Buster Posey is undoubtedly the top catcher in Fantasy Baseball. In addition to solid stats in four of the traditional 5 x 5 categories, he brings a level of safety that no other catcher brings. I don’t know that you’ll find many people who don’t have him as the top ranked catcher.
So the purpose of this article is not to question Buster Posey. He’s a fine player at a position with very few potential impact bats and you’re not likely to be disappointed by his stats come October.
Instead the question at hand is whether Buster Posey is worth a second round pick, because that’s when you’ll have to draft him if you want him. His NFBC ADP is at 20.97 and he went with the 24th pick in the recent FSTA Draft.
Obviously there are plenty of other people who see that second round Buster Posey pick as a smart move, but maybe there’s just that one guy in each draft who feels that way. To get a better idea of the overall consensus, I decided to solicit opinions from some of our “So-Called Experts” right here on staff to get a better idea. Once I got past their stringent no solicitation rules, they had some pretty insightful takes on Buster Posey and where he should be drafted.
Before we get to those opinions, here are Buster Posey’s stats for the last three seasons and my projections for him this coming season.
Buster Posey 3-Years Stats and 2016 Projections
As you can see my projections for Buster Posey are pretty much in line with what he’s done over the last three years. There are no signs of a dropoff, but I also don’t see much room for him to add significant value in any particular category. He is what he is and that’s pretty damn good. But the question remains…
Is Buster Posey Worth a Second Round Pick?
I’ll share my opinion at the end, but here are the responses I received from some of the top baseball minds on staff.
Jason Meller (@jasonmeller)
I am treating the catcher position like the running back in Fantasy Football. How I did well in my better NFL leagues this year was to load up at WR early and then take a couple decent RBs like the Jonathan Stewarts of the world mid rounds, and then load up on handcuffs late. I didn’t have any wide receivers on my bench. My theory was if a wide receiver is not good enough to start, there are enough capable fill-ins on the waiver wire.
With Baseball this year I am going to take a similar approach. I am not going to pay up for any catcher because like RBs, their risk of injury is too risky, and many players at that position share the catching duties either to allow them to rest, or because some pitchers prefer pitching to the backup catcher who might be better defensively.
Take Russell Martin as an example. While he had a decent season overall, take a look at his total ABs. Also what a non-Torontonian might not know is that he played a chunk of those games in the middle of the season on essentially one leg. Furthermore, Dickey preferred to have the 3rd string catcher Josh Thole catching for him, and Marco Estrada caught fire in the 2nd half with Navarro as his personally catcher. While Martin started every game in the playoffs, he was only starting 3-4 game a week in July and August.
In my two catchers leagues I am going to try drafting 3 and maybe even 4 catchers but all in the back half of the draft. I had a lot of success with Nick Hunley last year. Got him for $2 late, and until he got injured late provided a great return. This year I have heard that the Rockies want to start working Dustin Garneau into the mix so he might be great to grab along with Hundley and a handcuff to protect against another injury.
While other elite position players are just as hard to find, you can always grab a starting OF off the waiver wire even if that player is not great. The same can’t always be said for catchers. Midway through the season if you lose one or both your catchers, you might be stuck playing two backups who only get one or two games a week worth of playing time. At least your starting OF will get ABs. And in points league that is even more important.
The answer is no, not in a mixed league.
Not surprisingly, he has no wheels, so he doesn’t offer anything in the speed categories. A .318 average is nice, but it’s not the amazing and it’s also aided by a BABIP of .320. And his 20-homer average over the last four years is nice too, but it’s not dominant either. You’re passing on too many players that will do more. Now, in an NL-only, 14-team league if you’re one of the last picks in round two? Absolutely.
But if I’m ranking say my top 20 picks overall? He comes real close, but not close enough.
Graham Briggs (@briggsgraham)
Posey is clearly in a tier by himself at the top of the catcher position with another year of .300-plus average, 20 homers, and solid runs and RBI totals almost a lock barring injury.
Still, I can’t justify a second round pick for the best catcher in baseball in a 12-15 team standard roto league with 5×5 scoring. Posey is going at pick 20 on average in early drafts according to NFBC data, with Edwin Encarnacion, Joe Abreu, George Springer, and Starling Marte all coming off the board immediately after him in that order. There’s just too much talent elsewhere to spend on Posey here in my opinion.
Some will mention position scarcity as a justification for taking Posey early. Ok, I can buy that in the fourth round, but not when I can grab higher impact players instead. I’ll gladly take any of the four others mentioned above and a catcher later. Names like Perez, Lucroy, and McCann should be available around pick 110, while Mesoraco, Wieters, and Gomes are still hanging around at pick 170. There are fall back positions even later that that as well with Yasmani Grandal and Nick Hundley.
Even in two catcher leagues I will wait and grab two guys later. Lucroy and Wieters sound just fine to me considering their price. Posey may be head and shoulders above the others, but there is bargain depth still available later that provides better value and that’s the way I’ll be drafting this year.
Patrick Wallace (@Pwall_1989)
Posey as a second round selection has two very strong points. First, his floor is rather safe. Aside from the cliche excuse of “catchers are more likely to get injured,” he can almost assuredly get penciled in for 20 home runs, 170 hits in 540 at-bats, 90 RBI and 70 runs scored. The other positive, obviously, he locks up a fairly scarce position early, allowing you to scoop up other position players while other owners are stuck picking from an ugly selection of Wilson Ramos, Yasmani Grandal, J.T. Realmuto, among others.
In the second round, I’m looking for elite level production, after all, we are talking about the top 30 fantasy contributors in Major League Baseball. In saying that, the “safe floor” can almost instantaneously be thrown out, as the floor matches the production of about a 10th round outfielder, while the “upside” does not really exist. Like Dennis Green said, “They are who we thought they were.” Posey is exactly what we think he is, no better, no worse.
Early ADP’s from FantasyPros.com place Brandon Belt, Kevin Pillar, Alex Gordon, Jorge Soler, Michael Conforto and Stephen Piscotty well after the 10th round, despite the fact that all six of them could easily provide similar power numbers to Posey. While they will all most assuredly fall short in other counting stats, such as RBI, runs scored and batting average, position scarcity is not nearly worth ten rounds.
I think the biggest mistake made comes from Fantasy Baseball players comparing catchers to catchers, and outfielders to outfielders, therefore making the argument that the difference between Posey and Grandal is greater than the difference between Edwin Encarnacion and Pillar. However, that’s not focusing on the task at hand. The ultimate goal is to have the best overall totals in each category from position players as a whole. If that means I’m drafting my utility spot before my catcher, then I’ll live with the consequences later on, but I’m more concerned about overall stats when I pick in the second round. After all, no one is forcing you to take Grandal in the 12th round if you pass on Posey in the second.
Perhaps in a two catcher format, Posey late in the second round makes some sense. Other than that, however, I’ll take my chances hoping to land similar production from Travis D’Arnaud or Salvador Perez 8-10 rounds later, while lending myself a much higher ceiling with the likes of George Springer, Edwin Encarnacion or Starling Marte in the second round.
Christian Losciale (@ChristianRiLo)
In a two-catcher league, yes, Posey is worth a second round pick, preferably late in that round. But in one-catcher leagues, you can do without him that early. Even though Jonathan Lucroy’s supporting cast isn’t great, and he struggled with a hard-luck injury early in the season (foul ball that broke bones in his foot), he will be undervalued this year.
Even in two-catcher leagues, Lucroy will go at least one or two rounds later than last year. At that value, I’ll take him as my No. 1 catcher, then look for a catcher who has a reliable hitter skill, either homers (Miguel Montero, Wellington Castillo) or high-OBP potential (Derek Norris, John Jaso).
There is no doubt that the catcher positions suffers serious scarcity, but you don’t need the top catcher to win your league. Also consider which catchers will get playing time at other positions, especially DH.
With all that said, Buster Posey is the best catcher for Fantasy Baseball, but how many “bests” can fill your lineup? I’d rather have the best players at other positions and let them carry my team.
Ryan Hallam (@fightingchance)
A couple of years ago I would have said yes, Posey is definitely worth a second round pick.However, a couple things have changed that makes me have a different opinion today.
There has been a huge influx of young talent that is very exciting in the world of Fantasy Baseball. From Anthony Rizzo to Carlos Correa to Nolan Arenado, there is a good deal of new talent that is more desirable than Posey. The second factor is that there are a number of very competent options at catcher that make taking Posey too early a losing proposition. If you miss out on Posey you can fall back on Brian McCann, Salvador Perez, Jonathan Lucroy, Travis D’Arnaud, or even Stephen Vogt as your fallback option and spend your second round pick on another position.
Fabian Taylor (@CanucksRule247)
My first reaction was a definite no, as I usually focus on picking catchers later and remain active on the waiver wire to accumulate the greatest amount of games played at the position. However, once I looked into a few examples, I would lean towards yes, he is a worthy second round choice.
The main reason is that the position scarcity poster child could be Buster Posey. He is so far above the next tier of catchers, that it becomes incredibly hard to make up the statistical difference if you pair another catcher with any other player that you may pick in the second round.
Using NFBC data, the gap between the #1 catcher Posey and the #2 catcher is over 85 picks. When you look at all of the other positions, the gaps are all in the single digits except for SS, where Carlos Correa has a 40 pick spread.
My Take on Buster Posey and Position Scarcity
While Buster Posey’s numbers are solid, I think most agree that, just based on stats, he’s not a second round pick. So the obvious issue is how much weight do you put on position scarcity?
Several of our staff said he was head and shoulders above his peers, but I’m not totally on board with that. While no one catcher can match him across the board, there are several who could come relatively close. Jonathan Lucroy was right on his heels prior to last season. Travis d’Arnaud definitely has the ability to match Posey’s power numbers. Nick Hundley and Salvador Perez were a poor man’s Buster Posey last year. Even a bounce-back from Yan Gomes could put him in the ballpark of Posey’s stats.
Position scarcity is typically measured by comparing the value of a replacement level player at that position with an average player. The thing is you don’t have to make a choice between Buster Posey and Kurt Suzuki. There are plenty of options in between that I trust enough to post solid numbers.
I will say that in a two-catcher NL-only league I’d go Posey in the second round, but in the more traditional mixed league formats, I just think you lose a lot of power upside by settling for Posey in the second round.
As you can see, there was no consensus among our experts. There are very smart people on both sides of this argument. In the end I don’t think you sink your season by going with Buster Posey in round two, but I do think there are better approaches.
What’s your take? Let us know in the comments below.
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