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The most thankless parts of a fantasy advisor's job - and the most boring aspects of drafting a team - are ranking catchers and closers. Both positions are shallow in fantasy value. Beyond the obvious - catchers being a limited source of power, and RPs being the only source of saves - there is little strategy involved in drafting them (unless it's in trying to guess which closer's team will be good enough - but not too good - to hand him the most save opportunities).
Anyway, if you really need to know:
1. Buster Posey, SF.
Exceptional abilities as a pure hitter are fully leveraged in a no-frills offense to maximize his RBI potential. 89 RBI led all catchers last year, 72 runs was second. Interesting 2014 stat: 69 strikeouts lowest since 2011, and third straight year number has declined.
2. Carlos Santana, CLE.
More power than Posey - 27 HRs led all catchers - and still believed to have his best years in front of him. He's really more of a 3B/1B now, but retains the C eligibility for extra value. Interesting 2014 stat: 85 RBI was second to Posey.
3. Devin Mesoraco, CIN.
HR explosion last year - 25 HRs in just 384 at-bats. Likely to see more playing time and have more opportunities to reach that figure again, though he's not a proven quantity just yet. Interesting 2014 stat: .893 OPS led all catchers.
4. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL.
Dual-eligibility at 1B, though lack of HR power makes him more valuable here. His tendency toward run-producing doubles helped him get into position to score 73 runs, leading all catchers. Interesting 2014 stat: 176 hits also led the position.
5. Evan Gattis, HOU.
A bit injury prone, though I am intrigued by his move from the NL to the AL, where he probably will DH. 22 HRs last year in 369 at-bats, and thinking he gets closer to 500 at-bats this year if he stays healthy. Interesting 2014 stat: .810 OPS.
6. Jan Gomes, CLE.
Like Mesoraco, you can question which direction his numbers will go in this year after 21 HRs but 120 strikeouts in 485 at-bats - his fullest season of three so far - but potential is there to do more damage. Interesting 2014 stat: .278 average slid from .294 in 2013.
7. Yadier Molina, STL.
Once so consistent, but now more of a comeback candidate. He could easily be his old self and deliver Posey-like average and RBI, but carries at least a small amount of risk. Interesting 2014 stat: 38 RBI in season lost to injury was fewest since his 2004 51-game debut.
8. Salvador Perez, KC.
Have to wonder how his long postseason will affect his energy this year, given he hit only .229 in the second half last year to finish at career-low .260, but similar to Molina/Lucroy/Posey as a good contact/RBI hitter. Interesting 2014 stat: Career-high 17 HRs.
9. Brian McCann, NYY.
Move to AL and NYY last year looked to help his power numbers, and he did hit 23 HRs, 75 RBI, both bests since 2011, but his 495 at-bats were the most he had since 2008, putting those number in perspective. Interesting 2014 stat: Hit only .232.
10. Wilin Rosario, COL.
He's the reason we show concern for HR direction of Mesoraco/Gomes, since he hit 28 HRs in 2012, but 21 in 2013 and just 13 last year. Still, injury limited him to 109 games, so maybe there's hope. Interesting 2014 stat: 25 doubles somehow a career high.
11. Russell Martin, TOR.
Star free agent whose value doesn't always show in fantasy. Clutch hitting nabbed him 67 RBI, highest since 2008. 32 years old, so how much better can he be? Interesting 2014 stat: .290 average was his highest since 2007.
12. Miguel Montero, CUBS.
Very speculative ranking, as young team and Wrigley's dimensions could help his HRs and RBIs, or could just lead to a lot of lonesome hits and loud outs. His 72 RBI, sixth among catchers, offers hope. Interesting 2014 stat: 136 games played a career high.
13. Wilson Ramos, WAS.
Still has breakout potential, but between injury and middling performance, he has played more than 100 games only one out of six seasons (and it wasn't last season). Interesting 2014 stat: 47 RBI in 88 games suggests fantasy value over a full season.
14. Matt Wieters, BAL.
Talented, but troubled by injury, and likely to start the year on the DL. Still, his 2011-2013 stats: 22/23/22 HRs, 68/83/79 RBIs show proof of value. Just be sure to have a back-up for the beginning of the season. Interesting 2014 stat: .308 average, but only 26 games played.
15. Travis d'Arnaud, NYM.
Finally, a real breakout candidate: 13 HRs, 41 RBI in 385 at-bats during his rookie campaign last year (came up mid-season). OK, maybe still a year away from realizing his full potential. Interesting 2014 stat: A very un-catcher-like three triples.
16. Mike Zunino, SEA.
Wow, another breakout candidate, and with 30+ HR potential. Of his 87 hits last year, 22 were HRs, and spring reports suggest he's improved his swing - who wouldn't, after hitting .199 last year. Interesting 2014 stat: 158 strikeouts in 458 trips to the plate.
17. Derek Norris, LAA.
His .270 average might be his best stat: 10 HRs, 55 RBIs in 127 games last year is fairly pedestrian. But we should expect more this year as an everyday catcher in a fairly stacked lineup. Interesting 2014 stat: Not one, but two SBs - and a triple!
18. Yasmani Grandal, LAD.
More power than Norris, suggested by 15 HRs in 128 games, but average is much lower, just .225 last year. Dual eligibility at 1B, though I wouldn't consider him more than an injury replacement there. Interesting 2014 stat: Three SBs, so he's faster than Norris.
19. Francisco Cervelli, PIT.
I like him as a very deep sleeper because he's going from being the long-term back-up with NYY to an everyday starter with PIT. Only two HRs, so power is not evident, but in 46 games he had a .301 average. Interesting 2014 stat: .802 OPS sounds promising.
20. Tyler Flowers, WHITE SOX.
Early last season, he seemed like an overlooked gem, but faded later, resulting in a .241 average, 15 HRs and 50 RBI. Still makes for an interesting bench option when he's streaking, though not much else. Interesting 2014 stat: 159 strikeouts.
Sleeper: Max Stassi, HOU.
With only 27 at-bats in the last two seasons, this 24-year-old is really still more of a prospect, but with Gattis likely to be more of a DH, Stassi could provide some fantasy value as the year goes on. Interesting 2014 stat: Two of his seven hits last year were doubles.
1. Aroldis Chapman, CIN.
What gets him this spot is 106 strikeouts in 54 IP last year. He's an elite closer, and should manage 40 saves even for the middle-of-the-pack Reds (36 saves last year) Interesting 2014 stat: 0.83 WHIP.
2. Greg Holland, KC.
Not a lot of people believe the Royals will make a repeat appearance in the World Series, but they'll still be good, and Holland's 46 saves, 1.44 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 62 IP offers the complete package. Interesting 2014 stat: Only two blown saves in 65 appearances.
3. Craig Kimbrel, ATL.
The closest thing to a reliably elite closer since Mariano Rivera. ERA, WHIP have ticked higher the last three seasons, while strikeouts have declined over that stretch, but 47 saves in 2014 was second highest of his career. Interesting 2014 stat: .142 average against.
4. Drew Storen, WAS.
Closing for the best starting rotation in MLB should lead to huge number of save opportunities. His 1.12 ERA and 0.98 WHIP last year showed remarkable improvement from 2013's 4.52/1.36. Interesting 2014 stat: Three blown saves in only 14 save chances.
5. Alex Wood, ATL.
SP/RP for those who sacrifice saves to pad other stats. Wood will start exclusively, and should provide wins, strikeouts and ERA at the level near a top 20 starter. Interesting 2014 stat: 170 strikeouts most of any pitcher with RP eligibility.
6. Carlos Carrasco, CLE.
Another SP/RP should be providing starter's stats all year, and could be even have a more dominant line of wins, strikeouts and ERA than Wood, though a lesser known quantity right now. Interesting 2014 stat: 140 strikeouts second among RPs.
7. Trevor Rosenthal, STL.
His 45 saves last year and status as closer for a consistent winner recommend him for this rank more than his 3.20 ERA and 1.41 WHIP, lofty by closer standards. Interesting 2014 stat: 70 IP most of any RP with 39 or more saves.
8. Mark Melancon, PIT.
Quietly amassed a great season - 1.90 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, .195 average against, 71 strikeouts, 33 saves. Didn't start 2014 as closer, so reason to think he'll get more saves this year. Interesting 2014 stat: 72 game appearances tied his career high.
9. Dellin Betances, NYY.
In my top five until a few days ago, based on 135 strikeouts in 90 IP last year as set-up man. However, he's struggling this spring, and though he appears to be top choice for closer, he's being challenged by Andrew Miller. Interesting 2014 stat: 0.78 WHIP.
10. David Robertson, WHITE SOX.
A little bit of early injury concern caused him to drop a couple spots in my rankings, but if the Sox are as good as many of us think, he's looking at 40+ saves. Interesting 2014 stat: 39 saves in first year as a closer for NYY.
11. Cody Allen, CLE.
Another late riser in 2014, he notched 24 saves with a 2.07 ERA, but what stands out is 91 strikeouts in 69 IP. Still, has less than a season of experience closing games, so there's a risk factor. Interesting 2014 stat: .194 average against.
12. Fernando Rodney, SEA.
How does the MLB saves leader of 2014 fall this far? His 48 saves last year tied his career high, but he just turned 38. His 1.34 WHIP last year scares me. Interesting 2014 stat: .244 average against was his highest since 2010.
13. Huston Street, LAA.
Cagey 31-year-old veteran usually an RP-2 fantasy option, but was nearly unhittable pre-All Star break last year before trade to LAA. Wasn't as good after, but still had 41 saves overall and a 1.37 ERA. Interesting 2014 stat: .158 average against pre-trade for Padres.
14. Koji Uehara, BOS.
Even older, cagier veteran is an injury risk and may start the season injured. Still, should have a ton of chances with BOS reloaded for a playoff run. 80 strikeouts in 64 IP last year showed he still has pop. Interesting 2014 stat: 0.92 WHIP.
15. Steve Cishek, MIA.
39 saves last year and 84 strikeouts in 65 IP suggests he should be ranked higher, though be wary of an un-closer-like 3.17 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. Could surprise in a big way if young Marlins overachieve. Interesting 2014 stat: 58 hits in 65 IP not so encouraging.
16. Kenley Jansen, LAD.
Otherwise an elite closer, he'll start the season on the DL and may miss the first month or so. If you get him late in a draft, he'll probably be a great bargain, as his 44 saves last year suggest. Interesting 2014 stat: 101 strikeouts in 65 IP.
17. Joaquin Benoit, SD.
Another possible steal this low - and another old man, at 37, and an injury risk. Just 11 saves last year, but 1.49 ERA and 0.77 WHIP, and savvy money is on Padres to win a lot this year. Interesting 2014 stat: .151 average against in 53 appearances.
18. Glen Perkins, MIN.
If you wait until very late to draft closers, he's not a bad option, with 34 saves last year, 36 in 2013. He did have seven blown saves last season, and a somewhat ugly 3.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP. Interesting 2014 stat: Gave up 62 hits in 61.2 IP.
19. Jonathan Papelbon, PHI.
Somehow keeps getting it done for a bad team, with 29 saves, 2.04 ERA and 0.90 WHIP last year. Not as much a strikeout pitcher has he once was. A trade would send his fantasy value soaring. Interesting 2014 stat: .191 average against his best since 2007.
20. Santiago Casilla, SF.
Giants relievers just get guys out, which helps win a World Series or three, but lack of strikeouts brings down their fantasy value. Casilla looks like the primary closer this year instead of set-up man, which may help. Interesting 2014 stat: 0.86 WHIP a career best.
Sleeper: Hector Rondon, CUBS.
If the Cubs excel enough under Joe Maddon to become a wild-card candidate, Rondon could be looking at the 45-50 save opportunities typical of a winner. But that's a big If. Interesting 2014 stat: Only 15 walks in 64 IP after 25 in 44 IP in 2013.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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