Shuffle Up: The year catchers broke

Scott Pianowski
June 9, 2014

For all the focus on fragile starting pitchers and volatile closers, let's not overlook the quicksand behind the plate in 2014. Most fake baseballers are pulling their hair out over a catcher or two this year, it's been that type of season. (If you're the guy with two painless catchers, shoo. Go away. Go pick the winning lottery numbers or something. We can't relate to you.)

Disclaimers: Assume 5x5 format, as always. What's happened to this point is merely an audition; the goal is to figure out value going forward. Players in the minors are not considered. Remember the golden rule: a player doesn't gain 15-20 percent of bonus value simply because you roster him. The prices are merely used to compare players, and players at the same price are considered even.

Three-drink minimum. Your respectful disagreement is most welcome in the comments.

$22 Buster Posey
$21 Yadier Molina
$19 Jonathan Lucroy
$17 Salvador Perez
$16 Joe Mauer
$16 Wilin Rosario

It feels weird to still have Mauer in this group, because I'm as down on him as anyone in the industry (we had a full Twitter Day devoted to Mauer being overrated). Then again, most of the industry types still have him at 1 or 2. Mauer is still a good bet for average and runs scored, but the power is never coming back (especially in that park) and most of his hits are singles (cuts down on the RBIs). If you prefer someone in the next tier over Mauer, I'm not going to arm wrestle you over it . . . Rosario is walking more and striking out less, but those aren't always good things. His line-drive rate is down significantly, which worries me. But then I see those 52 home games remaining (and the strong profile from 2012-13) and I can't put him any lower.

$15 Evan Gattis
$15 Devin Mesoraco
$14 Carlos Santana
$14 Miguel Montero
$13 Brian McCann
$13 Yan Gomes
$12 Derek Norris
$10 John Jaso
$10 A.J. Pierzynski

Is Santana too patient at the plate, letting mashable strikes sail on by? Is his defensive switch affecting his approach at the plate? At least the Cleveland staff gets to work with Gomes most of the time, that's a plus. I don't like to put a lot of stock in first half/second half splits, but in the case of Santana, he does have a stronger trend in the second half . . . Fantasy owners seem to like Gattis a lot more than me, I've accepted that (though I'm probably around industry consensus). I don't think this rank is a slap in the face, but his defenders probably do. Keep in mind Gattis isn't scoring a lot of runs (just 18 on 12 homers) and although his average is fine right now at .269, it's probably the high end of what we can expect from him there, given his profile (about four walks for every strikeout, zero speed). I expect him to hit around .235 or .240 the rest of the way, with pop. I ranked six catchers higher. It is what it is.

$9 Jason Castro
$8 Wilson Ramos
$7 Mike Zunino
$7 Chris Iannetta
$6 Carlos Ruiz
$6 Dioner Navarro

I got so sick waiting for Iannetta's breakout that I was probably slow to realize his steady 2014 season. The numbers are serviceable, not great. Respectable average. A bag here and there. He's always had a good eye . . . If I knew Ramos would stay healthy the balance of the year, he'd be in the double digits. But you know the injury history here. Any catcher has to deal with the risk of the position, but that doesn't mean they all play with a static (or standard) amount of risk.

$5 Russell Martin
$4 Josmil Pinto
$4 Kurt Suzuki
$3 Tyler Flowers
$1 Alex Avila
$1 Hank Conger
$1 Brayan Pena
$1 Nick Hundley
$0 Yasmani Grandal

A line-drive spike has fueled some of Flowers's .418 BABIP, but no one keeps that mark forever. And even with the lofty hit rate, he's still batting a mere .267. I give him about a 25 percent chance to be under the Mendoza Line going forward . . . Avila's defense keeps him on the field. It's too bad his bat is broken. Only Flowers is striking out more often among regular catchers.

Courtesy Injury Ranks - Not for Debate
$4 Jarrod Saltalamacchia
$4 Matt Wieters
$2 Welington Castillo