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A Look Back at our 2014 Catcher Rankings

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Ray takes a look back at our 2014 consensus catcher rankings to see which fantasy catchers met our expectations and which ones disappointed.

Thearon W. Henderson

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:

Rank Player Team Ranking Points Ray Matt Brian Alex Daniel Joe Jason Zack
1 Buster Posey SFG 254 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Joe Mauer MIN 241 5 5 2 2 2 2 2 3
3 Carlos Santana CLE 236 2 2 3 3 3 6 5 4
4 Brian McCann NYY 226 1 4 4 4 8 8 3 6
5 Yadier Molina STL 226 6 6 5 5 5 5 4 2
6 Wilin Rosario COL 225 4 3 6 6 4 4 7 5
7 Jonathan Lucroy MIL 211 7 7 7 8 6 3 6 9
8 Salvador Perez KCR 195 8 9 8 7 10 7 10 10
9 Jason Castro HOU 184 12 11 9 12 9 11 8 8
10 Matt Wieters BAL 184 9 8 10 9 11 10 11 12
11 Wilson Ramos WSN 175 11 10 16 11 12 9 9 11
12 Miguel Montero ARI 157 16 12 13 10 16 12 15 13
13 Evan Gattis ATL 155 10 13 14 13 27 13 12 7
14 Russell Martin PIT 135 17 19 15 17 14 20 13 14
15 Jarrod Saltalamacchia MIA 133 13 15 18 16 7 25 18 19

Below you will find our 2014 rankings for catcher ranked 16-30:

Rank Player Team Ranking Points Ray Matt Brian Alex Daniel Joe Jason Zack
16 A.J. Pierzynski BOS 130 14 16 29 15 15 15 14 16
17 Travis d'Arnaud NYM 122 21 21 11 14 25 14 16 20
18 Yan Gomes CLE 119 18 25 12 23 19 16 17 15
19 Welington Castillo CHC 104 24 24 17 22 13 24 19 17
20 Devin Mesoraco CIN 103 15 17 27 21 20 22 21 18
21 Mike Zunino SEA 87 28 18 20 20 26 18 22 25
22 Alex Avila DET 81 23 20 21 27 21 19 25 27
23 Carlos Ruiz PHI 73 22 22 26 18 23 29 28 23
24 John Jaso OAK 55 23 26 17 20 24
25 Yasmani Grandal SDP 54 25 23 28 19 26 23
26 Dioner Navarro TOR 49 29 24 30 17 27 22
27 Josmil Pinto MIN 48 19 22 28 28 20
28 A.J. Ellis LAD 42 20 28 29 27 26 26
29 J.P. Arencibia TEX 42 30 14 24 25 30
30 Ryan Doumit ATL 42 27 27 19 29 21


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.

Fantasy Rundown

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