A look at the top 10 fantasy catchers heading into the 2015 season.
10. Travis d'Arnaud, Mets
10. Travis d'Arnaud
Injuries continued to limit d’Arnaud from the field in 2014. First, he suffered a concussion in May then was shut down in September because of a bone spur in his throwing elbow. The 26-year-old had surgery to remove the bone spur in September and should be healthy going forward. In just 108 games last season, d’Arnaud hit .242/.302/.416 with 13 home runs, 41 RBI and 48 runs. This could be his breakout year.
9. Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
9. Russell Martin
The move back to the American League is a nice perk for an aging catcher who might need time off to DH. Martin, 32, last year put up his best offensive season since 2007. In his final year in Pittsburgh, he bumped his average up to .290 from .226 the year before. Martin has always had a good eye at the plate and posted a career-high .402 OBP last season. He hit just 11 home runs last season, his lowest since 2010, but the move from PNC Park to the Rogers Centre with the Blue Jays should help.
8. Brian McCann, Yankees
8. Brian McCann
McCann’s first year in New York didn’t get off to quite the start Yankees’ fans were hoping for, but he still managed to deliver power. For the seventh straight season, McCann hit at least 20 home runs, and he led AL catchers with 23. McCann played in 140 games in 2014, his highest total since 2010, thanks in large part to getting a break behind the plate. He played 16 games at first base and 14 as the DH. His .232 batting average was a disappointment compared to his .272 career average, but his 75 RBI and 57 runs were among the top five for catchers in each category.
7. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
7. Yadier Molina
Molina missed a big chunk of time with a thumb injury last season and played in his fewest games in a season (110) since his rookie year in 2004. Molina’s power has dwindled, but his 22 home runs in 2012 were really an outlier. In 11 seasons, he’s only hit more than 10 home runs three times. Last season he was back around his career average with seven, despite a significant drop in at-bats because of the injury. Molina was still a reliable .282/.333/.386, and he continues to strike out at a low rate (12.4 percent last season). He’s not getting any younger, though, and a 32-year-old catcher who doesn’t play another position will need to be monitored throughout the season.
6. Evan Gattis, Houston Astros
6. Evan Gattis
The offseason move to the Astros means Gattis likely won’t be catching very much with Jason Castro in place behind the plate. Gattis is expected to mostly play leftfield, which could help him get more playing time — he’s yet to play in more than 108 games in his first two seasons. Gattis has shown consistent power, with at least 20 home runs in each of his first two seasons, but elsewhere his numbers are lacking. Gattis hit just .263/.317/.493 with 52 RBI and 41 runs last season.
5. Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians
5. Yan Gomes
Gomes earned himself a Silver Slugger award in his breakout 2014 season. He was one of just six catchers to hit at least 20 home runs and was among the top five at the position in both runs (61) and RBI (74). His high strikeout rate (23 percent) and low walk rate (4.6 percent) hurt, but if he can keep delivering power, he’ll be a top-five catcher again.
4. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
4. Salvador Perez
After hitting above .300 in his first 115 games in the league, it seemed like Perez was going to be a strong hits-for-average bat. For the second straight year, Perez’s batting average took a dip, this time from .292 in 2013 to .260 in 2014. At just 24, Perez can still turn it around, and his power numbers alone are strong for a catcher, with 17 home runs in 2014.
3. Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds
3. Devin Mesoraco
Mesoraco was limited to 114 games after two separate stints on the disabled list. He started the year on the DL with an oblique injury then ended up back there with a hamstring injury in April. Despite the absence, Mesoraco led all catchers with 25 home runs. His high strikeout rate (103 Ks in 440 plate appearances in 2014) is cause for concern, but he manages to walk at a high clip as well. He had a career-high .359 OBP in 2014 while hitting .273.
2. Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
2. Jonathan Lucroy
Lucroy seems to keep getting better at the plate. Last season he hit above .300 for the second time in his career and had a career-best .373 OBP. Despite hitting just 13 home runs, Lucroy led the NL with 53 doubles, a new record for catchers. Lucroy played in a career-high 153 games and also has first-base eligibility in some leagues after playing 19 games there last season. The 28-year-old has been battling a hamstring injury since February, so he’s a question mark to start the season, but he’s already started running the bases.
1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
1. Buster Posey
Posey isn’t just one of the best offensive catchers in the league, he’s one of the best hitters in the league, period. He earned his second Silver Slugger award in 2014 after hitting .311/.364/.490 with 22 home runs, 89 RBI and 72 runs. Posey’s low strikeout rate (69 Ks in 605 plate appearances in 2014) is also a strength. With his added first-base eligibility, the Giants have been able to keep him on the field consistently. He’s played in at least 147 games each of the past three seasons.