When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and yesterday, Daniel Kelley offered his thoughts on how to approach catchers on draft day. We have also provided you with our Top 30 catcher rankings for 2015:
Now that we have provided you all these tools you need to prepare for your drafts, your fantasy draft preparation would be incomplete without some catchers to target, which we provide you today, and some catchers to avoid, which publishes tomorrow.
We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the catcher they would target in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below.
Catchers to Target in 2015
Devin Mesoraco, Reds - Timothy Finnegan
I'm targeting Devin Mesoraco in all of my drafts. His hard hit rate was 5th best in baseball last season (tied with Miguel Cabrera) and he plays half of his games in one of the most hitter friendly ballparks in the game. I think he'll finish somewhere around 28 HR and 95 RBI, with an outside chance for more. He's a beast. Readers can view a more detailed write up of why I love Mesoraco in the catcher profile section, set to be published on Friday, January 30. If you can't get Mesoraco, the next guy on the list for me is Travis d'Arnaud. d'Arnaud changed his process at the plate after his demotion to AAA in June of 2014 and put up the following stats afterwards: 275 PA, .272/.319/.486 (.805 OPS), 10 HR, 128 wRC+. His walk rate is a little lower than you would like, but he doesn't strike out much and he hits the ball hard quite often. I think d'Arnaud will hit 20 HR with a solid batting average and respectable RBI totals, and chances are he'll be undervalued in your draft based on his poor start last season.
Wilson Ramos, Nationals - Ray Guilfoyle
In the last two seasons, Ramos has played a total of 166 games, hitting .267 or better, with 27 home runs, 61 runs scored and 106 RBI. Ramos has been productive when healthy, but that is the problem. He can't stay healthy. Will we ever see him play 120-130 games? All he needs is some good health, and we could see him hit .260 or higher, with 20 home runs and 70 RBI.
How many catchers put up a 20 home run, 70 RBI season in 2014? Just three - Buster Posey, Brian McCann and Yan Gomes. The only concern I have with Ramos' home run projection is the fact that he didn't hit many fly balls last season (23%), but when he did, they landed in the seats 16.7% of the time. He will have to hit a few more fly balls to reach the 20 home run level.
Travis d'Arnaud, Mets - Brian Creagh
Travis d'Arnaud took another big step forward in his development last year and is ready to really breakout in 2015. I've said it before, but it's important to remember that catchers take longer to hit their stride offensively in the MLB. Game-calling and defensive demands of the position take priority as a Rookie and the offense tends to lag behind. The injury risk is still there, but that's already priced into his current value (188th picking according to fantasypros.com ADP) but Kevin Plawecki should be able to give d'Arnaud some consistent time off. If we get 120+ games from d'Arnaud, I think he's an easy Top 5 catcher with the 20+ HR potential and .270+ AVG potential. Currently going as the 14th catcher off the board, players like d'Arnaud are the reason we wait so long to pop a catcher in fantasy drafts. There's plenty of upside picks going outside the Top 12, and d'Arnaud is my favorite of the bunch.
Nick Hundley, Rockies - Daniel Kelley
In seven seasons so far, 560 games, Nick Hundley has 52 career homers, and that's with six and a half of those seasons coming in freakin' San Diego. He has some pop. Not a lot of pop, but he'll hit homers. Now, he's on the Rockies, and with Wilin Rosario a defensive liability along the lines of Kevin Love, Hundley's going to get the majority of the starts. He won't win you any leagues, but as a sleeper candidate, I would have no issue taking Hundley after everything else dries up.
Brian McCann, Yankees - Rob Parker
It is easy to forget that McCann hit 23 homers last year (one off his career high!) since his other stats were pretty bad. He had a very low BABIP of .231, leading to a .232 average. He did manage 75 RBI batting 5th in the Yankee lineup, though. I think the average and the low runs total cause people to think last year was the beginning of the end for him. Yes, he is hurt by the increase in shifts, since he is a dead pull hitter, but let's not forget why he was popular in drafts last year. He loves to pull the ball and he is left-handed. Yankee Stadium has this convenient little porch in right field that gobbles up fly balls down the line. He will only be 31 years old this season, so it's a little early to call him done. I don't expect a huge rebound in average due to his speed (slow) and the shifts he sees, but I do expect more 20+HR power with some upside for maybe 25 in that home park and that is pretty darn valuable at the catcher position. Also throw in the fact that he will DH quite a bit and you've got a high-at-bat slugging catcher in a good ballpark. If you are in an OBP league, you may not be as excited about him, as his walk rate will be average at best.
Yadier Molina, Cardinals - Jack Cecil
Yadier Molina is my catcher to target. After playing through an injury last year, his overall production was down. After averaging over 280 ft per home run and fly ball, he dropped below 270 last season. This caused his HR/FB ratio to drop to 7.4, the lowest its been since back in the dark prebeast Molina days. Now while I don't expect Molina to become some sort home run machine, I do expect him to be swinging harder next season, and getting more hits on line drives and grounders, driving up his average (and historically higher BABIP), and counting stats. Molina has a good batted ball profile, and hitting the ball harder will allow him to turn in a strong average next season. While Molina is also slow as a snail, he has managed to swipe a few per year due to being a great base runner, and I don't think that will change next season. Pair all of that with the fact that prior to last season Molina has been historically healthy player, and he's on a good team, so I believe a bounce back for Molina is in order.
Yan Gomes, Indians - Nick Doran
Gomes doesn't get much attention, but he quietly had a great season last year. Among all catchers he ranked 6th with 22 Home Runs, 3rd with 61 Runs, 4th with 71 RBI, and 3rd with a .278 Batting Average. At 27 years old he is in the prime of his career. He has locked up the every day catching job in Cleveland. By all accounts he is one of the best fantasy catchers in the league yet he can be obtained much more cheaply than the big names like Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy. Let someone else draft those guys while you get 90% of their production for half the price.
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