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Fantasy Baseball: 2015 Consensus Catcher Rankings - Part 1

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Here is part 1 of our consensus fantasy catcher rankings for 2015. There are some familiar names at the top of the catcher rankings, but a few new names jump into the top 5. Check out our thoughts on the catchers ranked 1-15.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We opened Catcher week here at Fake Teams with the landscape of the position for fantasy purposes earlier this morning. Now we bring you our consensus fantasy catcher rankings for 2015. We used a points system for each of the 30 catchers ranked by each of the Fake Teams writers who participated in the consensus rankings series.

The writers who participated in this series include the following:

Ray Guilfoyle

Jason Hunt

Rob Parker

Brian Creagh

Timmy Kennedy

Daniel Kelley

Jack Cecil

Nick Doran

Alex Kantecki

Timothy Finnegan

We feel that providing you our consensus position rankings, you get an average ranking from the Fake Teams writers, rather than one writers' opinion, which inherently includes some biases. You will see some players ranked higher by one Fake Teams writer than the others, so this helps the reader see both sides of the argument for/against a certain player who might be getting too much love this offseason.

Each of the position rankings will be split into two parts, rankings and player profiles for catchers ranked 1 - 15 in part 1, and rankings and player profiles for catchers ranked 16 - 30 in part 2 to be published on Wednesday morning. Consensus rankings should bring about discussion amongst you, our readers, and the Fake Teams writers who participated in this series.

The catcher position is beginning to look a little different as a few of the former top ranked catchers have lost position eligibility in 2014, namely Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana. Both are limited to first base and DH duties for the most part, with Santana playing some third base in 2014 as well. There has been talk in the media of the Giants moving catcher Buster Posey off the catcher position, moving him to either first base or third base on a full time basis. The Brewers and Yankees have used Jonathan Lucroy and Brian McCann at first base and DH as well, in an effort to keep their bats in the lineup and to keep them fresh during the long 162 game season. The Rockies are looking to trade Wilin Rosario to an American League team as he has been pretty bad defensively behind the dish. The Royals will also try to get catcher Salvador Perez some at bats at first base and DH in 2015 after Perez caught a league high 150 games in 2014.

Consensus Fantasy Catcher Rankings for 2015

Rank Player Team Ranking Points Ray Jason Rob Brian Timmy Daniel Jack Alex Nick Timothy
1 Buster Posey SFG 300 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Jonathan Lucroy MIL 288 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3
3 Devin Mesoraco CIN 271 2 3 5 4 5 5 4 5 4 2
4 Yan Gomes CLE 254 4 5 9 5 6 3 8 4 6 6
5 Salvador Perez KCR 253 7 6 4 3 7 7 5 6 5 7
6 Brian McCann NYY 246 5 4 3 6 13 4 6 8 7 8
7 Yadier Molina STL 240 9 7 8 12 3 6 3 7 3 12
8 Evan Gattis HOU 225 11 9 7 7 18 9 7 3 9 5
9 Russell Martin TOR 211 8 8 11 11 4 13 10 12 11 11
10 Matt Wieters BAL 208 15 12 12 9 9 8 9 11 8 9
11 Yasmani Grandal LAD 188 10 10 22 10 9 10 11 14 16 10
12 Travis d'Arnaud NYM 185 13 13 10 8 29 14 12 9 13 4
13 Wilson Ramos WSN 181 6 18 14 14 12 17 13 10 12 13
14 Miguel Montero CHC 168 12 16 13 17 19 11 15 15 10 14
15 Wilin Rosario COL 160 16 11 6 13 24 20 14 13 17 16

Rankings are calculated by assigning 30 points to the top ranked player on each list, 29 to the second ranked player, and so on.

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# 1. Buster Posey (SFG)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.311 72 22 89 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
605 0.364 0.49 7.77% 11.40%

We ranked Posey as our #1 ranked fantasy catcher for 2014, and he ends up in the top spot once again. Heading into the 2014 season,  I had concerns about his drop in power in the second half of the 2013 season. Well, he showed us that his power is back and he is still a legitimate MVP candidate year in and year out. In 2014, Posey hit .311-.364-.490, with 22 HRs, 72 runs scored and 89 RBI in 147 games played. He has played at least 147 games in each of the last three seasons, mainly due to the fact that manger Bruce Bochy is smart and uses him at first base occasionally. Well, a little more than occasionally, as he played more than 20 games at first in 2014,  so he is eligible at first base as well, but he has more value as a catcher than as a first baseman. He actually started 33 games at first base this season, hitting .347 with 4 home runs and 19 RBI. He hits well when playing catcher as well, hitting .304 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI.

Heading into the 2015 season, I see Posey hitting .300 or higher, with 20-25 home runs with 80-85 RBI, assuming good health.

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# 2. Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)

Photo Credit: Lance Iversen - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.301 73 13 69 4
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
655 0.373 0.465 10.08% 10.84%

Lucroy was the most valuable catcher in baseball in 2014 according to FanGraphs, as he put up an MVP-worthy 6.3 fWAR up from 3.5 in 2013. Lucroy is easily a top 5 fantasy catcher heading into 2015 after hitting .301-.373-.465 with 13 home runs, 73 runs scored and 69 RBI in 2014. His 73 runs scored rank first among fantasy catchers, while his 69 RBI rank sixth and his .301 batting average ranks second behind Buster Posey.

I am not sure if he will ever hit 20 home runs, but his 53 doubles led all MLB hitters last season, so he has power, and some of those doubles could turn into home runs with a slight change in approach. His HR/FB% dropped to 7.1% in 2014, down from more than 10% in each of his first three seasons, so a bump in his HR/FB% coinciding with a bump in fly balls, and we could see him approach 20 bombs in 2015.

For 2015, I project Lucroy to hit .290 with 19 home runs, 75 runs scored and 80 RBI.

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# 3. Devin Mesoraco (CIN)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.273 54 25 80 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
440 0.359 0.534 9.32% 23.41%

This is what happens when Dusty Baker leaves a team and a young hitter who saw little time with Baker at the helm finally gets to play every day. Mesoraco had a terrific breakout season in 2014, hitting .273-.359-.534 with 25 home runs, 54 runs scored and 80 RBI in just 114 games behind the plate. It isn't inconceivable to think that Mesoraco could duplicate his 2014 performance in 2015, with a slight chance to improve upon those numbers as well. One can argue that he should be the # fantasy catcher heading into the 2015 season, but the fact that he has produced for just one year, and Posey has been consistent when healthy, pushes him down our rankings. It would not surprise me at all to see Mesoraco atop our catcher rankings for 2016.

Here is a look at how Mesoraco's stats compared to Posey's in 2014:

Posey: .311-.364-.490, 22 HRs, 72 runs, 89 RBI, 147 games

Mesoraco: .273-.359-.534, 25 HRs, 54 runs, 80 RBI, 114 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 18 runs scored and 9 RBI behind Posey. Mesoraco led all fantasy catchers in home runs in 2014, and hits in the middle of the Reds lineup, a lineup that could improve in 2015 should first baseman Joey Votto be 100% healthy and Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce improve upon their disappointing 2014 seasons.

For 2015, I project Mesoraco to hit .280 with 22-27 home runs and 85 RBI.

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# 4. Yan Gomes (CLE)

Photo Credit: Jake Roth - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.278 61 21 74 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
518 0.313 0.472 4.63% 23.17%

We ranked Indians catcher Yan Gomes as our 18th ranked fantasy catcher heading into last season, and nobody could have forecasted the breakout from Gomes in 2014. Like Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, Gomes put up 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 last season.

Gomes took over the catcher position for the Indians in 2014, and looks to have a firm grip on the role in 2015 as well, especially with Carlos Santana playing just 11 games at catcher in 2014, losing eligibility there. Gomes is a high BABIP hitter, who hit a high percentage of line drives in 2014, so we could see his BABIP and batting average drop a bit in 2015. With that said, he hits for enough power to be a very productive fantasy catcher. He ranked in the top six at the position in home runs, RBI and batting average in 2014 and I could see him ending up in the same range in 2015.

For 2015, I project Gomes to hit .265-.270 with 15-20 home runs and 70 RBI in what could be a more productive Indians lineup.

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# 5. Salvador Perez (KCR)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.260 57 17 70 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
606 0.289 0.403 3.63% 14.03%

As stated previously, Perez caught a league high 150 games in 2014, so I expect the Royals will rest him more in 2015, and use him at first base and DH, which is a good thing. In 2014, Perez hit .260-.289-.403 with 17 home runs, 57 runs scored and 70 RBI. He doesn't walk much, nor does he strike out much, and is a solid contact hitter.

Is there more power in his bat? Maybe. Despite hitting in a pitchers park, he hit 8 of his 17 home runs at home and saw his batted ball profile change toward more of a fly ball hitter. Perez hit almost 40% of his batted balls in the air, up from 33% in 2013, so an improvement in his hard hit balls could result in a 20 home run season from Perez in 2015.

I project Perez to hit .270 with 20 home runs and 75 RBI in 2015, as he should see less time behind the plate and more time at first base and DH.

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# 6. Brian McCann (NYY)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.232 57 23 75 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
538 0.286 0.406 5.95% 14.31%

McCann had a bit of a disappointing season in his first year in pinstripes, as he hit for a low average, but still put up solid home run and RBI totals. McCann put up his seventh straight 20+ home run season and eighth in his last nine seasons, hitting .232-.286-.406 with 23 home runs, 57 runs scored and 75 RBI. His 23 home runs ranked second among all fantasy catchers, while his 75 RBI ranked third, so despite his low batting average, he provided solid value at the position.

McCann will never be mistaken for a high batting average hitter, but he possesses some of the best power at the position, and now that he has one year of American League experience under his belt, we could see a few more home runs leave the ball park in 2015, as Yankee Stadium and its short right field suits him perfectly.

I project McCann to hit .240 with 28 home runs, 60 runs scored and 80 RBI in 2015. Like a few catchers ranked above him, McCann provides position flexibility, as he caught "just" 108 games, while using the first baseman's mitt 16 times and DH'ing 14 times in 2014. Playing first base and DH allows McCann to rest from the rigors of the catcher position, and keeps his bat in the lineup.

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# 7. Yadier Molina (STL)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.282 40 7 38 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
445 0.333 0.386 6.29% 12.36%

Molina endured the worst year of his career, hitting .282-.333-.386 with 7 home runs, 40 runs scored and 35 RBI in 445 plate appearances He saw his power drop to his lowest levels since 2010, as his slugging percentage (SLG) dropped to .386 and his isolated power (ISO) dropped to .104. The oblique injury that sidelined him could be the explanation, but at some point, maybe real soon, we will see the beginning of his decline, if it hasn't started already.

Catchers usually experience a decline in performance earlier than other position players due to the minors injuries they experience that eventually affect their performance at the plate.

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# 8. Evan Gattis (HOU)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.263 41 22 52 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
401 0.317 0.493 5.49% 24.19%

Gattis had been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, but new GM John Hart took his time before sending him to the Astros for three prospects. Gattis is coming off his second consecutive 20+ home run season, hitting them in under 401 plate appearances. So, yeah, the power is real. The problem is that he isn't that good behind the plate, or in left field, although that may be less of a problem now that he is in the American League and can be used as a DH.

Gattis has solid value as a fantasy catcher, and besides Brian McCann and Devin Mesoraco, he is the only fantasy catcher that could approach 30 bombs in 2015.

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# 9. Russell Martin (TOR)

Photo Credit: Derick Hingle - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.290 45 11 67 4
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
460 0.402 0.430 12.83% 16.96%

Martin changes leagues again, leaving the pitcher-friendly ball park in Pittsburgh to the hitter-friendly park in Toronto. Martin took advantage of a solid 2014 campaign by signing a 5 year, $82 million contract with the Blue Jays earlier in the offseason. Last season, Martin hit .290-.402-.430 with 11 home runs, 45 runs scored and 67 RBI in 111 games.

We could see a bump in his power in 2015 with the move to the Rogers Centre. Three seasons ago, Martin hit 18 home runs with the Yankees, and followed that up with a 21 home run season in 2012, so we should see him hit 15-18 home runs in 2015. That may come at the expense of his on base percentage, but fantasy owners will take that, assuming they play in leagues that use batting average as a category rather than on base percentage.

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# 10. Matt Wieters (BAL)

Photo Credit: Derick Hingle - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.308 13 5 18 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
112 0.339 0.500 5.36% 16.96%

Wieters attempted to play through a torn ligament in his right elbow before deciding to have Tommy John surgery that limited him to just 26 games in 2014. Prior to the surgery, Wieters was hitting .308-.339-.500 with 5 home runs, 13 runs scored and 18 RBI in just 112 plate appearances.

How he returns from the surgery is anyone's guess, as he is the first catcher to have Tommy John surgery that I can remember. I assume he will be fine behind the plate in 2015, but the question for fantasy owners is how he will hit upon his return. I doubt we see him turning into the .300 hitter he was in the small sample size of games in 2014, but a .250 hitter with 20 home runs and 70 RBI is valuable at the catcher position.

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# 11. Yasmani Grandal (LAD)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.225 47 15 49 3
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
443 0.327 0.401 13.09% 25.96%

Grandal leaves San Diego and the pitcher-friendly Petco Park for a slightly less pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, as he was the main piece, from the Dodgers' perspective, in the deal that sent Matt Kemp packing to the Padres. Grandal is coming off a 2014 season where he hit just .225-.327-.401 with 15 home runs, 47 runs scored and 49 RBI in 443 plate appearances. Grandal saw his strikeout rate rise to 26.0% and his walk rate drop from 16.7% to 13.1%, which is still very good.Among major league hitters with 400 or more plate appearances, his 13.1% walk rate ranked 13th in the game, and third among fantasy catchers.

Grandal became more of a fly ball hitter last year, as his fly ball rate increased from 28.2% to 38.1%, and more of those fly balls landed in the stands as his HR/FB% improved from 5.0% to 10.8%. The move to Los Angeles should result in a few more home runs for Grandal in 2015, assuming he can stay healthy.

His ability to hit for power and take a walk improves his value in OBP leagues. I see him hitting around .250 with 15-18 home runs and 55-60 RBI in 2015, with a chance to reach to 20 home run level.

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# 12. Travis d'Arnaud (NYM)

Photo Credit: Brad Barr - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.242 48 13 41 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
421 0.302 0.416 7.60% 15.20%

d'Arnaud is another young catcher whose stock is rising heading into the 2015 season. He is coming off his first season of full time duty behind the plate, hitting .242-.302-.416 with 13 home runs, 48 runs scored and 41 RBI in 421 plate appearances. His power is his calling card, as he has the power to be among the top 5 home run hitters among all fantasy catchers. The soon-to-be 26 year old has had difficulty staying healthy in his professional career, so he brings some injury risk on draft day.

Assuming he stays healthy, he should reach the 500 plate appearance level this season, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him approach 20 home runs. His batted ball profiles shows that he is a fly ball hitter, so he would need a slight rise in his HR/FB% to reach the 20 home run level this season.

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# 13. Wilson Ramos (WSN)

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.267 32 11 47 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
361 0.299 0.399 4.71% 15.79%

Ramos is one catcher who has produced when healthy, but hasn't been able to stay healthy since being promoted from the minors back in 2011. Since his call up, he has played 111, 25, 88 and 78 games over the last four seasons. Over his last two seasons, covering 166 games, Ramos has hit 27 home runs and driven in 106 runs, so you can see what he could do in a full season. No catcher plays 162 games, but if Ramos could play 130 games, he could be one of the better fantasy catchers in the game.

The downside of Ramos' game is that he hits a ton of ground balls and very few fly balls, relying on his ability to hit some of those fly balls over the wall. His HR/FB% dropped to 16.7% last season, down from over 27% in 2013. A 27% HR/FB% is not easily repeatable, unless your name is Giancarlo Stanton, and Ramos does not have Stanton's power.

I see Ramos approaching 20 home runs and 70 RBI in a full season of at bats in 2015.

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# 14. Miguel Montero (CHC)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.243 40 13 72 0
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
560 0.329 0.370 10.00% 17.32%

Montero was recently traded to the Cubs and will serve as the Cubs starting catcher for the next three seasons. Montero is coming off a decent 2014 season where he hit just .243-.329-.370 with 13 home runs, 40 runs scored and 72 RBI in 560 plate appearances.

Over the last three seasons, Montero has hit more ground balls, less fly balls and has seen his HR/FB% drop as well, so the drop in power could be here to stay. Montero won't offer the .280+ batting average going forward, but he will put up low double digit home runs and 60-65 RBI.

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# 15. Wilin Rosario (COL)

Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports
2014 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.267 46 13 54 1
2014 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
410 0.305 0.435 5.61% 17.07%

Like Gattis above, Rosario has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, as he isn't a very good defensive catcher. After two straight 20+ home run seasons, Rosario saw his home run total and slugging percentage drop, hitting .267-.305-.435 with 13 home runs, 46 runs scored and 54 RBI in 410 plate appearances. He did improve his plate discipline, improving his walk rate and strikeout rate.

Why did his power drop in 2014? One look at his batted ball data, once can see he hit a ton more ground balls, an increase from 41% to 50%, and a drop in fly ball rate from 36% to 31%. Like most other Rockies hitters, Rosario hit much better at home than on the road last season, but his career splits indicate that could be a one year aberration.


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