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Sunday, January 14, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSITION PRIMER: CATCHERS

We are jumping the gun just a bit beginning our next phase of our coverage of the upcoming 2018 fantasy baseball season by moving into the Primers before the position rankings are done but we keep hearing your requests.  So without further delay, here is our 2018 catcher primer:

Draft Strategy:  One of the more tried-and-true strategic methods we have always espoused here is to avoid using a high draft pick on a catcher.  The reasons are numerous and remain the same to this day:  frequent days off hurting counting stats, very high injury risk, and perhaps most often overlooked; a big negative when compared to the other players your league mates are scarfing up in the same round.  Well, we once again stand by that decision this season with one giant exception and that is when it comes to New York Yankees slugging backstop Gary Sanchez.  Having come off a 2017 campaign where he slammed 33 home runs and collected 90 RBI while hitting .273, Sanchez is the one exception to this rule this season given that his power game is on par with other sluggers who will be picked in Round 2 which is his ADP.  Think Mike Piazza without the .315 average here as Sanchez really has taken off with his power.  Failing to get Sanchez, we go right back to our method of looking for value-play catchers which really paid off last season in tabbing Wellington Castillo and Wilson Ramos.  In addition, the prospect way is also a good strategy to use in searching for those who are on the cusp of making it the major leagues this season.  So with this established, let's see the five catches we will target and avoid this season, followed by a look at the prospects.

5 CATCHERS WE WILL TARGET

Gary Sanchez:  Already touched on why in the above paragraph.

Yadier Molina:  No one wants the future Hall of Famer but all he keeps doing is going out and hitting.  Molina was a free agent add in many leagues last season as everyone keeps anticipating he will fall off the statistical cliff but then he goes out and hits 18 home runs, drives in 82, and bats .273.  Yes please for one more year.

Welington Castillo:  Going back to the well here as Castillo remains very underrated and signing with the White Sox keeps him in a great hitter's park.

Wilson Ramos:  Like with Castillo, our pick of Ramos worked out for those who waited for his return in 2017.  Ramos cracked 11 home runs in just 208 at-bats with a .260 average and all he has to do is avoid injury to make a run at 20 homers.

Austin Barnes:  This one is interesting as Barnes has been a line-drive machine going back to his minor league days and he carries catcher eligibility to go with second base.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are trying to find ways to keep Barnes' bat in the lineup and that is a smart move since the guy can really hit.  Major upside.

5 CATCHERS WE WILL AVOID

Buster Posey, Salvador Perez, J.T. Realmuto:  Sorry but not going to use a high pick on a catcher other than Gary Sanchez.  Keep in mind though that Realmuto was a huge success sleeper pick for us back in 2016.

Mike Zunino:  Yes the power is immense here but I can't stomach a .200 average.

Travis D'Arnaud:  Someone will always chase the potential here but not me given how Travis D'Arnaud can't ever stay on the field in one piece.

PROSPECTS

Francisco Mejia:  Sorry but I am reaching for this smooth-hitting catcher as Francisco Mejia is the top prospect at the position by a mile.  Look for a debut sometime in May or June and then look out.  I will be patiently waiting.

Jorge Alfaro:  The star has dimmed here somewhat as Alfaro really struggled to hit in the minors in 2017 but there is some big-time power to be had here.

Chance Sisco:  With Welington Castillo off to Chicago with the White Sox, look for the .280-hitting Sisco to get a long look.


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