08 Feb Fantasy Baseball 2017: Fantasy Catcher Rankings 12-1
Part 1 Can Be found in the link below… Enjoy Part 2!
12. Wellington Castillo (BAL)- Here we have one of my favorite of the catcher position for 2017. Moving from one hitter-friendly ballpark (Arizona) to another, now in the confines of Camden Yards. While the ballparks are very similar in terms of power numbers put up at each respective field, there are two other glaring positive factors in this move for “Beef” Castillo. We will keep it in terms of ballparks. Last season Castillo played for Arizona which we know is an advantageous place for hitters more so than pitchers, evidenced by Chase Field being ranked second among all 30 ballparks in the MLB for home-runs. For the protracted 162 game season in baseball, almost have of the season is played via interdivisional with a whopping 76 games. Arizona’s division consisted of Colorado, Los Angeles (Dodgers), San Fransisco, and San Diego. Besides Colorado and the thin-air of Coors Field which ranked right behind Chase Field (third) in HR, all of the other parks were ranked 19th or worse (SD 19th, LAD 20th, SF 30th). Now a member of the Orioles, Castillo will benefit from playing 76 games in the AL East. All of the parks besides Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, in that division are considered hitter-friendly more so than pitcher-friendly. The second factor worthy of mentioning is the lineup he will now be hitting in playing for Baltimore. This is a team loaded with skilled hitters featuring a ton of power, and projected to hit somewhere around sixth behind guys like Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, and Jonathon Schoop is a prosperous place to find himself in 2017. He had an impressive 2016 campaign illustrated by his high .337 BABIP (batting average in balls in play), 14 home runs, and 68 RBI. He likely will be passed over for some other names at the position, but if Baltimore opts to not bring Matt Wieters back in to the fold, giving Castillo all the at-bats he can handle, I could envision a scenario where he finished top-five at the position in 2017.
11. Brian McCann (HOU)- McCann continued his steady home run pace, blasting at least 20 for the ninth straight season in 2016. He played in 130 games for the third straight season but also hit under .245 for the third straight time over that span. The swift and sudden ascent of Gary Sanchez from prospect to stud made McCann expendable, and he was shipped to the Astros for prospects. The move to a less hitter-friendly park won’t help McCann, but having a full-time gig behind the plate while hitting in the heart of a talented lineup will help keep his numbers up. Barring any major injury, it would be extremely surprising to see him not reach the 20-HR plateau once again
10. Kyle Schwarber (CHC)- Talk about one of the most unorthodox of season’s in MLB history, and you have yourself mister 23-year-old Kyle Schwarber. He appeared in just two games before a collision in the outfield ended his regular season by tearing his ACL and MCL. The two main words in the previous statement were “regular season,” because the unprecedented fact that he returned in the World Series in pinch-hit scenarios, supplied us with a scenario like none other. His eventual return to the lineup in the World Series played a big part in the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought. As far as 2017 is concerned, his ability to serve as catcher has come into serious question. While he should garner plenty of starts in the outfield, his injury and confidence as an outfielder could hurt his playing chances. Nevertheless, if the youngster stays healthy, I think you can project him for 25-30 HR and 80-90 RBI. Those numbers would give him strong consideration to be the third Cub hitter taken off the board in fantasy drafts, following the obvious Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
9. Russell Martin (TOR)- After a miserable first-half where Martin did not hit his first home run until May 25th, fantasy owners were dropping the 33-year old catcher at a rapidly increasing rate. That is, until he started to pick things up in the second half when he clubbed 13 homers versus the seven he hit in the first half. Unfortunately, in numbers that don’t bode well for Martin’s future, he finished with a 10.8% swinging strike rate and a 27.7% strikeout rate, both career-worsts by a wide margin. With the Jays’ signing of Kendry Morales, Martin won’t even have the opportunity to DH all that much and may simply rest more often as he gets up there in age. With the decline in numbers coinciding with turning another year older, he has a chance to largely disappoint his owners in 2017, and for me pegs him as one of the bigger bust candidates at the position. If it were not for the ultra-potent lineup that he hits in for the Blue Jays, he would definitely find himself ranked in the double-digits for me.
8. Yasmani Grandal (LAD)- Grandal was a late-round draft pick in fantasy leagues in 2016, but he ended up leading all National League fantasy eligible catchers in home runs with 27. It was a career high in bombs for Grandal, and he also posted his best marks ever in hits, RBI and runs scored. He also walked 64 times in 457 plate appearances, getting on base at a .339 clip despite a pedestrian .228 average. The high counting stats made for some nice career highs, but the average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are right in line with Grandal’s career norms, so this is more of a matter of what Grandal can do with playing time as the Dodgers’ primary backstop. As long as fantasy owners don’t mind the trade-off of power and OBP for a low batting average, Grandal is a nice grab as a top-10 catcher in the 10th to 12th round in 12-team leagues.
7. Salvador Perez (KC)- In 2011, when Perez burst onto the scene as a 21-year-old, he was touted as the rare breed of catcher who could hit for average and power, even though he hadn’t shown any of that power in the minors yet. His home run totals have grown every season since then. Unfortunately, his batting average has been inversely related to those totals. In 2016, Perez hit 22 home runs, another career high. He also hit .247, another career low. The batting average drop can be directly linked to his ever-increasing strikeout rate (8.9% in 2012 to 21.8% in 2016). In 2017, Perez will turn 27 years old, and he’ll likely be eyeing that home run total once again. Owners should expect his approach to remain consistent with 2016 and another high-HR, low-average season to occur. While this doesn’t make Perez unique among catchers, the possibility of a batting average renaissance will continue to bolster his draft position. Perez can be a nice addition after pick 150, but owners probably have more important roles to fill before that.
6. Evan Gattis (HOU)- Gattis powered his way through 2016, setting a new career high with 32 home runs. Unfortunately, this came with a .319 on-base percentage and the highest strikeout rate of his career (25.5%), making him an all-or-nothing type of hitter. New additions Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran will help shore up the catcher and designated hitter spots, which will limit the plate appearances Gattis receives in 2017. McCann and Beltran are not everyday players, so it will likely be a three-man rotation between these hitters for two spots. Gattis is still a premier power hitter who will retain his catcher eligibility in 2017, but the influx of new talent will mean a repeat of 30 home runs is unlikely.
5. J.T Realmuto (MIA)- J.T quietly put together the best season of his young MLB career and surprised many by finishing as one of the best offensive catchers in baseball. Realmuto’s .303 average was the highest of his career and was third among all major league catchers. His 31 doubles also ranked third among his position, and his 12 stolen bases were the most by any catcher. Realmuto never got the attention, nor the recognition he deserved, probably because he plays in Miami. But make no mistake, he’s a great offensive asset to have. In just his second full season, Realmuto slashed .303/.343/.428, all which rank in the top 10 among catchers. The addition of A.J Ellis could cut into Realmuto’s productivity, but at the age of 35, Ellis is there to serve as a backup. He won’t be the most talked about catcher in fantasy, but Realmuto will be a fabulous addition to whoever drafts him
4. Willson Contreras (CHC)- Arriving on the scene midway through the 2016 season, Venezuelan catcher Willson Contreras enjoyed a noteworthy rookie season. In 76 games, he hit .282 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI while also posting a strong 9.2 walk rate. While he did post a 23.7 strikeout rate, the number dropped off as the season wore on, following up a 26-strikeout July with 15 in August and 13 in September. Looking forward to 2017, Contreras should see double the amount of at-bats he had last season and has a strong possibility of connecting for 25 HR and knocking in 70-75 RBI. If he cuts down his K%, he could approach a .290 average, which combined with the previously mentioned HR and RBI possibilities, could make him a major fantasy baseball catcher. Much like teammate Addison Russell, Contreras can be picked in the middle-rounds and turn out to be an absolute steal.
3. Gary Sanchez (NYY)- Wow, was Sanchez a great addition to anybody who picked him up late in the 2016 season. Despite playing in only 53 games, he finished sixth at the catcher position with 20 home-runs, to go alongside a marvelous .299 batting average. Even more impressive was the video-game like .657 slugging percentage he posted in 2016. Sanchez certainly has the chance to provide the most upside at the catcher position, it is tough to envision the successes in week-to-week consistency he posted last season as pitchers will be able to adjust to him more in the 2017 season. With all of that being said, there is no reason to think that 30 home runs is unobtainable, especially when you look at the aforementioned ridiculous 20 bombs over 53 games in 2016. As mentioned before in this particular player’s write-up, Brian McCann was made expendable with the youngster in Sanchez showing he was more than capable at the MLB level. I know I have him ranked at three here, and that is just the sheer lack of experience at the major league level in addition to pitchers having more time to adjust to him, but I definitely would not be surprised if he finished as the top catching option in fantasy come the end of this upcoming season.
2. Jonathan Lucroy (TEX)- Lucroy played just 103 games in 2015 as the result of a broken toe, but rebounded to have the best offensive season of his career in 2016, finishing with 24 home runs and a .208 ISO. While the mammoth rise in his HR/FB rate (17 percent) is almost certainly unsustainable, he once again showed a fantastic hard contact rate (35 percent) along with a .355 on-base perecentage. Lucroy will likely continue to put up solid numbers at the catcher position in 2017, but there just is not enough information to give us confidence that the power outburst will continue. Lucroy’s price seems to be just right as a pick late in the sixth round, but he is not someone players should be looking to grab early for protection.
1. Buster Posey (SFG)- Posey has long been the gold standard at the catcher position in fantasy leagues. That will remain the case heading into the 2017 season. There simply isn’t anyone who comes close to Posey’s ability to produce from the most difficult position to find production. He plays a ton, topping 146 games played in five straight years, and no backstop has been as consistent at the plate as him. Last season, Posey slashed .288/.362/.434 with 14 home runs, 82 runs, 80 RBI and he even chipped in six stolen bases. Whether you choose to spend an early fourth-round pick on Posey comes down to how you want to construct your roster, but he’s as safe as they come at the position and provides a large positional advantage over the other teams in your league.