2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

2017 Fantasy Baseball Catcher Preview: Lack of Depth

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The catcher position in Fantasy Baseball is, in my opinion, the weakest position in all of baseball. Once you get past the top-4, it really starts to drop off. Then once you get past the top six or seven there is another severe drop off.

Although in order to get one of the top-4, yes, I’m counting Kyle Schwarber (thanks Yahoo!), you will have to draft one of them in the first four of five rounds. That is just too rich for my taste.

I get it, you can get one of the best at a position of scarcity, but at what cost? Let’s take a look at who I consider to be the No. 1 catcher this year, Gary Sanchez. His projections are a .268, 25 HR, 63 R and 75 RBI season. Those are good numbers, however look at two players he is being drafted ahead of.

  • J.D. Martinez: .275, 26 HR, 83 R, 89 RBI
  • Carlos Gonzalez: .285, 31 HR, 86 R, 101 RBI

Everything is better from those two outfielders, which proves a fourth-round price tag is a bit high.

I’ll take either one of those overall better players in the fourth. Then give me somebody like Yasmani Grandal who is projected to hit .237 with 18 HR, 50 R and 54 RBI, for a 13th round price tag.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Catcher Preview

Was Buster Posey’s 2016 a start of the decline or a fluke?

I think a little bit of both. Which I realize is a bit of a cop-out.

Not only is his HR/RB rate declining, his ground ball rate has increased over the last two seasons. Not a good sign if you are buying him for power.

What I expect to return to normal is his batting average. He was below .300 for the first time since 2013, when he hit .298. Last year’s mark of .288 was his lowest of his career if you exclude the injury shortened 2011 season.

The reason for the drop was a what I consider a bit of unluck. His BABIP was the lowest of his career at .303. The increase of ground balls was partly to blame for this, but nothing else suggests that this is now the hitter he is.

I’m still drafting him as one of the top catchers, due to him being as consistent as they come. However, I’m not expecting great power numbers from him anymore.

Which Astros catcher will have more value?

We have two pretty good catchers to choose from in Houston. Brian McCann and Evan Gattis.

Usually this would not be a problem as McCann would be the primary catcher and Gattis would DH. However, the issue is the Astros signed Carlos Beltran, who will be the primary DH.

This causes an issue with playing time for both Gattis and McCann. I believe that McCann will get first crack at the catcher duties. This is due to the fact that he is a superior defensive catcher compared to Gattis.

The Astros will not be able to keep Gattis’s bat out of the lineup much though. He has hit 59 home runs over the last two years.

My guess is because they won’t be able to keep Gattis’s bat out of the lineup much, he will regularly be catcher or DH. On the days, he is DH, Beltran will likely be in the outfield. This means we can expect near 500, if not more, plate appearances from Gattis.

What does this mean for McCann? I’m projecting he will be hurt most by this scenario. When he is not catching he will most likely be on the bench, causing him to have fewer plate appearances than both Gattis and Beltran.

If you’re  keepig score at home, this means  Gattis is the catcher to own from the Astros.

How long can you wait to grab your first catcher in a two-catcher league?

This is a completely different scenario than what I discussed in the intro. In a two-catcher league, I will make sure I get one of the top 5-6 catchers. That likely means paying a hefty price tag for Lucroy, Posey, Sanchez, etc.

Once I have done that I usually wait and find a bargain guy, very late in drafts. I know at this point I’m not likely to find a player who is really going to give much in the  power department. With that in mind, I want to find somebody who is not going to completely kill me in batting average, as many of the late catchers will do.

A player that jumps out to me is Francisco Cervelli. You are not getting any power from him, but his batting average of around .260 will not hurt you like a Derek Norris would. Even better, if you are in an OBP league he really helps you.

Player(s) on the Rise (guys that will improve from the season)

Tom Murphy, Colorado Rockies

This pick could completely bust right out of the gates due to not winning the starting job. However, I’m one of many that expect he will win the starting job to start the season.

Fact of it is he likes to hit fly balls and that is a good thing in Colorado. No he won’t keep up a 41% HR/FB ratio, like he had in 2016, but he should be able to muscle out 20+ home runs in 2017 if he can be a regular behind the plate.

What will keep him from winning the starting job is his defense. If he can just be average behind the plate, I think the Rockies have him be the regular starter.

Player(s) on the Decline

J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins

I still like Realmuto as a top-10 catcher this year, but don’t pay for what you got last season. There are a couple of reasons.

It is very unlikely he bats anywhere near .303 again. He was never that kind of hitter in the minors and in 2015 he only batted .259. The reason for the spike in batting average can be explained by a almost 50 point increase in BABIP from 2015 to 2016. Nothing about his batted ball profile suggests his is sustainable. In fact, most of it was the very similar to 2015, so expect regression there.

The other reason is the steals (12 in 2016). Fact of it is, catchers don’t steal bases. I know he has always run in the minors and even stole eight in 2015, but I can’t count on a catcher running that much consistently.

Player(s) on the Horizon

Bruce Maxwell, Oakland Athletics

Maxwell is not a guy I would go anywhere near in re-draft leagues, but is definitely somebody I’m keeping an eye on.

Last year he finished the year batting .361 in 20 September games. It is a little high, but it does not appear to be that much of a fluke as he hit .321 in Triple-A before getting the call to the majors.

This is partly due to his plate discipline being so good. He mainly hovered around the teens for K-rate in the minors and only saw it rise to 23% last year in the majors.

The power potential is there for him, as he is a big strong kid, but it may not develop fully next season. Also realize he only hit a single home run in 101 AB last season.

The issue for him is depth. He has to fight off Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley for playing time.

Player(s) to Avoid

Astros Catchers

I know I just said that both could have value and I like Gattis more, but hear me out.

They both carry a crazy amount of risk. With two good catchers on the same team, it is conceivable that one of them just becomes relegated to full-time backup duties and only plays once every four or five games. Where you have to draft these guys, I’ll pass and get a safer catcher.


Be sure to check out the rest of the 2017 Fantasy Baseball Position Previews.

About Joe Bond

Not just another "Average Joe" when it comes to Fantasy Sports, he is the fantasy brain trust behind the up-and-coming FantasySixPack.net website. He has been spreading his love and addiction of fantasy sports there and many other sites including SoCalledFantasyExperts.com, FantasyPros.com, and FanDuel.com. Joe has finished as the No. 5 Fantasy Football Draft Ranker on Fantasy Pros in 2014, while being the No. 1 QB ranker for in-season during 2016. He has also finished in the top-15 twice for Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings. You can find him on Twitter, @fantasysixpack, where he is waiting by the keyboard for your question.

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