Back in the preseason, my crystal ball was put to work nonstop. Aside from sharing with me what wacky events might occur and who may league the league in the various fantasy categories, it also suggested which players were undervalued and overvalued heading into the season. I published Pod’s Picks articles for every position, comparing my rank within the position to the RotoGraphs consensus. Let’s see how I did, starting with the catchers. Actual rank will be based on Zach Sanders’ value calculator; if the player did not meet the minimum plate appearance requirement (400) to be included in his values, then I will reference the player’s CBS rank.
My Preseason Rank: 24 | Preseason Consensus: 30 | Actual Rank: 28
My guess was that the difference in rank related to projected playing time. My personal projections had Iannetta down for 400 at-bats. He just missed 400…plate appearances. His problem was that his power was MIA in the first half and he began to lose more and more playing time to Hank Conger. I’d like to think that if the Angels valued his patient plate approach properly, he would have reached the 400 at-bat plateau and my preseason rank would have been close to dead on.
My Preseason Rank: 6 | Preseason Consensus: 11 | Actual Rank: 1
Paired with my bold prediction that Napoli would be the best fantasy catcher this season, it is no surprise to see that I was more bullish on him than the crowd. I wasn’t concerned about his hip and although I projected a career high at-bat total, I still wasn’t optimistic enough. His batting average rebounded somewhat thanks to a crazy .367 BABIP, but if his strikeout rate reverts to previous levels, his average shouldn’t tumble too far. Of course, the biggest problem is that Napoli played zero games at catcher this year. There goes his fantasy value! He goes from top fantasy catcher to bottom tier first baseman.
My Preseason Rank: 20 | Preseason Consensus: 25 | Actual Rank: 8
I was surprised to see Salty’s name appear on my bullish list and I had no idea I was anymore optimistic about him than anyone else. I thought maybe it was due to concerns about his starting job and the threat of Ryan Lavarnway eventually taking over. Instead, Salty received a career high 425 at-bats and took the Napoli path to fantasy value, trading in home run power for a sky-high BABIP. His batted ball distance is healthy though, so I expect the low average, 20+ homer Salty to return next season.
My Preseason Rank: 32 | Preseason Consensus: 24 | Actual Rank: 20
Despite accumulating just 30 more at-bats than I projected, Castillo earned much better value than I expected. That is due to a .347 BABIP that led to a respectable .274 batting average. His batted ball distribution is solid, but as a catcher with little speed, it definitely does not support such an inflated mark. If Castillo hit the .256 that Steamer currently projects for 2014, he would have ranked closer to 30 like I projected. That said, his batted ball distance suggests some HR/FB ratio upside.
My Preseason Rank: 27 | Preseason Consensus: 21 | Actual Rank: 18
My initial writeup expressed confusion as to why he appeared in the bearish section as my projection seemed rather optimistic compared to most of the systems and was the only one expecting over 400 at-bats besides the Fans. In fact, he performed almost exactly as I had projected, but with a lower batting average. So his final rank may be the result of a disappointing catcher group as a whole.
My Preseason Rank: 13 | Preseason Consensus: 9 | Actual Rank: 22
I was also surprised to learn that I was more pessimistic on Montero than the majority. I figured it related to his 2012 batting average, propped up by an unsustainable .362 BABIP. Sure enough, his BABIP came crashing down as the pendulum swung in the other direction. He also suffered from a power outage as he easily posted a career low ISO, and posted a lower fly ball rate than ever before. The good news is that his batted ball distance was nearly identical to 2012. He may now be undervalued in 2014.