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2015 Catcher Draft Strategy

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Does it make sense to splurge on a high-end catcher in fantasy drafts?

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Mike Napoli caught 72 games in 2012, then zero in 2013 and 2014.

Joe Mauer caught 75 in 2013, zero in 2014. Carlos Santana caught 84 in 2013, 11 last year.

Evan Gattis caught 93 last year, but doesn't look to have a line on a catcher role in 2015. Victor Martinez, 110 in 2010, 26 in 2011, torn ACL in 2012, and five games total the last two years.

If there's one thing we know about fantasy catchers, it's that they have a short shelf life. The Yadier Molina types of the world aside, guys who are good catchers don't stay catchers unless all their value is tied up in their glove, and the guys whose value is tied into their glove ... well, we don't really care about them.

From a dynasty league perspective, the takeaway from that message is obvious - catchers are risky, not worth a big price, because who knows how long they'll actually be catchers. But there's a single-season takeaway as well, and that's built into the reason why these guys keep moving on. A first baseman can play 162 games. An outfielder can. We know dang sure a shortstop can. A catcher, though? They can't, really, and the ones that get close see their numbers fall off a cliff.

Take Salvador Perez. Dude played 150 games last year. Through the end of June, he was hitting .287/.334/.455, and was one of the game's better catchers. The rest of the way, he got to rest all of three games, and he hit only .234/.244/.355 in that time, then had a .207/.233/.276 line in the postseason. Catchers need off days, more than any other position. As such, to provide the same value as the guys at other positions, catchers have to put up even better numbers ... and we all know they don't do that.

The last four years, only seven catchers have played 100-plus games each year, including pinch-hit appearances and games not at catcher. Of those, one - A.J. Pierzynski - is not even close to this year's fantasy radar, while three others - Alex Avila, Miguel Montero, Jarrod Saltalamacchia - are take-em-or-leave-em types. Only Russell Martin, Brian McCann and Yadier Molina have played 100 games a year for four years and offer real, tangible fantasy value.

The takeaway, then? Like I write every year about fantasy defenses in football, wait. Wait and wait and wait. Let someone else take Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy this year. You take, I don't know, Freddie Freeman or Todd Frazier there, get guys who play 162 or close. Take the guys who play all the time. Later, draft Evan Gattis. Or Travis d'Arnaud. Heck, maybe Matt Wieters bounces back, or Wilson Ramos can stay healthy. Grab a couple of guys super-later.

The guy who has Posey will beat you at catcher. But he'll have to settle for, I don't know, Brandon Phillips at second base or David Freese at third. And then he'll lose Posey for every day-game-after-a-night-game, for every sixth-game-in-six-days, for the inevitable week off.

He'll win the battle. You'll win the war.