Ahh the catcher. The most overlooked position in a fantasy baseball draft.
I liken the position of catcher in fantasy baseball to that of tight end in fantasy football. You have to start one, and many owners wonder when to take and fill that position.
I’m no expert, but I hope to impart a few bits of knowledge that may help you during your live or auction draft. I was recently in a CC draft. Not CC Sabathia, but CC as in you need to start two catchers. That clearly altered my normal draft strategy as it relates to catchers. Here, I will focus on a strategy in a 10 or 12 team leagues that only require one catcher.
First, the statistical categories that most leagues track for batters are: runs scored, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, and batting averages. If your league is more in-depth, you may have on base percentage or slugging percentage calculated. For the sake of argument, let’s focus on the five main categories.
First, you can throw out the category of stolen bases for catchers. The leading catcher in that category will most likely not even reach double digits. We are down to four categories. The next category you can pretty much eliminate for catchers is runs scored. For the most part, the top catcher will score between 70-75 runs, with the next 15-20 catchers scoring 10-15 fewer runs. There isnt a lot of variation there. That leaves us with three categories. The remaining categories are what you need to focus on.
Look at batting average, home runs, and RBI together. These are the categories in which your catchers will either help or hurt you (in the case of batting average). If the rest of your roto team or weekly head to head team has a few starters that are projected to have low batting averages, you may want to focus more on catchers that will hit for a high average (ie. Posey, Yadier Molina, Lucroy, Gomes) and avoid others with low projected averages (ie. Zunino, Grandal, Saltalamacchia, Avila, and Iannetta).
With that out-of-the-way, you can focus on the projected stats in the home run and RBI categories. An easy way to add projected stats in the two categories is to multiply the projected number of home runs by 4 and add it to the RBI projection. For example, lets say you are comparing Brian McCann vs. Wilin Rosario. Who should be rated higher? Lets say for the sake of argument that both catchers are projected to hit for the same batting average. Lets also say that McCann is projected to hit 24 homers and drive in 79, while Rosario is projected to hit 21 homers and drive in 70 runs. If you use the formula McCann would have a total of 175 (24×4 + 79) and Rosario would have a total of 154 (21×4 + 70). So by the projections McCann should be rated a bit higher.
However you also need to put your own tastes into consideration when ranking catchers, or any other position for that matter. You have to know that most active owners are looking at the same or similar projections as you, both statistically and average draft position. So in the above example, lets say that McCann is projected to go 5 rounds before Rosario and you have a gut feeling that Rosario will have a better year than McCann. You could pass earlier on McCann and wait a few more rounds to pick up Rosario.
Again there are a couple of draft strategies to take with catchers. And again I liken it to drafting tight ends in fantasy football. First, everyone has to start a catcher. So having a catcher like Buster Posey (Gronk in the tight end category) will give you an advantage over every other team. The question is, what other position or positions are you willing to sacrifice to take him? So the first draft strategy is you draft one of the top three catchers of Posey, Lucroy, or Mesoraco. Posey is projected to go between the middle and end of round 2 in most 12 team drafts, and the beginning of the 3rd round in 10 team leagues. Lucroy is projected to go in the 5th-6th round and Mesoraco is projected to be drafted in the 7th-8th round. Done and done, now focus on other positions.
The next draft strategy is to pass on those top 3, while addressing other positions you feel more strongly about. You could then draft one of the next tier of catchers around round 9-10 in 12-team leagues, and around rounds 10-11 in a 10-team league. The next tier of catchers includes Evan Gattis, Salvador Perez, Yan Gomes, or Yadier Molina (one of my personal favorite catcher picks this season).
The final draft strategy for catchers is to wait until nearly all other teams have drafted their catcher. At that point, you could probably wait as long as youd like, because most teams will not draft a second catcher. Lets say even with this strategy you dont wait until the last or next to last to get your catcher. There are still a lot of late round catchers worth drafting say at or around rounds 12-15. Those would include in no real particular order (in my opinion), Brian McCann, Wilin Rosario, Russell Martin, or Matt Wieters.
So those are the three main draft strategies in regards to catchers. My best advice would be to identify which of these three strategies you are leaning towards and stick with it. Granted the way your draft unfolds could change your draft strategy on catchers. Keep in mind, if theres a player you feel strongly about (at any position for that matter), dont wait too long to draft him. And as always have fun during the draft, dont take yourself too seriously, and enjoy it.
Good luck to all this year, and I hope at least some of what I said is helpful.
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Best of luck!
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