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2020 Keeper Value Rankings - Catcher

I've already revealed the 2020 Keeper Value Rankings throughout the infield: First BaseSecond Base, Third Base and Shortstop. Now let's go behind the plate. Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft pick in order to keep a player into the upcoming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values." In the marketing world, Value can be defined as the extent to which a good or service (player) is perceived by its customer (fantasy owner) to meet his/her needs or wants. The Keeper Values are derived from my Keeper Valuation Formula which accounts for age, player cost (ADP), remaining player pool, past performance, future projections, missed playing time, and even position scarcity.

The product is a quantitative depiction of a player's ability to meet/exceed fantasy owners' needs based on the cost they paid for the player in the previous season (2019 ADP) and will subsequently pay for in the current season's draft (2020). The higher the score, the higher the return the fantasy owner will receive from the player keeping him at their associated cost. Approaching Keeper selections with this "value" based attitude will greatly increase the effectiveness of a fantasy owner's draft in a Keeper League.

Whereas the main purpose of the Keeper Value Formula is for customization based on specific leagues and keeper costs, I create these yearly rankings with standard 12 team league data, 2019 ADP, and 23rd Round cost for UDFA just as a baseline to help managers get an idea of their options. Let's see which backstops are worth holding this year.

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JB's Keeper Value System

TIER SCORE DESCRIPTION
1 >100 Finders Keepers! These are the Elite Keeper Values. MUST BE KEPT at all costs.
2 75-99 Great Keeper values. Unless you have a full load of Tier 1 players, these guys need to be kept.
3 50-74 You are gaining good value with these players. A majority of good keepers options tend to fall into this category.
4 25-49 Minimal value. The value exists, but not as much as your opponents are likely receiving with their selections. Consider if your options are limited.
5 0-24 Break-even point. Keeping these players will likely hurt your overall draft, as you are not adding enough value. Don't waste a Keeper selection here.
6 <0 The associated costs make it impossible to return any value, these players will ruin your draft. Stay far away.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @RowdyRotoJB to check out your specific league's values.

 

2020 Keeper Value Rankings - Catchers

POS RANK KEEPER TIER PLAYER/TEAM ADP (ROUND) SCORE
1 3 Mitch Garver MIN 23 51.08
2 4 Will Smith LAD 22 39.10
3 5 Salvador Perez KCR 23 23.14
4 5 Yasmani Grandal CHW 10 7.99
5 5 Christian Vazquez BOS 23 7.75

 

Now I know what you're thinking, "there's only five catchers listed, wheres JT Realmuto and Gary Sanchez, are you telling me to draft Christian Vazquez over Realmuto?" Allow me to nip the questions in the bud. Any catcher not listed on the table above posted a negative score in the Keeper Value Formula. Five, and only five catchers scored positive versus their 2019 ADP. This number is fairly common at the fantasy wasteland position year-to-year, but also proves the five scores above to be even more impressive considering. Now that those are out of the way, allow us to jump into the lucky five contestants.

 

Tier Three

Hopefully I have not started us out on too somber of a note for Catcher Keeper Values, because there are still some good scores at the position for 2020. Our first one is Mitch Garver.

Garver's breakout was one of the most impressive in all of baseball last year, as he hit 31 HR in only 93 games.  His 11.58 PA/HR was by far the lowest among all hitters with at least 300 PA. His .357 ISO led the league, and his .630 SLG ranked fifth best. It really was absurd when you consider he saw just 20 fewer PA in 2018 and hit all of seven HR. In fact, it was the third most impressive breakout since 2010 according to this great piece by Mike Petriello for MLB.com.

Not a single 2020 projection system expects Garver to come anywhere close to replicating his 2019 performance. In fact, ATC is the highest on him and projects 21 HR with a .255 BA in 422 PA. While that is far from the historic run we saw last year, it is still good for fifth-best among catchers. Regardless of what your personal expectations are for regression, the formula recognizes that the value of getting Garver in the late rounds is unmatched at the position for 2020.

 

Tier Four

The 24-year-old former first-round pick William Smith finally got a taste of the big leagues in 2019. Like Garver, he showed great power potential at the plate hitting 15 HR in just 53 games, and 35 total combined with AAA. The BA has really never been there, but the power will certainly play at the weakest fantasy position. Slated to be the everyday catcher for the Dodgers alone is valuable, but the projected 24+ HR and the slew of run production easily slides the youngster in as the only tier four keeper at the position.

 

Tier Five

Ah, the injury keeper-loophole. Salvador Perez missed the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery in March, so of course, he wasn't being drafted. But the two years prior to the surgery Perez hit exactly 27 HR with 80 RBI (with 1 SB in both seasons, too). The BA dropped out in 2018, but so did the BABIP despite a career-high Hard%. He is currently being drafted at #170 overall on Yahoo and ESPN (primarily one Catcher leagues), and #159 in NFBC contests which has a higher percentage of two-catcher leagues. Whether you play in a one or two catcher league, Perez makes a great case as a keeper from the late rounds coming off the missed season. THE BAT projects him for 28 HR, 82 RBI, and a .258 BA which actually ranks him as that systems second catcher even over Gary Sanchez. He misses joining Will Smith in the fourth tier by less than two points in the formula and is well ahead of the next two in the fifth tier.

Only one catcher posted a positive keeper score for 2020 from an ADP inside round 20, and that man is Yasmani Grandal. In his first and only year as a Brewer, Grandal set career highs in HR, R, RBI, SB, and my favorite, BB%. His 0.78 BB/K ratio was the highest among all Catchers, and more than double that of J.T. Realmuto. This year, Grandal is on his third team in three seasons, as he signed with the White Sox this off-season. He is slated to hit in the heart of an extremely exciting lineup that could absolutely explode this year. Based on his keeper value score, keeping Grandal in the 10th is providing positive yet minimal value for 2020. But if you are in a two-catcher league or OBP league and have a keeper selection to spare, it would sure be nice to nail down a stud in a lineup full of studs at the weakest fantasy position.

As a Red Sox fan, I loved watching Christian Vazquez finally break out in 2019. He shattered all the power projections with 23 long balls and sported an impressive .276 BA, all of which led to him being the fourth-ranked catcher in fantasy. But even as a big personal-fan, I recognize 2019 is the ceiling and likely not repeated in 2020. Only four players hit over 20 HR with a Hard% under 35.0, Vazquez being one of course. So the power I certainly expect to see regress.

The other hit to his value was the signing of Jonathan Lucroy this off-season. Obviously, it was a Minor League deal, and at best Lucroy serves as backup over Kevin Plawecki in 2020 but current projections have him from anywhere between 50 PA and 340 PA for the Red Sox. He won't touch 340 without a Vazquez injury, but I certainly see it plausible Lucroy takes more PA away than Sandy Leon did last year. So expect slightly fewer PA, a dip in power, and a decrease in run-scoring with Mookie Betts gone from the top of the order. Thankfully I don't expect the BA or the RBI to deviate drastically and realistically see a 2020 finish in the territory of Wilson Ramos - which is pretty consistent across the projection systems as well. He saves you some draft capital being kept in the late rounds compared to his 17th-round ADP, but the formula shows the value is still minimal overall.

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