MARKET PULSE: Catchers and DH, 2017 style

NOTE: Our preseason Market Pulse column is an exercise in identifying the gaps between the valuation of the "popular" market ("ADP") and that of BaseballHQ.com. If a player is not listed here, it's likely that he qualifies at a scarcer position, or he's not in the BaseballHQ top 750. Remember that this is an exercise in relative valuation, not absolute.

Each hitter is being considered at his scarcest qualified position (in order: C/DH, SS, 2B, 3B, 1B, OF), as it is the scarcest eligible position that typically drives fantasy value. The rankings are a risk- and position-adjusted estimate using current BaseballHQ.com projections. It is a purely quantitative ranking, with no specific consideration of "upside" (aside from reliability scores). The dollar values are position-adjusted, but do not incorporate risk. These are not the "official" BaseballHQ.com straight-draft rankings, but they should be close.

Note that this article assumes a standard 15-team, mixed, 5x5 league, though the recommendations here will generally apply in most formats. Note also that a positive number in the "Diff" column indicates a player that BaseballHQ.com ranks higher than the "market", and a negative number indicates we have the player ranked lower, based on ADP. The list is split into tiers, based on the BaseballHQ.com ranking.

As you go through this list, it's important to remember that catchers receive the biggest positional adjustment. Half of these guys would be technically undraftable if we didn't adjust for positions. That doesn't mean you need to make big reaches, though—we recommend picking a couple from the second and third quintiles. In other words, skip the players at the very top (unless they drop quite a bit), but definitely stay away from the bottom 40% or so (unless there's a pick with great upside).

Welcome to 2017.


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                                    HQ                          --  HQ Projections --         
Player                  TM POS REL Rank ADP Diff HQ$ AAV Diff |  AB AVG HR RBI  R  SB         
=====================  === === === ==== === ==== === === ==== | === === == === === ==          
Posey, Buster           SF   2 AAB   17  36   19  20  23   -3 | 520 301 16  83  73  3         
Lucroy, Jonathan       TEX   2 BBD   49  50    1  16  20   -4 | 495 286 18  75  66  4         

Sanchez, Gary          NYY   2 ACC   61  48  -13  15  21   -6 | 498 254 29  74  61  6         
Gattis, Evan           HOU   2 BBB   62  93   31  14  14    0 | 475 255 30  78  60  1         
Contreras, Willson     CHC 2o7 ADB   84  95   11  13  14   -1 | 462 282 22  62  60  4         
Morales, Kendrys       TOR   0 ABF   99 177   78  15   8    7 | 593 265 30  93  68  0         
Perez, Salvador         KC   2 AAA  125 125    0   9  11   -2 | 557 257 23  70  59  0         
Realmuto, Jacob        MIA   2 ACB  132 113  -19   9  12   -3 | 514 274 12  53  60 12         

Martinez, Victor       DET   0 CAF  137 231   94  12   5    7 | 561 273 23  86  64  0         
Martin, Russell        TOR   2 ABB  180 168  -12   6   8   -2 | 418 242 19  69  59  3         
Castillo, Welington    BAL   2 ACA  190 178  -12   6   8   -2 | 470 252 21  71  45  1         
Wieters, Matt          FAA   2 DDC  222 192  -30   5   7   -2 | 474 256 18  67  52  1         

Grandal, Yasmani        LA   2 BCA  237 147  -90   4  10   -6 | 379 241 23  65  48  1         
Vogt, Stephen          OAK  20 ACB  238 211  -27   4   6   -2 | 470 257 16  62  54  0         
Murphy, Tom            COL   2 AFD  239 229  -10   4   5   -1 | 386 255 19  55  48  2         
Ramos, Wilson          TAM   2 CBF  266 258   -8   3   4   -1 | 418 265 16  63  42  0         
Molina, Yadier         STL   2 BBC  293 194  -99   2   7   -5 | 445 286  8  51  44  3         
McCann, Brian          HOU  20 ABA  320 161 -159   1   9   -8 | 429 234 17  63  53  1         
Alvarez, Pedro         BAL   0 ACB  348 456  108   0  -2    2 | 369 246 23  56  48  2         
Zunino, Mike           SEA   2 ACC  349 298  -51   0   3   -3 | 429 229 22  60  46  0         
Gomes, Yan             CLE   2 DCD  353 314  -39   0   2   -2 | 422 239 15  59  48  1         
Cervelli, Francisco    PIT   2 FDB  421 315 -106  -2   2   -4 | 422 267  5  39  52  3         

Flowers, Tyler         ATL   2 BCC  472 370 -102  -3   1   -4 | 408 242 13  5    
Norris, Derek          WAS   2 ABC  477 278 -199  -3   3   -6 | 402 235 13  45  48  6         
Barnhart, Tucker       CIN   2 ADC  555 379 -176  -5   0   -5 | 404 255  7  49  36  1         
Castro, Jason          MIN   2 ACA  557 364 -193  -5   1   -6 | 430 228 12  45  53  1         
Rupp, Cameron          PHI   2 ADD  633 247 -386  -6   5  -11 | 443 225 14  53  38  1         
Herrmann, Chris        ARI   2 BFF  634 364 -270  -6   1   -7 | 375 230  7  44  47  5         
D Arnaud, Travis       NYM   2 FDC  648 297 -351  -7   3  -10 | 346 253  9  34  39  0         
Hedges, Austin          SD   2 ADC  786 323 -463  -8   2  -10 | 391 233  8  42  41  1         
Mesoraco, Devin        CIN   2 FFF  788 308 -480  -9   2  -11 | 280 247 10  34  29  0         
McCann, James          DET   2 ADB  852 318 -534  -8   2  -10 | 387 233 11  46  34  1         
Leon, Sandy            BOS   2 AFD  870 264 -606 -10   4  -14 | 344 242  6  35  37  0         
Bandy, Jett            MIL   2 ADA  874 403 -471 -10   0  -10 | 291 226 10  37  31  1         
Montero, Miguel        CHC   2 BCB  875 438 -437 -10  -1   -9 | 238 237  9  34  28  1

It's not often that we see our top player as a full-round value, but we are in that position with Buster Posey (C, SF). Posey is one of the best hitters in the game, though as mentioned above, his high valuation comes as the result of his positional adjustment. He's very reliable, with elite ct% and above-average power, which makes him a strong pick. However, despite his objective valuation, in this space we wouldn't recommend him before the third round. You'll give up too much in power, speed, and/or pitching, and there are some good choices behind him.

Remember Carlos Correa, circa 2015-2016? Like Correa, Gary Sanchez (C, NYY) had a great rookie season. Well, a great half-season. While his projections are on the conservative side given his 200 AB in 2016, he still carries a lot of downside risk. He certainly won't repeat his 40% hr/f from 2016, but his 21% hr/f projection still feels high. In a keeper league, he's worth some risk, but in redraft leagues, don't reach.

Kendrys Morales (DH, TOR) is a bona fide power hitter, and he's moving to a very good hitters' park. His age and lack of a position make him undesirable to some, but it's hard to overlook a player who's going five rounds later than his projection. He's right around our benchmarks, just below 10% bb% and right around 80% ct%, with power that's been well above average the past two years.

With Victor Martinez (DH, DET), we'll see your five rounds and raise you to six. Sure, he's nearing 40 years and could fall off a cliff any time now. But he still has elite hitting skills, with an 80%+ ct% and 100+ xPX in each of the past four seasons (2013-2016). A 10th round investment still leaves some room for him to decline and still deliver some profit.

If you're going to draft Yasmani Grandal (C, LA), you have to ask whether 2016 represented a power breakout or a random fluctuation. While he's the right age for a breakout, especially at catcher, the concern here is that his power outburst was really a two-month outburst. His projection includes some regression, which is reasonable in either case. Don't reach here.

Given the need for 30 catchers in a typical mixed league, many of the below-average players will naturally be taken well above where their value dictates. even so, there are a couple of guys with some potential upside. Chris Herrmann (C, ARI) is one of those guys. In a limited sample in 2016, he showed above-average power (125 PX) and a respectable walk rate (10% bb%). He also had a 44% HH%. He's expected to be the primary catcher in 2017, so there's plenty of upside to his current end-game (300+) ADP.

Devin Mesoraco (C, CIN) is being overdrafted given his injury history. But there are reasons to believe he will be healthy in 2017. His doctors believe he will be able to regain his athleticism after having repaired labrums in two hips and a shoulder over the past two seasons. There's also a good chance he sees a lot of time outside of catcher, which always eases the physical burdens. He's not worth a reach, but if you're looking to fill that second catcher slot in the back half of the draft, he's worth grabbing around his ADP.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.