Brian Creagh opened Catcher week here at Fake Teams with the landscape of the position for fantasy purposesearlier this morning. Today we bring you our consensus fantasy catcher rankings for 2016. 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 are the following:
We feel that by providing you our consensus position rankings, you get an average ranking from the Fake Teams writers, rather than one writers' opinion, which inherently may include some bias. 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 catcher ranked 1 - 15 in part 1, and rankings and player profiles for catchers ranked 16 - 30 in part 2 to be published on Tuesday morning. Consensus rankings should bring about discussion amongst you, our readers, and the Fake Teams writers who participated in this series.
Fantasy Catcher Rankings for 2016: 1 - 15
1. Buster Posey, Giants (Last Year: 1)
Posey proved that he is the most consistent fantasy catcher in the game once again, hitting .318-.379-.470 with 19 home runs, 74 runs scored and 95 RBI in 150 games and 623 plate appearances. The 150 games was a career high, and he has played 147 games or more in each of the last four seasons, as manager Bruce Bochy does a great job keeping him fresh playing him at first base and DH throughout the season. He caught just 106 games last season, playing first base a total of 42 times, so it appears Bochy is using him at first base more and more.
His splits indicate he can hit right handers and left handers, hit at home and on the road, hit in April, May, June, July ....well, you get the picture. He can hit and he walked more than he struck out for the first time last season. His power is topped out at around 18-23, but a move to first base on a full time basis could change that.
2. Kyle Schwarber, Cubs (LY: NR)
Schwarber surprised many with his power output in his 69 games this season. He hit .246-.355-.487 with 16 home runs, 52 runs scored, 43 RBI in just 273 plate appearances, and led all catchers with 200 or more plate appearances in slugging percentage and isolated power (ISO). Like most power hitters, the elite power comes with plenty of swing and miss, as he struck out in 28% of his plate appearances this season. He struggles mightily vs left handers and hits better at home than on the road (no surprise there). Schwarber mainly played left field for the Cubs last season, but he did catch 20 games, so he is catcher eligible in all leagues in 2016, increasing his fantasy value. He has a 30 home run bat, but I am not ready to predict him to reach the 30 home run club just yet.
3. Brian McCann, Yankees (LY: 6)
Like Posey, McCann saw time at first base and DH in 2015, and while the batting average was low (.235), he hit 26 home runs, scored 68 runs and drove in 94, setting or matching career highs in each of those categories. His hard hit rate stayed relatively the same this season, but he took advantage of the short porch at Yankee Stadium, hitting more fly balls (47%) than ever, with just under 15% of them landing in the seats. With Mark Teixeira healthy and young power hitter Greg Bird ready to play every day, McCann may see fewer opportunities to play first base in 2016, which could result in fewer at bats as well.
4. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers (LY: 2)
Lucroy is coming off an injury-riddled season but still owns one of the better bats at the position, and he plays in a hitter-friendly environment in Milwaukee. He missed 59 games last season, hitting a respectable .264-.326-.391 with 7 home runs, 51 runs scored and 43 RBI in 415 plate appearances. Lucroy hit more line drives than ever last season, and 85% of his batted balls were of the medium or hard hit variety, so I expect a bounce back season from him, assuming he is 100% healthy.
5. Salvador Perez, Royals (LY: 5)
Perez has been one of the more consistent fantasy catchers over the last three seasons, as detailed below:
2013: .292-.323-.433, 13 HRs, 48 runs, 79 RBI
2014: .260-.289-.403, 17 HRs, 57 runs, 70 RBI
2015: .260-.280-.426, 20 HRs, 52 runs, 70 RBI
He doesn't strike out too much and hates to walk, but does provide solid production in four of the five fantasy categories. He doesn't turn 26 years of age until May, so there could be another bump in the power categories within the next few seasons.
6. Russell Martin, Blue Jays (LY: 9)
Unsurprisingly, Martin has his best power season since 2007 this season, hitting .240-.329-.458 with 23 home runs, 76 runs scored, 77 RBI and 4 stolen bases. Among all catchers, he ranked in the top 3 run home runs, runs scored and RBI, and barring injury, could repeat that performance in 2016. That said, expecting a 33 year old catcher to repeat his career power year might be asking a bit too much. That and his 20.7% HR/FB% was the highest of his career. He hit for about the same power and batting average at home and on the road, and his first and second half splits were fairly similar.
7. Travis d'Arnaud, Mets (LY: 12)
Like Mesoraco and Lucroy, d'Arnaud endured an injury-filled season, playing in just 67 games this season. When, healthy, he was very productive, hitting .268-.340-.485 with 12 home runs, 31 runs scored and 41 RBI in just 268 plate appearances. Extrapolate that production over a full season of plate appearances, and you have a top 2-3 catcher. Over his first two seasons in the big leagues, he has hit 25 home runs and driven in 82 runs in just under 700 plate appearances, so he is an excellent fantasy catcher when healthy. He comes with risk on draft day, but the reward will be worth it.
8. Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers (LY: 11)
Grandal dealt with a shoulder injury for the better part of the second half of the season, so I wouldn't put much into his second half stats, which saw him hit just .162-.280-.218 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI in 169 plate appearances. His first half performance - .282-.401-.526 with 14 home runs and 36 RBI is more indicative of the kind of production to expect from him in 2016, especially since he had his shoulder repaired in the offseason. He has the potential to be a 20-25 home run bat in 2016 and beyond.
9. Devin Mesoraco, Reds (LY: 3)
Mesoraco missed most of the season due to the hip injury which eventually needed surgery, How he returns from the hip surgery remains to be seen. He is a year removed from his fabulous 25 home run, 80 RBI season, and I think he can repeat that in 2016, but that comes with plenty of risk. Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had hip surgery in 2014 and was not the same hitter in 2015. I am not sure if the surgery had anything to do with his down year, but it is something to be aware of when drafting Mesoraco in 2016.
10. Stephen Vogt, Athletics (LY: NR)
When trying to project how a hitter will fare in a full season of plate appearances, the lazy method is to just multiply the hitter's previous season stats by two. Most of the time, that doesn't work out too well, but for Vogt, it pretty much did. In 2014, Vogt hit .279-.321-.431 with 9 home runs, 26 runs scored and 35 RBI in 287 plate appearances. In 2015, he hit .261-.341-.44 with 18 home runs, 58 runs scored and 71 RBI in 511 plate appearances. The problem with Vogt is that he is 31 years of age and we don't know if his 2015 season was a career year or something we can count on going forward. With catchers, it is always safer to choose the former than the latter.
11. Matt Wieters, Orioles (LY: 10)
Wieters is more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery and is coming off a season where he hit .267-.319-.422 with 8 home runs, 24 runs scored and 25 RBI in 282 plate appearances. He is a free agent this offseason and where he signs will help to determine his fantasy value come draft day 2016. He is now three years removed from his last 20 home run season and turns 30 a few days before Memorial Day 2016, so the risk with drafting Wieters is paying for what he once was and him hitting .240 with 11 home runs in 2016.
12. Yan Gomes, Indians (LY: 4)
Coming off a season where he hit .278 with 21 home runs, 61 runs scored and 74 RBI, much was expected from Gomes, and he is just another example of why spending on catchers can be a fool's game at times. Gomes was a disappointment in 2015, hitting .231-.267-.391 with 12 home runs, 38 runs scored and 45 RBI in 389 plate appearances. Now, he missed about six weeks due to an MCL sprain in his right knee, so that could explain his disappointing production but he hit just .241 in the second half of the season and never hit higher than .264 in any month of the season.
13. Nick Hundley, Rockies (LY: NR)
Piece of advice here. Just buy any catcher that calls Coors Field home 81 times per season. Nick Hundley hit higher than .249 just once in his career before 2015 when he hit .301-.339-.467 with 10 home runs, 45 runs scored, 43 RBI and 5 stolen bases. I am not sure how much playing time Hundley will get in Colorado with the team in rebuild and looking to shed salary. The guy you might want to own is the power hitting catcher Tom Murphy, who should be available late in drafts.
14. Derek Norris, Padres (LY: 16)
Norris quietly had a solid season at the plate, despite playing half of his games in Petco Park. Norris hit .250-.304-.505 with 14 home runs, 65 runs scored and 62 RBI, all career bests. He even contributed 4 stolen bases, not bad for a catcher.
The Padres may or may not look to rebuild this offseason, so whether or not Norris is their starter at catcher in 2016 remains to be seen. That and the fact that they picked up former Braves' catcher Christian Bethancourt, they may look to deal Norris, which would enhance his fantasy value on draft day in 2016 as long as he is playing every day. Norris is developing a reputation for being a bad catcher, as most Padres starters put up disappointing stat lines in 2015.
15. Welington Castillo, Diamondbacks (LY: NR)
When the top 10 catchers are off the board and you are looking for power from the catcher spot on your roster, Castillo is not a bad option. Last season, Castillo hit .237-.296-.453 with 19 home runs, 42 run scored, and 57 RBI in 378 plate appearances. But after his trade to Arizona, Castillo hit .255-.317-.496 with 17 home runs and 50 RBI in just over 300 plate appearances, so he is a 20+ home run bat if he can get regular at bats once again in Arizona.
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