The catcher position looks fairly top-heavy this year in fantasy baseball. You have a young group on their way up and a few prominent catchers that look to be transitioning to first base (Joe Mauer), so this may end up being their last season with catcher-eligibility.
My rankings are based on a standard 5×5 league. If you have any specific questions about a different league, email me BobbyMcrib@gmail.com.
1. Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants – Posey had a down year by his standard, but he’s still the #1 overall fantasy catcher. He gives you average, power and plenty at-bats to stack your roto categories.
2. Yadier Molina – St. Louis Cardinals – The once defensive-minded catcher has turned into one of the most consistent fantasy catchers in baseball. You know what you’ll get and he’s a safe pick.
3. Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins – This is most likely Mauer’s final year with catcher eligibility. He is slated to be Minnesota’s everyday first baseman. It is easier on his body and you could see a slight uptick in his production.
4. Brian McCann – New York Yankees – The Yankees signed McCann as part of their offseason spending spree. I’ve ranked him higher than most people because his offensive numbers will improve greatly at Yankees Stadium. The short porch in right field will be his best friend.
5. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians – Santana is in the same boat as Mauer. This could be his final year with catcher eligibility. He will be Cleveland’s starting first baseman and could even be the year he cracks 30 homers.
6. Matt Wieters – Baltimore Orioles – I’ve been on the Matt Wieters bandwagon since he was called up a handful of years ago. There has been times when I was the only member. His power has been consistent, but has struggled with batting for average and driving in runs. I expect he will finally put it all together and play at an All-Star level this season.
7. Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals – Perez is one of my favorite catchers. I’ve owned him since he was called up and has helped in home runs and batting average, which can be difficult to find in a catcher. I love Perez and he is a solid #1 fantasy catcher.
8. Wilin Rosario – Colorado Rockies – Rosario had a breakout season last year. I expect a slight regression due to his above average BABIP last season. I still expect 20+ homers, but his 2013 batting average of .293 will take a hit.
9. Jonathan Lucroy – Milwaukee Brewers – I’m lower on Lucroy than most people. I still think he’s a #1 catcher, but there isn’t any upside. He’s a consistent player, but guys like Perez and Wieters could really out-perform their projected fantasy numbers. Lucroy will hit 15-ish homers and bat around .280. He’s a safe and consistent pick.
10. Wilson Ramos – Washington Nationals – Due to injury, Ramos only had 287 at-bats last season, but still managed to hit 16 homers and bat .272. I expect great things from him this season. If he gets near 500 at-bats, I expect him to hit 23+ homers and still bat for average. Washington’s lineup will be fun to watch.
11. Jason Castro – Houston Astros – I love good hitters on bad teams (the opposite of my hate of good pitchers on bad teams). Castro may not get a ton of RBI, but his power and batting average will help you. You may even be able to snag him a few rounds later than projected. Players often shy away from good players on bad teams…they’re not ‘sexy’.
12. Miguel Montero – Arizona Diamondbacks – Montero dealt with back issues last season and his numbers took a hit. He should bounce back to his 2012 form and hit 15+ homers with a batting average around .270 (much better than last season’s .230)
13. Evan Gattis – Atlanta Braves – If Gattis played as a DH in the American League, it would be scary. Unfortunately, he has to play somewhere in the field and he still needs to improve with his glove. McCann is no longer in Atlanta, but Ryan Doumit and Gerald Laird will both see some time at catcher. It remains to be seen how big of a split it will be. Gattis can play some left field, but his work in the outfield isn’t pretty.
14. Yan Gomes – Cleveland Indians – With Santana now at first base, Gomes will be the everyday catcher in Cleveland. He surprised everyone with his consistent production last season. He hasn’t had a full load in any season in the minors, so a second-half regression could take place. If he had a proven track record of playing 130 games behind the plate, he could have cracked my top 10.
15. Russell Martin – Pittsburgh Pirates – Martin’s production took a hit after he left Yankee Stadium. He also admitted that he was battling injuries all last season, so maybe his batting average will bounce back up to .250+. I think there is a chance of that happening, so I jumped him up a couple spots.
16. A.J. Pierzynski – Boston Red Sox – How many years has Pierzynski been a productive fantasy catcher? I’ve been playing fantasy baseball forever and even I have a hard time remembering a time when he wasn’t in the fantasy pool. I think he still has at least one more productive year left in him. There’s something in the water in Boston that makes their catchers produce.
17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Miami Marlins – Salty resurrected his career last season (it must have been the Boston water, right?). Miami is starting to bring up some nice prospects so the lineup won’t be as bare as last year. He played in the NL with Atlanta, so switching leagues shouldn’t bother him.
18. Travis d’Arnaud – New York Mets – He was once one of the best hitting catcher prospects in all of baseball. The Mets obtained him in the R.A. Dickey trade, but has dealt with injuries since. He has major power and drafting him would be boom or bust. He hasn’t proven he can hit Major League pitching. His ceiling is Mike Piazza’s power (not batting average) and his basement is J.P. Arencibia.
19. Alex Avila – Detroit Tigers – Avila is a nice #2 catcher in most leagues. If you’re in a league with an OBP category, he’s a very nice backup. I always end up with Avila in leagues as a streaming option. He’s in a prolific offense, so he will help you in RBI and hits double-digit home runs.
20. Devin Mesoraco – Cincinnati Reds – I’m much lower on Mesoraco than most this season. Ryan Hanigan handled most of the duties last season, but he’s no longer in Cincinnati. He was the organization’s top prospect two years ago, but hasn’t impressed me in the Majors. He could prove me wrong, but I’d rather not draft him where he’s going in most mock drafts.
21. Carlos Ruiz – Philadelphia Phillies – I shy away from fantasy players who have been linked to PEDs. Ruiz was suspended the first 25 games and had an average season. I don’t see much of an improvement, but since there are no other catching talent in Philly, he’ll get plenty at-bats.
22. Dioner Navarro – Toronto Blue Jays – Navarro had a surprising season in Chicago. He backed up Welington Castillo and batted over .300 with a dozen homers in less than 250 at-bats. I don’t know if he can match that kind of rate with 400 at-bats, so he’s a backup catcher at best.
23. A.J. Ellis – Los Angeles Dodgers – Ellis isn’t going to wow anyone, but he’s consistent. He won’t kill you in batting average and he’ll hit double-digit home runs. He’s a safe backup you can stream in and out of your lineup.
24. Geovany Soto – Texas Rangers – Soto isn’t the same player as he was in Chicago. He doesn’t have the power he once possessed. The one thing he has going for him is that he plays in Texas, a hitter-friendly ballpark. He will put up decent numbers, but will only get around 350 at-bats.
25. John Jaso – Oakland A’s – Jaso will share time with Derek Norris and isn’t much more than a streaming candidate.
26. Ryan Doumit – Atlanta Braves – Doumit will share time with Gattis and Laird, so it’s unknown how many at-bats he will see. He does play the outfield, but with the Upton brothers and Jason Heyward taking up real estate, he could see more time as a pinch-hitter than out there.
27. Mike Zunino – Seattle Mariners – Jesus Montero came into Spring Training a whopping 40 pounds overweight, so the starting job is Zunino’s to lose. He’s still unproven at the Major League level, but did put up decent numbers in the minors. He’s a ‘wait and see’ candidate and could be a nice pickup if he starts off hot.
28. Welington Castillo – Chicago Cubs – Castillo is more of a defensive catcher, but he will get plenty at-bats. George Kottaras is his backup and will be in a 75/25 split like he was with Navarro last season. He’s a streaming candidate.
29. Josmil Pinto – Minnesota Twins – Pinto looked like he would be the Opening Day everyday catcher after his 21-game performance last season. Minnesota wanted insurance, so they signed veteran Kurt Suzuki to split time with him. It’s a smart move, since Suzuki could mentor him for a season. Pinto may not be a major fantasy player this season, but keep an eye on him in 2015.
30. Josh Phegley – Chicago White Sox – Phegley made the list because he’s a streaky player. If you catch him during a hot streak, he could be a nice fill-in. Unfortunately, he can go into long droughts, so that’s why he’s not a player you want wasting a bench spot.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.