RotoBaller.com Rankings: 2013 Catcher Rankings with ADP Comparison

Jeffrey Klein - RotoBaller
Jeffrey Klein - RotoBaller

Pujols - RotoBaller Fantasy Baseball AdviceIn less than two weeks, pitchers and catchers will start working out the winter’s kinks– that’s right, folks, baseball is nigh! Nigh, I say! Since the time could not more ripe for some frank and well-considered rankings discussion, I have compiled RotoBaller’s first rankings release of the 2013 season, appropriately focused on… you guessed it: pitchers and catchers (though not necessarily in that order). It’s time to strap on your tools of ignorance and get ready to run through the signs with RotoBaller’s 2013 Catcher Ranking Preview!

Before we get to the preliminary rankings, two notes: first, there has long been debate as to whether and how much to invest in a top-tier catcher, under what circumstances an owner should spend that late-first/early-second round pick or bid in excess of $30 at auction for a premiere guy. Let me set the record straight: don’t do it. If you play in a single-catcher format, it’s very hard for a first-round catcher to make good on your expectations. Optimistic projections for an everyday catcher are that he will reach only about 520 ABs, and that’s a problem: if you’re deciding between Posey and, say, Carlos Gonzalez or Giancarlo Stanton, I think you’ve gotta go with the everyday ABs and the less risky defensive position.

Note the lack of quantitative differences between the ~500 ABs each catcher produces in a season; it’s just not substantial enough to warrant overpaying for the #1 guy. If both are healthy, Posey and Yadier will be separated by only a handful of bombs and a few BA points, so why spend a first-round pick if you can get an equivalent replacement three rounds later? There are ALWAYS draft-day bargains to be had in single-catcher leagues. Lo, bargains! And in the 2013 crop, ladies and gentlemen, there are bargains, indeed.

So let’s take a look at the rankings. I’ve included some ADP data where it’s available, and I’ll keep this updated as Yahoo, ESPN, etc. make their leagues’ draft results available. As you can see, I’m projecting that the fantasy impact of the catcher position will be distributed among five distinct tiers in 2013:


(Looking for more fantasy baseball rankings? Check out our friends at FantasyPros!)

In that second tier, the guy I’m higher on than many is Wilin Rosario. I just love his raw power, and his age and home park make me salivate. Rosario is perfect example of a guy that you could easily wait on (8th round or later) instead of investing in a Mauer, Molina or Napoli. The COL catcher is still really young, (just about to celebrate his 24th birthday,) and also still very much under the radar despite an explosive second-half in 2012– all of which is more than you can say about Carlos Santana or Matt Wieters.

Two other guys I want to highlight are Alex Avila and John Jaso. These are players who are perfect targets for the late-round catcher draft strategy in deeper single-catcher formats. Entering into a good-side platoon (LH-hitter) could actually increase Jaso’s BA upside, since he’ll likely get to 420+ ABs while avoiding LH pitching. Avila, too, should be healthy and productive: look for him to hit 15+ HR, right in line with most of his tier-mates.

The tiers are really the point that these guys drive home: in that fifth tier, most of those players are basically interchangeable with one another, as are those in the fourth. If there’s a run on catchers, that’s all the more reason not to take the bait early. Once all the other owners have their guys, they’ll likely forgo drafting a second C, so you should feel liberated, not pressured. For a single-catcher format, any of those fourth-tier catchers (provided he has the job) is totally serviceable, and each is pretty much equally risky (or alternatively, equally safe). Let someone else pay full retail for the risk while you take what’s left, at zero opportunity cost.

Comments are open. Let me know where you think I went wrong!
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And if you’ve missed them, be sure to also check out RotoBaller.com’s other pre-season 2013 fantasy baseball positional rankings for more in-depth analysis:

 

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Article by Jeffrey Klein - RotoBaller

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9 Comments

  1. Raphael Rabe says:

    Brian McCan is a STEAL at that draft position!

  2. joe says:

    These are terrible rankings….How do you not have Carlos Santana and Joe Mauer ahead of Yadier Molina? Are you thinking that if they are in the same tier that their is no difference btw 3 and 6?

    • Name recognition alone should not lead you to overvalue a guy, and the real Carlos Santana just hasn’t lived up to the top-prospect status. He will hit around .240, and in the range of 20 HR, +/- depending on his luck. WIthout a doubt, there’s potential for substantially more in terms of upside, but I can’t comfortably predict that considering his inconsistency making solid contact. Mauer, on the other hand, is a former MVP who will definitely hit for average, but with at best half the power of Santana. Molina is like best of both worlds, giving you roughly the same power numbers as Santana with the plate discipline to hit .300+.

      I wouldn’t necessarily say that the three are entirely interchangeable, but rather that each will return roughly similarly on an equal investment, with Molina being the most desirable across-the-categories contributor. As with anything in fantasy baseball, there’s room for disagreement, but I think when all is said and done in 2013, the numbers will tend to support my rankings projections.

  3. James says:

    In a single catcher AL only league, would u keep Pierzynski for $6? Seems everyone is down on him this year and I’m worried of a Soto platoon. Is he really the 8 th best catcher in AL only tho? Dude hit 27 HR last year…

    Btw Victor Martinez is not catcher eligible in mine or most leagues. He didn’t have 20 last year and will not catch this year. So he is DH really

    • RotoBaller says:

      Pierzynski will very very likely return more than $6 in profit (possibly a lot more), so from that perspective, it makes sense to keep him. The question is, though, at what cost could he or a comparable player be reacquired during the auction? It really depends on how many teams are in your league. A platoon situation at catcher might not be so bad, either, if you have the bench flexibility to carry another C. You could get Pierzynski power without the BA downside.

      • James says:

        Thanks for the feedback. It’s a 10 team league, $260 cap and weekly lineups, not daily. Thinking I will keep him so I can focus on other positions in the auction.

        • RotoBaller says:

          With weekly lineups it will be much harder to stay on top of Pierzynski’s platoon matchups, but it’s not inconceivable that it could still work to your advantage. Is it rotisserie?

          • James says:

            Yes it’s a roto 5×5 league. Also, Santana, Montero, Perez and maybe Weiters are all kept already. And I’m not sure I want to spend $30 on Mauer cuz that’s what he will go for.

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