Today, I begin the task of looking back at our 2014 position rankings in an effort to see what we got right and what we got wrong. Ranking players in the offseason involves plenty of analysis, all of which may mean nothing once the season starts and they start playing the games. One step that is a must is to project who you think could break out, and who could be in for a bad season. But with that step, you must (should) factor those into your rankings. Ranking a player higher than the consensus is not an easy task, as many readers will question you on your optimism, and why. Having statistical support for your ranking is a requirement, but sometimes they don't tell us all we need to know about a player, or how a team is planning on using said player in the coming year. That makes ranking players at each position a task that usually results in you being more wrong than right. But,we rank anyway, because rankings is the last step in your preparation for the many drafts you participate in each season.
Today, I take a look at our preseason catcher rankings, and will look at which players exceeded our expectations and which players underperformed. I will complete this review for each position over the next few weeks, in an effort to learn from my (our) mistakes so we can improve our rankings for 2015 and the years ahead.
Before I get into analyzing our catcher rankings, below you will find our 2014 rankings for catchers ranked 1-15:
Below you will find our 2014 rankings for catcher ranked 16-30:
Note: statistics are as through 9/27/14, and not end of season statistics.
Three we got right
Buster Posey, San Francisco
We ranked Posey as our #1 ranked fantasy catcher for 2014, yet I had concerns about his drop in power in the second half of the 2013 season. He showed us that his power is back and he is still a legitimate MVP candidate year in and year out. This season, Posey is hitting .310-.363-.484, with 21 HRs, 71 runs scored and 87 RBI in 146 games played. The fact that he is used at first base increases his value for fantasy owners. He has started 30 games at first base this season, and played a total of 35 there, hitting .347 with 4 home runs and 19 RBI. He hits well when playing catcher as well, hitting .304 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI.
He should be the #1 fantasy catcher heading into 2015, but there a a few others, including the guy listed below, who could give him some competition for the top spot.
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee
Ok, maybe I am cheating here, as we ranked Lucroy as our 7th ranked fantasy catcher, and he was better than that. Lucroy is easily a top 5 fantasy catcher heading into 2015 after hitting .299-.372-.465 with 13 home runs, 73 runs scored and 69 RBI this season. His 73 runs scored rank first, while his 69 RBI rank sixth and his .299 batting average ranks second among qualified catchers. He hit 13 home runs, but his 53 doubles leads all MLB hitters, so he has power, and some of those doubles could turn into home runs with a slight change in approach.
A.J. Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers
We ranked Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis as our 28th ranked catcher, and he didn't disappoint. Ellis is a full time catcher, and they have value on draft day, but his slash line leaves a lot to be desired for fantasy owners. Ellis hit just .193-.326-.257 with 3 home runs, 21 runs scored and 25 RBI in 92 games played this season. There are many back up catchers who provided more value for fantasy owners this season.
Three we got wrong
Joe Mauer, Minnesota
We ranked Mauer as our second ranked fantasy catcher back in the early parts of the year, but he hasn't shown he is back to the hitter he was before his concussion and other injuries. Mauer did not play one game at catcher this season, so his value to fantasy owners has dropped in a big way.
Coming into the season, many, including me, felt the move to first base would help him improve his power numbers at the plate, to go along with the .300 batting average, but he disappointed across the board this season. Mauer his .277-.362-.373 with just 4 home runs, 60 runs scored and 55 RBI in 119 games this season. This has been his worst season of his career at the plate, setting lows in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage.
Heading into 2015, I don't see him as a top 20 hitter at first base, so his value on draft day is going to be at an all time low since he longer is eligible at catcher. But, he does have some value in leagues which use OBP instead of BA, but even still, his other stats are a hindrance compared to others at the first base position.
Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati
We ranked Devin Mesoraco as our 20th ranked fantasy catcher back in spring training, and, looking back, that proved to be too conservative, as he is experiencing a breakout season in 2014. I recently wrote about Mesoraco in my 2015 Buy List series, and he is going to finish as a top 2-3 fantasy catcher in 2014, and one could argue he should be taken ahead of Giants catcher Buster Posey next season. Here are there stats:
Posey: .310-.363-.484, 21 HRs, 71 runs, 87 RBI, 146 games
Mesoraco: .276-.36-.538, 25 HRs, 64 runs, 80 RBI, 113 games
Some of Posey's value stems from the number of games he plays, as manager Bruce Bochy is not afraid to play him at first base to keep him healthy. Despite playing 33 fewer games than Posey, Mesoraco has more HRs, and is only 7 runs scored and RBI behind Posey. Mesoraco leads all fantasy catchers in home runs, and hits in the middle of the Reds lineup in his first season as a starter in the big leagues.
Yan Gomes, Cleveland
We ranked Indians catcher Yan Gomes as our 18th ranked fantasy catcher in the preseason, and nobody could have forecasted this kind of season from Gomes in 2014. I wrote about Gomes in a recent 2015 Buy List piece on him. Like Mesoraco, Gomes is experiencing a breakout season in his first season as a full time starter for the Indians, hitting .278-.313-.472 with 21 home runs, 61 runs scored and 74 RBI in 135 games played this season.
He heads into 2015 with a chance to be a top 5 fantasy catcher on draft boards.
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