Fantasy Baseball Preview 2014: Catchers

Who to draft and who to avoid -- A concise guide for the casual fantasy manager.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

I like to start with catcher when doing fantasy baseball rankings each year. It seems to be the easiest position to break down considering the limited player pool and it always makes me feel accomplished to mark something off my to-do list. I guess that means I'm Type A?… But just by taking 30 seconds to take a look at the catcher position going into 2014, it's easy to see that it's one of the deepest positions in all of fantasy.

Some analysts such as ESPN's Nate Ravitz will argue there is no such thing as position scarcity, but I think that notion is absolutely absurd. There is simply more depth at some positions. In short — you can wait on catcher this year, so don't overpay.

 

Yogi Berra Tier

The very best in fantasy baseball.

1 Buster Posey – San Francisco (pictured above)

No doubt Posey is the best offensive catcher in baseball and is therefore always No. 1 off the boards in fantasy. He ranks fourth all-time in slugging (.486), fifth in on-base percentage (.377) and fifth in batting average (.308) among catchers through their age-26 seasons. Hitting .300/25/100 is a virtual lock if he stays healthy. He will also be eligible at first base this season.

 

Carlton Fisk Tier

Still among the best in the game, drafting here ensures great consistency and reliability.

2 Joe Mauer – Minnesota

Mauer will play first base this year but will still be eligible at catcher, so if you ever wanted him as your backstop now is your last chance. He is the best pure hitting catcher in baseball history and as long as he stays healthy will bat around .330 yet again.

3 ​Yadier Molina – St. Louis

Yads has been arguably the best catcher in real-life for years, but over the past three seasons has been a hitting machine, putting him well up into the fantasy ranks as well. Molina will hit over .300 with double digit power, and being in a solid Cardinals lineup will provide plenty of runs and RBI opportunities as well.

4 Carlos Santana – Cleveland

I know they've been saying it for years, but the 27-year-old may just now be hitting his prime. He is one of the only players inside a tiny pocket of catchers who could hit 30-plus home runs and if your league does on-base percentage, his value sky-rockets considering he walked 93 times last year.

5 Willin Rosario – Colorado

Some are slightly concerned about playing time with Rosario considering he has yet to top 500 at-bats in a season. It doesn't help the Rockies tried signing Brian McCann in the off-season, further proving the organization might now trust Rosario's skills behind the plate. However, regardless of where he plays, Rosario's home-road splits are fairly similar, something not too common with those hailing from the light air of Colorado. Rosario is a safe bet to hit around 25 homers with a batting average floating around .275.

6 Bargain Alert! Salvador Perez – Kansas City

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox

Scouts and analysts will tell you that Perez is now arguably the best catcher in the American League — and he's only 23-years-old, which means he's still developing. Perez might be the best pure hitter to come along since Joe Mauer and he also knows how to manage a pitching staff. You'll take him because he has the great possibility of hitting .300/17/75 (with an even higher ceiling in my opinion) and he's not going until pick No. 129 according to Fantasy Pros.

7 Bargain Alert! Jonathan Lucroy – Milwaukee

​Lucroy is considered by many to be the most under-valued catcher in the game, probably because he's tucked away in Mil-e-wau-kay — you know, which is Algonquin for "the good land." Anywho, he's 27-years-old and in his prime, can hit to all fields and he's cut down on his strikeout rate while boosting his walk rate for the second straight year. He will hit at least .280 with nearly 20 homers and he isn't going until the 100th pick — all because he's from the "good land" no one talks about.

8 Brian McCann – New York Yankees

Everyone forgot about McCann while he was injured last year because of the plumber that stole everyone's hearts, Evan Gattis. But McCann is still capable of serious power with a batting average that won't kill you. Now that he's in the short-porch, homer-friendly Yankee Stadium, many analysts project McCann to belt a career high in homers this year, which would be 26 or more.

9 ​Matt Wieters – Baltimore

Wieters won't help you much in average but he'll supply a lot of pop. Although it feels like he's been in the majors forever — and let's face it, he's not the next Johnny Bench like most scouts thought — Wieters is still only 27-years-old and is one of the few threats to knock 25-plus bombs.

Jason Kendall Tier

Although not always an All-Star, these guys could show flashes of greatness and are worth starting on many teams.

10 Sleeper Fav! Wilson Ramos – Washington

Ramos has only been inhibited because of injuries; when he's healthy, watch out. After the All-Star break last year he hit 12 HRs with 42 RBIs. A full season under his belt could mean gaudy numbers.

11 Evan Gattis – Atlanta

San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves

​Everyone loves Gattis. I mean, who can't love someone who use to be working on toilets. It's a fantastic story made for Hollywood. But here's the truth — you don't want to overpay for him. Gattis is a pure home run hitter who could knock 25 dingers but he's average at-best from behind the plate, therefore losing at-bats to backup Ryan Doumit is likely. Gattis is solid, but don't overpay for 400 at-bats.

12 Jason Castro – Houston

Knee problems make Castro a slight risk but he also has 20-homer capability. You also have to ask yourself how much you trust the Astros lineup?

13 Sleeper Fav! Miguel Montero – Arizona

​A top-ten catcher just one year ago, Montero has been pushed to the back of everyone's mind because of injuries and the depth of the position. But don't let anyone fool you, if Montero stays healthy he could very easily be an All-Star. Because of an unlucky BABIP last year, Montero's average should bounce back somewhat.

 

Mike Matheny Tier

Only draftable in the deepest of leagues.

14 Sleeper Fav! ​Yan Gomes – Cleveland

Rumor has it the Indians will use Santana as a part-time first base/DH, meaning more at-bats for Gomes — something that would be wise considering Gomes' .826 OPS last year in only 293 at-bats. He also hit .311 after the All-Star break. If given more plate appearances, Gomes could hit 20 home runs with an average around .290.

15 A.J. Pierzynski – Boston

Will probably hit around 15 home runs with a .280 average, as usual — even though he's calling Fenway home for the first time.

16 Devin Mesoraco – Cincinnati

​Was considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball just two years ago. 2014 will be his first year playing full-time so it may not be time to give up quite yet on the 25-year-old.

17 Russell Martin – Pittsburgh

Will kill you in batting average but will provide power if you're desperate.

18 ​Mike Zunino – Seattle

He only hit .214 in his MLB debut last year but the former third overall draft pick has the prowess to have a 20-homer season. The question is when will it arrive?

19 Carlos Ruiz – Philadelphia

He hasn't been the same since being busted for PEDs, has he? He's also 35-years-old.

20 J.P. Arencibia – Texas

A younger Russell Martin only with more limited playing time.

21 Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Miami

Salty had a small tear of solid play last summer for the first time in his career, but it was mostly because of a very lucky .372 BABIP. Still, if you want to invest in a backup catcher, you could do worse than this 28-year-old.

22 ​Welington Castillo – Chicago Cubs

Although he's not spectacular, Castillo hit .288/.388/.417 with six homers after the All-Star break last year, meaning that a hot streak or two this year isn't out of question.

23 A.J. Ellis – Los Angeles Dodgers

Nothing to get excited about by drafting him, but Ellis has been on a hot streak or two in the past. He also had an unlucky .269 BABIP last season.

24 Josmil Pinto – Minnesota

Mauer's replacement will have the tutelage of Kurt Suzuki as well. It's likely he'll only play part-time all season but Pinto is still worth watching closely.

 

​Do Not Draft Under Any Circumstance

…Or I'll hunt you down. Okay, not really. But you'll regret owning these guys more than the last time you ate that entire tub of popcorn at Hunger Games.

Tyler Flowers, Yasmani Grandal, Derek Norris, Chris Iannetta, ​John Jaso, ​Nick Hundley, Geovany Soto, Dioner Navarro, Travis d'Arnaud, Alex Avila, John Buck, Jesus Montero, Ryan Doumit, Ryan Hanigan, Derek Norris, Kurt Suzuki, Hank Conger, David Ross, Francisco Cervelli

 

Josh Helmuth is the editor of CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him @JHelmuth or "like" CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Getty