-Star category, but I’m comfortable doing so. He’s always had talent and finally began making good on it in 2011. He shows power to all fields, has cut down on strikeouts three years running, and stays in the lineup.

For those wondering, this is where Jesus Montero would be if he’s catcher-eligible in your league (CBS, for example, lists him as a catcher despite him spending more games at DH last year). Put him between Wieters and Martin.

Three-Star Value Pick: Ryan Doumit is interesting and a guy I figure will be a bargain in many leagues. Not only can he play catcher, but he’ll get most of his at-bats at DH and can even play a little first base and corner outfield. I could see him beating his PA projection in Minnesota, and while some will be scared away by Target Field, the move from Pittsburgh’s PNC Park is basically a lateral one. Being taken as the 20th catcher off the board in Mock Draft Central drafts, it’s a done deal for me.

Two Stars

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

AVG

HR

SB

RBI

R

J.P. Arencibia

TOR

$12

$13

513

0.232

24

1

71

60

Wilson Ramos

WAS

$9

$13

493

0.269

14

1

59

57

John Buck

FLO

$9

$12

560

0.234

18

1

63

63

Kurt Suzuki

OAK

$7

$11

523

0.26

11

3

53

59

Jonathan Lucroy

MIL

$6

$12

520

0.258

11

3

52

58

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

BOS

$5

$10

481

0.242

15

1

55

55

Ramon Hernandez

COL

$5

$10

469

0.27

10

1

51

55

A.J. Pierzynski

CHA

$5

$10

508

0.266

8

2

52

55

Here’s where the warts start to show. All of these guys have one deficiency or another, be it Arencibia’s low batting average or Pierzynski’s middling power. Of course, they compensate for it by being strong in the opposite area, but if you draft a catcher in this tier, you’re going to have to be content with a guy who is an albatross in at least one category and may have playing time downside.

Hernandez and Lucroy are injury risks. Arencibia, Pierz, and Salty have guys in their organizations that may push them for at-bats (Travis d’Arnaud, Tyler Flowers, and Ryan Lavarnway, respectively). While John Buck doesn’t have either of those concerns, we know his batting average will be poor and don’t know exactly how the new Marlins park will affect him (best guess: the deeper fences will hurt his power).

Two-Star Value Pick: A.J. Pierzynski is not sexy. He’s aging, he doesn’t have the kind of power his tier-mates have, and there is Tyler Flowers, but as the 27th catcher (mock) drafted, he’d be my target here unless someone else drops. He’s a solid, consistent performer and tends to fit the kind of teams I build better than a guy like Arencibia does. When I load up on Mark Reynolds types, a good batting average from a catcher can really help even things out.

One Star

Player

Team

Mixed $

AL/NL $

PA

AVG

HR

SB

RBI

R

Nick Hundley

SDN 

$3

$10

470

0.242

13

3

53

53

Miguel Olivo

SEA

($0)

$8

399

0.228

14

5

47

41

Chris Iannetta

ANA

$2

$8

456

0.223

15

3

46

54

Rod Barajas

PIT

$4

$10

468

0.239

16

0

55

51

Devin Mesoraco

CIN

($4)

$7

319

0.254

12

0

41

39

Josh Thole

NYN

$2

$10

490

0.273

4

2

44

56

Carlos Ruiz

PHI

$1

$9

508

0.254

6

2

44

57

Salvador Perez

KCA

$1

$8

486

0.262

6

0

48

50

Yorvit Torrealba

TEX

($5)

$6

364

0.26

6

3

37

40

You could make the case for propelling Mesoraco out of this category, but with Ryan Hanigan figuring prominently in the Reds’ catching situation, the at-bats just don’t justify it. There’s upside if Hanigan gets hurt or if Mesoraco performs so well as to push him out of the picture, but that’s a risk I’m not willing to take given his high market value.

Every year, it seems like Iannetta is the sleeper du jour among fantasy writers, but I’m off the wagon this season. The move out of Coors Field and into the American League is going to wreak havoc on his power numbers, which is where all of his value is derived. He’ll likely be too expensive for any of my teams based on name value alone.

Barajas has the highest PECOTA-projected value of this group, but I have similar reservations with him as Iannetta. His move into PNC Park is really going to hurt him, especially since he is also a pure power guy.

One-Star Value Pick: I’ll take Miguel Olivo. I imagine his market value will be unduly depressed with Jesus Montero now in Seattle, but Montero is not a good catcher (he’s not even a bad catcher) and Olivo will still get plenty of at-bats. With good power and what I expect to be the bulk of the catching time, I could handle Olivo in one of my catching spots. Depending on roster composition, I could also opt for Thole here, for the reasons I outlined for A.J. Pierzynski.

31 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

swarmee

Wow, I didn't realize how big the difference was between Chavez Ravine and PNC Park for Barajas. ESPN's HR park factor page shows it's probably a 13% drop in homers. Seems counterintuitive since the Dodgers field gets the bad rap.

Feb 27, 2012 04:08 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Yeah, Dodger Stadium has a bigger bark than its bite. ESPN park factors are single year and a bit unreliable, but they still seem to show the truth in this case. My factors actually say it's more than a 20% drop for RHB between the two parks.

Feb 27, 2012 07:46 AM
 
Robotey

Back in Strato-Matic Days, when BP effects were first introduced, Dodger Stadium was 1-10 on ballpark homers, which I believe better than neutral. Isn't it odd that what's perceived as a pitchers' park also favors HR's?

Feb 27, 2012 08:47 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

I never played Stato-Matic and can't speak to how Dodger Stadium was treated back then, but it is a pitcher's park today and suppresses home runs--just not to the extent some assume. It's also important to remember that a park's factors can change over time even if the park itself remains unchanged. A park is only a pitcher's park relative to the rest of the league. Maybe Petco is an extreme pitcher's park in the context of 2011, but if the rest of the NL teams all build new parks that have fences extending beyond 500 feet, Petco actually becomes a hitter's park. Obviously changes aren't this extreme, but it's entirely possible that Dodger Stadium was a big pitcher's park back in the Strato-Matic days you mention and has gradually become less so over the years.

Feb 27, 2012 09:33 AM
 
Robotey

how much does it suppress HR's? And does it vary during the season, possibly explained by a reader below who points out that conditions change at the Stadium as the summer heats up?

Feb 27, 2012 13:22 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

By my park factors, Dodger Stadium suppresses home runs on contact by about 6.3%. That said, weather and atmospheric conditions will certainly play into park factors. The extent of which, I don't know, since I haven't done any work (yet) on how weather influences them. That 6.3% figure is essentially the average for April-September, but in any given month (or, really, on any given day) it could well vary around that figure.

Feb 27, 2012 13:26 PM
 
BarryR

It's not just the summer heat - I was a season ticket holder at Dodger Stadium for 18 years and I can tell you that few stadiums have more drastic differences than Dodger Stadium does based on the environment. It is a serious pitcher's park at night, but in day games, especially summer day games, the ball flies out of it. And night games in August have little in common with night games in April,although that is typical of most parks.
Dodger Stadiums' configuration has changed a couple of time, most recently a few years ago when home plate was moved out quite a bit to enable the McCourt scum to stuff in a few more expensive seats.

Feb 27, 2012 14:25 PM
rating: 0
 
BurrRutledge

I missed the previous installment of this series. Very well presented & looking forward to the rest.

Feb 27, 2012 05:00 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Thanks :)

Feb 27, 2012 07:46 AM
 
Andrew

Where is Doumit set to play when Mauer catches? Are we sure he'll be the everyday DH?

Feb 27, 2012 05:40 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

DH mostly when Mauer catches, though with so many injuries risks between Mauer, Morneau, and that outfield, he could find time all around the diamond. I definitely expect him to get full-time (or close to it) at-bats if he's healthy.

Feb 27, 2012 07:49 AM
 
bobbygrace

Ron Gardenhire, via the Twins' site on mlb.com: "I plan on [Doumit] being an everyday player some way or another."

Feb 27, 2012 09:05 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Exactly :)

Feb 27, 2012 09:22 AM
 
ddufourlogger

I want to say I'm shocked, but that may be the state of their team this year. Doumit can hit though, and if you can hit you will find a way into the lineup more often than not. Sounds like he'll get some form of the AB's Kubel and Thome got.

Feb 27, 2012 13:51 PM
rating: 0
 
CalledStrike3

Dodger Stadium has a couple of months of low humidity heat rising weather that significantly effect the overall numbers.

Re: Doumit - the Twins got rid of Kubel and Cuddyer (OF/DH) and and of year 2011 - "Skates" Young - from the 2nd or 3rd worst offense in the AL and basically only added Doumit. When he is healthy his bat will be on the lineup card somewhere.

Feb 27, 2012 06:17 AM
rating: 1
 
John Collins
(110)

They added Willingham too.

Mar 01, 2012 15:15 PM
rating: 1
 
CalledStrike3

I agree 100% with Derek .... Napoli was not a fluke ... hes a gamer who finally got an opportunity. Hope his ankle has no 2012 residuals.

Feb 27, 2012 06:18 AM
rating: 1
 
saigonsam

I think a lot of people have forgotten that Napoli put up his numbers last year despite Ron Washington only playing him part-time in the 1st half the year.

Feb 28, 2012 00:37 AM
rating: 1
 
Jon KK

I'm interested by the total absence of Jason Castro on this list and in BP2012. I realize he's coming off a significant injury and on a bad team, but what about as a late round/$1 flyer or free agent pickup?

Feb 27, 2012 06:29 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Castro would get 0.5 stars. So would guys like Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina. I couldn't justify putting him into the One Star category because he's not on the level of a Hundley or an Olivo, especially with his injury and with Chris Snyder behind him.

Feb 27, 2012 07:50 AM
 
ddufourlogger

Derek, what puts Hundley into 1-star for you? Injury risk and Petco? Because the guy can hit a little when he's out there. Decent pop too. I like him as much as some of the 2-stars....provided he's healthy. But that's a given for any of these guys.

Feb 27, 2012 13:55 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Yeah, Hundley is right on the cusp, at the top of the One Stars. I think he's decent, and on another team in another park might make Two Stars, but as it stands, his power isn't up to the standard of a guy like Arencibia or Buck and he doesn't have good enough contact skills to compensate in the way a Suzuki or Pierzynski can.

Feb 27, 2012 14:08 PM
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

If you run out of other options at catcher, I could see it, and he's certainly going to get drafted in NL-only. In deep mixed leagues, I would take Hanigan and Molina first and probably even Snyder, since we're talking about fliers; his upside is far greater.

Feb 27, 2012 07:53 AM
 
ChicagoOriole

Derek

PFM will be changing its values. So that we can make adjustments later, could you please put your PFM adjustment in? Not an explanation, but rather just a dollar value so that we can convert later PFM to use these charts later.

Feb 27, 2012 09:31 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

I'm not sure I follow. You mean you'd like me to give each player my own dollar value estimate?

Feb 27, 2012 09:34 AM
 
Jack Thomas

I have Doumit targeted as a second catcher. However, his injury risk (Only avg 332 PA last 3 yrs) would make me very nervous drafting him as primary C. It seems odd to me with all the injuries that MIN had last year wth risk continuing into 2012 (Mauer, Morneau & Span) that they would sign 2 high injury risk players (Doumit & Willingham).
I think Wieters will definitely out perfrom his PECOTA projection.

Feb 27, 2012 10:49 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Yes, Doumit is certainly an injury risk himself. Hopefully spending the bulk of his time at DH will help him stay healthy.

Feb 27, 2012 12:42 PM
 
johnsotyler

Between Wieters, Avila, and M Montero; who do you think is the most likely to vault into the upper tier next year? Least likely?

Feb 27, 2012 10:54 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Hmm...
Most likely: Wieters
Least likely: M Montero

Feb 27, 2012 13:00 PM
 
Hickjim

Derek

Can you explain why Miguel Montero has the same value in Mixed $ versus AL/NL $ since most catchers are have higher value in League specific formats? I guess the same question could be asked about Avila.

Feb 27, 2012 20:59 PM
rating: 0
 
tommybones

Suprised Jesus Montero ranked that low. Seems he'll see more AB's than most catchers and will likely hit 4th or 5th on a regular basis (w/Seattle, I know, but still)

Mar 11, 2012 10:32 AM
rating: 0
 
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<< Previous Column
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