Friday, January 31, 2014

MLB Position Rankings: Catcher

Sure, Opening Day is over 2 months away, but Spring Training is just around the corner! As such, we will be ranking the top 10 players at each position for the 2014 season. For the first installment, we will be ranking Catchers. Check back soon for 1B rankings!

Sleepers- Devin Mesoraco, Yan Gomes, Josmil Pinto

10. Matt Wieters- Wieters is coming off a somewhat disappointing 2013 campaign in which he batted just .235 with a .287 OBP. While earlier in his career the sky was the limit for Wieters, his value will be seriously hindered by his inability to get on base. One reason for owners to have hope, however, is the fact that Wieters posted a career low .247 BABIP in 2013. His next lowest was a .274 and in 2014,
look for his BABIP and thus his batting average to experience a pleasant bump.

9. Wilson Ramos- After a injury-filled 2013 season, Ramos is a great bounce back candidate for 2014. Despite playing just 78 games last season, Ramos hit 16 home runs while driving in nearly 60 runs. If he can stay healthy for the whole season in 2014, Ramos will provide great value at a relatively inexpensive price.

8. Jonathon Lucroy- While Lucroy enjoyed a solid 2013 campaign, there is reason to believe that his 2014 one will be ever better. Last season his BABIP was it's lowest since his rookie season and was a full 20 points lower than his career average. Look for his peripherals to return to average in 2014 and look for Lucroy to be a solid option at catcher.

7. Wilin Rosario- Much of Rosario's value depends on his health. He has yet to play more than 121 games in a season and until he does, his stats won't see much of an improvement. Rosario hit .292/21/79 in 2013, which were buoyed by a career high .344 BABIP. Though he will still provide good value in 2014, be careful of how early you target Rosario.

6. Brian McCann- McCann is an interesting player for 2014 as he should benefit from the move to the AL East. A career .277 batter, McCann's average AIR is 105. AIR measures how favorable a park is to pitchers or batters, with a score over 100 showing that a player has played in mostly hitter friendly parks. McCann, however, is moving to Yankee Stadium which is a notoriously hitters friendly park as well, with 1.087 runs produced there for every 1 run produced in the average stadium. A weak BABIP in 2013 should also rebound in 2013 which makes McCann an enticing candidate for 2014.

5. Salvador Perez- While Perez might not have had the "breakout" season that some experts were
predicting for 2013, he still provided good value for owners while hitting for a mediocre Royals team. I have high hopes for the Royals in 2014 and Salvy should benefit greatly from that. Look for 2014 to be the year that he finally breaks out.

4. Carlos Santana- Though he is only 27 years old, there is little reason to believe that Santana has still has a lot of room to grow as a hitter. His eye at the plate has gotten progressively better and the power is there but hitting in a weak Cleveland lineup and hitting at the pitcher-friendly Progressive Field will prevent Santana from making any real strides in 2014. That being said, Santana could still hit .270/25/80, making him the 4th best catcher in fantasy.

3. Yadier Molina- 2014 will be Molina's 11th season in the league and he is showing no signs of slowing down, which is simply incredible when you look at the average career duration of catchers in the MLB. Molina finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2013, thanks to the best defensive play of any catcher in the league as well as a strong season at the plate. While his 2012 numbers (22 home runs) are starting to look like a bit of an anomaly, Molina should continue to hit for a high average while driving in lots of Cardinals runners.

2. Joe Mauer- Though concussion concerns are always a factor, Mauer might actually benefit from some of them in 2014 as the Twins have decided to put him at 1B full time. Luckily for fantasy owners, he should retain his catching eligibility which makes him even more valuable. Playing at first will certainly put less strain on Mauer's body than being behind the plate and his numbers at the plate could actually benefit as well. His home run numbers have been very unpredictable throughout his career but Mauer should still provide lots of value through his extremely high batting average and knack for scoring and driving in runs.

1. Buster Posey- Well, did you expect anyone else at the #1 spot on the list? Though he is just 26,
Posey has solidified his spot as the best catcher in the game. Even in a "down year" in 2013, he hit .294 while driving in 72 runs. Posey should experience a slight rebound in 2014 which makes him the clear choice for first catcher off the board on draft day. 

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