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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