February 13, 2013
Pre-Season Positional Rankings
Top 15 Fantasy Catchers
In the coming weeks, the fantasy team here at Baseball Prospectus will be rolling out our positional rankings. Each team member assigned to cover a position will create an initial top 15 (more for outfielders and starting pitchers) on his own. He will then send that list to the rest of the team for discussion, at which point we will debate the rankings, both in terms of each player’s specific placement and the merits on which he was included in the top 15. This back-and-forth debate will yield the final list, which will be presented by the original author with notes on the pertinent players. We encourage you to bring your opinions into the fray using the comment section below.
Today we kick off the rankings with a look at our top 15 catchers.
Catcher is a deep position in 2013, and if you play in a one-catcher league or use a 10-12 team mixed format, then waiting until late in your draft to address the position is a relatively low-risk strategy. It is fun to have an elite player at a premium position on your squad, but catchers are less impactful than superstars at other positions, because their counting-stat totals are limited by their regular rest days. The top couple of backstops will provide an excellent batting average, but if you choose to go with one of them in an early round, you could be left scrambling for home runs and steals later in your draft.
To illustrate the playing-time disparity between catchers and other sluggers, Joe Mauer, the top catcher in plate appearances last year with 641, was 47th in that category league-wide. There have only been four 600+ plate-appearance seasons at catcher in the last three years, and just one of those went north of 650 (Carlos Santana, who amassed 658 in 2011). This playing time deficiency also has intra-positional effects, because it enhances the value of catchers who spend their off days at first base or as the designated hitter instead of riding the bench.
Now, the list: