Another year in baseball has passed. The exciting post-season and the Royals first World Series since 1985 has passed and now we pass into the winter and wait for the next baseball season to come. To help pass the time, this is also a good time for fantasy baseball players to reflect upon the past and look towards the future to see which players are capable of helping (and hurting) them as we head into 2016. While there will inevitably be lots of change between now and opening day, it is never too early to get prepared. With that in mind, here are the Early 2016 Fantasy Catcher Rankings.
1) Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants
Posey has been the best catcher in baseball (Fantasy and Otherwise) over the last several seasons and there is little evidence to suggest that changes in 2016.
2) Kyle Schwarber, C, Chicago Cubs
Schwarber was one of the many breakout stars for the Cubs in 2015. There could be a short window to enjoy his production at the catcher spot as he has also seen playing time in the Outfield. While he is not going to give you the batting average that Posey will, he is capable of hitting 25-30 HR over the course of a full season.
3) Brian McCann, C, New York Yankees
His power numbers are still strong and has the advantage of hitting at Yankee Stadium. However, he is unlikely to give you a strong batting average.
4) Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
Lucroy was limited to 103 games due to injury and his numbers at the plate took a step back. Still, he has a strong track record of performance and is a strong bounce-back candidate for 2016 if he can say healthy.
5) Russell Martin, C, Toronto Blue Jays
Similar to McCann where he combines strong power totals with a weak batting average. While he has less power than McCann, being surrounded by the Blue Jays lineup should allow him to help in the Runs & RBI categories and this increase his fantasy value.
6) Yan Gomes, C, Cleveland Indians
Gomes was limited to 95 games due to injury and struggled while on the field (.231 AVG, 12 HR, 77 wRC+) leading to many disappointed fantasy owners. However, he also showed enough promise in 2013 & 2014 to indicate that he could bounce back in 2016 if he can stay healthy.
7) Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
Perez is likely to be over-valued to some players due to his strong post-season performance. He’s one of those players whose offensive contributions are more valuable in Fantasy than real-life. He hits for consistent power and will hit around .260 but was a below average hitter last year (wRC+ 87) due to a 2.4% walk rate.
8) Travis d’Arnaud, C, New York Mets
While he hasn’t put things together for a full season yet (slow start in 2014 & injuries in 2015), d’Arnaud has plenty of potential and could be top-5 at Catcher within a couple years if he can stay healthy.
9) Wellington Castillo, C, Arizona Diamondbacks
Castillo played briefly for the Cubs & Mariners last year before settling in with the Diamondbacks. He’s another Catcher who combines decent power with underwhelming batting averages. He had very strong numbers after the All-Star break (12 HR in 208 PA) indicating a potentially high ceiling in the HR department.
10) J.T. Realmuto, C, Miami Marlins
Realmuto grabbed the Marlins starting catcher job early last year and did not relinquish it. While his power is unlikely to go beyond the 10-12 HR range, he is one of the few Catchers that can give you some stolen bases.
11) Nick Hundley, C, Colorado Rockies
He’s not going to hit .301 again (.356 BABIP) but should provide double-digit HR totals if he continues to receive consistent playing time (assuming he continues to play his home games at Coors Field).
12) Wilson Ramos, C, Washington Nationals
The good news is that he got plenty of playing time last year (504 PA). The bad news is that besides hitting 15 HR, he did not provide much at the plate (.229 AVG, 63 wRC+). Granted, his BABIP was 25 points below his career total but best case is that he hits in the .240-.250 range while replicating last year’s power totals.
13) Stephen Vogt, C, Oakland Athletics
Vogt hit 18 HR last year but also had a career high HR/FB rate. He’s likely to hit .260 and see at least some regression in his power totals.
14) Derek Norris, C, San Diego Padres
Increased playing time helped Norris reach a career high of 14 HR. However, overall production was down from his last two seasons with the Athletics. It is concerning that his BB% and K% went in the wrong direction. However, with his BABIP & HR/FB rates close to his career totals, he’s likely to put up similar numbers next year.
15) Yasmani Grandal, C, Los Angeles Dodgers
Talent wise, Grandal is better than 15th but staying healthy and getting playing time (443 PA in 2014 is his career high) continues to be a concern. While he appears on track to be a .240 hitter with somewhere around 15 HR, his ability to draw walks increases his value in any leagues that use OBP instead of batting average.
16) Francisco Cervelli, C, Pittsburgh Pirates
Once you remove the BABIP aspect from 2015’s numbers (.359 last season), you are left with someone who may hit .275 but provides very little in the way of power or speed.
17) Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds
Yes, Mesoraco did put up a monster season in 2014. While he should be healthy and at least not be a bust like he was last year, he was aided by strong BABIP and HR/FB totals in 2014. He’s likely to be a .240-.250 hitter who can give you around 15 HR.
18) Caleb Joseph, C, Baltimore Orioles
Joseph got an opportunity for additional playing time due to Matt Wieters missing significant time. Even with the playing time, there is not much value as the best case scenario would be him hitting .250 and hitting about a dozen HR. If Wieters actually stays healthy this season, his actual rank will be significantly lower.
19) Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals
In real life, Molina is a much better Catcher due to his strong defensive abilities. However, the combination of age (33) and decreased production at the plate over the last couple of seasons does zero favors for this fantasy value.
20) Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles
This ranking assumes that his playing time will be limited due to injuries. While he has put up respectable numbers in the limited time he has been on the field the last couple seasons, he is an extremely high injury risk. If he somehow looks healthy coming into 2016, Wieters would see a significant improvement in his ranking.
Others considered (in order of ranking):
A.J. Pierzynski, Kurt Suzuki, Jason Castro, Tyler Flowers, Miguel Montero, Blake Swihart, James McCann, Robinson Chirinos, Josh Phegley, Mike Zunino, Hank Conger, Rene Rivera, Brayan Pena, Geovany Soto, Roberto Perez