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

BP Comment Quick Links

buccosmfg

I am surprised that Derek Norris didn't find his way onto this list. I would expect him to be at least a platoon partner in Oakland for the next 3 years contributing double digit homeruns.

Jan 16, 2014 05:57 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

I could see it. He was right there at the cutoff. I've always been a fan, but he's on the short-side of the platoon unfortunately.

Jan 16, 2014 09:07 AM
 
Sharky

Thanks Paul. Seems you have Wilson Ramos ranked a good bit higher than some others do. I tend to agree with you but am curious about your rationale. Thanks!

Jan 16, 2014 06:00 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

I think he could be a 20+ HR guy at his peak with a solid average (.270+ which is of course pretty good in this offensive era). He's got the goods behind the dish, too, so the playing time is locked in as long as he's healthy.

Jan 16, 2014 09:10 AM
 
Behemoth

I'm really surprised that you think McCann is going to play regularly for three years in New York (probably with more PAs than he had in Atlanta due to the DH) and there are 9 people you would prefer to have over him. For example, Montero is older than McCann, and doesn't have the DH fallback. McCann has a better career triple slash line in all three categories, and has the advantage of moving to a substantially more favourable park. That's without mentioning Montero's poor year in 2013.

Also, I think you may be too quick to move people out, given that to be eligible in 2016, someone has to catch 10-20 games in 2015. I'd imagine it's relatively likely that everyone on your list will catch that much, assuming no injuries. I'm also sceptical on your ranking of some of the prospects. If you say Alfaro, for example, is projected at 4 in 2016, there's huge downside to that projection, and very little upside. Guys like Zunino and Mesoraco were seen as significantly better prospects when they were coming through than Alfaro or Murphy are now, and they've had significant adjustments to make at the big league level. I think it's reasonable to assume that current prospects will have similar issues when they arrive.

Jan 16, 2014 06:26 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

Montero's bad 2013, McCann's bad 2012... neither is flawless lately. The differences within a tier are negligible so I'm not that concerned with someone preferring McCann to Montero, I can see it.

A lot of Zunino's prospect value comes from his defense which matters very little for our purposes.

There is downside to ranking Alfaro (or anyone) high, but that's projection. Playing it completely safe is easy. I could be bearish on every catching prospect because it's a hard position to hit in immediately, but I'm willing to step out on some of the bats, including Alfaro who I saw a lot of in AFL.

Alfaro and Murphy are 21 and 26, I think that pretty clearly accounts for issues that catching prospects are likely to incur. Unless I'm missing a bigger point, I guess I feel like you're arguing for something that has been well accounted for on my end.

Jan 16, 2014 09:19 AM
 
Justinpain

Your out of your mind. Rosario will be all of 28 years old. His projectable 25-30 HRs will not be replaced by anyone on this list. Ramos will still be looking to play a half season injury free . Alfaro from Texas should be high on this list.

Jan 16, 2014 07:57 AM
rating: -3
 
Nojsztat

*You're

Jan 16, 2014 08:02 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

As mentioned in the piece, I don't think Rosario is catcher-eligible by 2016 which dings him. He and Santana essentially get a zero in this instance for year 3 because this is a catcher list, not a total value.

Jan 16, 2014 09:12 AM
 
majnun

Respectfully, I think these tiers would be much more useful if they were ranked as if they would still be catchers, and with a note saying you don't think they will be. Guessing the year someone will no longer catch is just a guess, and it takes people out of the rankings near completely.

Mauer makes sense, but the two year out projections I think do not.

Jan 16, 2014 12:44 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

I don't think I follow. I noted where I thought someone wouldn't be catching. It would've been easier to just leave everyone there, but also a lot less accurate, IMO.

Santana is already down to a half season behind the dish and Rosario is frighteningly bad at it. The Rockies will jump at the chance to move him from catcher. Morneau is only guaranteed two years and his recent work puts the option year in doubt.

Both Santana and Rosario are on track to leave the position. Their bats are too good and their defense sucks. The Indians have their replacement while the Rockies are grooming one.

Jan 16, 2014 12:49 PM
 
Behemoth

Do you think either Santana or Rosario will catch fewer than 20 games in 2015? The Rockies have Morneau for two years, and no DH. I suppose the Indians might completely move Santana, but I think it's more likely than not that he ends up being the backup catcher, backup 1B and primary DH (assuming the move to third doesn't work out). In those cases, it's pretty likely that both would have catcher eligibility in 2016.

The other thing is that both of their bats are good enough to be usable elsewhere, so an owner will not really get zero value if they lose catcher eligibility. I get why you do that because the rankings are structured positionally, but it isn't an accurate reflection of their true value.

Jan 16, 2014 13:50 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

With due respect, I *obviously* do. I understand the requirements they'd need to qualify, they were all taken into consideration with the prediction.

This isn't a ranking of pure value, it's a ranking of catcher value.

Jan 16, 2014 14:35 PM
 
majnun

I think my reasoning is that if your guess about them moving off the position is wrong then the list doesn't matter anymore. Plus, two years of a guy as catcher and one year as 1b has more value than 2 years plus black hole. I dunno maybe I'm missing the point of this, don't worry about it.

Jan 16, 2014 17:02 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

It's a 3-year *composite* value list for *catchers*. If you're not catching, you're not offering value as a catcher. I dunno, I think it's all pretty straightforward. I'm making a projection about Rosario and Santana. I don't see how it's much different than projecting a prospect or even projecting a random player to hit 25 home runs in a season.

Jan 16, 2014 17:05 PM
 
davinhbrown

Thoughts on Mesoraco?

I know he'll never be a superstar, but as a catcher could hit 20 homers without Dusty holding back his AB's. [though his defense may still be a factor]

He's fairly similar to Gattis, but with better defense and less power... and without the downside of falling out of the majors.

Jan 16, 2014 16:10 PM
rating: 1
 
dREaDS Fan

On the same page ... Meso being 29 of 30 seems to be selling him short quite a bit. Not that long ago he was a Top 25 prospect based on offense ... and he's never been given the consistent playing time to either prove or disprove that ranking.

Jan 29, 2014 08:21 AM
rating: 1
 
MikeJordan23

Based off these rankings, you must feel Molina is gonna fall of drastic in the next three seasons.

Jan 17, 2014 05:51 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

How so? He's still fourth. His value derives from batting average, though, so he isn't an ironclad lock to stay great offensively.

Jan 17, 2014 05:53 AM
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

For those of you with issues on the Rosario/Santana thing, these rankings are more your speed because they aren't focused solely on the value AS CATCHER as mine were - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22600

Jan 17, 2014 06:05 AM
 
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