2016 (15) Top Catchers Under 30

         ***Using the Zig Zag scoring system with a top score of 300 points*** 

  1. Buster Posey, 28,  SF –Zig Zag score (195)Big surprise right? Posey is hands down the best fantasy catcher out there in every way. That being said, it is highly unlikely that i will have him on any of my teams. The position is deep and with its physical demands they are likely to play banged up and get injured quite often. There are other big hitters that will play everyday at other positions for the same price. Posey has been playing some at first base but with Brandon Belt starting to come into his own those opportunities are  becoming harder to come by. Too bad he can’t just slide into a DH spot.

  2. Devin Mesaroco. 26, CIN – Zig Zag score (176) 2 seasons ago Devin became a goldmine for fantasy owners who were quick enough to grab him out of their Free agent pool.  Fast forward to last season where he missed the majority of the year after having hip surgery. There are some questions as to whether he will be ready to go for the start of spring training. So far the Reds say he is on track to be ready. While I do believe in Devins bat I worry that he may carry too much risk. If he does not get the same torque out of his surgically repaired hip then he might find himself driving a city bus by mid summer. Once again much safer picks to spend less money on.
  3. Yasmani Grandal 26, LAD – Zig Zag score (165) A bit of a surprise that Grandal finished 3rd in my scoring model. As I start to take a look at what he did last year…I begin to understand why. Yasmani finished with a  15.3% BB/9. This led all catchers by a lot. While this is a VERY impressive stat (especially for points leagues) he did not score in the top of any other skill categories. He did however finish a little above average in everything. As Grandal is just entering his prime years there is a chance for a big breakout season. He certainly has the skills and team management has the financial ability to put a lot of skilled players around him in the batting order. Grandal will rank as a strong #3 on this list for points leagues due to his ability to gain “counting stats”. For roto formats, he is a solid choice if you wait on catcher to fill other positions and find him sitting there at the end of the draft.
  4. Kyle Schwarber 22, CHC – Zig Zag score (162) Kyle is an amazing hitter, when he makes contact. I’m not talking about Joey Gallo Schwarber had a 24.9 k9 rate which isn’t terrible but he has an eye catching 74.8% Z Contact rate which means that when he swings at a pitch in the strike zone he makes contact only 3 out of 4 swings. The average percentage is usually around 87%. While this stat isn’t too much to worry about it throws up a red flag for me. I know Schwarber had a great first season and he was hitting the cover of the ball off. Pitchers will start to find and exploit any weaknesses they can find. When he starts to struggle I wonder what might happen if he starts to take more big swings trying to force his way out of a funk. If the k’s start piling up catcher could quickly become a black hole in your lineup.
  5. Jonathan Lucroy 29, MIL – Zig Zag score (154) Lucroy would be #2 on my list had it not been for injuries and the fact that he plays for the Brewers. He is the model of a very productive hitter with a great eye and approach at the plate. He looks for a good pitch to hit in a certain spot if he gets it he hits it hard (35%Hard)  with a 94.3% Z contact rate. If he does not get a good pitch to hit he is perfectly happy not to offer at it. Lucroy has a good BB/9 rate 8.7% and a very good K/9 rate 15.4%.  He has Braun and a streaky Khris Davis to  protect him in the lineup but the hitting talent starts to run a little thin from there. That being said if he is being undervalued in your auction/draft this a very high upside if you swoop in and get him for a discount.
  6. Travis d’Arnaud 26, NYM  Alert! *Sleeper*Alert!Zig Zag score (153) I had Travis on most of my teams last year and in the first 1-2 months i felt like a genius. d’Arnaud was killing it. Then he had his bat in the right place to hit a hard fastball in. Only problem was that his hand got in the way.when he finally came back from a broken hand he hyperextended an elbow trying to tag out a runner at home. After that i was forced to find a replacement, When he came back from that injury he started to hit again. He is definitely a very talented hitter….when healthy. That being said I expect This to be the year he puts it all together and has a big season at the plate.
  7. Matt Wieters 29, BAL – Zig Zag score (147) oh to see the look on Buck Showalters face when Matt signed his one year tender. There must have been a few jaws dropped in that head office. Well, now that Caleb Joseph will continue riding the pine as a backup catcher we will see at least one more year of Wieters behind the plate. He gets a bad rap being a former top 5 draft pick and not hitting 30 home runs per year. Wieters will show an excellent batting eye that hits for a lot of line drives to all parts of the field. Playing in the AL East can only help the cause as they are mostly very hitter friendly parks.He should be good for another 20+ HR season.
  8. Wellington Castillo 28, ARI Alert!*Sleeper*Alert!Zig Zag score (141) I wonder to myself just now if his teammates nicknamed him beef? hmm. Get it? Anyways. Beef had a breakout season last year with 19 HR’s  in 378 AB’s. With a Starting job in the coming season in his sights he may be a 30-35 HR guy. If this proves true the Diamondbacks would gladly have a “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” T-shirt day.A 37.6% Hard Hit Rate could be a force in that hitter friendly park in Arizona
  9. John Ryan Murphy 24, MIN – Zig Zag score (134) During the off season the Yankees traded Murphy their backup catcher to the Twins for Aaron Hicks. 2 players with plus skills who were blocked by others on their former teams. When Murphy would give Brian McCann a day off here and there You could tell that he had the skills to hit and hit for power if he could only get a starting role. Presto! he is now the starting Catcher for the Twins.You might think “so what” well the Twins are a young talented team that is getting better as they bring up these young stars one at a time. Murphy has a chance to be a run producing middle of the lineup type of guy. He is the type that could end up being a steal for you at the end of your draft.
  10. Francisco Cervelli 29, PIT – Zig Zag score (130) Cervelli who was a backup catcher most of his career sometimes because he was always getting hurt. Last season his first as a Pirate was going to hopefully lessen the impact of losing Russell Martin to the Blue Jays. Well, he was able to stay healthy and catch 130 games for the Bucos. Cervelli does not hit for much power at all but he does hit the ball well in almost every AB. He produced 133 hits on his way to hitting .301. just about every team would love to get that from their catcher. If you are scrambling to find a catcher late in your draft Cervelli would be a very serviceable guy to select. Just keep an eye on his health.
  11. Salvador Perez 25, KC – Zig Zag score (116) Perez is a prime example of the Kansas City’s Method of hitting don’t strike out or walk just hit the ball in play. Good things will happen. Well it doesn’t help his  OBA very much. Perez is a very strong young man that has much talent with a bat in his hands. He’s also dangerous with one if you ask Aroldis Chapman. We have yet to see the best of Sal but, as he enters his prime years this can change very quickly.
  12. Derek Norris 26, SD –  Zig Zag score (114) Now here is a guy that is so underrated it’s a shame. Derek is an OBA machine. Last season his wOBA was .309 but it might just be he was adjusting to a new team, league and pitching staff. Usually it is at .350+. Derek still did a lot with the bat 33 doubles and 14 HR’s the 60+ RBI’s are nice as well. His walk rate last year was half his normal rate at just above 6% when he gets that back up to the 12% he is used to well…let’s assume he will be back in the top 10 catchers heading into next year.
  13. J.T. Realmuto 24, MIA – Zig Zag score (113) J.T. was one of the best second half catching secrets last season. As he started to get comfortable at the plate we saw a very valuable tool most catchers won’t give you…the ability to hit double digits on HR and SB.. with Dee Gordon signed, Giancarlo (don’t call me Mike) Stanton back, a productive Marcel Ozuna. This should be a very potent lineup J.T. will be right in the middle of it collecting the counting stats.
  14. Blake Swihart 23, BOS  – Zig Zag score (106) Blake was a first round pick of the Red Sox right out of High School  back in 2011. He Put up good numbers as he climbed the minor league ladder. Last season due to numerous injuries they needed Swihart in Boston. Thought to need more seasoning in AA/AAA he was recalled anyway, I can’t say that he hit the ground running as there were struggles. Most likely from concentrating mostly on learning a new set of pitchers and all of their repertoire. Come August Swihart started to hit really well. While he will possibly be an very good hitter in the future, the lineup around him and excellent hitter friendly parks in the AL East should be a benefit for the young switch hitter who may have quite a number of RBI opportunities.
  15. Yan Gomes 28, CLE – Zig Zag score (75) When healthy (he should be entering Spring Training) Yan is very capable of producing a 20HR, 70RBI season with a .280 batting average. I’d take that on my team. You could do a lot worse. The Indians as usual over the last few years are a popular pick to win the World Series. It’s a little early to think about that. If you’ve already placed that bet i’m sure there is a number you can call to get help.

 

 

 

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Changing Things Up…

So in a true Zig-Zag fashion I have re-thought my strategy for my 2016 Fantasy team. Last year (2015) in my 12 team H2H Points league I finished in first place with a 16-5 record. Of course that was the “regular season”. Top four teams make the playoffs and I was bounced in the first round by the 4th place team. Frustration does not begin to describe my anger. I was left looking at my team toward the end and half of them were injured.

Last year is in the past right?  That bad taste lingers in my mouth. Last season I focused my auction on buying low on high ceiling players. Great regular season but, they gladly stepped aside and let the September call-ups  get some playing time.

So i have decided to tweak my strategy a bit. I believe I am going to try the route of having all the players on my team be under the age of 30. Players in their prime full of energy and ability to play everyday. I will still look for some bargains in the auction but, I am going to start posting my top 15 lists of under 30 players who are primed for a big season.

If I don’t remember mistakes in the past I will be doomed to repeat them right?  I am very excited to start working on this. I will start with my top Catchers very soon.

Scott

2016 Third Basemen

Happy New Year. It’s time to turn your attention from fantasy football to prepare for the real fantasy season of 2016 Baseball. It’s about time for those of us who love this game to start studying. I like to get in about 4-6 weeks of reading stories in magazines and on the internet seeing everyone’s prognostications on the ultimate sleepers, break out prospects and newly healthy grizzled veterans. This of course is usually followed by a countless number of mock drafts and auctions.

I’d love to get you started on a few players at Third base who might be slightly undervalued enabling you to swoop in and get a deeper team.

  1. Miguel Sano, MIN – Here is an example of a very highly touted prospect who last year showed off what he can do with the bat. He had a BABIP of .396 which seems too good to be true. His wOBA of .392 shows that he is a patient hitter thanks in large part to his 15.8% walk rate. When he does get the pitch he likes he hits the ball with authority to the tune of a Hard Hit Rate of 43.2%. Sano has a lot of pop in that bat. He is going to be penciled into a run producing spot in the Twins lineup which has a knack for getting on base. Long story short if you see him being overlooked in your draft/auction it would be a great idea to take advantage.
  2. Justin Turner, LAD – Turner may be the most underrated hitter in baseball. Don Mattingly knew this as he continued to run him out there instead of their “other” hard hitting Cuban import, Alex Guerrero. There was a time in the early to middle part of last season when Guerrero seemed to hit a handful of HR’s leaving the media to demand his insertion into the everyday lineup. Here is why Donnie Baseball did not do so. Turner had a .321 BABIP a 8.2 BB & 16.2k rates, a 31.7 hard hit rate with a 27.7 line drive and wOBA of .371 rate to show that he doesn’t just hit deep fly balls but hits the ball hard to all fields. Gets on base because he makes good contact with most pitches he swings at in the strike zone (zcontact was 87.2). The one question haunting him this season will be his micro fracture surgery he had when the dodgers were knocked out of the playoffs. Turner is now off of crutches and has begun working out again. He says he will be ready by spring training. If this holds true don’t let someone else get a hitter that does everything well on the cheap.
  3. Mike Moustakas, KC – Here is a guy who was so close to being a quickly forgotten, hard swinging, all or nothing hitter. A true liability to kill rallies on an eventual World Series team was g0oing to be replaced and sent to the minors. Then, something happened. Something clicked. When Moustakas showed up for Spring Training and started playing Arizona exhibition games. He was hitting the ball to the opposite field. He was hitting the ball hard and going with whatever the pitcher gave him. Whether this was the work of the KC coaching staff or Moustakas realizing that his demise would happen very soon he stopped trying to hit the ball to Jupiter, FL and used the whole field. He sported a .294 BABIP to go with a sparkling 7BB to a 12.4K rate. A 91.4 Z contact rate to show his new found ability to hit what he swung at and a 31.3 hard hit rate to show he was hitting those pitches with authority. With a wOBA of .353 he showed he can make good contact. Hit the ball to all fields and still be patient enough to take a walk if he didn’t get it. If he is able to improve on his numbers slightly from last year as he is just entering his prime then he may be in the discussion for a top 5 fantasy third base ranking in the soon to be future.
  4. Stephen Piscotty, STL – The Cardinals have a way of producing well rounded baseball players from their farm system…Piscotty is one of the latest success stories. When he was called up from the minors he hit the ground running. With a starting job waiting for him amid the injury problems that occurred starting with the loss of Mat Adams. Piscotty had a BABIP of .372 which will likely have some regression now that pitchers will figure him out a little better. His 7.8% BB rate compared to a 21.9% K rate is average. It does show a good eye at the plate with his slightly above average walk rate. A .364 wOBA confirms his very good ability to get on base. When he does make contact at a z rate of 86% in the strike zone he made hard contact to the tune of a 37.4 HHR That is REALLY good. It compares to the great Kris Bryant who had a HHR of 37.5.  Piscotty looks to have a chance to start in 2016 and while he will not likely be the type of 30 HR 100 RBI guy that owners target in corner infield positions he has the ability to make up for it with Runs, Doubles, RBI and BB’s.
  1. Maikel Franco, PHI – When the tough to watch Phillies made the decision to go into rebuilding mode they moved Cody Asche to the minors to learn how to play the outfield. This allowed Franco to be called up and slide right into the starting third base role. Franco had a very good showing last season. None of the numbers for Franco stand out to me other than his .360 wOBA. He hit well, took walks and found a way to get production from the middle of the order. As the Phillies start to promote guys like JP Crawford to short stop and other guys to hit in front of Franco the power hitter will very likely return the investment with some run production possibly as the cleanup hitter in the lineup very soon.