2014 Outlook: Even a down season by Posey's standards was a good one; the perception was that his 2013 was a letdown, if only because it couldn't possibly compare to that of his 2012 MVP campaign or his No. 16 overall ADP last preseason. Still, he improved his contact rate, played 148 games for a second consecutive season and managed the No. 7 spot among catchers on our Player Rater. Posey's statistics also compare favorably to all-time catchers; he ranks fourth in slugging percentage (.486), fifth in on-base percentage (.377) and batting average (.308) among catchers through their age-26 seasons. He's a high-average, good-power hitter, one of the few catchers with legitimate ability for .300/25/100 numbers. Make him one of your first catchers off the board, though not quite as soon overall as that second-round status a year ago.
2014 Outlook: A late bloomer, Molina has developed into one of the most reliable catchers in fantasy, and frankly the most valuable catcher in the on-field game, where his defensive prowess carries additional weight.
2014 Outlook: After many years of chatter that his bat was too valuable to risk having him wear the tools of ignorance on a daily basis, Mauer finally was moved off catcher this winter: He'll be the Minnesota Twins' everyday first baseman in 2014. It took a season-shortening concussion in August to force the Twins' hand, but there are many fantasy advantages that result: Mauer should take less wear and tear at first base, increasing his chances at racking up games and plate appearances, and he'll remain catcher-eligible throughout 2014 in ESPN leagues, while accruing the larger number of PAs typical of a first baseman comparative to a catcher. That's big news for this batting-average/line-drive specialist; a .300-plus hitter, not to mention a .400-plus on-base artist, carries much more weight in those categories the more times he comes to the plate. (Incidentally, Mauer's .323 career batting average is tops among active players.) Take this to heart especially in points-based leagues; the case can be made that Mauer will pace the position in the format. But even in rotisserie leagues, he's one of the best at his "position" ... well, his eligible fantasy position of catcher.
Stephania Bell: Mauer's season ended in August due to a concussion, the result of a foul tip to his mask. He was symptom-free by October, and with the full-time move to first base this year, he should have an easier time staying in the lineup.
2014 Outlook: Ah, the possibilities. Santana enters a 2014 of change: He's catcher-eligible in fantasy leagues, but all indications are that the Cleveland Indians will move him off the position -- probably to designated hitter -- though he did dabble in some third base in winter ball. Chances are he'll be a catcher-eligible player who experiences a games played/plate appearances bump as a regular elsewhere on the diamond; such players gain an advantage because of the result on their counting numbers. Santana has made small gains in terms of making contact in each of the past two seasons, and he has always had underrated power. Might a new position help him finally reach the 30-homer plateau? It's that prospect which keeps him high in the catcher ranks, and those in leagues that reward walks or on-base percentage should be especially intrigued.
2014 Outlook: After making substantial gains in terms of his contact rate and ability to drive the ball to all fields in 2012, Lucroy extended those trends into a 2013 that put him in the clear top 10 of fantasy backstops. For the second consecutive season, he boosted his walk rate while cutting his strikeout rate, with the result being career highs in home runs (18) and RBIs (82). What's more, Lucroy continued to contribute a handful of steals, with his nine swipes a personal best and matching his professional high set in 2008. These skill improvements make him one of the safer investments among catchers, even if he has most likely reached his statistical peak.
2014 Outlook: The end result was a successful season for Rosario, but the pathway was a little different than expected. Rosario's drop in power was compensated for by a bloated batting average buoyed by a fortuitous hit rate. If things return to normal, Rosario's average will fall and he'll add some pop. There's some possible playing-time upside because there's a chance he trades his catcher's mitt for a first baseman's mitt against left-handed pitching. The best manner to frame Rosario is as a catcher with plus power, but don't expect an average near the 2013 level, then follow the spring reports to see if he indeed will get additional at-bats playing first.
2014 Outlook: McCann is one of the game's more consistent power sources; he is one of only 11 players to have hit at least 20 home runs in each of the past six seasons, and the only one to have hit between 20-25 in each, and keep in mind that he scaled the 20-homer plateau in 2013 despite missing the first month recovering from shoulder surgery. His odds, however, of exceeding that group increased once he put on the pinstripes, as his pull-power swing is perfectly crafted for Yankee Stadium's short porch. A player whose injury risk has seemingly increased while his batting-average potential has slipped in recent seasons, McCann might be destined for his best year yet. He's a mixed-league starter regardless of format, and as a player with a 9.5 percent career walk rate, he's especially intriguing in leagues that weight on-base percentage.
2014 Outlook: Perez is quickly earning himself a reputation as a risk/reward player. He has .301/.331/.451 lifetime rates and per-162-game career averages of 17 home runs and 89 RBIs, but he has also missed 117 of 370 scheduled Kansas City Royals games since making his major league debut in 2011. Perez is as adept at making contact as any player in the game, with an 11.1 percent career strikeout rate, and he has underrated pop to all fields, including nine home runs hit in his final 46 games of 2013. There's considerable upside in his bat, if you can live with his risk of injury, and his downside is somewhat lesser than his brethren thanks to his contact-hitting approach.
2014 Outlook: After three remarkably consistent seasons where Wieters smacked 22, 23 and 22 homers, most have given up hope the switch-hitting backstop takes the leap to the next level. But last season's homers came about a little differently than the previous campaigns, as his percentage of home runs per fly ball dropped, but this development occurred simultaneously to his hitting more fly balls. If Wieters can maintain the elevated fly ball rate and return to previous levels of percent of fly balls leaving the yard, he could threaten the 30-homer plateau many thought would be he his baseline when he broke in to the bigs. In a season where waiting on your catcher is a more viable strategy than usual, Wieters offers the luxury of a solid floor with a high ceiling still within arm's length.
2014 Outlook: Now there we go. Long considered a future top-10 fantasy catcher, Ramos' career had, entering 2013, been marred by injuries. But after returning from a lengthy absence due to a hamstring issue, he started 55 of the Washington Nationals' final 67 games last season, batting .261 with 12 home runs and 42 RBIs, with seven of those homers and 26 of the RBIs coming in 24 September contests. Ramos' durability was the greater surprise, but he had always been praised for his underrated pop. If he can extend his good health into 2014, he'll be one of the more-utilized full-time catchers in the game, with the potential to lead his position in homers and RBIs, albeit at the expense of a mediocre on-base percentage (take note of that if your league counts it). There's risk here, but the reward is awfully good considering his likely mid-round status.
2014 Outlook: Castro, a 25-year-old entering 2013, finally showed some power last season, and among the keys to his enjoying a breakthrough year was his narrowing a formerly wide platoon split: He batted .242/.324/.414 against his weaker side, more than doubling his OPS from a year earlier. This made him a legitimate starter candidate even in 10-team mixed leagues, and his rising walk rate made him one of the more underrated at his position in deeper as well as sabermetrically oriented leagues. Castro enters 2014 on the borderline of starters in ESPN formats, the one significant question surrounding him his history of knee problems: He missed 2011 recovering from knee surgery, had two DL stints for knee issues in 2012, and had surgery in September to remove a cyst from his right knee. All signs point to Castro being ready for the season, but understand that he's slightly riskier than some others.
2014 Outlook: Sometimes regression acts gently, other times it smacks you upside the head like a hard foul tip. Montero was a victim of the latter last season. It was no surprise he was unable to maintain the .362 BABIP he swatted in 2012, but the decline was expected to be in the neighborhood of his career mark near .315, not all the way down to .282. On top of that, Montero's strikeout rate was the second worst of his career, yielding an average as low as any since his rookie season. Perhaps mercifully, Montero also lost time due to a mid-season back issue. With the receiver position being deeper than normal, Montero may not even be drafted in one-catcher formats. But if you don't opt for one of the top-tier studs, keep an eye on him; Montero has the skills to be a top-10 option in the event your catcher struggles.
2014 Outlook: After pacing the Venezuelan Winter League in home runs (16) and slugging percentage (.595) during the 2012-13 offseason, Gattis parlayed a strong spring performance (6 home runs, ninth-most, and a .368 batting average) into an Opening Day roster spot as a part-timer while Brian McCann recovered from shoulder surgery. "El Oso Blanco" (Spanish for "The White Bear") extended the magic through the subsequent six months; from the seventh inning on in games with the score within one run, he hit seven homers (second-most), slugged .864 (first) and had a .513 wOBA (first). Those "clutch" statistics have a low likelihood of being repeated, but the performance did grant Gattis a future advantage: It made him the favorite to start behind the plate now that McCann is in New York. Gattis' defense might put a cap on his at-bats, and he's more feast-or-famine slugger than balanced hitter, but few catchers possess his power potential. He's a handy No. 2 option in mixed leagues, and a clear starter in NL-only.
2014 Outlook: After spending the past several seasons in venues which aided left-handed power, Pierzynski is moving to Fenway Park, which is not nearly as homer-friendly. He's also likely to take a hit in playing time. Still, with an exceptional contact rate in a potent lineup, Pierzynski should provide production worthy of a second catcher in leagues requiring two backstops.
2014 Outlook: After three seasons as Ryan Hanigan's understudy, Mesoraco has graduated to starter status for the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately, while Mesoraco was once considered one of the top catching prospects and top overall prospects in baseball two short years ago -- he was Keith Law's No. 2 catcher and No. 8 prospect overall entering 2012 -- his big-league numbers have yet to reflect it. Whether that was a product of the long learning curve catchers tend to face in the majors, or limited playing time affecting his rhythm, Mesoraco's 2014 fantasy stock is entirely speculative. But as he batted .279/.359/.472 with 18 home runs in 139 career games at the Triple-A level, and .261/.301/.435 with five homers in the 42 major-league games during Hanigan's two DL stints in 2013, there's plenty of reason to regard him a No. 2 catcher in all formats.