Oct 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (16) scores a run past San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey in the second inning during game seven of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The tools we use in fantasy baseball range across a very broad spectrum. It all depends on the individual player, so there are multiple avenues out there that can make your draft day go smoother. One of the most useful tools however, is that of tiers. Positional tiers allow drafters to not only get a better bearing on the position, but also can be utilized as a way to judge if you can either wait or have to pounce on a player you want.
*Both Carlos Santana and Joe Mauer are excluded as they are not C available in most leagues. If they are C eligible in your league, Santana would be in my tier 2 in front of Jonathan Lucroy and Joe Mauer would be in Tier 4 behind Wilson Ramos.
Tier 1 – Mr. Consistency
Buster Posey – He has been the premier catching option over the last three years and that has not changed going into 2015. I get tired of hearing the same old fantasy jargon that you “can’t reach for him, he’s a catcher.” The guy can just straight out hit. What also encourages me is that we saw his floor in the first half of the season when he had a (.277/10/46) line, but after the break he went on a tear and posted a (.354/12/43) line. No matter how he does it, he always has the stats.
Tier 2 – Solid Buys
Jonathan Lucroy – Lucroy would have been in Tier 1 if not for his hamstring injury. While I concede that he should be alright, that little bit of doubt just knocks him down a peg for me, but the gap is very slim. Lucroy is a stat filler and set the record for doubles (53) in a season by a C, which could ultimately turn into more HR’s. Make him a draft day target.
Evan Gattis – El Oso Blanco has smashed 20+ HRs the last two seasons and has become a premier power staple at the C spot. Things got even better this offseason when he was shipped to the Astros and his value rose. Gattis will avoid the strain of the C duties as he will see a lot of time at the DH, 1B, and OF positions. Out of all the catchers this season, he has the best chance to hit 30 bombs.
Yan Gomes – Gomes has quietly put up back to back solid seasons. Last year the Indians finally gave him the full time C job and his breakout soon followed. 20 HR guys are hard to come by in fantasy, let alone at the C spot, so he belongs in the top 5. He, outside of Posey, is the one C with 20 HR power that will not kill your average.
Devin Mesoraco – Mesoraco was another breakout catcher that finally flourished after being handed the reins to the starting gig. His line last year strongly put him in the top 3 conversation along with Posey and Lucroy. While a decline in BA is probably going to come this season, he still should hit 20+ HR’s and stay around the 80-90 RBI range.
Tier 3- Bounce Backs
Brian McCann – Last season, I was very bullish on McCann with his move to the Yankees. The whole situation just screamed a monstrous season with McCann potentially hitting 30 HR’s. Well, that did not really come to fruition. McCann eclipsed 20 HR’s for the 7th straight season, but the .232 AVG and .692 OPS really made it a tough season to own him in fantasy. He still belongs in the Top 6 discussion as he has the HR track record and did knock in 75 RBI’s last season. Fantasy owners should expect a little bit of a bounce back, which would see his power get to around 25 bombs and the AVG approach .250. This would put him right around Mesoraco.
Yadier Molina – Molina’s season was slowed largely to a thumb injury and his numbers definitely took a hit. Molina is has to been one of the safest C options over the last years and that should not change going into this season. Molina should provide a .290-.300/10-15/60-80 season which provides ample fantasy value. He just doesn’t have the same upside as the other options in front of him outside of AVG.
Salvador Perez – Perez nearly played 170 games at C last season. To me, that workload really affected Perez’s fantasy value last season. The 17 HR’s were nice, but he practically swung at everything last season and that was even more evident in the playoffs. The upside he has makes him an intriguing option and you will often see him ranked right around where Molina always is, but Molina gets the edge for consistency. Salvy has a very high floor and an even higher upside, as he could flirt with 20 HR’s this year along with .280-.290 AVG.
Matt Wieters – Wieters was off to a great season last year before he was struck by Tommy John surgery. The Orioles will probably give Wieters some DH appearances before they can be confident with him behind the plate. Before last season, Wieters was a lock for 20 HR’s, so we all know his value. The AVG will probably suck again, but Wieters fills the power void perfectly for owners that tend to wait later on the position. He should bounceback fine and put up a normal season.
Tier 4- Little Less Safety
Travis d’Arnaud – d’Arnaud is an intriguing option heading into the 2015 season. He struggled early last season and was demoted in June, but when he was called back up he showed the talent he has. He managed to hit 10 HRs and drove in 32 RBI’s after he came back up, which gave drafters hope that he can parlay it going into 2015. In a 10 team league, he is one of the last guys I would target as my starter because he has the potential to produce some pop for a cheap price.
Wilson Ramos – For Ramos, his problem is availability. Every year, experts always clamor of the potential that Ramos has IF he can stay on the field. Ramos has not even had more than 350 ABs the last three seasons. Ramos can supply some pop and for a thin position he will still warrant a late pick. It is just that his inability to stay on the field is a headache. Draft accordingly as he has the potential to hit 20 HR’s, but just do not expect it.
Russell Martin – Martin is one of those players that is a lot better in real life than fantasy. He handles a pitching staff well and brings a good influence wherever he goes. Unfortunately, we don’t reward those stats in fantasy. The .290 AVG last season is a mirage, but that does not mean Martin will not have starting C value in fantasy. Batting second in Toronto’s lineup should give him some good counting stats, so expect his runs and HR’s to rise while the AVG and RBI total will drop.
Tier 5- The Last Stand
Yasmani Grandal – This tier marks the very last capable starting C in fantasy this year. If you happen to own any of the C’s after this tier, you will probably be in for a long season. Grandal came over to the Dodgers and he has always flirted with the power potential he possesses. The AVG will be ugly, but he has the potential to provide some low end C pop.
Mike Zunino – Zunino either hits HRs or Ks. Zunino hit 22 HR’s, which is not something to ignore. But the .199 AVG was an absolute killer. If Zunino can maintain the power and just even hit somewhere around .230, he eerily mirrors McCann’s season last year. That in itself is worth a flier on draft day if you have decided to wait on a C.
Wilin Rosario – Two years ago, Rosario was in the top 5 C conversation following a 28 HR campaign. In 2013, Rosario slipped a little in the power department, but still maintained a .290 AVG. Then, last season came and what resulted was an absolute disaster. The Rockies do not want his glove behind the plate and they have begun to audition him at other positions. He still can mash lefties, but I just do not think he will get the AB’s to offer fantasy value. If he gets traded, especially to the AL, he deserves to creep close to the top 10, but as of now, he belongs in this tier.