Catcher Shuffle Up: To Sanchez or not to Sanchez?

Gary Sanchez is in a tier of his own entering 2018 (AP/John Raoux)

We roll along in the Shuffle Up series.

You’ll have to season the prices to taste. The numbers don’t matter in a vacuum; what matters is how the player prices relate to one another. Assume a 5×5 scoring system, as always. Everyone listed here has catcher eligibility in the Yahoo game entering 2018. Players at the same cost are considered even.

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Have some disagreements? Have some major disagreements? That’s good! That’s why we have a game. I welcome your respectful disagreement anytime: @scott_pianowski on Twitter.

$30 Gary Sanchez
$21 Buster Posey
$20 Willson Contreras
$15 J.T. Realmuto

Generally I don’t pay for a vanity catcher, as it’s not that difficult to ham-and-egg the position in the standard one-catcher Yahoo format. Realmuto might have been a target of mine in a different season, given his age and expected playing time, but obviously the Miami roster has been gutted and Realmuto’s also dealing with a back injury . . . Sanchez didn’t replicate all of his insane rate stats from 2016, but he kept enough of them to validate his dominance at the position. He’s been slightly better on the road since joining the majors, and his OPS is actually 65 points in the platoon disadvantage — perhaps there’s something to be gained against lefties, down the road . . . Posey is a good example of how park-adjusted stats can steer you astray in fantasy. Posey’s production deserves more real-life credit considering how AT&T Park collapses offense and power, but given that Posey still toils at that beautiful (but taxing) park, we have to factor it into his projections. Turn into the skid, not away from it. Posey’s career slugging is 53 points higher on the road, and he’s hit 79 of his 128 career home runs on the road. Posey’s shown the willingness to play through injuries all through his career, but he’s hit a modest 19, 14, and 12 home runs the last three years, showing the attrition. He’s much better in real life than fantasy, it’s past time to accept that.

$13 Evan Gattis
$13 Salvador Perez
$12 Mike Zunino
$11 Wilson Ramos
$10 Yadier Molina
$10 Welington Castillo
$8 Brian McCann
$7 Robinson Chirinos

$6 Austin Barnes
$4 Yasmani Grandal
$4 Jonathan Lucroy
$4 James McCann
$4 Russell Martin
$3 Christian Vazquez
$3 Tucker Barnhart
$3 Tyler Flowers
$3 Austin Hedges
$3 Chris Iannetta

A bunch of boring, 30-something veterans strike me as good values if you’re shopping on a budget. I already have multiple shares of Chrinos and Iannetta, and either Atlanta catcher is reasonable as a deeper punt. Chirinos was especially fun at home last year, with a .555 slugging percentage, .940 OPS, and 10 homers in 128 at-bats . . . Keep an eye on Pina as a potential sleeper, especially if Vogt can’t get healthy quickly . . . The Diamondbacks will probably accept Avila’s so-so defense, and shield him from left-handed pitching. He’s a batting-eye savant against righties, routinely spitting on borderline pitches and getting the call. It’s a pleasure to watch.

$2 Travis d’Arnaud
$2 Manny Pina
$2 Kurt Suzuki
$2 Alex Avila
$2 Jason Castro
$1 Matt Wieters
$1 Francisco Cervelli
$1 *Stephen Vogt
$1 Jorge Alfaro
$1 Bruce Maxwell
$1 Chance Sisco
$1 Caleb Joseph
$0 Yan Gomes
$0 Martin Maldonado