Fantasy Baseball catchers: Draft strategy, sleepers, prospects and more
Fantasy Baseball catchers: Draft strategy, sleepers, prospects and more
Now that the offseason is (almost) over, fantasy baseball drafts should be ramping up with spring training under way and the start of the regular season near.
Now that the offseason is (almost) over, fantasy baseball drafts are ramping up with spring training under way and the start of the regular season near. Tommy Stokke and Chris Mascaro will go position-by-position with their thoughts on strategy, sleepers, bold predictions and more to help you in your upcoming drafts. The catcher position is always up for debate because of how shallow the position often is from a fantasy perspective. That's no different this year. Catching appears to be top-heavy again, but it may be as unpredictable as ever with aging stars and teams valuing defense more and more. Defense and pitch framing is great in real baseball, but it hurts fantasy owners looking for production. No catcher finished in the top-100 of CBS rankings in 2018, which adds another layer to draft strategies and decisions to make for your roster. Average Draft Position (ADP) is from [Fantasy Pros](https://www.fantasypros.com/mlb/adp/c.php). ## Draft strategy __CM:__ Catchers are sort of like kickers in fantasy football, in that the statistical variance between them generally isn't great enough to warrant taking one early. I learned this lesson taking Buster Posey in the first round in 2013. It's not as drastic, however, so you still need to do your homework instead of just picking a name out of a hat in the last round. Bottom line, don't think that just because you snag J.T. Realmuto early that you'll have an advantage at the position every week. __TS:__ I usually want the best catcher or I wait for someone who just won't kill my roster. If it's not J.T. Realmuto, I'd rather take my chances with someone who posts a decent on-base percentage (or batting average) and can contribute occasional counting stats. In the past, I've let Buster Posey go way early and settled for lower-tier options. This might be the year I'd reach for the top pick in Realmuto. ## Auction strategy __CM:__ Auctions tend to be long, so your fellow league members might be half asleep when you hear a name like Francisco Cervelli (.809 OPS last season) pop up after three hours of drafting. If you can steal one you like for less than $5, it leaves you that much more cash to splurge on Bryce Harper (you know you're gonna do it, don't lie). __TS:__ Realmuto is again the exception to my rule. Going from the second-worst Park Factors stadium for homers in Miami to the second-best in Philadelphia will give him a boost to an already impressive resume. Having Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins around him instead of Lewis Brinson and Brian Anderson won't hurt either. But give me someone in the 8-12 ranking rather than spending big on Gary Sanchez (more on him later). I'd prefer to save my money for a sure thing or higher ceiling somewhere else. But if I can get Realmuto at a somewhat reasonable price -- he wouldn't be the most expensive player on my team -- I think he's the one who is worth it. ## Player going too high __CM: Yadier Molina, Cardinals (ADP: 5 C, 129 OVR):__ First off, he's going to turn 37 this season. But that old man strength appears to have helped his power numbers the last two years. Still, his OPS was higher two seasons ago when he hit eight home runs (.787) than it was last year when he hit 20 (.750). Look beyond the sexy home run total. __TS: Buster Posey, Giants (ADP: 4 C, 128 OVR):__ Posey is coming off a serious hip surgery at 31 years old and playing for a team I don't expect to be in contention. The Giants have no reason to push Posey a ton this year, so I'm a little concerned about playing time. First base is an option, but beyond that his decline is hard to ignore. He hit five homers in 398 at-bats last season. He'll still hit for average, which can be hard to find, but I'm not paying the price Posey will cost. If he slid, I'd take him, but not at 128. ## Player going too low __CM: Yan Gomes, Nationals (ADP: 11 C, 237 OVR):__ Steady performer in his time with the Indians when healthy, Gomes is on the final year of a six-year contract, so he's essentially playing for his MLB career with veteran Kurt Suzuki as his backup in case he falters. He also crushes lefties (.801 career OPS off them) if you want to platoon him. __TS: Kurt Suzuki, Nationals (ADP: 19 C, 354 OVR):__ I'll stay with the Nationals but go for the other new addition this offseason. Suzuki might not have a high ceiling, but he's safe. He's familiar with the division, hits for a decent average and has double-digit home run pop. He's reliable enough that I'd take him higher than the 19th catcher overall. ## Player I won't draft __CM: Posey, Giants:__ He'll drive in runs because he'll be in the middle of the order everyday. But it's [an atrocious lineup](https://www.betchicago.com/mlb-season-win-total-values-mets-over-giants-under). The soon-to-be 32-year-old has declined in home runs every year since 2014 and he had a career-low .741 OPS last year. People aren't stupid, so he won't be taken high in any drafts, but I'm telling you not to take him at all. __TS: Gary Sanchez, Yankees:__ He's going second among catchers and 61st overall on average, but I'm staying away from the Yankees' backstop. His talent is undeniable, but I'm looking for more of a sure thing in the 5th round. There are underlying numbers that suggest he'll bounce back, such as his 12.3 percent walk rate and .197 BABIP. Most believe those numbers were due to an injured groin and shoulder. That could be, but I'm not wanting to find out that early in the draft for a player who has had declining numbers each of the last two years. ## Player I keep drafting __CM: Wilson Ramos, Mets:__ As I said earlier, it's usually better to wait on a catcher unless you get the best one. But I think the veteran's ADP of 136 is a fair one considering he'll be a middle-of-the-lineup mainstay and is very familiar with the NL East from his time with the Nats and Phillies. If you're going to wait, check out Willians Astudillo of the Twins. The legend of 'La Tortuga' (if you saw 'Breaking Bad' you know that translates to 'The Turtle') [continues to grow](https://www.wsj.com/articles/la-tortuga-is-here-to-save-baseball-11551877201) and the 27-year-old Venezuelan could win the starting job out of camp. Not much power despite his large frame, but he is one of the rare players who hits for average and rarely strikes out. His ADP is 292, so you won't be investing much. __TS: Yasmani Grandal, Brewers:__ He's on a one-year deal so he'll be motivated again. He moves to a better hitters' park in Milwaukee, and he's topped 20 homers in each of the last three years. Going 6th among catchers and 132nd overall, he's someone I've been eyeing in every draft. ## Prospect to watch __CM: Francisco Mejia, Padres:__ He's tearing it up in spring training and it could very well lead to him unseating Austin Hedges as San Diego's starter. If so, good shot he finishes as a top-10 fantasy catcher. __TS: Sean Murphy, Athletics:__ Mejia and Danny Jansen will get earlier opportunities on the Opening Day roster, but Murphy might not be far behind. The A's have Nick Hundley, Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann ahead of him, and Herrmann just underwent knee surgery. Murphy has all of 12 at-bats at Triple-A, so he needs to produce there. But at 24 years old and Oakland perhaps in a playoff race, the A's could be aggressive this summer in promoting him. ## Bold prediction __CM:__ No catcher will hit more than 20 home runs. __TS:__ With a starting role all to himself in Seattle, former White Sox catcher Omar Narvaez finishes as a top-10 catcher. __More MLB:__ [3 win totals to consider](https://www.betchicago.com/mlb-season-win-total-values-mets-over-giants-under)2019-03-07T22:39:57.085Z2019-03-07T15:00-07:00