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January 16, 2014

Fantasy Three-Year Projections

Catchers

by Paul Sporer

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Everyone in fantasy sports loves to look ahead. Even in the throes of a pennant race, you can fire up a conversation about next year’s first round and it will go on for an hour. With that in mind, the BP fantasy team will be taking a long-view look at every position this offseason with three-year rankings (composite value over the next three seasons). Since it is Catcher Week, the backstops will kick things off. Catchers are particularly difficult to project over a three-year period because you have guys that shift off of the position entirely while the learning curve for young guys is so sharp given all of their defensive duties.

With Joe Mauer done at the position after this year, he’s not going to rank on the list, as even a first-place finish this year wouldn’t be enough. Meanwhile there is some projection to be done with guys who could move off the position so you will see some of those guys much lower than you might anticipate since I have them delivering zero value at the position in year three.

1. Buster Posey
2. Jonathan Lucroy
3. Wilson Ramos
4. Yadier Molina

All four of these guys will be top catchers in each of the next three seasons. Posey was one of those on the border of removal. The new rule banning home plate collisions certainly improves his chances of remaining a catcher, plus there’s the simple fact that he’s really good at the job, too.

5. Jason Castro
6. Salvador Perez
7. Miguel Montero
8. Yan Gomes
9. Travis d'Arnaud
10. Brian McCann

This group features some of the newer impact names at the position with Castro, Perez, and Gomes, and I obviously expect them to continue delivering big value. Gomes will displace the current top catcher in Cleveland, hence that guy’s appearance in the next tier despite the fact that I expect him to deliver huge value in each of the next two years. d’Arnaud didn’t get a great ranking for 2013 when I was compiling the ranks, but his 2015-2016 value was enough to bring him up into the top 10. McCann will certainly be doing quite a bit of DHing by the time 2016 hits, but he will still be catcher-eligible and delivering big power.

11. Carlos Santana
12. Wilin Rosario
13. Matt Wieters
14. Hank Conger
15. Josmil Pinto
16. Alex Avila
17. Welington Castillo

I have both Santana and Rosario out as of 2016, which keeps them out of the top five (and perhaps even the top 10, to be honest). The 2016 value is weighted least of all, but a dead spot is still too difficult to overcome for the two studs. If Wieters stops switch-hitting, he could possibly turn the tide on his horrid batting average, and in that case, he’d be an easy top 10 guy. Alas, it’s unlikely so he finds himself down here. Some intrigue in the back half of this tier with Conger and Pinto. Meanwhile we’ve seen greatness from Avila back in 2011, but can he stay healthy enough to deliver offensively? Castillo is new, but not young (27 in 2014).

18. Evan Gattis
19. Mike Zunino
20. Russell Martin
21. Jorge Alfaro
22. Max Stassi
23. Yasmani Grandal
24. Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Gattis is out by 2016 and not valuable enough in 2014-2015 to net a great ranking. If this had been a 2016-only ranking, Alfaro would’ve been top five (fourth to be exact), but he’s unlikely to do anything in 2014, which hurt him with that being the biggest portion of the calculation. Conversely, Zunino peaks at 18th for any of the three seasons (in 2016), but he charts in all of them, so he’s a tick ahead of Alfaro as a result.

25. Austin Hedges
26. Tom Murphy
27. J.P. Arencibia
28. A.J. Pierzynski
29. Devin Mesoraco
30. Christian Bethancourt

Murphy eventually unseats Rosario, and I have him in the top 10 by 2016. Hedges is a very interesting case because everyone knows his defense is excellent, but there are plenty of questions about his bat. Fortunately, he plays a position where the bar for offensive usefulness is a low one to clear. His carrying tool will help him as a fantasy asset simply by affording him playing time and thus volume in the counting stats.

Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Paul's other articles. You can contact Paul by clicking here

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Fantasy Article Graphical Fantasy Rank... (01/16)
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