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2022 Keeper Value Rankings - Catcher

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Many many years ago, I noticed the managers in my long-time keeper league were consistently making terrible keeper decisions year after year. Instead of taking their money every year, I thought I would help them out and find a good set of Keeper League Rankings to share with them. What I found was quite disturbing.

There appeared to be two types of Keeper Rankings available in the industry: Type A is just the site's normal rankings with younger players boosted. These types of rankings only benefit leagues where all Keepers carry the same cost or no cost, such as Rounds 1-4 for everyone's keepers. I also found a Type B that I have no explanation on how any human could ever perceive to be useful in any type of fantasy format. So instead of pulling a rankings list for them, I sat down on Excel for a good month and the Keeper Value Formula was born.

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.

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JB's Keeper Value System

The final 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 (2021 ADP) and will subsequently pay for in the current season's draft (2021). 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, 2021 ADP, and 23rd Round cost for UDFA just as a baseline to help managers get an idea of their options. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @RowdyRotoJB to check out your specific league's values.

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. The majority of good keeper 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. The idea is if you don't use a keeper selection here you can likely still draft that player in the vicinity of their 2021 cost.
6 <0 The associated costs make it impossible to return any value, these players will ruin your draft. Stay far away.


2022 Catcher Keeper Value Rankings

1 2 Salvador Perez KCR 8 80.14
2 3 Will Smith LAD 10 60.25
3 3 Daulton Varsho ARI 16 50.42
4 4 Tyler Stephenson CIN 23 49.92
5 4 Keibert Ruiz WAS 23 48.95
6 4 Adley Rutschman BAL 23 44.70
7 4 Yasmani Grandal CWS 12 27.08
8 5 Willson Contreras CHC 11 15.37
9 5 Alejandro Kirk TOR 23 7.10
10 5 Mike Zunino TBR 23 7.00
11 5 Joey Bart SFG 23 5.08
12 5 Mitch Garver MIN 18 1.96
13 5 J.T. Realmuto PHI 4 1.51


Tier Two

A Tier One score for a Catcher would be a wild scene, one I don't think I've ever seen. But at least we got the king in Tier Two. Salvador Perez has finally taken over as top fantasy catcher after an absolutely monstrous 2021 season. He tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with 48 HR and led the entire league with 121 (!) RBI...as a catcher. His 56.2 HardHit% trailed only Aaron Judge. Among Catchers with at least 300 PA, his .273 BA trailed only Buster Posey and Tyler Stephenson, but Perez had over 200 more PA than both of them.

The last time a catcher led the league in HR was Johnny Bench in 1973. The last time a catcher hit over 40 bombs was Javy Lopez in 2003. The last time a catcher had over 120 RBI was 1999 by Mike Piazza. Salvy is in historic form right now, and the positional advantage he provides is arguably unmatched in fantasy.


Tier Three

If anyone is able to dethrone Salvy as king of the catchers in 2022, the best bets are probably in this tier. Will Smith is one of the most well-rounded catchers in the game already, and he's still just 26. He hit the third-most HR at the position, and thanks to hitting in the heart of the Dodgers lineup, he was the only catcher other than Perez to reach 70+ Runs and RBI. The Fresh Prince finished up 2021 with some serious momentum that fantasy managers are hoping to see carry over to this year. After the All-Star break, he hit 15 HR, .266 BA, .293 ISO, and 146 wRC+ in 184 PA. The DH should mean more PT even when Dave Roberts wants Austin Barnes' glove in the lineup, and it's completely within the realm of possibilities to see Smith reach 30 HR and 160 R+RBI in 2022, which obviously is fantasy-catcher gold, especially in two C leagues.

Daulton Varsho is far from a stud hitter, but he brings something unique to the table that we have rarely seen aside from J.T. Realmuto. With steals becoming more and more scarce in MLB, how could you not want double-digit SB from your catcher? Across A+ and AA ball from 2018-2019, Varsho stole 40 bases in just 188 games. No projection system has him pegged for more than 10 in 2022, but I also think they are all too low on his PA. He should serve as the everyday CF for the D-Backs, and considering he hit an absurd .293 against LHP last year, I don't foresee him being the odd-man-out when Jordan Luplow is plugged into the lineup against southpaws. Varsho will finish with more SB and PA than you are projecting.


Tier Four

The fountain of youth continues to flow in the fourth tier, starting with the pride of Kennesaw, GA: Tyler Stephenson. The 25- year-old enjoyed a solid rookie campaign in 2021, splitting time with Tucker Barnhart behind the plate. Across 402 PA, he hit 10 HR, 45 RBI, scored 56 runs, and sported an impressive .286 BA. The good news is Tucker Barnhart has since left town for Detroit, and it appears as if Stephenson will handle the lion's share of playing time as backstop for the Reds in 2022. The bad news is I don't expect the sterling BA to remain this season. His xBA was 30 points lower and the .333 BABIP is on the high side of hitters with his speed. But in Stephenson's defense, his LD% was top-15 in baseball among hitters with at least 400 PA so don't expect the BA to dip too far.

Across two teams and two AAA organizations, Keibert Ruiz hit 24 HR in 421 total PA at just 23-years-old while hitting for some impressive averages. But even more impressive than that is the superb strikeout rates. Among all hitters with over just 90 PA, his 9.4 K% ranked fifth-lowest. He's in a prime spot as opening day starting catcher for the Nats and has the ability to reach 20 dongs with a BA that should be near the top of the field among catchers.

When is Adley Rutschman going to join the Orioles in 2022? I don't really know, but when he does get the call, he's going to be fantasy relevant immediately. Obviously, a consensus top-three prospect in baseball should make some sort of impact, but especially when they reside in the fantasy wasteland of catchers. The switch hitter belted 23 bombs and 75 RBI across 543 PA between AA and AAA last season while scoring 86 runs and stealing three bases. In his 43 games at AAA, he hit .312. He's clearly ready for his first taste of the majors, and I honestly don't think we'll have to wait very long to see it.


Tier Five

Remember the formula is not based solely on talent, for then that would be redraft rankings. Talent at what cost is more appropriate, and that is the reason we have finally arrived at Willson Contreras and J.T. Realmuto, who are annual studs behind the plate, but at this point, they probably aren't giving you much value in your keeper league at their respective costs. If you are in a two-catcher league with many keeper selections, I can see a bite-the-bullet situation where the safety of having a top closer trumps the "minimal" keeper value. But outside of that, use the selections elsewhere and grab another catcher in the draft.

Alejandro Kirk has been an interesting name this draft season. After a very successful, yet very brief MLB debut in 2020, the 23-year-old was a popular sleeper name heading into 2021. After hitting for some absurd averages in his minor league career, Kirk hit just .242 with eight home runs in 189 PA for the Blue Jays. The overall numbers certainly were disappointing, but it's hard to write him off for 2022 for four reasons. First, he missed essentially three months with a hip flexor injury. Second, after Kirk was back from injury, Danny Jansen caught fire and hit .310 with five of his 11 HR in September/October. Third, Kirk's .234 BABIP is incredibly low given his minor league track record and his contact skills. For a frame of reference, his xBA was .288, over 40 points higher than his actual BA. Lastly, despite the low average, his plate discipline was still fantastic. His 0.86 BB/K ratio was sixth-best in baseball among hitters with at least 180 PA, and second to only Yasmani Grandal among catchers.


2022 Keeper Value Rankings

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