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Our Chicago Cubs enter 2016 with the sort of problem no fantasy baseball team ever has: They have four catchers, and at least three of them - Miguel Montero, Kyle Schwarber, and prospect Willson Contreras - seem worthy of playing time (though Contreras is likely to spend the season in the minors as the Cubs let David Ross have a farewell tour).
Most fantasy teams won't keep more than two catchers on their rosters, and plenty of team owners are fine just having one, then playing waiver wire roulette if they end up needing a replacement for a stretch during the season.
If you do like to keep an extra catcher on your bench, there are plenty of choices this year, though keep in mind there is only one truly safe bet for high-level fantasy production at this position (and his name ain't Schwarber).
1. Buster Posey, SF:
Probably the biggest "duh" of any position ranking and really the only guarantee of high-level fantasy production. Led all catchers in RBI (95), BA (.318), OPS (.849) and hits
(177) last year. In fact, had 39 more hits than any other catcher.
2. Kyle Schwarber, CUBS.
Is this ranking reflective of all the hype, or just proof of how shallow the position is? A bit of both. Though he's relatively untested vs. lefties and has a lot to learn, 16 HRs and .842 OPS (second to Posey) in 232 ABs tough to ignore and enticing for projection purposes.
3. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL.
We're buying more on his 2014 breakout of .301 BA, .837 OPS and 53 doubles than his injury-shortened 2015 campaign, in which his BA sank to .264. If he gets hits every day and stays healthy, that's more fantasy value than you'll get from many catchers.
4. Salvador Perez, KC.
Though he suffered fatigue last year after 2014's postseason trip, he produced almost the same stats in 2015: 21 HRs, 70 RBI, .260 BA, .706 OPS. Fatigue and let-down could come this year after the WS win, but still one of the netter power bets at catcher.
5. Travis d'Arnaud, NYM.
Doesn't get Schwarber's press, but the other rising young star at catcher. 12 HRs, 41 RBI in 2015 after 13/41 in 2014, but he only had 239 ABs last year amid injury. Plus, his BA rose from .242 to .268, always a good sign, and .825 OPS was among top tier at catcher.
6. Brian McCann, NYY.
Career-high 26 HRs and 94 RBI last year probably won't be matched, but still has 20-HR power at age 32. His .232 BA last year is the clearest indicator that he's a guy who can carry a team's power stats for a week when he's hot, but do nothing for you when he's not.
7. Russell Martin, TOR.
A lot of people see his career-high 23 HRs last year as reason for a higher ranking, and 77 RBI were good for third among catchers. But he's 33 and, like a lot of older catchers, isn't likely to see more than 500 plate appearances.
8. Matt Wieters, BAL.
Hard to know what to make of him after a lot of busted promise and injuries, but he has flashed 20-HR power during his career, and hitting prowess above average for catchers, which at least suggests he will, perhaps like Lucroy, give you something every day.
9. Stephen Vogt, OAK.
Late-blooming 31-year-old had 18 HRs and 71 RBI last year, and gets enough games at 1B and DH that might minimize wear and tear. Not a whole lot to say except his level of power makes him a fantasy starter at this particular position.
10. Yasmani Grandal, LAD.
Some fantasy buzz around another young catcher eyeing a breakout. 16 HRs, 47 RBI in 355 ABs last year suggest room to grow given more chances, and he's 27 this season. BA has risen three straight years, though was still only .234 in 2015, so we'll see.
11. Yadier Molina, STL.
Two injury-plagued seasons in a row have him on the outs among fantasy experts, but he should be healthy to start the year and seems capable of something like .280 BA, 80 RBI if he's retained any of his affinity for clutch hitting. Got a feeling I should rank him higher.
12. Miguel Montero, CUBS.
Another elder statesman who will be 33 this season. His 15 HRs, 53 RBI in a 2015 shortened by injury and the need for David Ross to catch Jon Lester were promising, but with Ross still around and Schwarber needing work, don't know that we can expect more.
13. Welington Castillo, ARI.
The guy left out of the Cubs' catcher picture last year was shipped to SEA and then ARI, where he exploded, managing a career-high 19 HRs, 57 RBI and .813 OPS. Hard to tell if that was an anomaly, but probably worth a bench pick.
14. Derek Norris, SD.
Had a little hype around him going into 2015, and wasn't bad, with 14 HRs and 62 RBI, but we were looking for a little more. His 515 ABs last year were third-most among catchers, so there may not be more stats to get out of him, but another decent bench pick.
15. Devin Mesoraco, CIN.
25 HRs, 80 RBI in 2014 had us salivating going into last year, but injury erased his season and he's already suffered a groin injury this spring, so wondering about his readiness. A potential HR treasure here lying in the deep, but a risky bet for sure.
16. Francisco Cervelli, PIT.
His .295 BA and 138 hits (third-most among catchers) suggest he was doing a little something almost every day, though not much beyond that to get excited about, given his seven HRs and 43 RBI.
17. J.T. Realmuto, MIA.
Intriguing 2015 rookie campaign featured seven triples (!), 10 HRs, 47 RBI, 21 doubles in 441 ABs. Hard to predict triples for sure, but that's decent extra-bases bang for a bench catcher you'd probably take in the last round or two of the draft.
18. Yan Gomes, CLE.
After 21 HRs, 74 RBI in 2014, we were definitely hoping for more than the 12/45 we got last year. Certainly a power threat during his hot stretches and maybe even a steal here if he rediscovers his 2014 magic, but certainly not a starter at this point.
19. Wilson Ramos, WAS.
Another potential steal here, as his 68 RBI last year were a career high and 15 HRs second-highest of his career, but BA plummeted the last three seasons to register at .229 last year, and I don't see any of his numbers going higher.
20. Nick Hundley, COL.
Had a nice 2015: 10 HRs, 43 RBI, .301 BA in 366 ABs, but look at his numbers in his stat-inflating home park: 7 HRs, 33 RBI, .355 BA, .957 OPS. He's shadowed by rookie slugger Tom Murphy, but Hundley could be an attractive fantasy option with 100 more ABs.
Sleeper: Blake Swihart, BOS.
Finally getting a chance to start after half a decade as a promising prospect, Swihart looks like a good bet to build on his 2015 debut numbers of five HRs, 31 RBI, 37 runs in 288 ABs.
Previously in the Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide:
* The (Tied At The) Top 40.
Dan O'Shea is our fantasy fixer. He welcomes your comments.
The first year of The Rebuild/Is now in the past/But it wasn't so awful/The Sox didn't finish last.Continue reading "The Season In Verse | It Could Have Been Worse" »
Posted on Oct 2, 2017