Is Wilin Rosario the New No. 1 Fantasy Catcher?

Last week when I published the September Catcher Rankings, there were a few people who questioned the ranking of Colorado Rockies backstop Wilin Rosario, who was sitting fourth in the second tier. The first to question Rosario’s ranking was Cuck City who threw a little sarcasm my way and said, “Lets just ignore that Rosario outperforms tier1 in everything but AVG,” which was quickly followed up with another splash of the tongue-in-cheek from manjun who noted the catcher’s .290 batting average. And so when Check YoSelf asked, “…what’s the deal…?” I decided to actually check myself and look into Rosario a little deeper and see if these readers were right. Is Rosario the top catcher in fantasy baseball?

I suppose a quick glance at the numbers for Rosario are in order. After a rookie season in which Rosario batted .270 with 28 home runs, 71 RBI, 67 runs scored and four stolen bases, he has, thus far, followed it up with a .290 average, 21 home runs, 74 RBI, 60 runs scored and another four stolen bases. The average is up 20 points, thanks in large to a .339 BABIP which is a good 50 points higher than it was last year. His strikeout rate remains in the 23-24 percent range while his walk rate dropped from a meh 5.9-percent to a lousy 3.3-percent. And with three weeks still to go in the season, his ISO has dropped 62 points to a .198 mark.

In looking at his plate discipline numbers, it appears that Rosario has been more aggressive at the plate this season than last, probably due to a nearly seven-percent increase in his F-Strike percentage. His swing rate has jumped four-percent and he’s making a little more contact overall. Still swinging through 14.7-percent of his pitches though. This would, obviously account for his lack of walks, but the aggressiveness and increased contact has helped the BABIP and thus maintaining that .312 OBP. So in truth, the fluctuation in some of his numbers isn’t all that great and he’s roughly the same exact hitter he was last year. While you’d like to see some improvement from year to year at his age and level of experience, the relative consistency isn’t too bad.

So now that we’ve seen his numbers and for all intents and purposes, like what we see, how does he measure up to the rest of the players in his tier and above? That’s the question, right? Why is he not ranked higher? So let’s see…

One caveat to keep in mind is that this is strictly for fantasy purposes. There will be no talk of WAR or wRC+ or even wOBA. For general fantasy purposes, these numbers are not used. We’re talking strictly standard five categories with the possibility of OBP replacing average along with age and opportunity. We’ve all seen players who are better in fantasy than in real life and vice versa, so we’re just talking fantasy here. Hence the article sitting in RotoGraphs and not that green section we see to the left.

vs Carlos Santana — Rosario’s counting stats and batting average are better with the obvious edge in OBP going to Santana. Both have shown equal consistency from year to year, so for fantasy purposes, yes, Rosario is slightly better, but are comparable enough to reside in the same tier.

vs Jonathan Lucroy — More raw power from Rosario but a comparable average. Lucroy has a much better on-base percentage and has shown some slight year to year improvement in the plate discipline which could mean even higher rate stats. The power though is likely to stay in the same range. Rosario’s overall counting stats are better and he could probably be considered a notch about Lucroy. A whole tier, though? I’m not so sure yet.

vs Brian McCann — McCann is obviously on the decline and Rosario’s numbers, save for OBP are better. With youth on his side, he gets the edge over the Braves’ veteran backstop. But in looking further, perhaps a drop for McCann is more likely than a bump up for Rosario.

vs Joe Mauer — So the concussion problems have put a damper on this year and so if the tiers were based solely on ROS performance, yes, Rosario has the edge for sure. But these tiers also take into account performance throughout the year and even a splash of protectability (not even a word, I know) for next. Rosario definitely has the edge in power; and a significant one at that. But a healthy year from Mauer produces more runs scored and he beats the snot out of Rosario in average and on-base percentage. Considering Rosario’s age, health, and home ballpark, I’ll actually give him a slight edge over Mauer, but not to the point where he is in a higher tier. In truth, I’d say they’re pretty close to a wash in overall value. Next year Rosario and Mauer will likely have similar ADP numbers.

vs Yadier Molina — So age and mileage are a big factor in the comparison here and considering Molina’s health and drop from last season’s career-best totals, I’d say he’s hit his peak. Advantage Rosario. Molina has the better rate stats, but unless he matches his 2012 totals, Rosario has the clear edge in overall value.

vs Buster Posey — In truth, the drop that Posey has taken this year in overall numbers had to be expected. His second half in 2012 bordered on the ridiculous and to expect him to repeat that feat was a bit ludicrous. Still, strong plate discipline numbers and lovable rate stats help his overall value and also allow me to believe that he will find a happy medium in overall power putting him right about even with Rosario. Our contender for the title may hit more home runs, but I see an edge in RBI totals and runs scored for the future.

So overall, I will credit our three readers for their criticism of my Rosario ranking. Even in just this cursory glance at numbers, it is clear that Rosario does indeed belong in that upper tier. Or at the least, the top two tiers should be combined with McCann dropping down. Is Rosario the best fantasy catcher out there? I still give the title to Posey, but obviously, Rosario is running an extremely close race; closer than I gave him credit for in my September tiers. Take a bow, Cuck City, manjun and Check YoSelf. I have checked myself and concede to your outcry. I will certainly keep this in mind when doing the preseason rankings for 2014.

 

 

 

 




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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


18 Responses to “Is Wilin Rosario the New No. 1 Fantasy Catcher?”

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  1. Zimmerman says:

    Love it that you put your ego aside and took another look at it.

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  2. murphym45 says:

    And of course, in the thick of the fantasy playoffs, he’s missed four straight games with a tooth infection. Sigh.

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  3. dirck says:

    I had both Mauer and Rosario in a dynasty league and traded off Mauer ( for Scherzer and Garza )and kept Rosario this spring . Mauer has too many health and position concerns for me . Big power and youth playing in Colorado ? Yes please .

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  4. RC says:

    Traded Posey for Rosario in my NL-dynasty league and feeling pretty good about it.

    Correction: Traded Posey for Rosario AND Dom Brown AND Julio Teheran in my dynasty league, with their 2014 salaries adding up to the same price as Posey’s 2014 salary on his own. Feeling really, REALLY good about it.

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  5. Double J says:

    What about Hank Conger? j/k.

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  6. Mike says:

    for what it’s worth, if you pretend he isn’t hurt a lot, Wilson Ramos projected to the same PA as Rosario would have comparable HR, more RBI, fewer R, and a slightly lower AVG.

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  7. Whydidilose says:

    How about Mike Napoli?

    I agree with you dropping him a tad due to his poor August numbers, but the talk about him missing time doesn’t seem to have much merit. Even if he sat for a few games, he would still be on track for the same number of AB as most catchers (who take more days off than 1B).

    Another consideration is that Napoli has always been an absolute monster in Sept/Oct. Those numbers from the catcher spot will push a lot of H2H teams over the top. And he seems to be delivering on his past performances, despite the poor August.

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    • Free Bryan LaHair says:

      he hasn’t played catcher at all this year. when does someone lose fantasy eligibility at a previous position played?

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  8. Tak says:

    SHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Wilin Rosario is pretty much my best kept secret!!

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  9. Cliff says:

    I’ve been the driver of the Wilin Rosario bandwagon since the middle of last year. Kid has gotten no respect for how well he has hit in what spans 2 years time now. Plate discipline is bad, yes, I agree. Plate discipline is not a fantasy category in many leagues. His OBP? Not great, but again, not really a standard category for me(I’d say it’s maybe 25% of all fantasy leagues?). Check this out.

    Last season, Rosario had 426 PAs overall. Posey had 610.

    In those 610 PAs, he posted .336(.368 BABIP), 78 runs, 24 HR, 103 RBI, and 1 SB.

    Given 610 PAs, Rosario was projected to put up .270, 96 runs, 40 HR, 102 RBI, and 6 SB. 

    Nice article. Year late, but hey, whose counting?

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  10. Fanthed says:

    Good article.

    RE: Band-wagon driver #1 Cliff: And where exactly could the average reader have read your prescient all-knowingness about Rosario?

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  11. Cybo says:

    It takes a big man to admit when he has erred. Thanks for your reassessment.

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  12. Todd says:

    For those of us in OBP leagues, Rosario was probably ranked where he belongs. That walk rate is really damaging, and his batting average isn’t enough to compensate. He’s still up there, but you have to go down to Evan Gattis and AJ Pierzynski to find catchers with lower OBPs, so you know that’s what’s dragging him down.

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  13. Check YoSelf says:

    I’m glad you reconsidered. Rosario has proven that last year was not a fluke and he belongs in anyone’s first tier.

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    • Fatbot says:

      Well one might argue while he’s not a fluke overall, last year’s ISO was. If he’s anywhere near his age claimed this should have been a year ISO held steady or even improved. I guess the Coors Field factor trumps aging curves, and if anything his more balanced home/away split shows that he’s for real, too. I’ll take these numbers and the possibility that his Coors numbers take him into fluke territory of ISO again some day.

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