Rules and models destroy genius and art - William Hazlit
If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun - Katherine Hepburn
The golden rule is that there are no golden rules - George Bernard Shaw
I don't want to follow the rule that I have to draft a catcher on my fantasy team - Kyle Elfrink
Anyone who starts a column with the above quotes, has got to be the biggest rule-breaker since Gaylord Perry, right? Well, just ask my wife ... I'm actually a stickler for (most) rules. When walking, I stay off the bike path. If a recipe calls for 2/3 cup a water, I add exactly 2/3 cup a water. If Uncle Sam says that I have to have health insurance then I will have health insurance (... or be forced to pony up $325 or 2% of my income ... whichever is higher. See, I can even quote the rules!).
But, there is one rule that I want to break in the upcoming fantasy baseball season. Why, oh, why do I have to draft any catcher, let alone two catchers?! It's a position with little talent, even fewer games played, and just one thing in abundance - an inherent risk of injury. If mothers in America are not forced to get a measles shot for their kid, then doggone it, why am I forced to draft catchers?
With apologies to the preceding catcher-centric blog entry from Anthony Perri, here are my arguments against the rule that you must draft a catcher:
1. The best catcher (Buster Posey) resembles an OF3 in fantasy baseball. Put another way, the best-of-the-best, top-of-the-line at the catcher spot has numbers like ... a 35-year old, Jayson Werth.
2. For a quarter of the season, your guy isn't playing. And, if he is playing, he's more likely to be hitting in the .240s than the .270s. Yes, 80% of the catchers in fantasy baseball hurt your team.
3. Is there any position in team sports that is more prone to injury? They may not get run over at the plate anymore, but they still drop to their knees constantly, take foul tips off the index finger, and dress like Robocop for games played in 90+ degree weather. Those injuries often force you to use a Triple-A level backstop who might hit .215 down the stretch of your fantasy season.
4. They don't even bother to consider a steal. No catcher even snagged five thefts last year.
5. They touch their crotch more in one inning than they touch home plate all season. No catcher had more than 73 runs scored last season. The top catcher in run ranked in a tie for 60th among all players last year.
6. A decent-sized portion of the best 'catchers' aren't even really 'catchers.' Posey, Carlos Santana, Jonathan Lucroy, Evan Gattis and others, are hanging out at first base more and more each season. It's like allowing Bruce Jenner to play on the 'guys' team' at trivia night!
7. According to our Fantisitcs projection model database for 2015, just six catchers have a positive Value above Mean. What does that mean? About 83% of the starting catchers in baseball are weak fantasy assets.
8. Catchers offer the worst predictability of any hitting position. Our work at Fantistics has shown that barely half of the players at the catcher's position (53%) come within 35% of what they posted the previous season. No other hitting position sees less than 65% of their players come within 35% of their results from the year before. Simply put, commence with the dart throwing!
9. The 'average' catcher in 2014 hit .245 with a .309 OBP, a .380 SLG, and, thus, a .689 OPS. Who was the embodiment of that 'average' catcher? That would be ... Wellington Castillo! Let's make a deal ... while you're busting your back doing research on who will be your 2nd catcher this year, I'll be down at the pool slamming mojito's. I think I'll be able to still find an average catcher after downing seven of those drinks, proceeding to stumble around, slur my speech, and proclaim that I'm Jesus Christ.
10. I don't believe any of us should have to live in a universe where drafting Derek Norris as your catcher is considered a positive.
I do realize that this argument will fall on deaf ears. And, I also realize that 15 years from now, we'll still be drafting these guys. But, my hope is that in 15 years we will have found a way to make distinctions between the 5th-best catcher and the 13th-best catcher.
My money says that we'll have a reliable defensive metric or two that can be added to each position player in fantasy baseball. That metric will affect the catcher's spot as much as any. That metric will also allow us to separate the great, unwashed masses at the position and finally give an important 'real-life' position an equal standing in the world of fantasy baseball. Someone get to work on that rule. I promise to follow it!
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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