2017 Catcher Rankings

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By 3.26 on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
1. Jonathan Lucroy
2. Gary Sanchez
3. Buster Posey
4. Yasmani Grandal
5. Wilson Contreras
6. Welington Castillo
7. J.T. Realmuto
8. Salvador Perez
9. Evan Gattis
10. Russell Martin
11. Brian McCann
12. Kyle Schwarber
13. Stephen Vogt
14. Yadier Molina
15. Matt Wieters
16. Cameron Rupp
17. Tom Murphy
18. Travis D’Arnaud
19. Derek Norris
20. Francisco Cervelli

Bust – Buster Posey
Buster Posey is consistently over drafted strictly off of reputation and the fact that he is eligible at catcher and plays every day. Don’t get caught in this trap. Posey is starting this season as a 29 year old catcher who has been showing declining power, only 14 home runs and a slugging percentage of .434, both of which are his lowest marks since 2011. He plays in one of the least hitter friendly parks in the majors. In addition to low power numbers Buster’s batting average is has been on the decline for multiples years. Yes, he is a good player, but not worth taking him where he will end up being drafted as he will not return that value.

Breakout – Welington Castillo
I know you’re thinking, what Welington Castillo? Yes, Welington Castillo. With the move from Arizona to Baltimore Castillo will remain in a very hitter friendly park and add on his schedule the American League East’s home stadiums that include New York and Toronto, both launch sites for baseballs. He no longer will have to hit in San Francisco or San Diego or face Clayton Kershaw. Hitting around him is taking a step forward allowing him to see more quality pitching and maybe best of all the pitching in the AL East is at best leaguer average. Look for big things from Castillo and feel free to wait on him as he won’t be a catcher taken early in drafts.

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Which of these doesn’t belong?

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Mike Trout
By Keith Allison on Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Last year at this time there were debates throughout fantasy baseball about who should be the number one overall pick in drafts. Many analysts were hell bent on anointing Bryce Harper to that first overall pick over Mike Trout. We saw what happened with Harper last season after his “breakout” season in 2015. Now the question is, who in the top ten will be the Harper of 2017?

According to FantasyPros.com the consensus top ten books look like this:
1. Mike Trout
2. Mookie Betts
3. Jose Altuve
4. Kris Bryant
5. Nolan Arenado
6. Paul Goldschmidt
7. Clayton Kershaw
8. Manny Machado
9. Josh Donaldson
10. Bryce Harper

For us one time on this list sticks out more than any other as a possible bust. Can you guess who? Nope your wrong, or maybe you were right, its Mookie Betts.

In his first two seasons Mookie averaged 12 home runs, 48 RBIs, 63 runs and a slash line of .291/.348/.471 over 197 games, yes a very small sample size. In 2016 Betts is more home runs than in the previous two years combined with 31, had 113 RBIs, 122 runs and a triple slash of .318/.363/.534 over 158 games, and even smaller sample size. So, which small sample size are we supposed to believe?

For me, if I am have the second overall pick in a draft I want to make sure I am getting a top player that has consistently performed that way and Betts is not that guy. Do I believe that he could be the number two overall player come end of the season, absolutely, but I am not willing to bet on it. I don’t want to be the guy that last year took Harper number one overall and kick myself for trusting one breakout season. Betts is deserving of a top ten pick, but not a top five.

My top five picks are easy, Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Josh Donaldson, Clayton Kershaw and Nolan Arenado. Pick Mookie Betts at your own risk and buyer beware.

Disagree? Great, let us hear about it and why.

Is Theo Epstein a Genius?

Rays vs Red Sox 9/8/10
By Scott Slingsby from Rochester, NH (Theo Epstein, Boston Red Sox) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
With the Chicago Cubs winning yesterday in game four of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants the possibility of the Cubs World Series drought ending is becoming more and more realistic. If that happens Theo Epstein will be responsible for ending the two most celebrated championship cold streaks in baseball history.

On November 25th, 2002 Epstein became the general manager of the Boston Red Sox. At the time he was the youngest GM in MLB history. Just two years later he was in charge when the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years and again when they won it again in 2007. He was the hero of Fenway and never had to buy another meal in Boston.

In 2011 Epstein became President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, the current record holder for longest time without a World Series title. In just five years he has taken the Cubs from lovable losers, to the top team in baseball and given the city of Chicago real hope of winning their first Championship since 1908.

If Theo is able to complete this championship run and give the Cubs a World Series banner we would have no choice but to name him the greatest baseball operations guy ever. Ok, the title needs a little work, but you get my point. He single handedly would be responsible for ending the two most prolific curses in all of sports. The only man to be part of both historic events.

Two Start Pitchers to Avoid

Michael Pineda delivers a pitch in the first inning.
By Arturo Pardavila III on Flickr [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Rather than try and predict which potential two-start pitchers you should try and use this week we thought we would simply tell you some of the fringe pitchers to avoid.

Robert Gsellman, SP Mets

Many will look at the match-ups Robert Gsellman has this week, Atlanta and Philadelphia, and think they should add him. That is a trap. Thought Gsellman does look like he has easy match-ups he has struggled against both those teams already this season. In his previous starts again the Braves and Phillies he went 11.0 innings and gave up 8 earned runs. Do not fall for the match-ups, avoid him this week.

Matt Boyd, SP Tigers

Matt Boyd was supposed to be a two-start pitcher last week and that didn’t happen, not a surprise for this time of year. Now Boyd is scheduled for two starts this week, facing the Twins and Royals. Because I am doubtful that he will actually make two starts I would advise you stay away. A one start Matt Boyd is not worth it if you have a better option available. Especially since Boyd faced Minnesota his last time out and lasted 3.7 innings and gave up 7 earned runs. Even if he had two starts this week he is likely in for rough outings as he hasn’t fared well against Kansas City either this season.

Other two-start pitchers you should avoid; Kevin Gausman, Michael Pineda, Joe Musgrove, Edison Volquez and Matt Garza.

Hitters to Avoid in 2017

Yesterday we highlighted pitchers that, due mostly to injury concerns, we will be avoiding in 2017 drafts. Today we thought it only fair to pay attention to the other side of the game and name some hitters we won’t be drafting.

Yasiel Puig, OF Dodgers

There is a big hole in the outfield when it comes to quality fantasy players, one of the slimmest crop of usable players in a while. Even with that we will be avoiding Yasiel Puig. It is highly probably Puig will be traded in the offseason and a lot of people believe it will be to the Brewers, we agree with that by the way. Even if that happens and opens up his playing time we still believe he is too risky. He has not shown that he can be consistent nor stay healthy. He won’t go high in drafts likely, but still we want to stay away.

Jay Bruce, OF Mets

Again, we know there are not a lot of great outfielders to choose from, but Jay Bruce is not someone you want next year. Since his trade to the New York Mets Bruce had been horrible. In 36 games he has a slash line of .192/.271/.315, with only 4 home runs. Question has been asked is he trying to prove too much to his new team or is this simply regression to the mean for him. We believe it is that latter. Last time Bruce his over .250 was in 2013 and it is clear to us that his hot season in Cincinnati was not the new norm for him, but just an extended hot streak.

Jose Bautista, OF Blue Jays

Maybe we should have tried a little harder to find players outside of the outfield, but it is just where we found players we don’t want for 2017. Jose Bautista has his lowest batting average since 2005 when he hit .143. Next year he will be 36 years old and has progressively been showing signs of aging with declining performance and increasing time injured. He is still valued by most fantasy players as a high end option, but is not returning what you have to pay for him. He is likely going to finish the regular season with his first sub-25 home run season since 2009. If he isn’t knocking the ball out of the park, isn’t hitting for a good average and isn’t driving in 100+ runs then he just doesn’t provide enough value for where he will be drafted.

Daniel Murphy, 2B Nationals

Finally, a non-outfielder and probably a pick that has you scratching your head. Daniel Murphy has been a major break out star in his age 31 season and has given owners plenty to celebrate. However, is it really something he can do again next year? We predict that many fantasy owners will be drafting Murphy in the first three rounds and he will not return that value. It is very unlikely that at 32 Murphy will be able to repeat his 2016 season. He has made it known that he made changes to his batting stance to increase his power production, but even if that sticks next year he will more than likely fall off in batting average as he has his highest BABIP since 2008 at .350 that is not going to be repeated. He will be a very useful fantasy player in 2017, but not worth where you will have to draft him.

There are without a doubt a lot more players that will be on our do not draft list for 2017 like Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer, Mark Trumbo and Billy Hamilton, but we didn’t have room to talk about them all here. Be on the lookout during the offseason however for more on why these players won’t be on any of our fantasy baseball teams in 2017.