Magazine Content

Player Showdowns: Catcher

Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Often times in the midst of your draft, you’ll find yourself deciding between a couple players at the same position. With Player Showdowns, we take two players who are closely ranked by Average Draft Position (ADP) and/or Rotoworld’s 2015 season projections and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?

 

 

Matt Wieters vs. Salvador Perez

 

Wieters

 

We're talking about a case of two extremes here, with somebody who barely played last season compared to someone who had the most starts (including the postseason) by a catcher in history. I realize I'm taking a leap of faith with Wieters. The 28-year-old got off to a promising start with the bat last season before going down with an elbow injury in early May and eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery in June. Position players usually don't take as long to come back from the procedure as pitchers, but obviously catchers belong in a different category. Last we heard, Wieters was still in the process of ramping up his throwing program, but the Orioles are hopeful that he'll be ready for Opening Day. Fortunately, most fantasy owners have time to see how this situation shakes out. Wieters might have a lighter load behind the plate in the early going with some time at DH mixed in, but those at-bats all count for fantasy. My choice is mostly based on Wieters' power potential and the extra motivation of his walk year. His price tag should also be a little cheaper on draft day. However, some concern over Perez's massive workload from 2014 (and how he struggled down the stretch and into the postseason) was another factor that pushed me in this direction. Hopefully the Royals give him some rest this year. - D.J. Short (@djshort)

 

Perez

 

Wieters vs. Perez is a pretty close contest, especially if you look at their stats since Perez came into the league in 2011. Both have nearly identical on-base percentages (.316 for Wieters; .315 for Perez) and slugging percentages (.438 to .433) but Wieters has hit for more power (.186 ISO to .148) while Perez has hit for a higher average (.285 to .252). Because they’re so similar, one can typically use one of several tie-breakers to make a decision, such as Wieters’ 72 home runs to Perez’s 44, which certainly provide more fantasy value. One could also look at the players’ respective lineups. Perez isn’t likely to have as many RBI opportunities as Wieters considering the players hitting ahead of him are less skilled in the on-base department, particularly Alcides Escobar and Kendrys Morales. However, Wieters underwent Tommy John surgery in May last season. While he’s expected to be ready for Opening Day, the Orioles aren’t going to lean on him very heavily in the spring. Given how little we know about how injuries still, it’s difficult to confidently make a projection for Wieters. Will a light spring help or hurt him? This is simply my personal preference, but I prefer a conservative style in fantasy baseball. I do not like banking on players who have undergone serious surgeries to immediately return to previous form. The risk – of recurring injury, of declining production – doesn’t seem to be worth the reward of a few extra home runs or a few extra RBI. The early returns seem to indicate this mindset, as Perez is being taken 122nd overall on average while Wieters is taken 170th on average. – Bill Baer (@Baer_Bill)

 

Russell Martin vs. Yadier Molina

 

Martin

 

The argument for Martin isn't hope that he'll be able to match Molina in the batting average category, because he won't -- despite a .290 average last season, Martin will likely finish closer to his career .259 average this year. The case in favor of Martin is that the rest of his statistics will be more favorable than his counterpart. After spending the past two seasons in run-suppressing PNC Park, Martin moved to the Blue Jays and hitter-friendly Rogers Centre this winter. In a lineup surrounded by the likes of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson and others -- no disrespect to Andrew McCutchen -- Martin's run-producing numbers should tick upward, perhaps more than a tick depending on where he hits in the lineup. The fact that he walks at a clip consistently higher than the league average should lead to more runs scored as well. He also runs better than Molina, a statement that applies to literally every player in a number of sports, both professional and recreational, so a handful of stolen bases can also be counted on. Ultimately, Molina can have his edge in batting average -- winning four categories is still better than one. – Nathan Grimm (@Nate_Grimm)

 

Molina

 

Martin obviously had a better 2014 season than Molina, besting the Cardinals’ backstop in games played, home runs, RBI, runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Also on Martin’s side of this debate is that the former Pirate has moved to an environment that is very friendly to offense, having signed a five-year, $82 million free agent contract with the Blue Jays in mid-November. But it’s not really fair to put their 2014 production back-to-back against a standing ruler and call it a day. Molina tore a ligament in his right thumb in early July on an awkward slide into third base and was never quite the same after that, batting just .267/.309/.317 following his late-August return from the disabled list. He rushed back to help the Cards make a playoff push and sacrificed some offensive comfort in doing so. Let’s instead look at the larger sample size. Molina, since the beginning of the 2011 season, has hit .307/.355/.461 in 523 games. Martin, in that time, has hit .240/.340/.403 in 496 games. Yadi is the better hitter. He’s the better all-around player. And all signs point to him being 100 percent healthy when the 2015 season begins. – Drew Silva (@drewsilv)

 

Travis d’Arnaud vs. Wilin Rosario

 

D’Arnaud

 

Would you rather count on d’Arnaud staying healthy or Rosario’s defense improving enough to keep him in the lineup? Neither should be anyone’s preference for a No. 1 catcher in mixed leagues, but both are ideal No. 2s, with the obvious caveat that d’Arnaud should go off the board a whole lot later on draft day. Because of Coors Field, Rosario does have the greater upside of the two, but d’Arnaud was an above average hitter as a rookie -- especially after returning from the minors -- and a smashing success in Triple-A, hitting .344/.411/.633 with 24 homers in 390 at-bats there since 2012. D’Arnaud’s injury history is significant and it doesn’t seem particularly likely that he’ll start 110-120 games this year, but if he does, he has a great chance of emerging as a top-10 catcher. Rosario would probably be up there, too, with 110-120 starts, but given that the Rockies kept Michael McKenry, a superior player last year, and gave a multiyear deal to Nick Hundley in free agency, it looks like an awfully messy situation that he’s involved in now. – Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot)

 

Rosario

 

Rosario made two trips to the disabled list last season and also saw a significant drop in his flyball rate, which led to a career-low 13 home runs. He did, however, crank a career-high 25 doubles and still boasts arguably the best raw power of any catcher in the game. He’s also, despite his major plate discipline issues, managed to avoid being a drain on your batting average. At 26, Rosario should theoretically be entering his prime years as a hitter. The problem is that the Rockies finally appear to be wavering on his ability to be a full-time catcher, signing Nick Hundley with Rosario and Michael McKenry already in tow. The club has said they’re not giving up on him as a catcher, but Rosario appears poised to spend time at multiple positions in 2015. I do think he’ll still receive enough playing time to be quite useful in fantasy leagues, as his power has never been in question. D’Arnaud finished strong after a slow start last season, but I’m way more worried about his ability to stay healthy than I am about how much playing time Rosario will receive. The Met has suffered four known concussions, which is obviously a major concern for a catcher, in addition to missing ample time while in the minors due to foot, knee and other maladies. The 26-year-old has played 71 or fewer games in three of the last five seasons because of injury. And while his second half in 2014 was nice, d’Arnaud has a much shorter track record of production than Rosario. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)


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