Deep League Drafting: Catcher

USA TODAY Sports

Using durability and sabermetrics to evaluate past performance, can we help determine "positional scarcity" in order to help fantasy managers draft well in 2014?

There are two things that fantasy managers want when they draft their teams: a productive player and a durable player. These attributes, more than any other, will determine how far your team will go in the playoffs. Since I believe this to be true I wanted to look at the state of each position on the diamond to see which positions had the most offensively productive players and which positions had the most durable players. Ray offered his thoughts on a similar idea using 5x5 categories and comparing the numbers from 2012 to 2013. It's a worthy exercise and you should check it out.

Although my methodology is a little different (and I'll explain why) we have the same goal in mind: to determine which positions you should draft first and which positions you on which you should wait. I tend to use two main categories to determine offensive value, namely wOBA and wRC+. I realize that these have no predictive value per se and can be difficult to translate to 5x5 categories. They just tell you what happened; who was above or below league average offensively. Really, that's all I care about...production. Counting stats will vary from year to year based on the team that surrounds the player as well as a number of other variables (e.g., park factors, weather, health, etc.). However, wOBA and wRC+ just tells me a player's offensive productivity without predicting what could happen in the future.

Today, we're going to look at the catcher position. I looked at all the catchers with a minimum of 400 PAs from 2011-13 (taking into account the beating these guys take on a daily basis, I felt like 400 PAs was a fair definition of durable) and sorted them by wOBA and wRC+. This basically tells me if the players at each position have trended positively (i.e., more durable and productive) or negatively (i.e., less durable and productive) over the past three seasons. This may give us some insight into how important it is to draft this position early or late in 2014.

Finally, before I finish, I will identify one player to target and one player to avoid in deep league drafts this year, for your further contemplation and scrutiny. So, without further ado:

2011 Stats

Name Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
1 Mike Napoli Rangers 113 432 30 72 75 4 13.40% 19.70% 0.312 0.344 0.32 0.414 0.631 0.445 179
2 Alex Avila Tigers 141 551 19 63 82 3 13.20% 23.80% 0.211 0.366 0.295 0.389 0.506 0.384 140
3 Yadier Molina Cardinals 139 518 14 55 65 4 6.40% 8.50% 0.16 0.311 0.305 0.349 0.465 0.353 126
4 Miguel Montero Diamondbacks 140 553 18 65 86 1 8.50% 17.50% 0.187 0.317 0.282 0.351 0.469 0.353 118
5 Carlos Santana Indians 155 658 27 84 79 5 14.70% 20.20% 0.217 0.263 0.239 0.351 0.457 0.351 124
6 Brian McCann Braves 128 527 24 51 71 3 10.80% 16.90% 0.195 0.287 0.27 0.351 0.466 0.35 122
7 Chris Iannetta Rockies 112 426 14 51 55 6 16.40% 20.90% 0.177 0.276 0.238 0.37 0.414 0.348 105
8 Matt Wieters Orioles 139 551 22 72 68 1 8.70% 15.20% 0.188 0.276 0.262 0.328 0.45 0.34 110
9 Wilson Ramos Nationals 113 435 15 48 52 8.70% 17.50% 0.177 0.297 0.267 0.334 0.445 0.335 111
10 Carlos Ruiz Phillies 132 472 6 49 40 1 10.20% 10.20% 0.1 0.308 0.283 0.371 0.383 0.333 108
11 Russell Martin Yankees 125 476 18 57 65 8 10.50% 17.00% 0.17 0.252 0.237 0.324 0.408 0.324 100
12 Geovany Soto Cubs 125 474 17 46 54 9.50% 26.20% 0.183 0.28 0.228 0.31 0.411 0.317 94

2012 Stats

Name Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
1 Buster Posey Giants 148 610 24 78 103 1 11.30% 15.70% 0.213 0.368 0.336 0.408 0.549 0.406 163
2 Carlos Ruiz Phillies 114 421 16 56 68 4 6.90% 11.90% 0.215 0.339 0.325 0.394 0.54 0.398 151
3 Joe Mauer Twins 147 641 10 81 85 8 14.00% 13.70% 0.127 0.364 0.319 0.416 0.446 0.376 139
4 Yadier Molina Cardinals 138 563 22 65 76 12 8.00% 9.80% 0.186 0.316 0.315 0.373 0.501 0.375 139
5 Miguel Montero Diamondbacks 141 573 15 65 88 12.70% 22.70% 0.152 0.362 0.286 0.391 0.438 0.364 124
6 Wilin Rosario Rockies 117 426 28 67 71 4 5.90% 23.20% 0.26 0.289 0.27 0.312 0.53 0.356 109
7 A.J. Pierzynski White Sox 135 520 27 68 77 5.40% 15.00% 0.223 0.28 0.278 0.326 0.501 0.351 119
8 Mike Napoli Rangers 108 417 24 53 56 1 13.40% 30.00% 0.241 0.273 0.227 0.343 0.469 0.349 115
9 Carlos Santana Indians 143 609 18 72 76 3 14.90% 16.60% 0.168 0.278 0.252 0.365 0.42 0.344 121
10 A.J. Ellis Dodgers 133 505 13 44 52 12.90% 21.20% 0.144 0.329 0.27 0.373 0.414 0.341 118
11 Ryan Doumit Twins 134 528 18 56 75 5.50% 18.60% 0.186 0.306 0.275 0.32 0.461 0.332 110
12 Matt Wieters Orioles 144 593 23 67 83 3 10.10% 18.90% 0.186 0.274 0.249 0.329 0.435 0.331 106
13 Alex Avila Tigers 116 434 9 42 48 2 14.10% 24.00% 0.142 0.313 0.243 0.352 0.384 0.327 104
14 Jarrod Saltalamacchia Red Sox 121 448 25 55 59 8.50% 31.00% 0.232 0.265 0.222 0.288 0.454 0.319 96
15 Russell Martin Yankees 133 485 21 50 53 6 10.90% 19.60% 0.192 0.222 0.211 0.311 0.403 0.316 95

2013 Stats

Name Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
1 Joe Mauer Twins 113 508 11 62 47 12.00% 17.50% 0.153 0.383 0.324 0.404 0.476 0.383 144
2 Carlos Santana Indians 154 642 20 75 74 3 14.50% 17.10% 0.187 0.301 0.268 0.377 0.455 0.364 135
3 Yadier Molina Cardinals 136 541 12 68 80 3 5.50% 10.20% 0.158 0.338 0.319 0.359 0.477 0.362 134
4 Jason Castro Astros 120 491 18 63 56 2 10.20% 26.50% 0.209 0.351 0.276 0.35 0.485 0.361 130
5 Buster Posey Giants 148 595 15 61 72 2 10.10% 11.80% 0.156 0.312 0.294 0.371 0.45 0.357 133
6 Jarrod Saltalamacchia Red Sox 121 470 14 68 65 4 9.10% 29.60% 0.193 0.372 0.273 0.338 0.466 0.349 117
7 Wilin Rosario Rockies 121 466 21 63 79 4 3.20% 23.40% 0.194 0.344 0.292 0.315 0.486 0.348 107
8 Brian McCann Braves 102 402 20 43 57 9.70% 16.40% 0.205 0.261 0.256 0.336 0.461 0.347 122
9 Jonathan Lucroy Brewers 147 580 18 59 82 9 7.90% 11.90% 0.175 0.29 0.28 0.34 0.455 0.345 118
10 Welington Castillo Cubs 113 428 8 41 32 2 7.90% 22.70% 0.124 0.347 0.274 0.349 0.397 0.331 106
11 Salvador Perez Royals 138 526 13 48 79 4.00% 12.00% 0.141 0.311 0.292 0.323 0.433 0.329 105
12 Russell Martin Pirates 127 506 15 51 55 9 11.50% 21.30% 0.151 0.266 0.226 0.327 0.377 0.315 101

Observations:

1. The overall number of players that qualified (from 2011-13) goes 12 - 15 - 12, so that doesn't tell us much as far as trends. Catcher looks about as durable and productive as it always has been.

2. Only three players qualified all three years: Yadier Molina, Carlos Santana, and...wait for it...Russell Martin.

Rebound candidate/Target: Miguel Montero

Howard Bender notes Montero's decline, but the beauty of this is that his value has tanked and he has been a VERY productive guy before. All I'm saying in double-digit HRs is still in the picture, and I don't think he'll kill you in any one category.

Avoid: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Who's the only catcher to strike out at a 30% clip the past three years? Yeah. Moving to that cavern of a park with that lineup will not help him. Just say no and pick up Russell Martin later.

Opine below as you see fit. Who are you targeting this year deep-league managers? Follow me on Twitter (@agape4argentina) and be looking for the 1b article soon.

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