Drafting Value – Catchers
In my first article here at FWFB I’d like to set up what will be a weekly article on players that I feel you should target during your drafts. The top tier of each position is already getting the attention it deserves. I am going to focus on the not-so obvious choices and try to get some value for you at each position. Each week I will focus on one position and list a few guys for you to keep in your queue on draft day.
This week we’re talking catchers. The catching position can be one of the tougher positions to properly value. There are a ton of variables that affect when you should take one and how many you need to take. It is also a position that many choose to wait on until the mid to late rounds to draft. The “elite” tier of catchers consisting of Willson Contreras, Buster Posey and Gary Sanchez aren’t going to be listed below. They will, however, be used as benchmarks when evaluating other players. When these guys are taken, maybe even a little too early, don’t panic!
- Wellington Castillo, Chicago White Sox– After having a career year in Baltimore in 2017, Castillo signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the White Sox. Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia will provide some protection in the lineup so there’s no fall off expected on that end of Castillo’s outlook in 2018. Castillo played in only 96 games with the Orioles last season and still managed to hit for a career high 20 home runs en route to his also career high .490 slugging percentage and .282 batting average. Castillo is the obvious starter moving forward but Kevan Smith is likely to take the role as Castillo’s backup and should take a healthy percentage of games from him. This shouldn’t steer you away and here’s why. Castillo managed to post a higher home run total, ISO and SLG% than Buster Posey. He had a higher batting average than Willson Contreras and higher line drive and hard hit percentages than Gary Sanchez in 2017. An ADP fifty spots lower than any of the elite tier catchers means Castillo provides extreme value in the middle rounds.
- Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay Rays– For a catcher to come in to a new clubhouse in the middle of a season when everyone else has been playing baseball for four months and produce the way Ramos did in 2017 is quite admirable. Ramos rehabbed his injured knee for much of the first half of the season and thus only played in 64 games producing a .260/.290/.446 slash line. If we scaled his 2017 production into 128 games, which he played in 2015 AND 2016 with the Nationals, Ramos would have posted 22 HR and 70 RBI’s. Lets put this into perspective. Willson Contreras finished 2017 batting .276 with 21 HR and 74 RBI. Even with Contreras elevating his numbers a little in 2018, with his loads of potential, it doesn’t seem to validate the 109 spot difference in ADP at NFBC so far in drafts. If Ramos can get back to his workhorse durability shown with Washington, could be a major steal at the catcher position.
- Austin Barnes, Los Angeles Dodgers– Barnes HAS to get more playing time! All he does is produce and he has second base eligibility just to throw some extra value on to his name. The Dodgers managed to allow him only 262 plate appearances in 2017. Wilson Ramos had 224 in only 64 games as stated above. Barnes would be a top ten talent at the position if he could just get enough starts as he put up a .907 SLG% in 2017. Barnes finished with a higher average and BB/K rate than Sanchez and Contreras and a higher OBP than all three of the top tiered guys at the position. The Los Angeles brass simply can not keep Barnes bottled up for much longer with this kind of production and once he gets that oppportunity you’ll never see him at a 222 ADP at NFBC ever again. If we doubled his plate appearances, that would give him 524, 44 less than Buster Posey. Scaling out his numbers to this level of opportunity would equal 16 HR, 70 runs scored, 76 RBI and 8 stolen bases. His .289 average to go with these numbers gives him eerily similar numbers to Buster Posey’s production in 2017. There is obvious risk here as he isn’t a lock to receive every day at-bats, however, the upside potential here is astronomical. At his current ADP, this could be a game changer in your leagues.
Next week we’ll dive into an extraordinarily deep first base position. We will look at some players we can get later on in the draft if we’re forced out of the Paul Goldschmidt/Joey Votto tier of the position. Stay Tuned!