Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy Baseball 2015 Catcher Preview


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Buster Posey (SF)

Credit : Derrick Story

Not to sound overly excited or anything but we are just a few short weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to camp for the 2015 campaign, get pumped people because its almost baseball time again! While the beginning of the regular season still lurks in the somewhat distant future the thought of the games best lacing them up for another season is about as electrifying as it gets for baseball enthusiasts. One thing that we can start focusing in on from a fantasy perspective is position-by-position previews, which will all be provided by the first-rate fantasysixpack staff as the week unfolds. This particular article will focus on the position of catcher, which can be one of the tougher positions in fantasy baseball to break down because of the lack of multiple superstars at the spot. When you look at the catchers on the board the most obvious names that pop out are Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, and Jonathan Lucroy, but this year a few new names may be on the rise while veterans could be on the downfall. Last year we saw breakout seasons from Devin Mesoraco and the previously mentioned Lucroy but some other signal callers also made significant steps, including Travis d’Arnaud of the New York Mets and World Series runner up Salvador Perez.

As we look into the prospects for 2015 Posey will likely be the first backstop off the board in majority of drafts, with an average draft position of 20th overall and 1st overall amongst catchers according to NFBC Average Draft Positions. A name that might not be as well known but is currently the fourth catcher going off the board is Cleveland’s Yan Gomes, coming off a career year in which he set personal highs for hits, runs, doubles, home runs, and runs batted in. A popular strategy amongst fantasy owners when drafting catchers is to wait until the later rounds in hopes of not wasting an earlier pick on a deep position, because the reality is outside of Buster Posey there really aren’t any elite options. With all that being said lets jump into the position preview and get a more detailed outlook on some particular names, its time to talk power from behind the plate!

1. Who can you trust more, the injury prone Wilson Ramos or Matt Wieters returning from Tommy John surgery?
As I mentioned earlier lots of owners enjoy employing the wait on a catcher until the later rounds strategy, and Washington’s Wilson Ramos was a perfect example of that last season, until he got hurt, once again. The 27-year-old came out of the gates on fire to begin the year as it looked like the plan to wait on a catcher was going to work out well for those who stuck to the strategy then an injury caused Ramos to miss significant time. On the other side of things Wieters was one of the first five backstops taken off the board in last years drafts and was compiling a solid season before he was sent to go under the needle to repair his throwing arm. The Baltimore mainstay had successful Tommy John surgery on June 16th in turn ending his 2014 campaign and sending owners to the wire to try and replace his production. So the question remains which one of these guys do you want on your squad in 2015, and the answer is pretty obvious to me, Wieters. As much as it pains me to say that being a Nationals fan the truth is plain and simple Ramos just cant stay healthy for an entire season despite the promise he has shown when he is on the field. The Baltimore backstop was coming off of three consecutive 20 home run seasons before his year was cut short in 2014, while Ramos has only played more than 100 games once in his four professional seasons. Wieters is currently going about 40 spots ahead of his beltway counterpart in drafts, but still remains behind the likes of Wilin Rosario & Evan Gattis and just one spot ahead of Toronto’s new addition Russell Martin. I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here and say Wieters returns this year and returns with a bang finishing in the top five for catchers in 2015, and that’s why I’m trusting in him more than Ramos this season.

2. How will Evan Gattis fare in Houston with Jason Castro also in the picture?
Is there a reason the Braves got rid of three of there four best bats when they split ways with Gattis, Justin Upton, and Jayson Heyward this offseason…if the reasons out there please let me know because I don’t understand. My friend who is a diehard Atlanta fan points to the stacked pitching rotation they have acquired and the future looking bright for his beloved Braves, however I’m not quite sure if Atlanta will score enough runs to contend in the NL this season. Now back to the question at hand, which is how will the former Brave Gattis fair in a massive ballpark in Houston with Jason Castro also in the picture. By this point we are all aware that Evan’s strengths are not behind the plate rather at the plate mashing monster home runs with a powerful swing. How will he fare in Minute Maid Park while fitting into a lineup featuring young stars on the rise such as George Springer & Jon Singleton, I believe he will fare decently, but not worth his average draft position of 112.79, which is 7th amongst catchers. I would rather have the guy I discussed above in Wieters for the 2015 season as eventually Gattis lack of game calling skills will hurt him as he yields time to Castro behind the dish, also factoring in the lack of DH availability with home run monster Chris Carter currently locked in at that spot for the Astros. While I’m not as high on Gattis as his draft position there is a positive in which he will likely have outfield, catcher, and DH eligibility, making him more of a moveable part in your lineup, but be careful as he doesn’t have the track record of consistency to prove worthy of a top tier catching option.

3. Is there an under the radar candidate at Catcher for 2015?
While there are certainly lots of options for this question, including Chicago’s Miguel Montero & Minnesota’s Kurt Suzuki, who is coming off a career year in 2014, the guy I’m going with is Yasmani Grandal. I was high on him last year and his numbers were a bit disappointing as the Cuba native only managed a meager .225 batting mark however he was able to mash 15 home runs in a spacious Petco Park. Now lets flash-forward to this year as Grandal finds himself moving just a bit up the coast into the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine where he slides into a loaded Dodgers lineup in which he will likely hit towards the bottom of the order. Currently the 14th catcher being taken off the board I envision the former Padre finishing amongst the top 8 in 2015 thanks to a change of scenery and better assets surrounding him in the Los Angeles batting lineup. There will be plenty of opportunities for the big backstop to drive in runs towards the bottom of the Dodger’s lineup as teams look to pitch around Adrian Gonzalez & Yasiel Puig meaning at bats with runners on base and in scoring position, a far cry from what his squad provided for him last season. This is my sleeper catcher for the 2015 season, meaning if you cant get Buster Posey in the first few rounds and you aren’t blown away by the other remaining options take a chance on Grandal, as the reward might be as mighty as the risk.

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Travis dArnaud (NYM)

Credit: Paul Hadsall

Player(s) on the Rise
Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) – I talked about the young Met briefly in my opening and how he has taken some big steps towards fulfilling his potential over the last season and a half, and 2015 could be his breakout year a la Mesoraco 2014. Just 25 years old and not even close to grasping the potential of his abilities d’Arnaud has yet to play a full season at the major league level due to a few concussion issues and inconsistent plate discipline, however he heads into 2015 as the starting catcher for what should be a much improves Mets team. As the season came to a close last year and New York was out of the playoff chase the young backstop really started to turn it on batting a solid .313 over the seasons final month, factoring in the small sample size of just 64 plate appearances. This year the Mets will bring back one of the best pitchers of 2013, Matt Harvey while the likelihood of Noah Syndergaard’s arrival is also impending as we look into 2015 and the forgotten New York team will certainly be much improved from last year. I see d’Arnaud as a player with 20 home run capability while also batting in the .275 – .300 range, solid numbers for a player at any position, particularly catcher. There were only six signal callers across the entire league who hit 20 or more long balls last year, while the Long Beach native notched 13 dingers in his 385 at bats, a number sure to increase in 2015. Currently sandwiched in between Russell Martin & Wilson Ramoss regarding draft position I’m betting the young prospect outperforms both in what should be his first full season at the highest level.

Player(s) on the Decline
Dioner Navarro (TOR) – The veteran receiver put up a decent season last year for the Blue Jays, but they felt the opportunity to get Russell Martin was too great to pass up, making Navarro expendable. While there is certainly a chance that Martin could get injured as he has been bit by the bug more than once in his career, outside of that there is little upside in owning Navarro in 2015 despite his placement on a team with a absolutely loaded lineup. He’s a good back up that many teams would love to have the option to go to for a rest day or a day night situation but I’m going to take a pass on the bruising backstop in this years drafts.

Player(s) on the Horizon
Christian Bethancourt (ATL) – Outside of Freddie Freeman, this young kid may be the best pure hitter in the Atlanta lineup in 2015, and that’s not an exaggeration looking at their other options. The 23-year-old has been waiting in the wings for quiet some time as the Braves were solid at catcher for years with now Yankee Brian McCann and the recently let go Gattis. While AJ Pierzynski could be a problem if Bethancourt underwhelms in the opening part of the 2015 season, he has all the tools to establish himself as the Atlanta catcher of the future. He was named the 7th most promising catching prospect by in 2012 and was invited to play in the All-Star Futures Game the same year. The time is now for Bethancourt to shine if he wants to be an everyday player for the Braves and I think he will be up to the task this season, he’s worth a flier in your draft in a later round, his current draft position is 390.

Player(s) to Avoid
Tyler Flowers (CHW) – Well lets start with the positive, Flowers hit 15 long balls in 2014 and knocked in 50 runs which isn’t so bad but his career .218 average is uhhh…well its bad. He’s currently the 20th catcher being taken off the board ahead of Kurt Suzuki, and a breakout player from last year Stephen Vogt. In all honestly I’m most likely just going to overlook the 29-year-old backstop this season as his average will likely hurt your team too much for his power to stabilize his warranting of ownership in all but the deepest of leagues.

About Greg Benson

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