2016 Outlook: Once again the class of the position in 2015, Posey finished fourth in home runs (19), second in runs (74), first in RBI (95) and first in average (.318) among catchers. He also finished with a career-high 623 plate appearances (also tops at the position), thanks to getting 41 games at first base -- up from 33 in 2014. Those starts at first base could continue to creep up this season in an organizational effort to preserve his body, which is great news for fantasy owners, as he will have fewer days off than other catchers. Kyle Schwarber, who qualifies at catcher but will primarily play left field for the Cubs, represents perhaps the most worthy (fantasy) challenger Posey has faced at the position in recent years. However, thanks to an unmatched track record of excellence, the Giants' backstop has remained the first catcher off the board in early expert drafts -- a trend that should continue through spring training.
2016 Outlook: After opening his 2015 campaign at Double-A, Schwarber played his way into a prominent place in the Cubs' lineup during the second half, including the team's postseason run in October. He forced the issue for regular playing time by adjusting quickly to big league pitching, showing impressive power (.241 ISO, 16 homers in 273 plate appearances) and the ability to draw walks at a good clip (13.2 BB%), albeit with the propensity to strike out (28.2 K%) at a steady rate. Thanks to a thumb injury suffered by Miguel Montero in July, the Cubs put Schwarber behind the plate for 21 games last season, giving him enough time at the position to qualify as a catcher in most leagues for 2016. As catchers go, only Buster Posey can match Schwarber's ability with the bat. Defensively, it remains to be seen if Schwarber's strong arm and high marks for work ethic will lead him to become a passable defender in left field, and there is a bit of uncertainty as to how the outfield situation will shake out with Jason Heyward and Dexter Fowler both now in Chicago, but Schwarber still projects to open the season with a regular role and a valuable run-producing spot in one of the league's best lineups.
2016 Outlook: The 2015 campaign will go down as a lost season for Lucroy, as he suffered a fractured left toe on a foul tip two weeks in, and concussion issues derailed him late, just as he seemed to be really hitting his stride. Lucroy was slow to get going after his return in June, batting .278/.319/.352 for the month, but his OPS in July was more than 100 points higher, at .773, and he improved upon that mark by more than 80 points in August. His overall performance when on the field throughout 2015 represented a step back from his stellar 2014 season, with his strikeout rate jumping nearly five percent and his on-base and slugging percentages both falling off considerably, but Lucroy continued to provide decent power production from the catcher position. All seven of his homers came in less than a three-month span (when he was healthy). There have been rumors throughout the offseason that Lucroy could be moved before Opening Day, but he should have the primary role no matter where he is.
2016 Outlook: The legend of "El Oso Blanco" grew exponentially with the move from Atlanta to Houston last offseason. Gattis powered the Astros with 11 triples (not a typo), 27 homers and 88 RBI (all team highs) en route to the team's first postseason berth in a decade. He continued to walk at a low clip and his hard-hit rate fell by more than seven percent, but Gattis brought his strikeout rate down below 20 percent while maintaining a .217 ISO, the 22nd-best mark among qualified hitters. The days of catcher eligibility are over, and he's utility-only in a lot of formats. Further, he is expected to miss most of spring training after undergoing hernia surgery in February, but Gattis will have the luxury of DH eligibility upon his reutrn, so there is reason to believe he will be a valuable two-and-a-half category producer once again in 2016.
2016 Outlook: McCann blasted a career-high 26 home runs with the Yankees in 2015 as the gains many expected from him in New Yankee Stadium manifested in his second season in the Bronx. McCann has now homered 20 times in eight straight seasons and nine of the past 10, making him one of the most consistent power hitting catchers in the game's history. Only Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra have mustered 10 seasons of 20 home runs or more from the catcher position, and McCann seems poised to join that Hall of Fame crowd this season. His batting average will likely remain ugly -- he's an extreme flyball hitter and has become a dead pull hitter as well -- but few catchers can match his pop.
2016 Outlook: After posting a resurgent .290 batting average in his second and final season in Pittsburgh in 2014, Martin's success rate at the plate dipped to his sub-par 2009-2013 levels. The veteran catcher mustered a .240 average in 2016, but did take full advantage of playing half his games at the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre by generating a career-high 23 homers and .218 ISO over 507 plate appearances. The 32-year-old also greatly benefitted from his cozy spot in a lineup full of nightmarish alternatives for opposing pitchers that included Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion. Although he's likely to continue scuffling at the plate in terms of batting average, given his advancing age and five-year sample size, an approximation of his 2015 home run figure and .458 slugging percentage wouldn't be out of the question given his home ballpark and the power-proficient teammates that surround him in the lineup.
2016 Outlook: The Royals entered 2015 with the intent of giving their workhorse backstop more frequent rest, and it paid off in a big way as Perez went from making the last out in the 2014 World Series to being awarded the MVP for the 2015 Fall Classic. It also seemingly helped his numbers -- especially power -- as Perez knocked more out of the yard in fewer at-bats. When it comes to catchers, Perez has one of the better floors due to a solid contact rate. He also hits in the upper half of the order so even with more bench time, he still gets more at-bats than most at the position. At 26 years old, there's a very good chance Perez continues to mature. If Buster Posey and Kyle Schwarber are going full value, waiting on Perez is a great Plan B.
2016 Outlook: It was tough to fully evaluate d'Arnaud on his minor league numbers because he played in such friendly hitting environments coming up the ladder. He hit in 2014, and scoffed at a sophomore slump when he did it again in 2015 around a hyperextended elbow injury that cost him a bit of time. He took more walks, hit with more power and hit for average at a position desperate for offensive production. The Mets are talking about finding ways to work his bat into the lineup other than the catcher position, which is an added bonus for fantasy players. 20 homers is a possibility for this potent bat that showed nice growth from his first to second season, and is now poised to break out even more in his third. Health is tough to overlook, but so is a catcher who has the potential to hit 20 bombs, hit over .270 and perhaps sneak in non-catcher eligibility at some point during the season.
2016 Outlook: Mesoraco's 2015 season never really got off the ground, as he suffered a hip injury early in the season that lingered and limited him to just 23 games. He was awful when healthy, as he hit just .178/.275/.244 in 51 plate appearances. That certainly wasn't the "real" Mesoraco, but the question of if he can repeat or even approach his brilliant 25-homer, .273/.359/.534 campaign of 2014 remains unanswered. To wit, 2014 is the only season in which Mesoraco has been an above-average major league hitter, and he owns a .242/.313/.423 batting line in 312 career games. Particularly after a debilitating hip injury, it would be too much to expect Mesoraco to return as one of the league's best-hitting catchers. His natural power combined with Great American Ball Park does make him a threat to reach 20 home runs, however, and there are few catchers who can make that claim.
2016 Outlook: Vogt rewarded owners who bought into his 2014 numbers in limited playing time by easily returning a top-10 season at the position last year. The bar to clear to be a top-10 fantasy catcher obviously isn't very high these days, and that makes Vogt all the more appealing. Josh Phegley could cut a little more into Vogt's playing time this year, as Phegley grades out as a better defensive option while offering similar power, but Vogt had the fifth best OBP (.341) among starting catchers last year, so he will still be the primary option. He also played 25 games at first base last year, and with Yonder Alonso (career .732 OPS) slotted to be the starter there this season, Vogt should continue to get occasional starts even when he's not behind the dish in 2016. He had offseason elbow surgery, but that procedure is not expected to affect his availability for spring training.
2016 Outlook: Securing a catcher with a decent batting average floor provides an advantage over many fantasy teams as the aggregate average for catchers is low. Realmuto is a perfect candidate, as his good contact rate and batted-ball profile (lots of grounders and decent speed for a catcher) yield a solid floor in terms of average. Those grounders cap Realmuto's power to mid-teens but he puts the speed to good use: He's stealthily capable of double-digit pilfers. Realmuto hits higher in the order than other catchers, keeping his run production on a par with those possessing more power or in a more productive lineup. Entrenched as Miami's No. 1 receiver, Realmuto is a solid consolation prize for those preferring to wait on catcher, be it in one- or two-catcher formats.
2016 Outlook: Castillo began 2015 with the Cubs and hit his way off the roster with a terrible .163/.234/.349 line. He was sent to Seattle where he was barely given a chance to play before they shipped him off to Arizona. It was there that "Beef" got cooking as he hit .255/.317/.496 in 80 games with the Diamondbacks. He has hit more flyballs the past two seasons, but in 2015, saw his home run to flyball ratio jump from a career 12 percent up to 19 percent with Arizona as he made better contact. All of his other skills were very much in line with previous efforts. He's much better against lefties than he is against righties, but oddly enough, hits better on the road than he does at home for his career. Last season, 12 of his 19 homers came away from Chase Field so if he takes better advantage of the new home digs in 2016, there are more homers in that bat. Eat up!
2016 Outlook: Itís never wise to completely disregard a season, but it's fair to give Wieters a mulligan on 2015 as he had his 2014 end prematurely due to Tommy John surgery. There were two areas that suffered: contact and power. It seems fair to chalk up the extra strikeouts to rust and inability to get in a groove with additional rest when Wieters made it back. The power is a little curious as his HR/RB rate was fine, he just hit a lot more grounders than normal. The veteran deserves the benefit of the doubt, so returning to his normal batted ball profile (and more homers) is likely after a normal offseason. The elbow soreness heís experienced in spring training is disconcerting, but X-rays and an MRI were both negative. His days of catching 140 games are over, regardless.
2016 Outlook: Norris finished seventh among catchers in earned 5x5 rotisserie value in 2015, mostly by account of playing 147 games (second most among all catchers, behind Buster Posey). He logged 128 games behind the plate with 116 starts, and added 17 more appearances at first base. The per-game production was less than stellar, as Norris' walk rate fell off a cliff, while his strikeout rate shot up more than four percent. Further, the power dried up in the second half (three home runs), but Norris is just entering his age-27 season and the occasional time at first base helps boost his floor. That floor is still not high enough for Norris to warrant a lofty investment on draft day, but in most two-catcher mixed leagues, Norris is a starter; a low-end one.
2016 Outlook: At a position where productive full-time options proved almost impossible to find, Hundley turned in a very useful fantasy season in 2015. Just the fact that he hit .301 over 366 at-bats gave him an advantage over every catcher not named Buster Posey. Even if the parameters are expanded to catchers who hit .250 or better in 350-plus plate appearances, Hundley was one of just six who also hit double-digit home runs. Most of those catchers were able to top him in runs and RBIs, thanks to more steady playing time, but Hundley was a waiver wire find in most formats so it was all profit last year. Some regression is likely coming in 2016, as his .356 BABIP dwarfed his .304 career mark. He'll also have to fend off prospect Tom Murphy, who is big league ready and offers more power than Hundley, a free agent after the season. This all points to Hundley's surprising 2015 season representing a career year for the 32-year-old backstop.