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January 17, 2014

Dynasty League Positional Rankings

Top 50 Catchers

by Bret Sayre

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The Primer:
Because dynasty league rankings are relatively league dependent, I set up parameters for ranking the players below (and the ones who will follow at other positions). The list here presupposes a 16-team standard dynasty format, in which there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever, and owners have minor-league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. Feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2014 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or league–only formats.

The catcher position is a tricky one, as there are a lot of players at or near the top of the list who may be playing another position in three or so years. That, plus with most leagues using one active catcher, prospects are featured a little more prominently due to both the major-league depth right now and the fact that there are diminishing returns to carrying too many backstops.

And now, your Top 50 Catchers in dynasty formats:

The crazy thing about this first tier is that, unlike most of the names that come after, there’s no guarantee they will be at the position in 2016. We already know Mauer won’t, but don’t underrate his ability to be a very solid first baseman as he moves towards his mid-thirties. Posey is the best combination of age, likelihood to maintain eligibility, and production out there, and is a pretty clear top guy.

As you can tell, I’m not going by tiers per se. But Lucroy is a guy who gets overlooked when compared to other more “famous” backstops, and he shouldn’t. He has a great home park to draw out his pop and underrated speed to boot.

There certainly are arguments to be made that these two should be higher on the list (even as high as no. 2), but there are cases against them—and in fact, spacing them out like this makes them like they are a step down from the top group (which is not necessarily true). Santana has the offensive potential that could make him the top backstop for fantasy, but he is already going to primarily be a DH in 2014. He’s likely not in danger of losing that eligibility in the next few years, even if Yan Gomes really runs with the job. Perez has age going for him (he won’t turn 24 until May), but the jury is still out on whether he will show the type of power needed to be a top-flight option at the position.

Outside of Molina, we really don’t know what to expect from this group. Rosario isn’t a catcher, despite what the lineup card says—and it’s only a matter of time before someone (possibly a player 17 spots lower than him on this list) takes his spot and pushes him to fantasy mediocrity. Ramos needs to show he can stay healthy. Castro needs to show he’s not a one-year wonder. Wieters either has to live up to his lofty potential or we need to stop being tempted by his former prospect hype (it’s probably the latter).

Here’s where the prospects start to come into play. D’Arnaud has the talent to be in the top tier, but he can’t stay on the field—which is a real problem for accruing stats. Alfaro could be the best fantasy catcher we’ve seen since Mike Piazza, but he’s going to have to hit. I’m talking 30 homers and 15 steals type of upside, which would make him a first-rounder. Gattis is Wilin Rosario without Coors Field and with more swing and miss.

Okay, he deserves his own section. There are plenty who have left him for dead—in fact, I think this is merely the second mention of him at all in Catcher Week. It’s true that his future value is very clouded by the fact that he’ll lose eligibility after 2014 and has little short-term value due to Seattle’s free-agent signing binge. Oh, and it’s clouded because he’s been terrible on the field and is coming off a PED suspension. But beyond all that, I still believe that he’ll hit. I will carry this torch for a while longer, as he’ll still play all of 2014 at age 24. This either makes me a romantic or a can short of a six-pack.

Here are six either current or former prospects, who have combined to do next to nothing at the major-league level. Mesoraco, Norris, Pinto, and Zunino could all elevate themselves into the top-10 conversation if they can fulfill their promise, though Mesoraco and Norris still carry the most fantasy upside. I remain bullish on Norris, as he has the power/speed combination that could more than offset his lack of batting average. Zunino is more name recognition at this point than fantasy value. Castillo is a highly underrated option, who could become the next Jonathan Lucroy.

The top 30 gets rounded out by veteran presents, a couple of prospects, and a player whose ranking I may get some hate mail about. Murphy is the player I mentioned earlier as the heir apparent to Rosario’s job in Colorado, and his power should play nicely in Coors. I’m not buying the Yan Gomes love. He has some pop, but had a BABIP-fueled run in 2013 that I don’t think he can replicate. If he’s a .260 hitter with 15 homers, it’s playable, but it’s also very forgettable with the depth that reigns. To buck that middling depth, Francisco Mejia is a name to know. He has Carlos Santana upside with the bat, and that’s worth paying attention to, even though he’s years and years away.

Most of these names have showed up in other posts this week, so I won’t dwell on them. However, I want to remind everyone that J.P. Arencibia still exists and he’ll probably hit 20 homers a few more times before his time on this Earth has passed. Also, Chance Sisco is another far-away prospect name to keep on your radar if you’re looking for upside. He’s not in Mejia’s class, but that’s not much of a knock anyway. Finally, the low-ish rankings on Austin Hedges, Reese McGuire, and Christian Bethancourt highlight the differences between real life and fantasy. Hedges will have value because he’ll play, but it’s tough to see him as more than a replacement-level backstop. McGuire could be more than that, but I don’t see the upside that others do and he’s much less of a sure thing. Bethancourt may have showed improvement in his second tour at Double-A, but this ranking shows how much (read: little) I think he’ll hit in the majors.

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

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

BP Comment Quick Links

jj0501

Doumit is in Atl. Thanks for the cold shots of reality on some of these. Catching may be on it's way to relief pitcher status as a fungible commodity.

Jan 17, 2014 05:03 AM
rating: 0
 
Jon KK

Great article and perspectives, thanks! A layout nitpick: With the ranking numbers there's no need for bullet points.

Jan 17, 2014 05:27 AM
rating: 1
 
jonmischa

No White Sox catchers? Hard to believe Josh Phegley doesn't rank above some guys who have never played in the majors.

Jan 17, 2014 06:09 AM
rating: 0
 
Digitalbob

I'd love to hear some insight on Phegley.

Jan 17, 2014 08:26 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

I think Phegley is a backup and his performance at Triple-A this past year was a fluke. Outside of extremely deep leagues, I'm not interested. That said, he was one of the last two cuts from this list. Even the OK power that he has is going to be off-set by a terrible batting average--and that's not going to cut it in one-catcher leagues.

Jan 17, 2014 09:57 AM
 
Digitalbob

Definitely agree... Only reason I ask is because it's JP Arencibia or Phegley for my inherited team in a 30 team league. #rebuild

Jan 20, 2014 09:23 AM
rating: 0
 
vegetto712

Great article as always Bret! The 3-year projection article from yesterday showed a bit more love for Ramos, care to explain why that is? Are you not sold on his hitting ability or just worried about injuries? I currently own both Ramos and Lucroy and interested to see your opinion!

Jan 17, 2014 07:27 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

Thanks! The durability is a concern and even if they were both guaranteed to be fully healthy, I'd still take Lucroy over him. I believe in the bat, but it's not elite.

Jan 17, 2014 10:01 AM
 
oloughla

Nice piece. I agree that Santana's value is probably lower in dynasty than many think, due to the likelihood of him losing eligibility down the line. I'm not sure that many recognize that yet though, and so I think I'm going to milk one more year out of Santana and then sell him before his perceived value really starts to take a hit. It's a tough balance no doubt, but it's kind of a Rays/Price situation, where you want to get top value from a guy before it's too late.

Jan 17, 2014 07:57 AM
rating: 0
 
Teenwolf

Surprised I haven't heard anything this week on Michael Ohlman - BAL - C/1B. Big breakout this year, including big numbers in the AFL. He's likely to get the first crack at Weiters' job before Sisco. Thoughts?

Jan 17, 2014 08:09 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

Similar thoughts on Ohlman to Phegley. I think he's a backup who can swat a few homers and not much else. He was another late cut (though I'd take Phegley over him). He's not a danger to Wieters' playing time and doesn't have the long-term upside of Cisco.

Jan 17, 2014 10:03 AM
 
jlebeck66

What are your thoughts on Chris Iannetta? I personally do not see how his bat is completely off the list with guys like Ryan Hanigan getting the nod. I haven't heard one way or the other that Conger will be starting over Iannetta.

Jan 18, 2014 14:29 PM
rating: 0
 
Behemoth

Iannetta is a lot better in OBP leagues.

Jan 18, 2014 15:59 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bret Sayre
BP staff

Yes, if this were for OBP-specific leagues, he would have been up there, but I've lost all faith in Iannetta being even a short-term option. I originally had him at 47 on an earlier draft of this list, but there was no good reason to include him and not include John Buck--and at that point I'd prefer a guy who potentially won't hurt me like a Hanigan or Brantly.

Jan 18, 2014 18:07 PM
 
Behemoth

On this, I think a disproportionate number of leagues that are deep enough for a list like thi will use OBP (either instead or as well as AVG). I get that making two whole lists would be a lot of work, but it would be useful if you could add in at the bottom a list of four or five who would be much higher or lower if OBP was a factor.

Jan 19, 2014 06:09 AM
rating: 0
 
jimkozlowski

A top 12 rankings for OBP leagues would be helpful.

Jan 19, 2014 06:57 AM
rating: -1
 
Behemoth

For me, a top 12 wouldn't really help that much. It's the deeper stuff that's more valuable - the guy that you can pick up for pennies that's actually a passable option using OBP, and the folks to avoid because they're allergic to walks.

Jan 19, 2014 12:56 PM
rating: 0
 
JakeDev

Hey Bret Great article. When do you anticipate Brian McCann gets moved off of catcher either to 1st or DH full time? It seems to me that the Yankees may let him catch for a long time since he can get regular rest at DH.

Jan 21, 2014 12:48 PM
rating: 0
 
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