The catcher position holds a very special place in my heart, as I played it in high school and have always connected with a position that rarely gets noticed – until something wrong happens! (I should really talk to a therapist.) So I signed up to share three Fantasy catcher sleepers for 2015 that I believe will greatly outperform their draft position.
Understand, please, that the terms “sleepers” and “breakouts” can mean very different things from website to website. For the “So-Called Fantasy Experts,” we consider a “sleeper” someone that is either getting drafted late or going undrafted, yet we believe will perform so well they’ll become mid-round picks next year.
A “breakout,” however, is a player that is picked in the middle rounds that will emerge into becoming an early round pick next season. Some “breakout” examples at the catcher position include Yadier Molina in 2011, Jonathan Lucroy in 2013 and Devin Mesoraco in 2014.
Most catchers develop a little slower offensively than hitters at other positions. They are asked to do more at their positions, including managing a pitching staff, handle the ball on nearly every single play, and they have to play a much more physically demanding defensive position behind the plate. On top of all that, catchers get injured frequently – and are asked to play through it because of their importance to the pitching staff. That means their beaten up from home-plate collisions and dinged up from foul tips, which all affects not just their ability to hit – but their ability to develop as a hitter.
3 Fantasy Catcher Sleepers for 2015
So the three Fantasy catcher sleepers I’m sharing here aren’t very young. It’s rare to find a Brian McCann-type every season — a Fantasy catcher that’s great right out of the box.
Tyler Flowers, Chicago White Sox
You might be surprised to note that Flowers was one of the better Fantasy catchers over the second half of last season. Only Brian McCann (12) and Buster Posey (13) had more home runs than Flowers (10) after the All-Star break, and just three catchers had a better wOBA over that span than Flowers’ .388.
Unfortunately, Flowers struck out at a ridiculous rate (35%) after the All-Star break with an awfully lucky .388 BABIP. Sometimes, you have to pay for power. Luckily, your cost will be just a 23rd-round pick.
The White Sox should have a better offense, which should help Flowers’ numbers all around.
Josmil Pinto, Minnesota
This one opposes my introduction a bit, since Pinto has just one year of experience in the majors, but he’ll be 26 this season, and he’s backing up Kurt Suzuki in Minnesota.
Suzuki had one of his best seasons ever at the plate last season (3 HR-61 RBI-.288 BA), but the odds tell us he’ll fall back to his .230-hitting ways of the three previous seasons.
Kurt Suzuki’s Career Numbers
Plus, Suzuki’s not good enough defensively to keep new manager Paul Molitor from moving the second-year backstop into the lineup more if Pinto’s bat shows some life. (Granted, Pinto is not any better defensively, and he could be a future first baseman.) His .172 ISO in almost 200 at-bats last season ranked him in the top 20 at the position, and his brutal .261 BABIP ranked 60th. Good things are ahead for the Venezuelan.
— Ted (@tlschwerz) January 28, 2015
Caleb Joseph, Baltimore
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Based on the fact that Matt Wieters had Tommy John surgery last season, Joseph has a chance to start behind the plate on Opening Day if Wieters isn’t ready. Joseph, 28, will also need to beat out recently signed J.P. Arencibia, who hasn’t hit over .200 in two seasons now (although, he does have 31 homers in that stretch).
Joseph started strong (hitting .317 in 18 games in August) after taking over for Wieters, but he came back to Earth in September. He told MASNSports.com that he had some bad mechanics in his swing that he worked this past offseason to change. He’s one of those late-in-his-career catchers that could prove to be a capable second catcher in Fantasy – if Wieters remains sidelined.
All three of these Fantasy catcher sleepers might not work out in 2015, but if you’re in a two-catcher Rotisserie league, you can wait on that second catcher until the last pick of your draft. That means if he stinks — you can cut him quickly.
Tyler Flowers Photo Credit: Keith Allison
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