2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Catchers

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It's time. We at RotoBaller like rankings. In preparation for the 2016 fantasy baseball draft season, we will deliver four rounds of composite rankings. This is the first position of the first round - catchers. Rest assured, more exciting positions and ever more detailed analysis lie ahead as we progress closer to draft season.

This first round features picks from Kyle Bishop, Max Petrie, Nick Mariano, and myself, Brad Johnson. We're the guys who are too hooked on baseball to be distracted by these other sports like American Fútbol or the one with the sticks. Please note, value is somewhat fluid during the offseason. We originally submitted these rankings on December 6th. Please excuse any recent changes that have not been incorporated. Moving along...

Be sure to also check out all of our 2016 fantasy baseball rankings articles. We have rankings and tiers across all positions, for MLB prospects, and for dynasty/keeper leagues.

 

2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Catchers

These days, catcher is surprisingly deep. Carlos Santana and Evan Gattis have lost their eligibility, but others like Kyle Schwarber and Travis d'Arnaud have risen to take their place.

Owners in single catcher mixed leagues will feel no pressure to draft one early. Sure, it's always safe to roster Buster Posey, and Schwarber looks especially valuable too (more on both of them in a moment). However, why pass on a mid-rotation pitcher or second outfielder to pick Yasmani Grandal in the 13th round when you could instead take Matt Wieters, Francisco Cervelli, Derek Norris, or Yadier Molina in the last round?

Deeper league owners will need to employ some strategery. Waiting until the end means settling for Hank Conger, Cameron Rupp, or James McCann. Are you comfortable making that gamble? Last year, the best late-round plays were Nick Hundley and Cervelli. Who will fill their shoes this year?

Unlike all the other positions, true catchers usually don't play every day. Posey, Schwarber, and Salvador Perez are your best bets to play 150 or more games at the position. Others are more likely to make about 130 starts.

Those lost starts matter. Because catchers play fewer games than their counterparts around the diamond, they put up fewer counting stats. Their demanding position also results in various bumps and bruises that can affect hitting. Russell Martin and Grandal played through long, injury-related slumps late last season.

The result is a steep opportunity cost when drafting your catchers. Last season, Posey was the 23rd pick according to FantasyPros. Those picking Posey passed on Madison Bumgarner, David Price, and Bryce Harper (also a bunch of big flops like Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Beltre, Ian Desmond, and Anthony Rendon).

Perhaps a normal catcher like Devin Mesoraco is a better example. He went 80th overall. The guy in front of him was Chris Davis. The three guys behind him were David Robertson, Jake Arrieta, and Jacob deGrom. Even if Mesoraco had repeated his 2014 success, you'd probably be left wishing you had Davis, Arrieta, or deGrom instead.

When building our rankings, there were a few players we agreed upon. Posey remains our top pick at the position. Schwarber is the consensus second pick. In this, we're playing it safe.

Schwarber stands to play the most games of any catcher eligible player - mostly in the outfield. He has the potential to easily outperform Posey in runs, home runs, and RBI. Posey will definitely post the better average. However, before we get too excited about Schwarber's first 273 plate appearances, let's remember the lesson of Jorge Soler. Schwarber may ultimately be the best player at the position in 2016, but he's a lot riskier than Posey.

Overall, we're generally in agreement about most catchers. Two mid-tier catchers I like less than the others are Yan Gomes and Wieters. With Gomes, my concern relates to his plate discipline. It's widely assumed that his poor 2015 campaign is entirely related to injuries, but I worry the league also adjusted to his tendencies at the plate.

My beef with Wieters is a desire to not pay for his 112 plate appearance 2014 breakout. For nearly 2,900 plate appearances, he's been a league average hitter. That has it's place in the fantasy realm. There's enough uncertainty about where he'll bat, how he'll perform, and how often he'll start that I'd prefer to throw the dice on some other names first.

We have split opinions about new Twins catcher John Ryan Murphy. I think this may reflect expected playing time - I'm counting on about 125-135 starts with an uptick in power and a good batting average. Upon further analysis, I may decide that Kurt Suzuki will make more starts or that Murphy will bat at the bottom of the order. Either or both conditions would lead to a ranking in the mid-20's - where Kyle and Nick believe he belongs.

My pick for most valuable, undrafted catcher? As of today, it's Dioner Navarro. I expect him to start frequently - including as the designated hitter against left-handed pitching. With the White Sox, he'll enjoy his home field park factors too. Navarro isn't a great real world catcher, but he offers fantasy owners a good average, some power, and decent run production.

 

Our Rankings

Rank Name Brad Max Kyle Nick Composite
1 Buster Posey 1 1 1 1 1
2 Kyle Schwarber 2 2 2 2 2
3 Russell Martin 3 4 3 3 3.25
4 Travis d'Arnaud 4 5 4 6 4.75
5 Jonathan Lucroy 5 3 6 5 4.75
6 Brian McCann 6 7 5 4 5.5
7 Devin Mesoraco 8 6 8 9 7.75
8 Yasmani Grandal 7 10 7 8 8
9 Salvador Perez 12 12 9 7 10
10 Yan Gomes 18 8 10 11 11.75
11 Matt Wieters 19 9 11 10 12.25
12 Stephen Vogt 9 16 13 15 13.25
13 Blake Swihart 14 18 12 12 14
14 Francisco Cervelli 10 17 14 18 14.75
15 Derek Norris 11 11 20 19 15.25
16 J.T. Realmuto 20 13 16 14 15.75
17 Yadier Molina 16 19 18 13 16.5
18 Welington Castillo 17 21 17 16 17.75
19 JR Murphy 13 14 22 25 18.5
20 Miguel Montero 23 15 15 21 18.5
21 Nick Hundley 15 20 19 22 19
22 Wilson Ramos 22 22 28 17 22.25
23 Cameron Rupp 27 26 23 24 25
24 Hank Conger 25 24 25 26 25
25 James McCann 26 27 29 23 26.25
26 Robinson Chirinos 21 24 20 ---
27 Dioner Navarro 24 30 ---
28 Chris Iannetta 28 ---
29 Tyler Flowers 29 ---
30 Josh Phegley 31 ---
31 A.J. Pierzynski 29 23 21 27 ---
32 Roberto Perez 24 ---
33 Caleb Joseph 26 29 ---
34 Jason Castro 30 25 28 ---
35 Geovany Soto 30 ---
36 Jarrod Saltalamacchia 31 27 30 ---
37 Brayan Pena 28 ---

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