Gary Sanchez is a Top 5 Catcher in 2017
Every Fantasy Baseball season, the position of catcher seems like a wasteland. This past season was no different, as it was equivalent to tight end in Fantasy Football: you plug a guy in, hope for the best and pretty much leave him there. Sure, there were the unsuspected breakouts (I’m looking at you Gary Sanchez and Wilson Ramos), but I genuinely feel bad for those who play in two-catcher leagues. Can we please just ban those? Fantasy sports are supposed to be centered around fun, and those seem like anything about fun.
Anyway, let’s look ahead to 2017, because even though the championship series haven’t started yet, it’s never too soon to start planning for the next Fantasy baseball season.
Throughout the next eight weeks, we will take a tiered-look at each position. Since it’s a miserable position, let’s knock catcher out of the way, shall we?
Buster Posey, Giants
Jonathan Lucroy, Rangers
It’s still a two-man tier at the top with mainstays Posey and Lucroy. Both topped the ESPN Player Rater at the position. Posey’s numbers were down from previous years in average, on-base percentage, slugging, wRC+, homers and RBIs. His strikeout rate went up, but he also took eight more walks than he did in 2015. Posey is a safe bet, as always, and should remain at the top of the tier … Lucroy was the top player at the position on the player rater. He was basically the same player when he went from Milwaukee to Texas before the trade deadline. The ballpark factor is the same, but he has the positive shift of going from a mediocre team in Milwaukee to a stacked lineup in Texas, which puts him back toward the top of catchers in 2017.
Gary Sanchez, Yankees
[caption id="attachment_110435" align="alignright" width="413"] Gary Sanchez should be drafted right after Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy. Photo Credit: John Cortes/ICON Sportswire[/caption]
Sanchez is going to be the most polarizing player – along with Trea Turner – heading into the 2017 draft season. Think back to the discussion we had with Kyle Schwarber heading into the past draft season. Could Sanchez be in the top tier? Sure he could. But for now, let’s put him in his own tier, where you can select him in the third or fourth round if you’d like. First, his .358 ISO is glaring, as the highest ISO in 2016 among qualified hitters was .305 by David Ortiz during his swan song, while Brian Dozier was second with a .278 ISO. His 171 wRC+ plus is unsustainable, and I don’t expect a 1.032 OPS for the whole season. I also don’t exactly see Sanchez hitting 60 home runs next year, but 40 is definitely a realistic expectation. Power being up across the league dings his overall value a bit, but by being a scarce position in general, the power and the fact Sanchez will play nearly every day between catcher and designated hitter makes him worth being the third catcher off the board.
Evan Gattis, Astros
Wilson Ramos, Nationals
If Ramos didn’t tear his ACL, he’d be up in the second tier with Sanchez. But now there’s two uncertainties with Ramos. 1) When is he going to be back? 2) Where is he going to be? I believe in the performance we saw from Ramos this year after the eye surgery. If he’s back in time for Opening Day, this is where he belongs. If he’s going to miss a month, knock him down a tier … You’re rostering Gattis for one reason and one reason only: home runs.
Russell Martin, Blue Jays
Salvador Perez, Royals
J.T. Realmuto, Marlins
Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers
Willson Contreras, Cubs
Martin had a tough start to his season, but eventually turned it around to be a regular mainstay in your Fantasy lineup. His wRC+, wOBA, SLG, AVG, ISO, strikeout rate, RBIs, runs and homers were all worse than they were in 2015 … Perez is the same story every year: he plays a lot of games and breaks down in the second half. Over the past three seasons, Perez has played 431 games, second only to Posey at the position … Realmuto will be a popular breakout candidate in 2017 with the number of games he plays and the speed factor that he brings to the position … Contreras had a big start upon his debut, but was just OK as a Fantasy option. He has the second-highest ceiling at the position next to Sanchez, and with David Ross retiring, he should get the majority of starts behind the plate … Grandal is a must for OBP leagues and has nice pop for the position as well.
Travis d’Arnaud, Mets
Brian McCann, Yankees
Jorge Alfaro, Phillies
Matt Wieters, Orioles
Yadier Molina, Cardinals
Stephen Vogt, Athletics
Austin Hedges, Padres
Devin Mesoraco, Reds
Welington Castillo, Diamondbacks
Sandy Leon, Red Sox
I can’t quit Mesoraco and d’Arnaud. One more season to prove yourselves … This is the tier where I’m willing to take some chance on upside with Alfaro and Hedges, assuming they are both starting Opening Day. Both have shown the ability to hit for power in the minors, which is what you’re looking for at this point … Vogt and Wieters aren’t sexy plays, but they are guys you can draft and not worry about streaming guys each week … I don’t believe in Leon. He had a nice run, but it will be the best of his career … Castillo is cheap power at the position in a good ballpark. Put Molina in the Perez and Realmuto category. He has value because he plays every day. He doesn’t do much else, but always seems to find himself being a Top 12 catcher.
Nick Hundley, Rockies
Francisco Cervelli. Pirates
If Hundley is starting in Colorado next year, you have to consider the ballpark factor. If he isn’t, enter Murphy stage left … Cervelli had a career-high seven home runs in 2015, which was nice. He came back to earth in 2016 with just one. He’s a good second catcher in OBP leagues.
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