August catcher rankings

Most fantasy rankings are forged on ‘gut calls’ and the whimsical notions of whoever is compiling the list. Some experts don’t pay for saves, some don’t pay for steals, some wait on pitching, some value upside, some value reliability, and so on. While it might be nice to see plenty of different opinions, it probably doesn’t truly help unless you understand the biases of each individual ranker. This is why some of the writers here at The Hardball Times have created their own, objective valuation methods, outlined here and here (reading, or at least skimming, these introductory articles will give you a much better understanding of the rankings that follow and should help to answer most potential questions).

In accompaniment with Oliver’s rest of season forecasts, we will use these objective formulas to create objective rankings. You may not agree with a particular rank, but you will know how the ranking was calculated and you wont have to guess what the ranker was thinking. This should make adding your own personal adjustments and biases much easier. And perhaps this type of ranking will introduce some potential buys and sells that you may have otherwise overlooked.

These rankings will assume a 12-team league in adjusting for league average. The ordering of players, however, is unaffected; players will rank in identical order for leagues of all sizes.

So, lets get to it. First up are catchers.

1Mike Napoli17127113310.2710.650.839.51
2Buster Posey1962772910.2980.430.748.91
3Brian McCann1922793110.2690.350.448.70
4Joe Mauer1942842610.3150.270.688.46
5Miguel Montero20327730 0.2820.190.358.25
6Yadier Molina1792452420.292-0.08-0.077.52
7Carlos Santana1952972810.248-0.13-0.257.37
8Carlos Ruiz17324425 0.303-0.20-0.147.17
9J.P. Arencibia194241031 0.23-0.23-0.637.11
10Alex Avila1912662610.258-0.30-0.496.91
11A.J. Pierzynski18422525 0.283-0.39-0.566.65
12Jarrod Saltalamacchia16921827 0.235-0.57-1.116.15
13Jonathan Lucroy1812242210.275-0.60-0.906.07
14Matt Wieters17121624 0.257-0.65-1.095.93
15Salvador Perez17419421 0.272-0.88-1.365.30
16Ramon Hernandez14518420 0.28-0.89-1.375.29
17Rod Barajas15718723 0.237-0.89-1.605.27
18Geovany Soto15119622 0.238-0.97-1.655.07
19John Buck15419621 0.238-1.01-1.724.95
20Ryan Doumit13317419 0.267-1.08-1.714.77
21Miguel Olivo1621852020.226-1.15-2.004.58
22Chris Iannetta1351851810.228-1.21-2.054.39
23Russell Martin1391741720.234-1.26-2.124.26
24A.J. Ellis16321217 0.259-1.28-1.894.21
25Jesus Flores17417420 0.244-1.30-2.124.15
26Ryan Hanigan12915215 0.272-1.46-2.243.71
27Yorvit Torrealba1241421410.264-1.51-2.383.57
28Devin Mesoraco8912414 0.253-1.53-2.503.54
29Yasmani Grandal13115316 0.246-1.54-2.453.51
30Josh Thole13215113 0.269-1.66-2.513.17
31Jose Molina13314314 0.236-1.74-2.802.95
32Kurt Suzuki12413214 0.238-1.84-2.932.68
33Chris Snyder739310 0.227-1.99-3.252.26
34Jason Castro12013112 0.239-2.00-3.132.25
35Derek Norris841031010.207-2.00-3.312.24
36Wilin Rosario58729 0.243-2.11-3.401.94
37Tyler Flowers63829 0.218-2.17-3.521.76
38John Jaso64717 0.251-2.26-3.591.52
39Jose Lobaton86918 0.226-2.30-3.671.40
40Michael McKenry66717 0.231-2.34-3.741.29
41Steve Clevenger576 6 0.272-2.35-3.691.27
42Brett Hayes68717 0.225-2.37-3.801.21
43Nick Hundley55616 0.233-2.39-3.821.17
44Kelly Shoppach43516 0.229-2.41-3.861.12
45Bobby Wilson66616 0.227-2.44-3.911.03
46Jhonatan Solano57515 0.238-2.45-3.930.99
47Martin Maldonado43415 0.232-2.48-3.980.93
48Brayan Pena575 5 0.249-2.51-3.970.83
49Chris Stewart666 6 0.232-2.51-3.980.82
50Hector Sanchez394 4 0.257-2.54-4.030.75
51Erik Kratz22213 0.252-2.55-4.110.72
52Ronny Paulino293 3 0.263-2.60-4.130.59
53David Ross263 3 0.258-2.60-4.140.57
54Tony Cruz454 4 0.236-2.61-4.140.57
55Mike Nickeas555 5 0.215-2.62-4.180.53
56Rob Johnson333 3 0.215-2.70-4.310.32
57Wil Nieves222 2 0.243-2.70-4.300.31
58Gerald Laird222 2 0.243-2.70-4.300.31
59Lou Marson323 2 0.225-2.71-4.320.28
60Carlos Corporan222 2 0.227-2.72-4.340.26
61John Baker323 2 0.221-2.72-4.330.25
62Jeff Mathis333 3 0.201-2.73-4.360.24
63Matt Treanor313 2 0.216-2.73-4.350.24
64Ryan Lavarnway101 1 0.273-2.74-4.370.21
65Henry Blanco151 2 0.232-2.74-4.380.21
66Francisco Cervelli101 1 0.241-2.76-4.400.16
67Welington Castillo111 1 0.243-2.76-4.400.16
68Drew Butera453 3 0.208-2.76-4.420.14
69John Hester111 1 0.235-2.76-4.410.14
70Tim Federowicz111 1 0.231-2.76-4.420.13
71Anthony Recker101 1 0.223-2.77-4.420.13
72Luis Exposito131 1 0.231-2.77-4.430.12
73Taylor Teagarden131 1 0.205-2.79-4.460.06

*Full season = the raw (non-adjusted) full season pace roto score using the roto points above replacement method. This is, essentially, the amount of expected roto points each catcher would score above an empty spot in a lineup over a full season.

Using the roto points above average (rPAA) formula, the average catcher is projected to score 2.82 raw roto points prior to adjusting for league average, with Mike Napoli projected at 3.46. After adjustments, though, you can see there is little difference between any of the players. Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the 12th ranked catcher, are separated by just 1.22 expected rest of season roto points. The E.Y.E.S. method sees a bit more of a difference between first and 12th, but at a gap of just 1.73 roto points, the difference isn’t substantially greater.

The main take-away – at least what the numbers are saying anyways—is that there isn’t much to be gained or lost at catcher from this point forward. There will probably be a catcher or two who far outperforms the rest for the remainder of the season, but none have been outstanding to the point where Oliver believes in them enough to rank them as such.


Mike Napoli – Oliver has Mike Napoli as the top ranked catcher going forward, but much of that expected value is tied to a .271 projected batting average. While Napoli is certainly capable of hitting for an average that high for the remainder of the year, he is currently hitting just .227 and is striking out in 30.0 percent of his plate appearances (career 25.2 percent). His plate discipline looks fine, but both his contact percentage and swinging strike rate are higher than his career averages, although not quite enough to justify a 30.0 percent strikeout rate.

I would guess Napoli cuts his strikeouts down to around 27 percent and raises his slightly low .285 BABIP to around .295 the rest of the way. These slight improvements would vastly improve Napoli’s batting average, but only to around .260, which happens to be his career average.

Another objection I have with Napoli’s projection is his RBI rate. Oliver thinks he will drive in about 0.19 runs per at bat. Over the course of his first two seasons in Texas he has averaged just 0.17 RBI per at bat and he has played much worse this season (0.13 RBI/AB). Given his struggles, and the fact that he is hitting eighth in the Rangers lineup, I wouldn’t pay for much more than 0.15 RBI per at bat, which would equal about 26 RBI from this point forward.

These may seem like minor or futile adjustments, but they move Napoli’s down to a score of 0.26 roto points above replacement (0.23 EYES), which, over a full season, would translate to a difference of about 1.07 roto points. This also moves Napoli down to catcher number three according to the rPAA formula and fifth according to EYES.

Miguel Montero – Currently hitting .282, Oliver believes that Montero can maintain that same average for the remainder of the season. But, Montero is striking out at a rate that would tie his career high (23.7 percent) and is benefiting from a .356 BABIP, 43 points higher than his career average. He is a career .273 hitter, and with an inflated strikeout rate, BABIP regression should probably send his average into the .260s.
This adjustment doesn’t change Montero’s ranking, but it does move his roto scores below league average (-0.02 and -0.03).

Ramon Hernandez and Wilin Rosario – Oliver seems to think that Hernandez is going to get 145 at bats from this point forward. Hernandez, however, has only played in seven games since July 13 when he came off the disabled list. During that time Rosario has only played in eight games, so it isn’t like there is a clear starter among the two. Given that Hernandez is 36 years old, and that Rosario is the Rockies future at the position, and that the Rockies are nowhere near competitive this season, it would seem like Rosario would get at least a slight majority of the playing time behind the plate going forward. And at the very least, it would be hard to project much more than a 50/50 split between the two for the remainder of the year.

Adjustments: Hernandez to 100 at bats (moves down to 28th and 29th among catchers). Rosario to 125 at bats (moves up to 26th and 26th among catchers).

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As far as Miguel Montero goes…..bench him against lefties. If you have a roster spot you use for streaming, pick up a catcher you like for that day and between Montero and your streamer you’ve #1 overall catcher production. I used my waiver priority to nab Montero, dealt Buster Posey for Dickey and since then Montero’s batted .327 for me and tallied 14 runs, 4 homers, 22 RBI and 20 BB’s in 107 AB’s.

some of these rankings are way off IMO…here are a few things that i just dont understand 1.)dont see Napoli as being #1…Posey, Mauer, McCann, Montero, and Santana have all been hitting much better either for the entire season, or recently when talking Santana and McCann 2.) Carlos Ruiz is ranked too low…i know all the peripherals and guys at FanGraphs will tell you that Ruiz is just gonna fall off the map sometime soon, just like Ryan Vogelsong and CJ Wilson and every other stud who doesnt excel in the various peripheral stats they seem to consider more important… Read more »
Nick Fleder
Nick Fleder
Will, these rankings have Chooch as a .300 hitter in these rankings, but you’re overstating his power gains. A lot of it has to do with luck – HR/FB% fluctuates heavily based on luck, and, well, Chooch is getting lucky. His 16.5% mark is more than twice his career mark and is in the ballpark of 4x his rate from last season. Six of his homers so far this season have had “Just Enough” to make it out – meaning on a day with normal wind, or perhaps in a larger park, they wouldn’t have. Explore it a little more… Read more »
Scott M.
Scott M.

Jesus Montero not listed? He has 38 games played at catcher, and I would assume that earns eligibility everywhere.

Jesse Sakstrup
Jesse Sakstrup
@Will: I’m not sure you read the explanation at the top, or my two introductory articles liked to in the first paragraph. These rankings have been created using a combination of Oliver—a computer generated projection system—and my and Jeff Gross’ fantasy valuation formulas. Both Oliver and our valuation methods look at players through an objective, numbers-oriented lens, that is what makes them unique to the dozens of rankers out there using their own whims and gut calls to formulate rankings. Oliver isn’t prefect, but there is a reason why it is regarded as one of the best projection systems around,… Read more »
Jesse Sakstrup
Jesse Sakstrup

@Scott M:
Sorry about that, I guess Oliver doesn’t recognize Montero as a catcher for some reason.
His projection is: 23/7/27/0/.263, which ranks him 11th (rPAA) and 10th (EYES). Roughly 0.34 roto points below average for a 12-team league. Not bad, still above replacement level if you buy into that projection.

Jesse Sakstrup
Jesse Sakstrup
For a reference, I just ran the values generated by the ZiPS ROS projections (found on FanGraphs), and the rankings were similar. 1. Buster Posey (2nd in Oliver) 2. Joe Mauer (4) 3. Brian McCann (3) 4. Mike Napoli (1) 5. Carlos Santana (7) 6. Yadier Molina (6) 7. Matt Wieters (14) 8. JP Arencibia (9) 9. Jesus Montero (11) 10. Miguel Montero (5) 11. Carlos Ruiz (8) 12. Wilin Rosario (36)—The major difference was in the number of projected at bats. 13. AJ Pierzynski (11) 14. Russell Martin (23) 15. Jonathan Lucroy (13) 16. Salvado Perez (15) 17. Alex… Read more »
Jesse Sakstrup
Jesse Sakstrup

In reference to my last comment (above) when I wrote “similar”. I meant “similar in many or most ways”.

Jesse Sakstrup
Jesse Sakstrup
The “that just ruins your cred” comment was what I was referring to as criticism. But, yes, I agree with you on a few points, I didn’t agree with Oliver as much as I thought I would, and a few guys seemed off to me, too. As far as that trade goes, I think you would be getting the better end of the deal in the short term, but if you can keep players perpetually, without penalty, then the deal probably swings the other way. Trout might be the best fantasy player for the next 10 years and with the… Read more »

First of all, I wasnt trying to criticize in any way, so if it came off as that, my apologies. Secondly, I did read the entire article and I do understand what Oliver does, but IMO that doesnt excuse the fact that these rankigs seem flawed in various ways…thats all i was saying. appreciate the response though

normally i would never do this, but i gotta ask…this is a monster deal in a 10-team keeper

Give: Mike Trout, Strasberg, Victorino, Chapman

Get: Kemp, Verlander, Tex, Papelbon

Someone please convince me to say no

southside mike
southside mike

I don;t know where you got your stats but MLB says as of today Napoli is batting .233 and never deserved to be an All Star

Jesse Sakstrup
Jesse Sakstrup

Those are rest of season projections.