by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The days of Buster Posey being the elite catcher have clearly come and gone. He was once viewed as being significantly ahead of the field, and while he’s still among the better options he’s been passed by (you could argue that he belong at #2). Who has taken the top spot? What other surprises are there? Let’s start to get a feel for the landscape and try to determine who the bargains are and who to avoid:
1) Gary Sanchez – New York Yankees
2) J.T. Realmuto – Miami Marlins
3) Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants
4) Evan Gattis – Houston Astros
5) Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals
6) Brian McCann – Houston Astros
7) Willson Contreras – Chicago Cubs
8) Jonathan Lucroy – Free Agent
9) Welington Castillo – Chicago White Sox
10) Tyler Flowers – Atlanta Braves
11) Wilson Ramos – Tampa Bay Rays
12) Yadier Molina – St. Louis Cardinals
13) Russell Martin – Toronto Blue Jays
14) Stephen Vogt – Milwaukee Brewers
15) Mike Zunino – Seattle Mariners
- Consider the ranking for Jonathan Lucroy to be extremely tentative, as we await to find out where he’ll sign. Once we have a better idea of where he’s going to play, and his playing time outlook, we’ll be able to get a better feel for his spot on these rankings.
- Evan Gattis in the Top 5? There’s no questioning the power and he’s going to benefit from being the Astros’ regular DH. A power catcher spending most of his time out from behind the plate, meaning he can accumulate more AB? That’s something we will always try to target.
- Many people are going to believe in Willson Contreras, especially due to the power he’s shown in the Majors. However he benefited from a 37.0% HR/FB in the second half of ’17, which does skew the numbers, and strikeouts are going to become a growing concern. We will dive deeper into him in the coming weeks, but a drop in power and the risk of a poor average will likely cause him to be over-drafted heading into ’18 (that doesn’t mean he won’t have any value).
- Another player who people may be surprised to find lower than expected is Mike Zunino. Sure he launched 25 HR in ’17 and posted a solid .251 AVG, but don’t make the mistake of paying for that production. The power may be real, but he benefited from a .355 BABIP and continued to strikeout far too much (36.8%). He has regression written all over him.
- Tyler Flowers may be someone that’s pointed to as being ranked too highly, but he significantly cut his strikeouts (30.5% for his career, 22.2% in ’17). The improvement didn’t come out of nowhere, as he’s been reducing his SwStr% (14.2% for his career, 11.6% in ’16, 10.4% in ’17) and the underlying performance supports the improvement. He’s always shown some power, and with Kurt Suzuki the only thing standing in his way of full-time AB there’s obvious upside.
Source – Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings: