Catcher is a bit of an odd position in fantasy. Very few players accrue enough PA to be full-time starters – only three cracked 600 and only eight more broke 500, meaning that in a 12 team league, every team needs a legit backup and at least one team is going to run a full-fledged platoon.
So with a 350 PA cut-off on Zach Sanders’s end of season rankings, it should come as no surprise that six of the top 30 ottoneu catchers didn’t even crack the 5×5 rankings. It makes it a bit more difficult to identify ottoneu’s feelings on players, as some guys “fall” in the rankings only because a player who did not qualify in 5×5 made some noise in linear weights. But we can identify some studs and some duds.
ottoneu’s True Loves
By far the biggest standout comparing 5×5 to linear weights is A.J. Ellis. The Dodger backstop slotted in a disappointing 17th in 5×5, particularly in light of his hot start, but jumped all the way to 10th in ottoneu. Ellis was absolutely punished by the Dodgers’ offense in 5×5, finishing 18th in both RBI and runs scored, which probably had a lot to do with finishing 17th overall. In the stats that matter most to linear weights points, he fared better, finishing 16th in HR and 8th in OBP, thanks to his 9th rated BB%. He was also one of the 11 to eclipsed 500 PA, and that playing time makes a big difference.
Many fantasy owners expected a top-5 (for a catcher) season from Carlos Santana, and as the 5×5 rankings show, players in that format ended up with a starter, but not a star. However in ottoneu, Santana did, in fact, crack the top five, finishing four spots higher than his 9th place ranking in 5×5. But it is a bit of an “empty” top-5, if such a thing exists. Santana finished 11th in OBP and 23rd in SLG. He actually rates out just fine in RBI and R (3rd and 6th, respectively), and the major reason he jumped in ottoneu, instead of falling, was because he finished 3rd in PA, with 609. In fact, on a per PA basis, he was 16th. That doesn’t mean the 5th place finish is meaningless – for the right price, knowing that you can accrue all those points and have the option to play a single catcher every day has real value.
ottoneu’s Worst Enemies
Wilin Rosario exploded onto the scene this year, smacking a position-leading 28 HR and finishing as the top rated rookie catcher in 5×5, at 5th. Well, he was still the top rookie catcher in linear weights, but instead of finishing 5th, he finished 11th. A brutal 5.9% walk rate (20th of the 26 catchers on Sanders’s list) took a big chunk of his value away – a .270 average is solid, but a .312 OBP, not so much. On top of that, his semi-limited playing time (426 PA, 17th among C) prevented him from putting up more points.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia put up a strong year and managed to crack the list of starting catchers for fantasy leagues, finishing 12th in 5×5. But in linear weights, he did not fare nearly as well, dropping to 18th. He can only partially blame playing time (he finished 14th) and his BB% (also 14th) is no more to blame. His biggest issue seems to be a 31% K% (dead last among qualifying catchers), which prevented him from having enough hits, including extra base hits, to move up more. Even with a decent walk rate and 25 HR, he put the ball in play so rarely that he ended up with fewer hits than a number of players with fewer plate appearances. Some of this gap is made up by walks, but much is also made up by creating outs and linear weights leagues punish guys who make outs.
A new section this week (and likely a one-time-only affair)! As i mentioned, a number of catchers made some ottoneu noise despite not cracking the 350 PA barrier. The six catchers in the linear weights top 30 without 350 PA are Jonathan Lucroy, Salvador Perez, Yasmani Grandal, Michael McKenry, Jason Castro, and Josh Donaldson. The problem with these guys, in most leagues, is that you have to hope to catch the right combination of them at the right time, because a roster with about 24 or 25 spots doesn’t necessarily allow you to carry two catchers at all times. But ottoneu’s set-up, with 40-man rosters and the option to start two catchers on any given day, means that you could have grabbed a pair of these guys and done awfully well for yourself. An owner starting The bottom two of this sextet (Donaldson and Castro) full-time would have gotten 589 PA and 608 points. 608 points would have given you the 12th best catcher and you likely would have spent no more than $3 or $4 on those two combined. Not too shabby.
Final thoughts for the week:
– Pro-rated to 650 PA, your top catcher is still Buster Posey, although Carlos Ruiz makes it close.
– Yasmani Grandal‘s suspension is going to put his fantasy value in doubt for next year, but he was 5th on a per-PA basis among catchers this year.
– It’s not surprising to see Carlos Santana fall from 5th overall to 11th pro-rated, but Matt Wieters was even worse on a per-PA basis, ranking 13th – I, for one, did not expect to see that.
– Josh Thole is the anti-Posey – last in points, last in 5×5, last in points per PA. Ouch.
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