Many people, myself included, like to avoid spending a high draft pick (or paying a premium price) for a catcher. Personally, if it is a 27 round draft in a one catcher league, then I am probably selecting my catcher somewhere between rounds 23-27. If it is an auction and I have a $260 budget, then I am probably committing $10 to the position at the absolute most.
When it comes to catcher, it’s such an offensively devoid position that in a league that requires everyone to start just one, nobody owns two (nobody is drafting Buster Posey with the intentions of playing him at first base). So if you are in a 12-team, one catcher league, there could be as many as 18 starting catchers on the waiver-wire on a given day. That much availability makes it easy to ignore the position completely until you fill out the rest of your roster; it also makes it easy to stream players in and out of your lineup from free agency all throughout the season.
One guy I think you should consider in the final round of your draft, who is being criminally overlooked, is Stephen Vogt from the Oakland Athletics. According to fantasypros.com, Vogt is currently the 23rd catcher being taken and his ADP is 314.8. So if you want him, he is pretty much yours for the taking.
Last season, as a utility player, Vogt hit .279/.321/.431 with nine home runs, 26 runs, 35 RBI and he even chipped in a steal over 287 plate appearances. He also had a .329 wOBA (.19 points above league average), a 114 wRC+, and a .152 ISO (.17 points above league average). He was an above average hitter in 2014 and is set to see a big bump in playing time in 2015.
Vogt’s an interesting hitter, he puts a lot of balls in the air. His 33 percent ground ball rate last season was over ten percent lower than the league average of 44.8 percent. He also makes a lot of contact, his 88.2 percent contact rate was nearly nine percent better than the league average of 79.4 percent.
On top of that, according to baseballheatmaps.com, Vogt had an average batted ball distance of 277.18 feet last season (which ranks almost exactly in the middle among all hitters). This tells me that even though he was not pummeling the ball every time he put it in the air, he was not hitting it meekly either (he out-distanced sluggers like Yoenis Cespedes, Albert Pujols and Kyle Seager). Pair all of this with his 8.3 percent home-run-to-fly-ball rate from last season and I’m inclined to believe that there’s a chance we see a slight power surge from him at some point, with a full season of regular at bats it wouldn’t surprise me if he reaches 15 home runs.
Another thing I like about Vogt is his approach at the plate, he has some of the traditional pull power you look for in a left-handed hitter (all nine of his home runs last year went out of right field or right-center), but he is not up there trying to force the issue. He is capable of using every part of the field, and he does. Take a look at this graphic below from brooksbaseball.net:
When Vogt hits the ball on the ground he often pulls it, but when he gets it in the air — and out of the infield– he uses all parts of the field. In fact, he had a slight tendency to go the opposite way. This tells me that he takes what the pitcher gives him and doesn’t try to do too much at the plate, I love seeing that out of a guy who doesn’t have natural 30-hr power.
Steamer has Vogt projected to hit .260/.309/.406 with 11 home runs, 47 runs and 49 RBI in 441 plate appearances this season. I believe he will outperform that projection and I think he has as much of a chance as guys like Travis d’Arnaud, Russell Martin, or Wilson Ramos at finishing the year as a top-10 catcher. He is certainly worth a look in the last round of your draft, and if you choose to go in another direction he should at the very least be on the list of guys you are looking to stream, especially against right handed pitching.
Aside: One caveat with Vogt is that he might not qualify at catcher right from the start in your league so check your settings. He will be Oakland’s primary catcher this season, so in leagues that allow someone to gain position eligibility mid-season he’ll gain it fairly quickly. In 2014, he only started 15 games at the position last, so as of now, some sites have him as a catcher and some do not.