There are any number of ways to tackle fantasy baseball. There are a number of formats to contend with. It isn’t simple enough to cover the basic numbers anymore. Daily fantasy sports have taken the fantasy world by storm. It is a multi-billion dollar business these days as even the hallowed halls of Congress have had to address its popularity. I happen to think that daily fantasy formats can help you in season long formats as well. The numbers are more comprehensive and so it reveals more of the nature of the player.
The general idea across the board is that players accumulate points based on various events. They can also lose points based on strikeouts, grounding into double plays, and getting caught stealing. Daily leagues accumulate points by the day, so matchups are much more important. Yet, some full season leagues are switching to the same format. So, we will look at total points over the last three seasons, total points per game, and we will also include Baseball Prospectus’ value above replacement player. The combination gives us a decent composite of the player.
Total points = TB + Runs + RBI + SB + BB + HBP – SO – CS – GIDP
- Buster Posey—San Francisco Giants
Total Points- 954 (1st)
PPG- 2.44 (2nd)
VORP- 110.8 (2nd)
Posey had his 2018 season end early with hip surgery. There are a couple of ways to go here. The eternal optimist will say that he should be healthy when he wasn’t this past season. The pessimist might see this as the beginning of the end. Realistically, it might be his last season behind the dish. There is a reason why there are so few Hall of Fame catchers.
- J.T. Realmuto—Miami Marlins
Total Points- 874 (3rd)
PPG- 2.17 (6th)
VORP- 127.1 (1st)
This is a great primer for VORP. What is it and why does it matter? Well, it measures how good a player is once you remove the effects of league and park. Miami is a notorious pitcher’s park. There is a reason why Christian Yelich became so good once he left Miami. The answer is that he really didn’t become good. He was always good. A second place ranking is a bet on Realmuto moving on to greener pastures.
- Yadier Molina—St. Louis Cardinals
Total Points- 901 (2nd)
PPG- 2.22 (4th)
VORP- 77.7 (5th)
The actuary table on catchers is pretty stark. When they reach their mid-thirties they are usually done. So, I can forgive anyone for dropping Molina on their catcher list. In a vacuum I’d bet on regression too. The problem is that we have been betting on regression for the last three or four years. At some point, you just accept that he is a freak of nature and go with it.
- Gary Sanchez—New York Yankees
Total points- 695 (6th)
PPG- 2.63 (1st)
VORP- 74.1 (6th)
This was a lost year for Sanchez, but it says something that he can miss nearly half the season with injuries, play horribly for most of the time he was healthy, and still end up here in the rankings. He would probably DH for most teams, but the Yankees are loaded there. They might be smart to limit him to 100 to 110 games even with his awesome offensive potential.
- Yasmani Grandal—Free Agent
Total Points- 729 (5th)
PPG- 1.85 (11th)
VORP- 95.0 (3rd)
We get to an interesting debate in the baseball community: how detrimental is the strikeout? For the stat geeks it is nearly non-existent. For the traditional fan, they are like fingernails on a chalkboard. The strikeout is the biggest difference between Grandal being an elite catcher and being a pretty good catcher. Choose accordingly.
- Wilson Ramos—Free Agent
Total points- 659 (8th)
PPG- 2.23 (3rd)
VORP- 71.5 (7th)
Again, what you make of Ramos depends largely on where you stand on the whole traditional versus new-age debate. Sabermetrics are not that kind, but he seems to accumulate numbers in spite of it all. General managers might not pay as much given the shift to data driven decision making, but fantasy owners can’t ignore the results.
- Willson Contreras—Chicago Cubs
Total points- 620 (10th)
PPG- 1.87 (10th)
VORP- 82.7 (4th)
Again, we see a case where the hidden numbers say one thing and the conventional numbers say something else. As you can tell, I try to split the difference. I do that because I don’t know what format you are playing in. Five category leagues may not like him as much, but more and more leagues are including either a sixth category or moving to total points.
- Kurt Suzuki—Washington Nationals
Total Points- 645 (9th)
PPG- 2.21 (5th)
VORP- 59.8 (10th)
I’ve had an interesting debate with a Nationals’ fan about Suzuki. He seems to believe that the Nats will add another front-line catcher. Suzuki is just a backup he says. Well, he’s pretty damn productive for a backup. So, his situation bears watching. I have no doubt that some in Washington would like another good catcher. It might be a good idea as Suzuki succeeded with Tyler Flowers also in tow.
- Salvador Perez—Kansas City Royals
Total points- 778 (4th)
PPG- 1.96 (8th)
VORP- 41.7 (15th)
Catcher is at the heart of a number of debates on the fantasy front. Should you draft someone that plays nearly every day and puts up decent power numbers or would you rather have quality numbers in fewer games? Perez and Suzuki are interesting foils in this regard. I’d rather have quality than quantity, but some people feel differently. Certainly, Perez’s lack of patience doesn’t hurt him in five category leagues.
- Evan Gattis—Free Agent
Total points- 694 (7th)
PPG- 2.04 (7th)
VORP- 40.6 (16th)
Gattis is nominally a catcher. Some formats will not recognize him as such after not catching last year. He is either a mediocre bat off the bench or a dangerous offensive weapon behind the plate. He could stick somewhere as a utility guy that catches some, DHs some, and plays some first. He could slip into the waiver wire depending on who signs him and what they plan to do with him.
- Francisco Cervelli—Pittsburgh Pirates
Total points- 511 (15th)
PPG- 1.79 (11th)
VORP- 62.0 (9th)
Cervelli is the perfect marriage of going with someone that is destined to get opportunities and someone that won’t kill your percentage statistics at the same time. He sacrifices power, but you can get that at other positions. Everyone has to punt a position or two on draft day and he could be a nice option if you choose to punt catcher.
- Robinson Chirinos—Free Agent
Total points- 444 (16th)
PPG- 1.72 (12th)
VORP- 51.9 (11th)
Again, his spot depends on his situation. He reminds you of the kind of guy that puts up numbers on bad teams. You see it in the NBA all the time. You get the guy that average 20 a game on a last place team. Put him on a playoff team and he isn’t even a starter. A return to Texas might be good for him and fantasy owners, but maybe not so good for Texas.