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Player Showdowns: Catcher

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 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 2014 season projections and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?

 

 

 

Joe Mauer vs. Buster Posey

 

Mauer

 

Mauer versus Posey all comes down to position to me. I have them producing quite similarly, with Mauer's advantage in average balancing out Posey's homers. Mauer, though, as a full-time first baseman and No. 3 hitter, has a great chance of getting 680-700 plate appearances. Posey, still primarily a catcher, has never had more than 610. Posey also has the greater chance of suffering a catastrophic injury, though, ideally, the new measures to prevent plate collisions will result in fewer major injuries for catchers. Mauer has had his share of physical problems as a catcher, but I think he's about as good of a bet to stay healthy as the typical first baseman at his new position. He's hit at least .319 in five of the last six seasons, and he's coming off one of his better seasons for power (35 doubles, 11 homers in just 445 at-bats). He's my No. 1 "catcher." – Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot)

 

Posey

 

Moving from catcher to first base should help Mauer eclipse the 150-games-played plateau for the first time in his major league career and as one of baseball’s most complete hitters he will probably again produce a batting average well above .300 and an on-base percentage north of .400. But fantasy baseball is more about counting stats (like home runs, runs scored, RBI) than rate stats (like batting average, slugging percentage, OBP) and Posey has simply filled the box score more than Mauer in recent years. Posey, 26, boasts 39 home runs, 175 RBI and 139 runs scored in 296 games since the beginning of the 2012 season. Mauer, 30, has 21 homers, 132 RBI and 143 runs in 260 games over that same span. Another factor in this debate is that the Giants are a much better team than the Twins, meaning there will be more runs and RBI to go around. The post-concussion concerns you get with Mauer are the final check mark for Posey. – Drew Silva (@drewsilv)

 

 

Wilin Rosario vs. Yadier Molina

 

Rosario

 

Showdowns are fun because, often, you're comparing two players who do different things well but end up being valued relatively equally. In the case of Molina and Rosario, that's especially true. In fact, these two players couldn't be more different: Molina is a defensive whiz whose fantasy value is derived mainly from the fact that he doesn't strike out much and hits for a high average; Rosario has prodigious power but doesn't make enough contact and is such a defensive liability that the Rockies may one day move him from the position. If we were drafting players for an actual team the decision would be much easier, but for fantasy purposes Rosario is the right choice. He'll play the entire 2014 season as a 25-year-old, so his power production shouldn't go anywhere but up. He plays his home games in Coors Field, the most homer-friendly ballpark in baseball for hitters. And he'll hit in a lineup that was second in the National League in runs last season, behind only Molina's Cardinals. Catcher looks to be deep with power hitters this season, but only Carlos Santana projects to have a higher batting average among players with as many homers as we project for Rosario. Molina may be the more valuable real-life player, but Rosario is the choice here. – Nathan Grimm (@Nate_Grimm)

 

Molina

 

I’m certainly willing to admit that Rosario has more raw power in his bat than Molina. The Rockies’ catcher has smashed 49 longballs over his first two full seasons in the majors, while Molina fell back to 12 bombs last year after his 22-homer breakout in 2012. Beyond the home runs, though, I’m struggling to see where Rosario has an edge over Molina. RBI? Well, maybe, as Rosario is expected to move up a spot or two in Colorado’s batting order this season. But Molina has topped Rosario in RBI each of the last two seasons, and the Cardinals’ lineup figures to be lethal again in 2014. Rosario managed to put up a .292 batting average last season, but I fully expect that to be an outlier in his career. The 25-year-old was a .267 hitter in the minors and a .262 hitter in the majors before last season, and he had a .344 BABIP and 109/15 K/BB ratio in 2013. Meanwhile, Molina has batted at least .305 each of the last three seasons, including a career-high .319 last year. Would anyone be surprised if Yadi hit .320 and Rosario hit .250 this season? I wouldn’t. Another big factor in Molina’s favor is how often he’s in the lineup. Yadi has totaled 1,104 plate appearances the last two seasons, which is a whopping 212 more than Rosario even though Wilin has never been on the DL. A big gap in batting average is magnified even more when the better average guy also gets an extra 100 plate appearances. I’m betting on Molina’s edge in average being more valuable than Rosario’s edge in home runs. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)

 

 

Evan Gattis vs. Wilson Ramos

 

Gattis

 

There are lots of doubts about whether Gattis can be a quality everyday catcher defensively and maybe they're right, but as long as he's not horrible enough to lose significant playing time he'll hit a ton of homers for the Braves. Gattis went deep 21 times in 354 at-bats as a 26-year-old rookie after homering 41 times in 631 at-bats as a minor leaguer from 2011-2013. For some context, consider that no full-time catcher has topped 30 homers in a season since way back in 2003. Ramos might be a better all-around player, but I'll take the guy capable of 30 bombs every time. Toss in the fact that Gattis could play more often than most catchers due to time in the outfield, plus the possibility that manager Fredi Gonzalez will bat him in the cleanup spot regularly, and it would be very tough to pass on his run-producing upside. – Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman)

 

Ramos

 

Gattis understandably has plenty of momentum among fantasy owners this spring as he replaces Brian McCann as the new regular catcher (and potential cleanup hitter) with the Braves, but don't sleep on Ramos. While the 26-year-old backstop was limited to just 78 games last season due to a pair of hamstring injuries, he quietly showed some legitimate thump when healthy, smacking 16 home runs in just 303 plate appearances. Even more encouraging, only three players (Carlos Gonzalez, Paul Goldschmidt, Pedro Alvarez) bested him in batted ball distance. Miguel Cabrera was right behind him. Sure, Ramos hits a lot of ground balls, but there could be a breakout season coming if he can finally stay healthy for a full season. That's a big if given his injury history, but Gattis also has to prove that he can hold up behind the plate for a full season. He has never caught more than 52 games in a season. And that includes the minors. With his ability to make contact, Ramos should also be able to help (or at least not hurt) in the batting average department. Gattis, who had an 81/21 K/BB ratio last year, still has some risk in that area. I'll concede that Gattis could have the edge in RBI as a cleanup hitter, but the potential is there for Ramos to the better all-around option. Given that Gattis is likely to be drafted a little earlier, I'll take my chances on Ramos. - D.J. Short (@djshort)