When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and on Wednesday, 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 earlier in the week:
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 avoid, which we provide you today, and some catchers to target, which published yesterday.
We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the catcher they would avoid in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below.
Catchers to Avoid in 2015
Russell Martin, Blue Jays - Timothy Finnegan
I'm avoiding Russell Martin. Martin was not among the top 50 players in hard hit rate despite a gigantic increase in BABIP. That signals to me that his increase in BABIP was probably more luck related. He's also going to be 32 years old. I don't think he'll be a bad player in 2015, but he'll probably be valued higher than he should based on his results in 2014.
Yadier Molina, Cardinals - Ray Guilfoyle
After playing 124 or more games in each of the last six seasons, Molina missed 52 games last season after having surgery to repair a ligament in his right thumb. When healthy, he hit .282-.333-.386 with 7 home runs, 40 runs scored and 38 RBI in 445 plate appearances. His .386 slugging percentage represented the lowest since 2010.
Last season, he hit more ground balls, and fewer fly balls, since his 2010 season. He HR/FB% dropped as well, so if the trend continues, the years of double digit home runs could come to an end. Plus, we don't know how he will return after his thumb surgery, and he isn't getting any younger.
Derek Norris, Padres - Brian Creagh
Another catcher going outside the Top 12 is new San Diego Padres catcher, Derek Norris. The move to San Diego hurts his value from a park factor perspective (Oakland is 96 for righties while San Diego had a 91 park factor last year) but it also hurts from a playing time standpoint. The job is Norris' for now, but after a full season in AA Austin Hedges is knocking on the door and will likely get a shot at the job sometime in 2015. Furthermore, Norris benefitted largely from a career-high .324 BABIP mark, which isn't likely to be repeated when considering is his career .302 total. The final cause for concern is how well Oakland utilitized Norris. His splits strongly favor facing left-handed pitchers, and with Stephen Vogt and John Jaso in Oakland, Derek Norris was able to be placed in optimal hitting positions. Now, the only other catcher on the roster is fellow righty, Tim Federowicz. Norris will be facing more right-handed pitching this year and his ratios could take a hit as a result.
Salvador Perez, Royals - Daniel Kelley
I noted this elsewhere, but through the end of June, Salvador Perez was hitting .287/.334/.455, and ranked as one of the league's best catchers. From that point forward, Ned Yost decided days off were fictional constructs. Perez missed only three games, hitting .233/.244/.355. He didn't get any better in the playoffs, and then he played in the Japan traveling series. The Royals have said Perez will get more days off in 2015, but I'm terrified of excess wear-and-tear, and I'm looking elsewhere.
Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers - Rob Parker
Yasmani is an intriguing sleeper on many lists this year, including Alex Kantecki's here at Fake Teams. There are lots of good reasons why he could breakout this year: former top prospect, power upside potential, full-time job, new ballpark that is not Petco, etc. I'm here to play Devil's Advocate and tell you why all this excitement might be premature. There are three primary reasons I have concerns: strikeouts, infield flies and health. Last season, Yasmani's strikeout rate went from 16.7% to 26%, partially driven by an increase in swinging strikes from 8 to 9.9%. The league average strikeout rate was 20% and for swinging strikes it was 9.4%. Thus, he is below average in both categories. He also had a significant increase in pop-ups last year, going from 5% to 10.8%. That really pulls down his batting average. Finally, he has two primary health issues to contend with. First, he tore both his MCL and ACL in 2013. He did stay mostly healthy for the 2014 season, but serious knee injuries can be trouble for long term stability, especially for catchers. Second, he was suspended in 2013 for PED use and we still don't know how someone coming off PEDs will perform long term. Those question marks will keep me from spending what it will cost to get this year's sleeper catcher.
Wilin Rosario, Rockies- Jack Cecil
Wilin Rosario is one of the most easily exploited players in baseball, I recently wrote an article about him and learned not only can he not hit righties, he's also a terrible offspeed hitter. In general if a lefty throws it to him straight, he'll murder it, everything else, is ugly. It may seem like an overly simplified explanation,but if you go on his brooks baseball page and start looking at how he does against righties, lefties, hard stuff, off speed, you see that he clearly is a dead red fastball hitter, and the league has figured him out. If you want to honor Pedro Cerrano in this years draft, take Rosario, they are one in the same.
Brian McCann, Yankees - Nick Doran
McCann has the big name that keeps him getting drafted early every year but he is a risky pick. He has a history of missing time due to injury most years. Once his strongest suit, his batting average fell off a cliff the last few years. He is getting older quickly, now 31 years old and rapidly approaching the time when catchers begin to fade. The Yankees don't have a strong lineup around him to help him generate Runs and RBI. I don't think he is worth his average draft position of 105 overall and the 7th catcher off the board.
If you are looking for more fantasy baseball rankings, and players to avoid, to get you ready for your fantasy baseball drafts, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, the one spot on the internet for all things fantasy.