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I hope you do, because I’m at best, lukewarm (Yay! Starting off exciting).  I’m not sure which I like least, Catchers in Fantasy Baseball or Kickers in Fantasy Football.  Both score points/runs, both are integral to their teams, and both bore the ever-living crap out of me.  But they are a necessary evil (though would anyone have a problem if we did away with fantasy catchers?  I’m sure less would than doing away with kickers) that we have to play with, so while that’s the case, they get rankings.  Now that you’re sufficiently warmed up, let’s get to it.

Tier 1: Kyle Schwarber, Gary Sanchez

Just those two, oozing upside.  Both had great rookie introductions; both guys will cost way too much to be on my teams.  Still I’m going to dream that they might come at a reasonable cost come draft time, and that’s why we’ll look at each of them.

Schwarber is the one you want for OPS leagues.  He’s best for OPS, home runs, RBIs and runs for 2017.  I was going to say steals too (and he could steal a couple bags) but JT (for) Realmuto has him beat there. And now that Schwarber’s going to bat leadoff (what? Joe Maddon, you crazy) just adds more to his value.  Hopefully he and Heyward spend all spring (well, Heyward needs to spend most of spring learning how to hit again) practicing calling for balls in the outfield.  Though how Fowler came out of their collision unscathed is beyond me as he took a big Schwarber knee to the back.

Sanchez had one of the best rookie call-ups ever and should get to at least 25 home runs in 2017.  His career home runs by year (minors & majors combined): 8, 17, 18, 15, 13, 25, 30.  So that’s a good direction, eh?  His minor league strikeout numbers the last couple seasons have been around 19%; his time with the Yankees last season he was at 25%.  He did have a walk rate of 10.5% on the Yanks, which was a few percentage points higher than his minor league numbers.  So figure a few less walks, a few more Ks…but not many.  An .830+ OPS and good counting stats makes him a solid number two (as opposed to a runny number two, in which case you should not go into the pool).

Tier 2: Jonathon Lucroy, Buster Posey, Willson Contreras, Evan Gattis, Yasmani Grandal

This is a pretty good group; all should have an OPS over .800 along with 20+ home runs and around 80 RBIs.  Lucroy benefits from a good lineup as does Contreras, so their counting stats should be decent.  Gattis could hit 30+ home runs and is another guy way better in OPS than AVG leagues, so look for him to possibly be undervalued a little.

Big, big fan of Grandal’s; no competition for the job, hit 27 homers last season to go along with an .816 OPS; I’ll take 24 and an OPS of .800 from a late round selection.  Posey is as Posey does, although if he’s only hitting 18 or so homers that isn’t helping his ranking; hopefully more time at first base will get him more PAs and thus more runs and RBIs.

Tier 3: Cameron Rupp, Tom Murphy, Russell Martin, Salvador Perez, Wilson Ramos, JT Realmuto

One of these guys is going to be my catcher in most every league.  Rupp and Murphy are here because they are both on the young side of 30, play in hitters parks, and aren’t big names.  Murphy has shown 20+ power in the minors, and now playing half his games in Coors should only help that number (even if he has to split time).  I see him running away with the job, hitting around 22 homers along with decent RBI numbers and an OPS just below .800.

Rupp hit 16 home runs last season for the Phillies to go along with a poor .750 OPS.  Here’s hoping he hits 19 homers and has a .780 OPS, because that we can use.  Martin took so long to get going last year he almost didn’t have time to salvage his season.  It wasn’t great, but he got to 20 homers; now this season he just needs to get his OPS to back around .800 to go with his 20 homers.

Salvador Perez gets his by playing in so many games and that’s not something to count on for any catcher.  He still should hit 20 or so homers.  If he begins the season in relative good health (he tore his ACL late last season) Ramos will start by seeing time at DH; if he can get close to last year’s numbers then he’s a great value here, as he hit 22 homers last year along with an .850 OPS.  He’s in this tier because I don’t think he will, obviously.

Tier 4: Welington Castillo, Brian McCann, Yan Gomes, Stephen Vogt, Sandy Leon

It’s said that if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone better to not say anything at all.  So that’s what I’m going to do here.  Actually, I do have one piece of advice when utilizing these guys; add them while their hot, drop them when they’re not.  If you missed out on Tier 1-3 then take one of these guys, if he stinks the first week, go try another.  Wash, Rinse, Repeat.  Then, maybe you keep a guy for a month, then a bit longer, as long as he keeps hitting.  It’s a strategy that can really pay off, because guys like Ramos and Grandal were in this tier last season; Contreras and Sanchez weren’t drafted in most leagues.

So, while Schwarber seems so inviting and Sanchez is going to own the league this year, pass. Spend your money, use your higher picks on third base, shortstop, second base, outfielders, first base, pitchers, before you look to add a catcher.  Get used to the spot on your draft board next to the C being empty.  For almost your whole draft, especially snake-style.  Draft catchers the same way you draft kickers; take one with your last pick, because no one should have more than one catcher, especially in shallow leagues.

In auction (although every one is different) if there’s a catcher your really interested in, I’d sit on him until someone else throws him out there.  You want as many other teams to have drafted theirs (this used to apply to second base and shortstop too, but now having two of either is more common) because again, no team should have two catchers (there are exceptions, but you know what I mean, right?)

Outfielders are up next, then first base, then top 200(or more) rankings; join OPS Razzmonsters if you so desire to play in an OPS league this season; join a Razzball Commenter League because those are fun too.  Until next week, Razzballers and Razzballettes, keep your head up!

 
  1. Snake Mountain says:
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    I’m in a 12 team, 2 catcher league. I plan on taking a flyer on Zunino late, hoping some of his 2016 OBP was legit; The power in definitely there.

    • Phil B.

      Phil B. says:
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      @Snake Mountain: ok, I could get on board with him as a tier 4 guy. Good call. And if he sucks, drop him for the hot hand.

  2. Noam says:
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    Really liking these tiered posts! Good work

    Would you trade Chris Archer for Ian Desmond in an OPS Dynasty league?

    I worry that dealing Archer might weaken my pitching too much…
    Thanks for the help!

    16 Team Dynasty CBS, Roto 6×6 (R, HR, RBI, SB, BA, OPS – IP, SO, ERA, WHIP, Net Wins, SV+HD) — Weekly Lineup Lock —
    Team:
    C: C. Rupp
    1B: M. Cabrera
    2B: J. Altuve
    3B: J. Donaldson
    SS: J. Villar
    MI: J. Schoop
    CI: T. Frazier
    OF: C. Beltran
    OF: M. Kepler
    OF: G. Springer
    OF: J. Upton
    U: B. Belt
    U: L. Duda
    Bench: T. Shaw
    Bench: D. Span
    Bench: S. Souza

    Pitchers, I can start 9 pitchers per week (no designation between SP and RP)
    SP: C. Archer, K. Hendricks, D. Salazar, J. Lackey, G. Cole, JA Happ, J. Hellickson, S. Lugo, T. Roark, C. Kuhl, C. Buchholz, H. Ryu
    RP: J. Familia, K. Herrera

    • Phil B.

      Phil B. says:
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      @Noam: I’d make the deal. Eventually you’ll need to replace miggy, and I’ll always go hitting over pitching. Losing archer does hurt, but I like your staff without him. I’m not a big archer guy after last season, and he is still in the AL East.
      Really like your hitters, too, even more so with Desmond. Good luck!

  3. RD says:
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    Who would you keep in a OBP forever keeper Cutch or Polanco?

  4. Earl says:
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    In a two catcher 12 team roto league, does it change much and should you draft 1st catcher sooner and is it necessary to get one top catcher

    • Phil B.

      Phil B. says:
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      @Earl: never in my opinion. Get two middle tier guys. You may have to act sooner, as you don’t want to get stuck with two terrible guys.

  5. David Kelly says:
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    Phil,

    1st year keeper draft coming up. I’ve got the #2. I could make a case for several guys. I’m leaning heavily towards Arenado or Harper. Tell me I’m crazy. Who are you taking in my situation. I’m being terribly indecisive.

  6. Robert says:
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    what is your strategy in a 2 catcher league. I’m joining a league with 2 catchers and 2 utility (12 team league)

    I’m still not paying for one of the top 2 tiers, but do you reach a round or two early on your first guy to get one in the tier 3 section?

    • Earl says:
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      @Robert: I would say get one in tier 3 and then perhaps 2nd in tier 4

  7. The Harrow says:
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    i’d think the opposite, people are much closer in general to being ok with removing kickers than catchers.

  8. The Harrow says:
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    murphy is a big name of course, if your leaguemates have any clue about prospect lists. rupp, yeah, not so much. but rupp’s also had a good year already now too.

    • The Harrow says:
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      @The Harrow: rupp’s 750 i guess was poor, but if you were in a league deep enough to need him you certainly liked it. him and maybe zunino (or murphy when he played) or if you got lucky to get to sanchez first were best options in deep leagues, and in an NL only he was probably best possibly non-drafted guy that returned decent value, OPS or not.

      • Phil B.

        Phil B. says:
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        @The Harrow: I’m with you. Murphy may be overrated as he is a platoon guy to start, and the hope is he runs away with job. At best, he gets 450 ABs. I see Rupp doing the same thing, providing back end of draft value this year

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