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09-23

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12

Fantasy Freestyle: Backing Off Backstop Prospects
by
Ben Carsley

06-20

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: My Catcher Fetish and Derek Norris
by
Craig Goldstein

03-03

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7

Top Tools: Best Catcher Defense/Catcher Arm
by
Mark Anderson and BP Prospect Staff

01-17

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18

Dynasty League Positional Rankings: Top 50 Catchers
by
Bret Sayre

01-17

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6

Fantasy Players to Avoid: Catchers
by
BP Fantasy Staff

01-16

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4

Tale of the Tape: Jonathan Lucroy vs. Carlos Santana
by
Alex Kantecki

01-16

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20

Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Catchers
by
Paul Sporer

01-15

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9

Get to Know: Catcher Prospects
by
Ben Carsley

01-14

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13

Fantasy Tier Rankings: Catchers
by
Mike Gianella

01-13

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7

Fantasy Players to Target: Catchers
by
BP Fantasy Staff

11-15

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1

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 330: A Lengthy Listener Email Show
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

08-07

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21

The Stats Go Marching In: Is it Time to Lift the Ban on Left-Handed Catchers?
by
Max Marchi

07-19

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2

Mid-Season Outliers
by
Baseball Prospectus

06-13

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3

The Stats Go Marching In: Measuring Catcher Framing in the Minor Leagues
by
Max Marchi

06-01

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0

Prospectus Q&A: Russell Martin and Ryan Hanigan
by
Ben Lindbergh

05-24

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5

BP Unfiltered: Chris Stewart and Miguel Montero on Catcher Receiving Skills
by
Ben Lindbergh

05-23

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3

BP Unfiltered: An AL Scout on Evaluating Catcher Receiving Skills
by
Ben Lindbergh

05-22

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1

BP Unfiltered: Kevin Towers on Catcher Receiving Skills
by
Ben Lindbergh

05-20

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1

BP Unfiltered: Brandon McCarthy on Catcher Framing
by
Ben Lindbergh

05-20

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0

Prospectus Q&A: The College of Coaches on Catcher Framing
by
Ben Lindbergh

03-15

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9

BP Unfiltered: A Bad Framer, a Bad Call, and an Encouraging Stat About Umpires
by
Ben Lindbergh

11-08

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22

Overthinking It: Why Nobody Gets Caught Stealing
by
Ben Lindbergh

10-08

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3

BP Unfiltered: Differences in Mitt Placement
by
R.J. Anderson

08-28

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3

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 30: Is There Racial Bias in Baseball Broadcasting?/What to Make of Brian McCann
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

08-02

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5

BP Unfiltered: Can Gregg Zaun See the Future of Bad Backup Catchers?
by
Ben Lindbergh

07-13

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14

The Stats Go Marching In: Catching Up with Catcher Rankings
by
Max Marchi

06-19

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0

BP Unfiltered: Tools of Pain
by
R.J. Anderson

02-28

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5

Transaction Analysis: Extensions for Everyone
by
R.J. Anderson

02-24

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9

The Stats Go Marching In: The Art of Handling the Pitching Staff
by
Max Marchi

09-24

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71

Spinning Yarn: Removing the Mask Encore Presentation
by
Mike Fast

03-08

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9

Purpose Pitches: Who's Got Catching?
by
Christina Kahrl

03-26

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10

Prospectus Hit and Run: Mauer and JAWS
by
Jay Jaffe

04-07

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19

Catcher Fatigue
by
Ben Lindbergh

11-18

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0

Prospectus Q&A: Andy Etchebarren
by
David Laurila

03-23

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0

2006--Setting the Stage
by
Keith Woolner

04-09

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0

Transaction Analysis: March 25-April 6, 2003
by
Christina Kahrl

05-29

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0

Aim For The Head: Simulating Catcher's ERA
by
Keith Woolner

02-15

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0

Controlling the Running Game
by
Michael Wolverton

05-10

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0

Catcher Career Paths
by
Keith Woolner

01-11

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0

Catching Up With The General: A Postscript
by
Keith Woolner

01-10

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0

Field General or Backstop?
by
Keith Woolner

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September 23, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Backing Off Backstop Prospects

12

Ben Carsley

A look at the perils of falling in love with promising catchers down on the farm.

There’s nothing quite as alluring as a stud fantasy catching prospect.

Predicting which catchers beyond the obvious names will produce on a yearly basis is a tedious, difficult exercise that often leads to disappointment. Just ask people who drafted Miguel Montero, Wilson Ramos, or Matt Wieters this season, only to see the likes of Yan Gomes, Dioner Navarro, and Kurt Suzuki outperform their backstops by a long shot.

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June 20, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: My Catcher Fetish and Derek Norris

2

Craig Goldstein

The A's backstop is off to a sizzling start; what does it mean for Norris and other young catchers who struggled early in their careers?

I kind of have a thing for catchers. That’s a weird thing to have to admit, and frankly I didn’t even know this was the case for much of my life. You don’t necessarily know you’re weird until you’re on a podcast with three supposed friends and they call you out for having a catcher fetish. What a shameful moment.

All this is to say, I tend to value catchers more than your average fantasy analyst. There’s not a right or a wrong in this concept, it’s just a different approach. Except when it comes to Derek Norris, in which case it’s a totally correct approach because have you seen his slash line? His .313/.416/.531 line is likely a mirage of sorts, but there’s plenty of supporting evidence as to why Norris, who has previously struggled, is now a monster at the plate.

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March 3, 2014 12:00 pm

Top Tools: Best Catcher Defense/Catcher Arm

7

Mark Anderson and BP Prospect Staff

Part five of a several-part series on the top tools in the minors.

Scouts spend countless hours watching and evaluating players, carefully considering the appropriate grade for each tool or each pitch a player offers. Throughout the course of the season and particularly throughout the course of ranking season, grades are tossed around with near reckless abandon. This player has plus power, and that player has a below-average fastball. This player offers above-average hit projection while that player buries hitters with a potential plus-plus curveball. It's easy to talk about the quality of an individual tool, but what does it all mean in the context of other players?

In the second edition of the annual Top Tools Series, the Baseball Prospectus Prospect Staff debated long and hard over how individual players’ tools stack up against those of their counterparts. Drawing upon our own eyewitness accounts and opinions from scouts across the league, the team debated and compiled the following ratings. The end result is a product that captures the oft-missing context of how individual player tools compare and who has the best of each tool in baseball.

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January 17, 2014 6:32 am

Dynasty League Positional Rankings: Top 50 Catchers

18

Bret Sayre

From Buster Posey to Christian Bethancourt, this list is loaded with both big leaguers and high-upside prospects.

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.


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January 17, 2014 6:29 am

Fantasy Players to Avoid: Catchers

6

BP Fantasy Staff

You might not want to buy or draft these backstops in your leagues this spring.

On Monday, the BP Fantasy staff brought you a collection of catchers you’d be wise to target in your drafts this season. Because every internet column has an equal and opposite column, we shall now bring you the names of many backstops you should avoid.

Travis d’Arnaud, Mets
Dissing d’Arnaud, while certainly a catchy name for a cover band, isn’t something I jumped at. In long-term leagues, by all means, go crazy. But for the upcoming season, I’m not going out of my way for any Met not named David Wright (pitchers not included). The 24-year-old will be buried at the bottom of a New York lineup that finished 29th in terms of wOBA (.297) in 2013, and while the team might be marginally better with Curtis Granderson onboard, I’m not seeing an offensive revival of great significance. We have only 31 games of major-league data to go by, and that small sample size produced a lowly line of .202/.286/.263 and one home run. A full-time job doesn’t guarantee anything—even for a former no. 1 organizational prospect—and I’m afraid the name might outweigh d’Arnaud’s actual value on draft day. —Alex Kantecki


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January 16, 2014 6:10 am

Tale of the Tape: Jonathan Lucroy vs. Carlos Santana

4

Alex Kantecki

This showdown between 27-year-old catchers might be closer than you think.

Today’s “Tale of the Tape” focuses on a pair of 27-year-old catchers from a pair of midwestern cities: Cleveland’s Carlos Santana and Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy. Both finished 2013 as top-five catchers sans Victor Martinez, with the Brewer getting the better of the Indian (no. 3 to no. 5). While that might surprise some people given Santana’s pedigree as a top-flight prospect and Lucroy’s quiet ascent to the top, that doesn’t mean one is overrated and one is underrated. Both catchers are in their primes and should continue to provide top-five upside in 2014; today’s exercise examines who has a better chance of finishing the season on top. Mike Gianella lists Santana and Lucroy as four-star players and ranks them back-to-back at no. 4 and no. 5, respectively, so choosing between the two on draft day could come down to a matter of personal preference.

Batting Average
One look at the career batting averages of Lucroy and Santana makes it clear: Lucroy holds the decisive edge. Lucroy’s .279 career BA dwarfs Santana’s .254, albeit in 410 fewer plate appearances. Dragging Santana’s career average down is a .239 showing in 2011; he rebounded with a .252 mark the following season and even more so with a .268 average in 2013. Lucroy, meanwhile, added 55 points to his .265 in 2011, hitting .320 in 2012 before coming down to earth with a .280 average last year. Lucroy also holds a decisive advantage with a career .306 BABIP (compared to .281 for Santana), and his contact rates are far superior. Additionally, there’s a clear edge among the duo’s strikeout rates—especially when it comes to last season (11.9 percent for Lucroy, 17.1 percent for Santana). Lucroy’s batting average is his greatest advantage.


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January 16, 2014 6:10 am

Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Catchers

20

Paul Sporer

A look at how catchers stack up for fantasy purposes between now and 2016.

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.

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January 15, 2014 6:00 am

Get to Know: Catcher Prospects

9

Ben Carsley

A look at the young backstops working their way through the pipeline and what they might one day bring to your fantasy squad.

Ah, catching prospects. The sirens of the fantasy prospecting world. One look at those among the current crop of backstops who qualify as “fantasy relevant” will make any owner yearn for more talent and a deeper pool of names, which makes these minor leaguers even more attractive. After all, the average triple-slash line for all catchers in the majors was .245/.310/.344. How hard can it be for the next wave of catchers to top that?

The answer, of course, is very hard. The path to MLB catching stardom is fraught with more perils than the trek to any other position, and patience, above all else, is a virtue when courting young catching talent. Fast movers like Buster Posey are extreme outliers. Good overall players like Mike Zunino get overrated in fantasy circles. And offense-first names like Jesus Montero see their deficiencies ignored as we instead focus on the potential for future excellence.

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Buster Posey and Joe Mauer headline a large group of high-end backstops, followed by thinner groupings below.

Today we kick off our positional tier rankings. For the second year in a row, we have made this into a collaborative effort. Players at each position will be divided into five tiers, represented by the number of stars.

Five-star players are the studs at their position. In general, they are the players that will be nabbed in the first couple of rounds of the draft, and they'll fetch auction bids in excess of $30. Four-star players are a cut below the studs at the position. They will also be earl- round selections, and they're projected to be worth more than $20 in most cases. Three-star players are the last tier in which players are projected to provide double-digit dollar value in auctions, and two-star players are projected to earn single digits in dollar value in auctions. One-star players are late-round sleepers and roster placeholders. The positional tiers aren't simply a regurgitation of last year’s values but rather try to offer some insights into what we expect will happen in 2014.

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Notes from the fantasy staff on several backstops you should consider selecting in your drafts this spring.

As our eminent leader Bret Sayre outlined in the Baseball Prospectus draft prep guide, the fantasy staff here at BP is aiming to bring you a comprehensive look at each and every position on a weekly basis. From prospects to veterans, superstars to scrubs and sleepers to potential busts, we want you to have a thorough understanding of every player at every position when you hit your drafts this winter and next spring.

With that in mind, we’ve polled the fantasy staff here for a player to target and a player to avoid for each position, to run every Monday and Friday, respectively. We don’t always agree on every player, which is why you’ll see some names pop up more than once, but we hope those debates give you even more insight as to who you should or shouldn’t select on draft day.

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Ben and Sam answer a strong selection of listener emails on award voting, the BBWAA, defensive stats, Phillies analytics, lefty catchers, free agent compensation systems, and more.

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A new argument in favor of reviving a long-extinct species.

On July 9, 2013, Sir James Paul McCartney performed at Boston's Fenway Park on one leg of his Out There Tour, which has seen him rocking in an amphitheatre from 30 A.D. and coming under attack by thousands of grasshoppers. While he was at the oldest big league park, footage of him holding a baseball bat was taken, as you can see at the 0:44 mark of this video. Two things immediately appear to the attentive baseball fan: 1) the former Beatle features a Ty Cobb-like split hand grip and 2) he swings from the right side despite being a southpaw.

McCartney is not alone in the latter trait, Rickey Henderson and the elder George Bush being notable precedents. However, throwing from the portside while swinging from starboard is not advantageous, as you forfeit the frequent platoon advantage at the plate, plus the possibility of playing three infield positions.

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