Catcher Tiers — April 2014

As we get ready to start the 2014 MLB season on American soil this Sunday, it’s time to break out the Positional Tiered Rankings for the first month of the season. I started with the RotoGraphs Positional Rankings and then added in statistical history, projections and my own thoughts for each player and grouped them together to house similar value levels with each other. It’s a helpful tool to use for trading purposes as you can gauge just how much value you may be giving away or getting back in a deal. Here’s how I’m seeing the catcher position this year:

The Plaza
Buster Posey
Wilin Rosario
Carlos Santana
Brian McCann

There’s nothing like staying at The Plaza — classic New York, luxury suites, the finest amenities. But to stay there, you’ve got to pay top-dollar. No different with the catchers in this tier. You’ve got power, batting average and eligibility both behind the plate and at first with Posey and Rosario. You’ve got power, on-base percentage and more multi-position eligibility from Santana. And finally, I put McCann in this tier because of the move to Yankee Stadium and what should be a very prolific offense. He’s hit no fewer than 20 home runs in each of the last six years and moves to a fantastic park for left-handed power. I see the home runs and RBI increasing and with that, I think his batting average will also see a boost.

Ritz-Carlton
Joe Mauer
Jonathan Lucroy
Yadier Molina
Salvador Perez
Jason Castro
Wilson Ramos
Matt Wieters

It’s time to continue my annual battle with the Mauer-lovers as I keep him in the second tier. Sorry, folks. Just because he’s playing first base doesn’t mean his stats are going to increase. He doesn’t hit for power, he doesn’t steal bases and I just don’t see the runs scored being what they used to be. The RBI? Maybe. But it’s a much different lineup now than it was when he actually was an elite catcher. The increase in at-bats playing first will help his average have a greater impact, but with the question marks surrouning the runs and RBI, I have to drop him down a tier. For everyone else here at the Ritz, well, some have average, some have power, some have promise and some have all three. I might be slightly on the fence with Wieters in this tier, but I do like him more than anyone in the next tier.

The Hilton
Evan Gattis
Miguel Montero
Yan Gomes
A.J. Pierzynski

Gattis has the most power potential which is why he’s in this tier, but I’m just not a fan and feel like he’s going to have playing time issues down the road. I expect a bit of a bounce-back for Montero, Gomes should be solid as the new primary in Cleveland and while Pierzynski leaves hitter-friendly Arlington, he gets Fenway which plays nicely to left-handed power.

Comfort Inn
Devin Mesoraco
Travis d’Arnaud
Welington Castillo
Alex Avila
Russell Martin

Risers and fallers here in the middle as Mesoraco, d’Arnaud and Castillo all have great potential while Avila and Martin can both be decent options but have their fair share of shortcomings.

Holiday Inn Express
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Yasmani Grandal
A.J. Ellis
Carlos Ruiz
Dioner Navarro

Navarro is the guy I see jumping to the next tier the quickest, but I’ll hedge for now here in the first month. Salty has solid power potential but Marlins Park is going to sap a lot of it. Ruiz, Adderall or not, is still on the way down, Grandal has potential but question marks with the home park and the post-Biogenesis life and Ellis is usually a good OBP guy with maybe a little pop lurking there.

Red Roof Inn
Mike Zunino
Tyler Flowers
J.P. Arencibia
Ryan Hanigan

These guys are the primary backstops for their team but each has a very similar problem. Zunino has promise but Buck is there. Flowers has potential, but he’s struggled at the plate and could give way to his back-up a couple of days each week. Arencibia has great power and a great situation, but his batting average is so bad that even his light-hitting back-up could start to poach time early. And of course, Hanigan has a veteran back-up who is strong defensively and well-liked by all on his team.

Super 8 Motel
Josmil Pinto
Kurt Suzuki
Chris Iannetta
Hank Conger
John Jaso
Derek Norris
Steve Vogt

Pinto has the edge over Suzuki but they’re in a platoon. Iannetta is the primary but Conger is going to start stealing time more and more. And finally, who knows how things are going to unfold in Oakland as all three have their strengths and weakness and what separates them really isn’t very much.

Habitat Suites
John Buck
Adrian Nieto
Jordan Pacheco
Gerald Laird
Ryan Doumit
Robinson Chirinos
Jose Lobaton

Here come the back-ups. Maybe they’ve got some value in AL or NL-only leagues, but mixed league action just isn’t looking too good.

Bates Motel
Hector Sanchez
David Ross
Martin Maldonado
Francisco Cervelli
Nick Hundley
Tuffy Gosewisch
Josh Thole
Jose Molina
George Kottaras
Geovany Soto

If any of these guys are your catcher, even in the deepest of leagues, give your league-mates the carving knife and just hop into the shower. You’re done.




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com


38 Responses to “Catcher Tiers — April 2014”

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  1. Matt says:

    What about Pena while Mesoraco is out?

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  2. Junior Perez says:

    Hey wassup guys I need ur advice I’m in a pts league
    I traded Matt Holliday for Miguel Montero and Howie Kendrick is it a good or bad trade this is my team

    C Yan Gomes, Cle C
    1B Joey Votto, Cin 1B
    2B Kelly Johnson, ny 2B
    3B Manny Machado, Bal 3B
    SS Everth Cabrera, SD SS
    OF Ryan Braun, Mil OF
    OF Jose Bautista, Tor OF
    OF Matt Holliday, StL OF
    UTIL David Ortiz, Bos DH
    Bench Billy Hamilton, Cin OF
    Bench Torii Hunter, Det OF
    Bench mike moustakas,kc 3B
    Bench brad miller, sea ss

    sp Madison Bumgarner, SF
    sp Chris Sale, CWS
    sp Alex Cobb, TB
    sp Julio Teheran, Atl
    sp Alex Wood, Atl

    rp Ernesto Frieri, LAA
    rp Aroldis Chapman, Cin

    Scoring system in my league
    Singles (1B) 1 Doubles (2B) 2
    Triples (3B) 3 Home Runs (HR) 4
    Walks (BB) 1 Runs Scored (R) 1
    Runs Batted In (RBI) 1 Stolen Bases (SB) 2
    Strikeouts (K) -0.5 Hit by Pitch (HBP) 1
    Caught Stealing (CS) -1

    Pitching
    Innings Pitched (IP) 1.5 Earned Runs (ER) -1
    Wins (W) 5 Losses (L) -5
    Saves (SV) 5 Blown Saves (BS) -3
    Strikeouts (K) 1 Hits Allowed (H) -1
    Walks Issued (BB) -1 Hit Batsmen (HB) -1
    Quality Starts (QS) 3

    -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Alex says:

      It’s not the worst trade ever, but the other owner clearly won, IMO. It comes down to Montero and whether you think he can regain his old form after a down year. I personally have slightly more faith in Gomes replicating his 2013 numbers in a similar shared role with Santana where Gomes gets 400 ABs.

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    • FeslenR says:

      An okay trade, I prefer to keep Holliday mainly because your catching is okay with Gomes.

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  3. Sandlot Scrub says:

    Great last line!

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  4. Junior Perez says:

    Thanks Alex being the fact that is points league in the end both players are goin to give me more pts than Holliday I’m thinking if u put both players numbers together and plus now I could start Billy Hamilton who I had on the bench

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  5. Dan says:

    I prefer the Holiday Inn Express to the Comfort Inn

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Matt says:

      This needs more attention. For some reason it bothered me enough to take time out of my day to post a comment.

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      • Howard Bender says:
        FanGraphs Supporting Member

        Perhaps it was my horrid experience at a Holiday Inn Express down in Virgina that ruined me. I ended up leaving there are two nights and moved to a Comfort Inn that was actually quite delightful.

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  6. atoms says:

    I have Salty as my primary but just picked up Jaso to platoon him. Is it worth the bench spot to keep 2 catchers, and combined would that get me into Hilton territory?

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    • Howard Bender says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Meh. Not really. You’re probably not getting enough value using up a roster spot to platoon the catcher position. I’d simply stick with one for the time being and see about an upgrade during the next month or so.

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      • atoms says:

        Yeah, I forgot to mention it’s an OBP league (hence Jaso), but neither of those guys are particularly great. to be sure. It’d also be slightly better if Jaso were the full time DH as the A’s were originally planning.

        I’m not wedded to the strategy, and if I need the spot I’ll probably ditch it, but I feel like catcher seems like the position with the most upside to platooning (because of all the off days they get anyway), and Salty and Jaso both have pretty big platoon splits and are both lefties on the better side of the platoon, so they should have a good chance at getting me both a start and a favorable matchup on any particular day. That was my thought process, anyway.

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  7. Feeding the Abscess says:

    Fenway is consistently one of the tougher parks in baseball for left-handed HR. It’s great for doubles, but doubles aren’t nearly as important for fantasy baseball as home runs. Pierzynski is worse off in Fenway than he was in Arlington, I’d think.

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  8. pj says:

    I think Pinto and Ianetta belong in Red Roof Inn at least because they are better long term plays then anyone else for the next couple tiers up.

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    • Howard Bender says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      They can apply for a room upgrade in May. For now, there’s no room at the Inn.

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  9. wily mo says:

    josh phegley can’t even get a mention? everybody seems to have punted on him because he hit bad in the majors last year. but he was really good in the minors, and you can never really judge a guy too much on his first 200 PA in the majors. especially a catcher – taking over the big league pitching staff has to be a lot of pressure before you even get to your hitting. flowers has had more chances than phegley has at this point and never done much, and i really think phegley might pass him up and prove to be a decent find.

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    • Howard Bender says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Phegley could be down in the minors for a while, especially if Nieto plays well and works into a possible platoon with Flowers. He’s got to sleep in his car until he gets to the Show.

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  10. jamie Padgett says:

    Holiday inn is way better then the Comfort Inn.

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    • Howard Bender says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      See comment above, but I’m sure Holiday Inn appreciates your endorsement.

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  11. j-bones says:

    i really love getting castro or ramos for $1 in every draft

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    • Howard Bender says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Great bargain. I wish either of them came that cheap in any of my auctions.

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  12. MillerTime89 says:

    Is Rosario really playing 1B? If he is, I don’t know how I missed that. He definitely doesn’t have dual eligibility yet in Yahoo.

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  13. Ballpark Frank says:

    In response to the Mauer hate:

    It bothers me when I read “he doesn’t steal bases” in a catcher’s preview article. If you are drafting a catcher for speed then get off this site.

    Catcher is a 4 category position in standard scoring formats (Avg/HR/RBI/R). Because of this most people wait until the end of their drafts at the position because catchers don’t score as many raw points relative to the other positions. I believe in value based drafting and all of the leagues Ive played in require teams to start a catcher. Mauer is definitely in the top tier of catchers and worth drafting early.

    Mauer is all but a lock to be the top guy in Avg and Runs at the position and should hold his own in RBIs. Plus if you want to talk about the steals still, Mauer has 4 seasons with 7 or more SBs and he no longer has the wear and tear of playing behind the plate to wear him out. Big picture wise, I like having Mauer’s elite batting average coming from catcher to make up for “grip it and rip it” guys who can steal some bases like Cespedes, Granderson or Soriano who are devalued mostly because of their batting average.

    I took Mauer(pick 60), Carlos Santana (pick 61) and McCann (pick 109) all on one team last night in a 12 team, 5×5 Roto league. Plan is to play Mauer at Catcher, Santana at 3B and McCann vs RHP in my Utl spot.

    Im not a buying the hype on guys like Rosario and Ramos who bat at the bottom of NL lineups and values are derived from extrapolating their numbers across a full season of ABs. IMO catcher breaks down to

    Posey
    Mauer
    Santana
    McCann

    BIG GAP

    Lucroy
    Molina

    BIGGER GAP

    Everyone else

    My advice is to take advantage of the herd like mentality out their and capitalize on market inefficiencies that exist at catcher.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ballpark Frank says:

      *mentality out THERE

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    • Howard Bender says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Of course I’m not banking on steals from the catcher position but Mauer did at one point which is what helped boost his value initially. Perhaps we just have differing opinions regarding the Twins lineup which, in my opinion, is the driving force behind potential runs scored and RBI. I’m not sold on the middle to bottom part of the order being able to consistently drive him home to get him to the 80 runs level and there are certainly table-setting questions regarding who hits in front of him. If they don’t get on-base enough, how is he building up his RBI total? The Twinkies lineup just isn’t what it used to be and simply assuming that Mauer will rack up a ton of runs and RBI because he’s a good hitter is going to set you up for disappointment.

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      • Ballpark Frank says:

        I understand the concerns about his teammates but I think the Twins lineup is much improved from last year. Arcia should cut down from his 31% K rate in his second season in the bigs and Willingham is back for a full season.

        Mauer is going to post his .400 OBP so any improvement from Arcia and Willingham will lead to more scoring opportunities. Even if they dont improve Mauer should see a career high in plate appearances which will help his raw stats. I cant see a situation in which he doesnt score at least 80 times this year. 600 PA x .400 OBP = 240 times on base. 80 runs is under producing for that many times on base. He could easily score 90+ times if those batting behind him do their jobs.

        His floor alone (.310 BA and 80 runs) makes him a top option at catcher with a more likely line of .320 & 90 IMO.

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  14. James says:

    I like your Jason Castro ranking. Solid average and power skills, but I think he gets overlooked because he plays for Houston. Houston won’t be as bad as they were last year, but they are still bad enough that Castro hits third. I’d take a third place hitter any day over a “better” catcher in a better lineup who’s going to bat 7th.

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  15. longbeachyo says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    PROLIFIC? The Yankees offense???

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    • Howard Bender says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Assuming full health, the Yankees lineup is going to be quite potent, my friend. Yes, there are obvious concerns regarding health and age, but if everyone stays healthy for the majority of the season, they’re going to score A LOT of runs.

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      • longbeachyo says:

        Feldman looks more prolific to me! I know it’s only one game, but I respectfully, whole-heartedly, disagree with you. Prolific is definitely the wrong word.

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  16. Chuck says:

    Where does V. Martinez stay?

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    • Howard Bender says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      He sleeps in his car until he actually qualifies at the position. Ten games is usually the standard, so I’m waiting until then before adding him to the group.

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  17. Walkswith4balls says:

    What prevents Molina from being in the top tier? Not as many HRs, but will win you weeks with his average and overall OPS. Does a little of everything except the aforementioned steals.

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  18. kevin says:

    Soooo tiered rankings would be super useful before the draft. Rotographs used to do that, not sure why you stopped, but you definitely should go back.

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  19. Brian says:

    Drafting Rosario over Mauer is crazy. Maybe Mauer doesn’t belong in Tier 1, but neither does Rosario. Most people are drafting Mauer for hits/average, runs, and OBP/OPS. I guarantee you Mauer will be better in those categories. Even if you were playing standard 5×5, I don’t understand why SB would be in question when the four guys you have in Tier 1 had 9 SB last year, collectively.

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