The first month of the 2013 fantasy baseball season is almost in the books, and we've gotten a good look at which players are off to hot starts and which guys are struggling in the early going. RotoBaller will be updating our original preseason rankings, one per day over the next week. We start with backstops, which coincidentally was the first position we published in the preseason all the way back on February 1st. All the ranks below are compared to the FantasyPros ECR (Expert Consensus Rank), which will show you where RotoBaller differs with the expert community and by how much. Check out our tier-by-tier analysis below the rankings, and let us know where you agree or disagree with us!
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Tier 1: The first notable difference is that Buster Posey no longer occupies a tier by himself. Perhaps he still could by some estimations, but he’s gotten off to a pretty slow start with the Giants in 2013. Therefore, I’ve lumped him in with the players that used to make up the upper echelon of Tier 2. Mauer and Santana will get more at-bats with 1B eligibility and are both in the MLB Top 10 in batting average, which is why they’ve moved up ahead of Molina and Rosario.
Tier 2: One addition to this tier (Lucroy) and one subtraction (V-Mart). Jonathan Lucroy doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves in fantasy baseball. He was on his way to a breakout season in 2012 before a freak injury sidelined him for two months. He should finish this season as a Top-10 catcher with the potential to finish in the Top 5.
Tier 3: Despite Victor Martinez’s poor start to the season, the one encouraging sign is his BB:K ratio (10:9). Three big movers in this tier (Pierzynski +3, Montero -3, McCann -3). Pierzynski is on pace for similar numbers to his 2012, which means very nice power production. Arencibia joins the tier and has a realistic chance of sticking there all season. He’s crushing HRs on the regular, but temper your expectations with that ugly 28:1 K:BB ratio in only 72 ABs.
Tier 4: John Buck, Tyler Flowers and Evan Gattis join the rankings in this tier. Take what you can get from Buck while he’s hot because I doubt that it will continue as the season progresses. Flowers won't give you much in the batting average department but should hit 20+ HRs with no one blocking his path for playing time-- he should be rostered in all leagues that start two catchers. If Gattis was assured playing time when McCann returns, he'd be ranked much higher; he's definitely not overtaking anyone in the ATL outfield and he won't get time at 1B with Freeman healthy, but he can mash. Personally, I’d sell high on Gattis while you still have some opportunity to do so. Montero falls down to this tier, and you have to raise an eyebrow with him when Kelly Shoppach is cutting into his playing time. The Ryan Hanigan injury opens the door for Devin Mesoraco to deliver on his former top-prospect status.
Tier 5: Jason Castro, Wilson Ramos and Francisco Cervelli join the rankings as C2 options, or very deep stopgap additions in single-catcher leagues. Yasmani Grandal would be higher up, but he won't return until May 28th. Grandal was a Top-25 catcher in limited action (60 games) in 2012 and should play more games than he did last season.
Tier 6: Both Zunino and d’Arnaud are stash players right now but have the potential to finish the year as Top 25 catchers. Of the two, Zunino now has the better chance of making an impact due to d’Arnaud’s injury and John Buck’s hot start to the season.