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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.

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.