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.
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Monday is the start of our positional series at Baseball Prospectus, and we’re going to give you a lot of information, opinions and strategy tips. In fact, we laid it all out for you here. But before we get into the nitty gritty, we thought we’d have a little fun with some quick-hit questions that we answered as a team. Some of these were questions we got from you, the readers. Some were just interesting discussion points. But here are 14 opinions on 20 questions:
In clearing the catcher job for Gary Sanchez the Yankees got good value in return for Brian McCann.
The New York Yankees. They’re 27-time champions, they’re home to some of the greatest names in baseball history, and they’ve been out of the heat of contention for an uncharacteristically long time now.
The Yankees have been lining up pieces for what they hope is a new era of Bronx dominance since they sold off the big parts of their bullpen, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, in July, leading baseball folks to wonder “what are they up to?” Well, now general manager Brian Cashman is making it clear.
The man who has made out Yankees Top 10 lists since 2011 has finally made the majors.
The Situation: The Yankees rank near the bottom of essentially every offensive category in the American League, which is bad. They're about to face Jose Quintana and Chris Sale, who are good. New York will call on Sanchez to hopefully help the icky situation described above.
Background: Sanchez was one of the highest-profile players of the 2009 international class, and the Yankees rewarded him with a $3 million dollar contract during that July's signing period. The Yankees were relatively aggressive with him--particularly for a young catcher--and after two solid seasons in the lower levels, he was touted by many as the best catching prospect in baseball. Things took a turn for a worse over the next two years, as Sanchez put up pedestrian numbers and saw his stock drop in turn. He appeared to turn a corner late last season, and he was among the most impressive players in the Arizona Fall League. He's been on a tear over the past two weeks, and the Yankees obviously saw enough to give him a promotion to the show.
I must confess: I am a bit of a catcher defensive metric agnostic. Or perhaps I am just a bit wary of defensive run values in general. I am not one to damper the Catchella spirit though, so I threw on a Come On Feel The Illinoise! T-shirt and pored over a very large spreadsheet of minor-league catcher defensive data to see how the stats match up with our scouting reports. Spoiler alert: It did make me think about the way I and others evaluate catcher defense from a scouting perspective.
I divided the subjects into a few tiers and all stats come from levels and seasons for which we have framing data.
Mookie Betts, Travis d'Arnaud, and Jorge Soler are among those who came off the board between picks 29 and 56.
In the first episode of the BP Mock Expert Draft, we went over the backstory and parameters of this draft, so there’s no need to rehash that here. Plus I know you’re all just going to skip past the intro anyway to see who else got picked and when. Sometimes you just have to give the people what they want.
So, without any further ado, here are the next two rounds (three and four) of the Baseball Prospectus Expert Mock Prospect Draft with analysis from the participants themselves:
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.
The Baseball Prospectus 2013 Top 101 Prospects, by Position, by Organization, and by Age
Yesterday, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect crew released our Top 101 Prospects of 2013, also newly available in printed form in the now-shipping Baseball Prospectus 2013 annual. The festivities were wild and raucous for all, perhaps tempered slightly for fans of the Chicago White Sox. Here is the Top 101 list displayed by position, by organization, and by prospect age. Enjoy!
Updates on 12 players from the Arizona Fall League, including the Rising Stars game, and the Dominican/Venezuelan Leagues.
If you haven't heard, Reds prospect Billy Hamilton is the fastest man in baseball. He broke the minor league single-season record of 145 stolen bases, set in 1983 by Vince Coleman, and finished the season with 155 steals between Hi-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.The 22 year-old Hamilton, who was recently moved from shortstop to center field, was easily the most exciting player in Saturday's Rising Stars game. When you start a game like this - leadoff walk, steal 2nd, steal 3rd, score later in the inning - it tends to cause a lot of excitement in the ballpark. Baseball fans, not to mention Fantasy Baseball players, love the stolen base almost as much as the home run. More excitement ensued later in the game when Hamilton bunted for a base hit. Unfortunately, one of the most disappointing moments of the game also occurred during that same play. A two-base throwing error meant that he couldn't steal second and third again. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one yelling, "Stay at first! Stay at first!"