August catcher rankingsby Jesse Sakstrup
July 31, 2012
Most fantasy rankings are forged on ‘gut calls’ and the whimsical notions of whoever is compiling the list. Some experts don’t pay for saves, some don’t pay for steals, some wait on pitching, some value upside, some value reliability, and so on. While it might be nice to see plenty of different opinions, it probably doesn’t truly help unless you understand the biases of each individual ranker. This is why some of the writers here at The Hardball Times have created their own, objective valuation methods, outlined here and here (reading, or at least skimming, these introductory articles will give you a much better understanding of the rankings that follow and should help to answer most potential questions).
In accompaniment with Oliver’s rest of season forecasts, we will use these objective formulas to create objective rankings. You may not agree with a particular rank, but you will know how the ranking was calculated and you wont have to guess what the ranker was thinking. This should make adding your own personal adjustments and biases much easier. And perhaps this type of ranking will introduce some potential buys and sells that you may have otherwise overlooked.
These rankings will assume a 12-team league in adjusting for league average. The ordering of players, however, is unaffected; players will rank in identical order for leagues of all sizes.
So, lets get to it. First up are catchers.
|Num||Name||AB||R||HR||RBI||SB||BA||rPAA (ROS)||EYES (ROS)||Full Season*|
*Full season = the raw (non-adjusted) full season pace roto score using the roto points above replacement method. This is, essentially, the amount of expected roto points each catcher would score above an empty spot in a lineup over a full season.
Using the roto points above average (rPAA) formula, the average catcher is projected to score 2.82 raw roto points prior to adjusting for league average, with Mike Napoli projected at 3.46. After adjustments, though, you can see there is little difference between any of the players. Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the 12th ranked catcher, are separated by just 1.22 expected rest of season roto points. The E.Y.E.S. method sees a bit more of a difference between first and 12th, but at a gap of just 1.73 roto points, the difference isn’t substantially greater.
The main take-away – at least what the numbers are saying anyways—is that there isn’t much to be gained or lost at catcher from this point forward. There will probably be a catcher or two who far outperforms the rest for the remainder of the season, but none have been outstanding to the point where Oliver believes in them enough to rank them as such.
Mike Napoli – Oliver has Mike Napoli as the top ranked catcher going forward, but much of that expected value is tied to a .271 projected batting average. While Napoli is certainly capable of hitting for an average that high for the remainder of the year, he is currently hitting just .227 and is striking out in 30.0 percent of his plate appearances (career 25.2 percent). His plate discipline looks fine, but both his contact percentage and swinging strike rate are higher than his career averages, although not quite enough to justify a 30.0 percent strikeout rate.
I would guess Napoli cuts his strikeouts down to around 27 percent and raises his slightly low .285 BABIP to around .295 the rest of the way. These slight improvements would vastly improve Napoli’s batting average, but only to around .260, which happens to be his career average.
Another objection I have with Napoli’s projection is his RBI rate. Oliver thinks he will drive in about 0.19 runs per at bat. Over the course of his first two seasons in Texas he has averaged just 0.17 RBI per at bat and he has played much worse this season (0.13 RBI/AB). Given his struggles, and the fact that he is hitting eighth in the Rangers lineup, I wouldn’t pay for much more than 0.15 RBI per at bat, which would equal about 26 RBI from this point forward.
These may seem like minor or futile adjustments, but they move Napoli's down to a score of 0.26 roto points above replacement (0.23 EYES), which, over a full season, would translate to a difference of about 1.07 roto points. This also moves Napoli down to catcher number three according to the rPAA formula and fifth according to EYES.
Miguel Montero – Currently hitting .282, Oliver believes that Montero can maintain that same average for the remainder of the season. But, Montero is striking out at a rate that would tie his career high (23.7 percent) and is benefiting from a .356 BABIP, 43 points higher than his career average. He is a career .273 hitter, and with an inflated strikeout rate, BABIP regression should probably send his average into the .260s.
This adjustment doesn’t change Montero’s ranking, but it does move his roto scores below league average (-0.02 and -0.03).
Ramon Hernandez and Wilin Rosario – Oliver seems to think that Hernandez is going to get 145 at bats from this point forward. Hernandez, however, has only played in seven games since July 13 when he came off the disabled list. During that time Rosario has only played in eight games, so it isn't like there is a clear starter among the two. Given that Hernandez is 36 years old, and that Rosario is the Rockies future at the position, and that the Rockies are nowhere near competitive this season, it would seem like Rosario would get at least a slight majority of the playing time behind the plate going forward. And at the very least, it would be hard to project much more than a 50/50 split between the two for the remainder of the year.
Adjustments: Hernandez to 100 at bats (moves down to 28th and 29th among catchers). Rosario to 125 at bats (moves up to 26th and 26th among catchers).
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