Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy Baseball 2014 Catcher Preview


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The way I always approach drafting a catcher is if I do not get one of the top-five early then I will wait. Most catchers are hit or miss, excuse the pun, but this is very true. Some of the more productive catchers were drafted later last year (i.e. Salvador Perez, Brian McCann, and even Mike Napoli). As one of my previous articles pointed out, I have high praise for both Buster Posey and Yadier Molina this year. After that, I would honestly wait on picking your catcher this year. Think of it as sort of getting a Catcher in the Rye.

miguel_montero1. Can Miguel Montero return to the .280 average and productive catcher are used to?
Miguel Montero has always had a walk up approach when hitting the ball. Many say that is recent poor hitting statistics are reflected in his over swinging approach, but he denies this. A Diamondbacks’ broadcaster says this is a sight that has been happening way to often lately. Given the pedigree of his manager, Kirk Gibson, you wouldn’t think to see this decline in Montero. I believe this will continue. Miguel Montero has a career .267 batting average, so even to come close to .280 or higher is way above his expectations. Over the past four years he batted .266 (2010), .282 (2011), .286 (2012) and .230 (2013). His percentage for striking out last year was one of his highest of his careers at 23.2%. This confirms the over swinging and lack of plate discipline. At best, I believe Montero will hit .250 this year. His plate appearance has taken a decrease from 573 to 475. It looks like backup catcher, Tuffy Gosewich, will be getting a few more plate appearances than he thought. Montero will most likely be hitting in the eighth hole and will not do too much fantasy wise this year. If I were to draft him, I would want him as my backup catcher or not even draft him at all. And if one were to draft him I would not look to grab him until after the fifteenth round.

2. Is Matt Wieters a good fantasy catcher anymore?
Matt Wieters is a very interesting individual. Wieters had a lot of hype and enormous expectations as a prospect. I remember entering a draft two years ago and one of my buddies was so high on Wieters that he drafted him in around the third round. Long story short, he wanted to drop him about a month into the season. I still have high hopes for Matt Wieters. I do not consider him a great fantasy catcher, but definitely a good fantasy catcher. I believe he is a top-10 catcher in 2014 and would not mind him as my number one catcher. Over the past three years, Wieters hit 22, 23 and 22 HRs respectively and that is with over 550 plate appearances. Wieters is not going to hit for average for your team, but definitely for pop and you know the Orioles are going to get their young stud catcher in their lineup as much as possible. Despite his downfall in the last couple years, he still put up top ten numbers in the major categories for catchers (Rs, RBIs, HRs and SBs). Definitely have confidence in drafting Matt Wieters this year.

Evan Gattis

3. Evan Gattis finished 14th among qualifying catchers last year. He now has full reigns of the job now that McCann is gone. How do we predict this difficult man?
Old school Evan Gattis burst on the scene last year. After tweeting a picture of his janitorial ID card, Gattis’ story is pretty well documented. Evan stopped playing baseball in 2006 to become a janitor, cook, ski lift operator and a housekeeper. He got back into baseball in 2010 and was drafted by the Braves in the 23rd round in 2011. I love this guy. Heart, determination, grit are just a few words to describe this ball player. I road the Gattis train last year and will continue to ride it. I had a hard time figuring out whether to start him or not on a daily basis because of the situation in Atlanta. I believe we predict this guy to excel in his new role as the everyday catcher. In only 382 plate appearances last year, Gattis posted 21 HRs, 44 Rs, 65 RBIs, while posting a .243 Avg and striking out a high rate of 21.2%. Gattis is known for having a poor plate approach. I disregard this though. He was considered a Rookie. A rookie that posted these numbers can be worked on. I believe with a full offseason and a complete spring training with the Atlanta Braves his numbers especially his Avg will get better. I see him hitting .270 hitting about 30 HRs and driving in over 90 runs. My bold prediction is that Gattis will be a top-five catcher when the season comes to an end.

Player(s) on the Rise
Evan Gattis – see question above

Carlos Santana (CLE) – The musician? No the catcher! Many catchers over the years have become very versatile fantasy players (i.e. Mike Napoli, Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, etc.) and Santana looks like he might join the list. They are possibly going to play him at 3rd base and only be the backup catcher. Yan Gomes will most likely take over the full time catching duties for the Indians. Santana’s primary role will be the DH, which is all we want to know about. I was not to keen on Santana when he came into the big leagues four years ago. He is growing on me and in a good way. Carlos posted one of his better seasons in the big leagues last year with 20 HRs, 74 RBIs and had a .268 Avg. I think he will have a better year and is now my fifth best catcher (and rising). With the way the Indians played last year, Santana makes the whole team better and could make yours better.

Player(s) on the Decline
Miguel Montero – see question above

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A.J. Pierzynski (BOS) – Age. Age. Age. A.J. is now 37 and the new Jason Varitek of the team. As a Red Sox fan, I enjoy this signing only for the sole purpose of dealing with the pitching staff. I am already going into the season feeling that he will not have a huge season at the bat. He will be teaming up with David Ross as a true platoon (my intuition tells me) situation. Now that he is in Boston, it will be hard to trust Pierzynski in your everyday lineup.

Player(s) on the Horizon
Welington Castillo (CHC) – To be honest with you I always thought that there was two “L’s” in Welington. With Navarro now gone, this youngster as well as all the youngsters for the Cubs will have time to shine. With a span of almost seven years of traveling up and down from the minors to the majors, now it is his time to stay. Castillo did miss some of the season last year due to a knee injury. I do not think this will affect him though. With the new “no collision rule” at home plate now in effect, I believe there will be less injuries for all catchers this year. Castillo hit 8 HRs, 32 RBIs and a .274 Avg. He is a young guy that is now in a full time role. I believe 15 HRs, 50 RBIs and .275 are not out of the question. I would draft him as a backup catcher and possibly could be starting him by the end of the fantasy season.

Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) – Wait, who?! Travis d’Arnaud was acquired from the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey trade. Right now he is the #2 prospect in the Mets system and showed some struggles in mid-August when they brought him up. d’Arnaud will lead the young catching core for the New York Mets this year. He is very injury prone, but he is worth a late round pick up this year.

Mike Zunino (SEA) – So this was supposed to be the role that Jesus Montero was taking for the Seattle Mariners. Wrong. That experiment failed miserably. Now steps in Mike Zunino. Zunino is a young kid with a lot of potential. He has had success against Low A and AA pitching, but not so much after that. It seems that the Mariners rushed him up to play both AAA and majors too quickly. If he is announced the everyday starter look for the same .220 Avg and just maybe double digit power numbers. He does have potential to post good power numbers.

Player(s) to Avoid
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (BOS) – I am sorry, but I have not been a big fan of this guy for the past three years. Do not let the .273 Avg that he posted last year fool you. I think he is ranked too high on a lot of sites early rankings/projections. Saltalamacchia strikes out too much to be on my team. Although Jarrod probably had his best big league numbers with the Red Sox, I believe the move to Florida is going to boost his production and not even make him have any more fantasy relevance. The batting lineup is worse, there will be less men on base and I believe he will have less meaningful at bats than he would of if he stayed in Boston. I would avoid drafting him.

Carlos RuizCarlos Ruiz (PHI) – Same old thing with the Phillies and by same, I mean OLD thing with the Phillies. Ruiz signed a three-year deal with the Phillies and it left me scratching my head. He is now 35 years old and his 2012 season is long gone. I believe he will put up a good average, but that is the only fantasy relevance he has. Avoid.

In conclusion, my father once told me that catchers should be the best hitters on the field because of how many pitches they see during the course ball game. Coincidently, he said this to me when I was playing catcher and shortstop in youth baseball. Well dad, here I am writing this article and not hitting for a major league team. Good luck with your catcher choices this year and remember diamonds in the rough can be chosen in later rounds.

You can follow me on Twitter @RedSox_SF49ers for more fantasy baseball news and advice. Also be sure to like us on Facebook and Google+ for all updates from FantasySixPack.

About Tyler Gettmann

You can follow me on Twitter @RedSox_SF49ers for more fantasy news and advice. Also be sure to like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram for all updates from Fantasy Six Pack.

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