Is the future Oriole or the future Indian a better long-term bet to help your fantasy team in the squat?
We’ve mercifully reached the end of catchers week, during which the staff covered fantasy’s worst position from every angle. Most of our dynasty coverage rolled out yesterday and I’m here to close it out with Round 4 in our Tale of the Tape series. This one tackles the 17th and 22nd best options—fourth and fifth among prospects—according to Bret’s dynasty catcher rankings. As those ranks imply, there’s not much gap between Mejia and Sisco. Let’s see if we can find some separation.
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New York may keep Curtis Granderson, Baltimore is unlikely to keep Mark Trumbo, and Matt Wieters is looking for a deal.
Mets may hold onto Granderson
Earlier this week there were rumors that the Mets were trying to find a solution to their outfield situation, which is awfully crowded. One of the players mentioned in that piece who could’ve potentially been traded was Curtis Granderson. However, if Sandy Alderson’s comments to ESPN’s Adam Rubin are any indication, it appears as if the Mets are feeling a bit hesitant to trade Granderson away.
Which of these Buckeye State backstops is a better long-term bet for fantasy owners?
The year was 2014. Taylor Swift was running wild on the Billboard charts, Transformers was inexplicably tops at the box-office, and the state of Ohio boasted two of the best young catchers in baseball. Devin Mesoraco was being compared to Johnny Bench after blasting 25 bombs and slashing .273/.359/.534 in 440 plate appearances. His cross-state counterpart, Yan Gomes, broke out as well, smacking 21 homers with a .785 OPS and stellar defense. Then just as quickly as the hype train got started, the wheels came off, pretty much literally.
Injuries, regression, or some combination of both have ravaged the promise that Mesoraco and Gomes carried only two short years ago. That said, both players offer interesting bounce-back potential that could present decent value, especially in dynasty leagues. Let the Battle for Ohio (or at least for catchers in their late 20’s that are both coming off injury riddled seasons) begin!
Scraping the bottom of the sea for future value behind the plate.
As I noted in kicking off this series last year, it can get lonely down here in the depths. So thanks for braving the elements and joining me way down deep, below where even the 50th-most-appealing dynasty league catching option creeps.
What happens when pitchers yield more or fewer grounders?
In this series, we’re investigating the outcomes when baseball players made what appear to have been New Year’s resolutions to do something differently. But unlike the rest of us, who try to be nicer to our siblings or drink less on weekends, we’re looking here at specific baseball outcomes.
In the first article I considered batters who hit markedly more (or less) to the opposite field in 2016 than in 2015. (Spoiler: It didn’t seem to help much.) In the second one I looked at batters who hit more or fewer balls on the ground. (Second spoiler: While in general batters who hit more in the air and less on the ground improved themselves, the evidence for the players who changed the most—who stuck to their resolutions—shows very limited offensive improvement.)
A look at the menu of backstop options in the junior circuit.
In any two-catcher format, catcher is a challenging position to fill. This is particularly true in mono leagues, where nearly every team must carry at least one backup and some teams fill both slots with a reserve. Entering 2016, only seven AL catchers were assigned a bid of $10 or more in my final AL-only bid limit update, with the top catchers – Brian McCann and Salvador Perez – sporting a modest bid limit of $16. Where in previous years AL-only fantasy managers pushed the envelope and spent on position scarcity, last year the expert market recognized that pushing too far past the earnings ceiling was foolhardy. However, two new additions – Jonathan Lucroy from the National League and Gary Sanchez in his first full season – may provide new life to the catching pool in the AL, once again offering the opportunity to spend aggressively. Evan Gattis regaining catcher eligibility also adds to the fun.
How bare was the cupboard entering 2016? You have to go back to 2013 to find an AL catcher who had earned $20 or more (Victor Martinez). Including Martinez, 17 catchers earned $15 or more; however, nearly 50 percent of these $15+ seasons occurred in 2014. The shift in earnings has less to do with a lack of production and more to do with the changing earnings dynamic. Eleven AL catchers hit 10 or more home runs in 2016, a miniscule drop from 13 catchers in 2015 and 12 in 2014. With the value of a home run in the AL dropping from 27 cents per home run in 2014 down to 20 cents in 2016, a position that relies mostly on power to produce value was bound to lose ground. The expert market was more aggressive than my bid limits, but not by much. McCann cost $18 while Perez cost $16. The 10 most expensive AL catchers cost $12 on average. The days of spending for position scarcity behind the dish might be over.
A weak position gets weaker, and a bleak outlook gets bleaker.
We, at Baseball Prospectus, have been talking about catchers for a while now (three days and change to be exact, depending on when you are reading this) and the party continues to rage on. Yet before we rage, we shall calibrate—since rankings aren’t useful without knowing what you’re reading. The list you are about to read here presupposes a 16-team standard (read: 5x5 roto) 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. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2016 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or -only formats. And if this list doesn't go deep enough for you (god bless your soul), Wilson Karaman has you covered with his Ocean's Floor column as well. We leave no stone unturned here.
Should you choose the new Oriole or the new Astro to don the tools of ignorance for your fantasy squad this year?
The NFL playoffs have started, which means you have no reason not to start preparing for the 2017 fantasy baseball season. The Baseball Prospectus fantasy staff will analyze each position on a weekly basis, kicking it off with catchers starting yesterday. Every Tuesday I'll bring the Tale of the Tape: a category-by-category breakdown of two similarly ranked players resulting in a verdict toward one or the other. Behind the dish, Brian McCann and Welington Castillo fared comparably in 2016 and project to do so again in 2017 -- as low-end options in standard mixed leagues.