Fantasy Catchers: Five and Six Category Rankings

We are taking a step back from total points to bring in the other side of fantasy coverage by looking at five and six category formats. We will go back and hit catcher, first base, and second base before moving on to third basemen. There is always tension between looking back and looking forward when it comes to ranking players. When you choose one or the other you end up skewing the results.

I tend to be someone that likes looking back. Past is usually prologue in this business and while you can never completely count on past results, you often find them more reliable than future projections. We will cover those when they come out later this season, but now we are trying something new. Those of you that have followed me at thefantasyfix.com know I like to tinker and I’ve done it again.

So, what you will see is the latest example of tinkering for me. I am taking the rate at which players produced over the past three years and projecting that over 500, 400, or 300 plate appearances (for catchers) depending on how much we might project them to play. Projections are based on health history and that particular team’s catcher situations. If a player is a free agent we simply project how much he will play based on history. We are including walks as a sixth category to cover six category leagues.

Gary Sanchez—New York Yankees

Projection: 500 PA

5 Category: .252/32 HR/74 Runs/84 RBI/2 SB

6 Category: 61 walks

Last season’s injury troubles are not likely to happen again. However, more than a few of us were burned by them. So, still consider him the best catcher on the board, but they may have to be creative to get him to 500 plate appearances. Sanchez has had his share of defensive issues, so they may want to start Austin Romine more often.

Buster Posey—San Francisco Giants

Projection: 500 PA

5 Category: .298/10 HR/60 Runs/59 RBI/ 5 SB

6 Category: 53 walks

Posey is one of two guys on the board that might push 600 plate appearances because of his time at first base. Furthermore, this might be his last season behind the dish. There is always a tension that comes between getting maximum defensive value from a player and preserving his offensive skill set. Posey’s power has diminished due to the bumps and bruises that come with catching. Hip surgery may help him rediscover some of that, but he is not the force he used to be.

Willson Contreras—Chicago Cubs

Projection: 500 PA

5 Category: .266/18 HR/54 Runs/66 RBI/4 SB

6 Category: 51 walks

The talk of the offseason has the Cubs potentially looking for J.T. Realmuto. Contreras might be a piece going the other way. Hogwash. Obviously, rankings here are based on past results and Realmuto might very well be better than this in reality, but by how much? I’d leave well enough alone if I was them.

Yasmani Grandal—Free Agent

Projection: 500 PA

5 Category: .239/25 HR/57 Runs/69 RBI/1 SB

6 Category: 61 walks

Obviously, there is a lot that is unknown here. We can surmise that he won’t be back in Los Angeles. That might be a benefit to him offensively depending on where he lands. Ultimately, we would expect him to be the primary catcher wherever he lands based on the offensive and defensive production, but if the club has a strong second catcher he could drop to 400 plate appearances.

J.T. Realmuto—Miami Marlins

Projection: 500 PA

5 Category: .286/15 HR/62 Runs/58 RBI/7 SB

6 Category: 31 walks

We reach our first controversial ranking in the battle between past results and future projections. For one, he traditionally has more than 500 plate appearances because he also plays 10-20 games at first base. For another, he has been steadily improving each and every year. So, these composite results over the past three seasons might be obsolete. He also plays in a horrible hitters park. So, if he does indeed get traded he could be better on all counts.

Yadier Molina—St. Louis Cardinals

Projection: 500 PA

5 Category: .282/14 HR/54 Runs/67 RBI/5 SB

6 Category: 30 walks

He is another guy that has averaged north of 500 plate appearances the past three seasons. Can we expect another one as he approaches his later thirties? Eventually, the actuary tables will overcome him, but here is betting for one more good season before he turns into a pumpkin.

Wilson Ramos—Free Agent

Projection: 500 PA

5 Category: .298/21 HR/50 Runs/81 RBI/0 SB

6 Category: 34 walks

Given the uncertainty of where he could land and the fact that he has had a significant knee injury, 400 plate appearances might have been the more accurate adjustment. We can change that depending on where he lands. He will be the primary catcher somewhere, but the longer he waits the less likely 500 plate appearances will be an outcome.

Salvador Perez—Kansas City Royals

Projection: 500 PA

5 Category: .249/25 HR/54 Runs/72 RBI/1 SB

6 Category: 18 walks

There will be no bigger gap than the gap between Perez’s five and six category ranking. If he should find himself enshrined in Cooperstown I don’t know how he will get to the podium. He sure won’t walk there. I have to think the Royals will eventually figure out that he is not quite as valuable as he looks. That will eat into his playing time some.

Robinson Chirinos—Houston Astros

Projection: 400 PA

5 Category: .234/20 HR/53 Runs/57 RBI/1 SB

6 Category: 44 walks

This reflects the situation at the moment. The Astros might add another veteran catcher and if that happens then Chirinos drops to either 300 plate appearances or completely off the fantasy map. So, consider accordingly. That being said, he is a lot more productive than a lot of people think.

Mike Zunino—Tampa Bay Rays

Projection: 500 PA

5 Category: .223/28 HR/52 Runs/69 RBI/0 SB

6 Category: 42 walks

This one was a hard projection to get to. On the one hand, the depth chart in Tampa is not overwhelming. On the other hand, they like to mix and match lineups on a daily basis. When we redo this we might end up taking the 400 plate appearance option. 450 might be more accurate and thus he might drop just a little.

Welington Castillo—Chicago White Sox

Projection: 400 PA

5 Category: .270/16 HR/41 Runs/55 RBI/1 SB

6 Category: 26 walks

The PED suspension killed his three-year average, but the Sox felt comfortable enough to deal Omar Narvaez to the Mariners. That leaves Castillo as the primary guy. Still, I don’t feel comfortable giving him 500 plate appearances right after the suspension. He could be a sleeper though.

Evan Gattis—Free Agent

Projection: 300 PA

5 Category: .245/17 HR/36 Runs/49 RBI/1 SB

6 Category: 23 walks

Gattis may or may not be a catcher in most fantasy formats. He hasn’t caught a game in over a year and may not ever catch another game in his life. At this point, he looks like a part-time DH/first baseman and thus was given the 300 plate appearance designation. If he isn’t eligible at catcher he probably drops to the waiver wire unless he somehow lands as a full time DH somewhere.

Francisco Cervelli—Pittsburgh Pirates

Projection: 400 PA

5 Category: .258/7 HR/42 Runs/46 RBI/3 SB

6 Category: 52 walks

Cervelli plays up in six category leagues. His only true weakness has been his inability to stay in the lineup. Pittsburgh has him on the chopping block, but I don’t know whether that has any bearing on his fantasy value. He is a borderline fantasy regular. If he somehow remains healthy he should be a fantasy regular in a 12 team league. If not then he shouldn’t be.

Tucker Barnhart—Cincinnati Reds

Projection: 500 PA

5 Category: .258/9 HR/41 Runs/53 RBI/2 SB

6 Category: 49 walks

Barnhart has emerged as Gold Glove quality catcher. That and 3.50 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. However, Gold Glove performers tend to play and when you play you accrue counting statistics. Nothing he does will blow your skirt up, but at the end of the day he will put up decent numbers.

Omar Narvaez—Seattle Mariners

Projection: 500 PA

5 Category: .274/8 HR/46 Runs/37 RBI/0 SB

6 Category: 62 walks

Someone has to play in Seattle and if you are in a six-category league you could do far worse when looking for a reserve catcher. I wouldn’t start him myself, but like Barnhart, he will put up numbers by the sheer fact that he should be in the lineup on most nights. The Mariners won’t be contenders, but they won’t be terrible either.

Austin Hedges—San Diego Padres

Projection: 400 PA

5 Category: .224/17 HR/35 Runs/49 RBI/4 SB

6 Category: 23 walks

I couldn’t begin to tell you what to expect from Hedges. He seemed to discover something towards the end last season,  but the Padres also acquired Francisco Mejia and gave him a trial late in the season. So, production and playing time are in flux. Hedges is a much better defender, so I’m betting that alone gets him in the lineup more than half the time. From there It is anyone’s best guess.

Brian McCann—Atlanta Braves

Projection: 300 PA

5 Category: .236/13 HR/35 Runs/40 RBI/1 SB

6 Category: 31 walks

Let’s assume that 2018 was just a season lost to injury and not the beginning of the end. In that case, we can expect him to share time with Tyler Flowers. Based on past production, he should still be a decent fantasy reserve. He’ll produce enough power numbers to keep you afloat. Of course, he could also be done.

Russell Martin—Toronto Blue Jays

Projection: 300 PA

5 Category: .218/11 HR/36 Runs/33 RBI/1 SB

6 Category: 42 walks

Martin is only viable in six category leagues. Then his walks and OBP keep you from completely going in the gutter. He has hit under .200 two seasons in a row. Maybe it’s bad batted ball luck, but two seasons are awfully hard to explain away. So, if we assume the three-year average then he gives you just enough of everything to be decent. Like with McCann, he isn’t likely to get more than part-time duty.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for thefantatasyfix.com. You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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