Fantasy Baseball Rankings Tiers, Draft Strategy: Catcher

first_imgMORE FANTASY BASEBALL: SN Cheat Sheet | Mock Draft SimulatorDraft strategy for catchers, however, remains simple: Either aggressively target an elite backstop in the sixth or seventh round (of a 10-team league) or wait until at least the 13th round for the next group of catchers to come into play. Which path you take likely depends on your assessment of Realmuto and Sanchez and whether you believe they’re reliable enough to bestow a high draft pick.We’ve assembled a set of catcher “True Tiers”, where we break down positions based on category impact more than overall impact, to help you organize your approach to catchers in your 2019 fantasy baseball draft.2019 Fantasy Baseball Rankings:Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Reliever | Top 300Who are the best fantasy baseball catchers?Eligibility based on Yahoo default settingsRealmuto is the easiest to trust of the bunch, with a 15-HR, 80-RBI floor and the potential to deliver a solid batting average and some stolen bases. His trade from the Marlins to the Phillies should up his all-around production. But even his ADP is outside the top 50, according to FantasyPros, with the average 10-team league selecting him in the back-half of the sixth round.Tier 1B, which contains more upside but far less certainty, starts with the hope Gary Sanchez can roar back from a nightmarish 2018 in which he failed to crack .200 and spent significant time on the disabled list. His ceiling is higher than Realmuto — two years ago he hit 33 home runs and drove in 90 — but an offseason shoulder procedure further clouds his status among fantasy catching elite, as power hitters generally struggle after should surgery. Grandal and Contreras each possess considerable potential, as well: Grandal hit 24 home runs last year and is now playing in a hitter-friendly park in Milwaukee, while Contreras has the natural talent to one day be Realmuto with more pop.As will be the case throughout this guide, Tier 1A is not necessarily “better” than Tier 1B, it just represents a different type of player. It might feel wrong to draft a catcher so high when you can get far better all-around numbers at this stage from elsewhere, but if you nab the right guy, it will pay dividends midseason when the rest of your league is scrambling for waiver-wire catcher help.TIER 1AJ.T. Realmuto, Phillies (also eligible at 1B)TIER 1BGary Sanchez, YankeesYasmani Grandal, Brewers Willson Contreras, CubsMore Fantasy Baseball Rankings Tiers, Draft StrategyFirst | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Closer2019 Fantasy Baseball Catcher Rankings: Tier 2There are significant questions about all the catchers in Tier 2 for one of two reasons: They are either seemingly on the decline, or they have a significant hole in their game. Buster Posey and Yadier Molina have been among the most reliable fantasy baseball catchers for many years, but the wear and tear they’ve sustained could catch up to them in 2019. Posey in particular has dealt with nagging pain in his hip, which, if still uncorrected, could continue to erode his offensive performance. Molina is going to turn 37 this season.We separated Posey into his own tier because he is one of the few backstops who could hit .300 and doesn’t offer much pop. Molina used to fit that mold, but the past two years he’s turned into a lower-average “slugger,” which is why we grouped him with Wilson Ramos, who could also approach 20 HRs .Ramos sometimes struggles to get on base and is a base clogger when he does get on, but he’s still in the part of his career where he could reasonably post new highs in several categories. While he comes with the danger of lagging behind in runs scored (and has further risk in leagues that track OBP), his power is undeniable, and he’s flashed just enough batting average acumen since 2016 to think he won’t drop off too much from his .307 mark from that year.Salvador Perez is omitted from this tier after it was announced he would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.TIER 2ABuster Posey, Giants (1B)TIER 2BYadier Molina, CardinalsWilson Ramos, Mets2019 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers:Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Each teamFantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Sleeper catchers who (hopefully) won’t sink your teamIf you haven’t picked a catcher already, this is the point in the draft when you’re starting to get a little sweaty. We’re not going to sugarcoat it: There’s a good chance you’re going to be the person who spends the season scrounging the waiver wire for help behind the plate. It’s just difficult to find security at this point.But Tier 3 does offer catchers who, if all breaks right, could emerge from the pack as legitimate season-long options. Tier 3A features the lower-average home run hitters that have already shown they can stick at the big league level, albeit not necessarily as elite performers. Tier 3B features the high-average, lower-power hitters that are similarly big league established. Tier 3C contains the rare veteran catcher without a clear weakness or strength, who at his best can be sturdy across the board. Tier 3D features the prospects who could either rise to the top of one the aforementioned categories or even become Tier 2 players, but who are at increased risk of being complete busts. Note that like in previous sections, the tiers are broken up by player type, not ability.In Tier 3A, there are familiar power threats, such as Mike Zunino (45 HRs in past two seasons, .207 career average), Robinson Chirinos (35 HRs in the past two seasons, .233 career average), and Welington Castillo (20 HRs in 2017, .259 career average). You’ll have to hope they blast enough homers to offset the harm they cause to your batting average and other on-base related categories such as runs scored. Tyler Flowers was our All-Sleeper team pick at catcher, and his floor is high enough to warrant a spot in Tier 3 rather than Tier 4.In Tier 3B, there are the guys who can regularly get on base but frustrate you with the amount of singles they hit. The poster child here is Francisco Cervelli, who has a .272 career average and .362 on-base percentage but has hit more than 10 home runs just once in his career. Twins folk hero Willians Astudillo, assuming he makes the roster out of spring training, figures to be the heir apparent to Cervelli (and before he became washed up, Jonathan Lucroy). Astudillo had a career minor league average above .300 and is looking to build off a spectacular 30-game stint in 2018. He’s obviously riskier than Cervelli, but he’ll also be available much later in the draft (and potentially on waivers depending on league size).In Tier 3C, you’ll find the tweeners who have not consistently shown a single special trait but have been solid all-around players for least one full season.We don’t recommend taking Tier 3D players to be your primary catcher, but we think the crop of prospects in this grouping would be excellent backup lottery ticket additions anywhere from the 20th to 27th rounds in 10-team drafts. Danny Jansen and Francisco Mejia were each recent top-100 MLB prospects and are expected to take on big league roles in 2019.TIER 3AWelington Castillo, White SoxRobinson Chirinos, AstrosMike Zunino, RaysAustin Hedges, PadresTyler Flowers, BravesTIER 3BFrancisco Cervelli, PiratesAustin Barnes, DodgersWillians Astudillo, TwinsTIER 3CYan Gomes, NationalsJorge Alfaro, MarlinsTucker Barnhart (1B), RedsTIER 3DDanny Jansen, Blue JaysFrancisco Mejia, PadresSLEEPERS & BUSTS: All-Breakout Team | All-Overrated TeamFantasy baseball catchers to target late, on waiversAt this point, you’ve almost certainly selected at least one catcher. But with the draft winding down, you might want to add another lottery ticket to your squad. Tier 4 is made up of veterans who are either not very good, years removed from their peaks, or in difficult timeshares or platoon roles. It also includes promising youngsters blocked for playing time.All signs point to former fantasy stud Jonathan Lucroy being cooked, but someone out there will convince themselves he has another good season in him. Likewise for the others in Tier 4A, such as Brian McCann and Russell Martin.In Tier 4B are the players who never really impressed offensively and have been around long enough for a late-career surge to be highly unlikely. MLB’s good clubhouse guys and strong defensive presences fit here. Every once in a while, one of these guys gets hot and is worth a look.Tier 4C contains the most potential of the fourth tier but perhaps the lowest likelihood of seeing the field more than 100 times. Omar Narváez was great with the White Sox last year, but it’s unclear the extent his role might change with the Mariners. If he does get the chance to play regularly, he could be a late-round steal. And Isiah Kiner-Falefa, 23, also has eligibility at second base and third base, making him an intriguing person to stash.TIER 4AJonathan Lucroy, AngelsJohn Hicks, Tigers (1B)Kurt Suzuki, NationalsBrian McCann, BravesAlex Avila, DiamondbacksJason Castro, TwinsRussell Martin, DodgersTIER 4BChris Iannetta, RockiesElias Diaz, PiratesJosh Phegley, A’sRoberto Perez, IndiansTIER 4COmar Narváez, MarinersIsiah Kiner-Falefa, Rangers (2B, 3B)Grayson Greiner, TigersFantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers: CThis tier exists almost exclusively for larger leagues, leagues with expanded roster sizes, and keepery/dynasty leagues. You’re probably not going to find much value down here, but at least one of the below players could catch fire for a couple of months and provide a lift if your team is in a desperate situation. No fantasy baseball position is as consistently a nightmare for owners as catcher, where even the few highly regarded players have the potential to flop. Top of the rankings, top sleepers, top prospects — it doesn’t matter. Few catchers stand out as sure things, making it difficult to devise a draft strategy for this position or break its rankings down into tiers.This year’s cast is highlighted by three players moving to new teams — J.T. Realmuto, Wilson Ramos and Yasmani Grandal — and someone who hit .186 last year in Gary Sanchez. Things only get more unpredictable from there, with unproven prospects and over-the-hill veterans filling many of the next tiers. Maybe this is the year one of the Red Sox trio of Blake Swihart, Sandy Leon and Christian Vasquez fully breaks out. Royals catcher Cam Gallagher has been lauded for his pitch framing and could see regular playing time if Salvador Perez misses the season. Top A’s prospect Sean Murphy could come up as early as May with a chance to immediately win a wide open job — he’s viewed by the organization as its catcher of the future.We can’t promise anything from Tier 5, but we’ll also totally take credit if one of these names cashes.Tier 5Christian Vazquez, Red SoxCam Gallagher, RoyalsMartin Maldonado, FABlake Swihart, Red Sox (1B, OF)Sandy Leon, Red SoxSean Murphy, A’sKeibert Ruiz, DodgersZack Collins, White Soxlast_img

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