The Twins are teeming with top prospects, but there are big leaguers who could help your fantasy squad in 2015, too.
Byron Buxton. Miguel Sano. Alex Meyer. Kohl Stewart. Eddie Rosario.
This is how 2013/2014’s offseason preview for the Minnesota Twins opened, and with good reason. It seemed like a fait accompli that most or all of these prospects would begin their promising big league futures with the Twins at some point in 2014. As we know now with the benefit of sweet, delicious hindsight, it didn’t work out that way. Every one of these future studs hit a bump in the road, and not one of the Twins vaunted five put up a single MLB at-bat or inning pitched in 2014.
The future still looks bright for both these prospects and the Twins, but 2014 reminded us that if you want to make God laugh, show him a well-defined prospect timetable. With the exception of Stewart, all of these prospects could still make an impact in 2015 but 2014 reminds us to temper our expectations. Given the Twins fantasy outlook otherwise, for the most part we will be the same position in 2015 that we were in 2014: shying away from most of this roster in shallower formats while waiting for better days, both in the real world as well as in our fantasy realm.
How have players who've changed positions from catcher (like Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana) historically tended to do?
One of the favorite storylines this time of year is the positional change, whether it’s putting on an entirely different kind of glove or just moving over a few dozen feet to the left or right. Predicting performance changes is hard, but a positional change is something we can see, so it’s something we can write.
One of the least-favorite storylines—or at least most confusing—is when a positional change comes with a promise that the player will be able to improve on offense because he can spend more time working on it.
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From Buster Posey to Christian Bethancourt, this list is loaded with both big leaguers and high-upside prospects.
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.
In the debut edition of the Three True Outcomes podcast, our fantasy crew looks at catchers for Scoresheet leagues.
Welcome to BP’s take on Scoresheet fantasy baseball. Scoresheet, for those unfamiliar, is a type of fantasy baseball in which your drafted team plays simulated games each week against other teams in your league, with your players’ performance depending on how they played in real life that week—but not entirely, unlike in a roto or head-to-head league. Other differences from most roto leagues include the importance of real-life fielding ability and a tendency for rosters to be rather deep. While many Scoresheet leagues have their own unique quirky rules, most allow players to be kept for an indefinite number of years, and allow rookies to be kept very cheaply. For non-Scoresheet players in deep or dynasty leagues, we urge you to check out BP’s new TINO podcast, but after you listen to that, we think we will be able to provide some supplementary value as well. Or, better yet, sign up for a Scoresheet team to explore a whole new world of fantasy baseball.
We want to thank BP for this chance to contribute to their suite of fantasy baseball offerings. Our goal is for the weekly column and podcast to complement each other. Both will cover similar ground and maybe even the same jokes. But we believe reading the article will make the podcast more meaningful. And vice versa. In upcoming weeks we look forward to joining in the BP Fantasy fun by taking a position-by-position look at the upcoming season, starting with catcher this week. We’ve got lots more planned after that, but if there’s anything you’d like us to tackle, please feel free to contact us @TTOScoresheet on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
A fantasy-oriented look at the present and future behind the dish.
The beginning of each week of pre-season positional coverage here at BP is going to kick off with a high-level view of that position before we start diving too deeply into rankings, individual players and the like. And as a reminder, here is what the rest of the week’s schedule will look like:
The next wave of talented Twins players is on its way, and in many circles, these names are more well known than several players on Minnesota’s current roster. There’s good reason for that, as many players on the projected Twins 2013 roster— especially on the pitching side—are pretty uninspiring from a fantasy point of view.
Both owners who splured on their fantasy backstops and those who went bargain hunting have seen mixed results so far this year.
Drafting catchers in fantasy baseball is treated like drafting kickers in fantasy football. A few owners recognize the value of having the best at the position and will spend money to acquire them. Some owners treat catchers like kickers and draft them in the final rounds. Some leagues have gone so far as to eliminate the second catcher on standard fantasy rosters and made the position a second utility player, an extra pitcher, or a flex position, allowing owners to juggle the spot on a weekly basis.
Personally, I do a mixture of the first two strategies, as I tend to draft one of the better catchers and then pair him with a $1 mate. Two seasons ago, I drafted Joe Mauer at $23 and Adam Moore for $1 in AL Tout Wars, and neither worked out. Last season, I went back to the Mauer well at $20 and paired him with a $2 Ryan Lavarnway. This season, determined not to spend $20 on a catcher, I saved money and spent $18 on Jesus Montero and $1 on Carlos Corporan. It took three seasons, but I finally made a great catcher selection—with my second catcher.
Reviewing Kazmir's performance in his first victory since 2010.
On Saturday, Scott Kazmir and the Indians faced Joe Mauer and the Twins. Kazmir was looking for his first victory since 2010, and he got it. Mauer was looking to break out of a 4-for-38 stretch that had dropped his OBP nearly 100 points. He reached base twice, but only once against Kazmir, and with weak contact.
For three seasons, Scott Kazmir and Joe Mauer shared space at the top of prospect lists. From 2003 to 2005, Kazmir ranked 11th, 12th, and seventh on Baseball America’s lists, while Mauer was fourth, first, and first. Each player debuted in 2004; each started the 2005 season on a major-league roster, and each had a strong rookie season—though Kazmir (3.7 WARP) finished just ninth in Rookie of the Year voting, behind Jesse Crain, while Mauer (3.0 WARP) received no votes, behind Jesse Crain. They faced off in three games through 2008, with each player demonstrating some of his signature skill: Mauer banged out three line drive singles in 10 trips to the plate, while Kazmir struck out Mauer, one of baseball’s toughest tasks, three times.