Big Board's Picks: Catcher

This week at Harper Wallbanger, I'm sorting through the Big Board for 12-team 5x5 leagues to find the must-draft and must-avoid players at each position. Let's kick things off with Catchers!

State of the position

After Sanchez and Posey at the top, a short middle tier defined by Lucroy, Perez, Grandal, Gattis, Realmuto, and Contreras offers a bit of upside, but none are coming at a discount in drafts. The bottom tier is mostly unappealing, but the mostly-undrafted tier offers some interesting names to watch, including d'Arnaud, Mesoraco, and Gomes, all looking to make bouncebacks from injury-plagued '16 seasons.

Target: Gary Sanchez
537 PA, 28 HR, 70 R, 83 RBI, 5 SB, .262 AVG

The big question of draft season is whether Gary Sanchez is going to be the GARY SANCHEZ of 2016, or something less. First, no, he will not post a 40% HR/FB rate again. But he doesn't have to. From the sounds of it, Sanchez will catch most days for the Yankees, and likely DH the others (realistically, he'll probably get a day off a week). That playing time alone puts him in an elite tier for catcher playing time with Posey, Lucroy, and Perez. Add Evan-Gattis type skills on top of that and you've got a truly elite catcher. Big Board has him as #1 over Posey. It feels a bit bold, but maybe it isn't: xFantasy from last year has him for a .302 AVG and 43 HR over 600 PA. If he puts those numbers up, he'll be a 1st rounder in 2018.

When to target: Late Round 3 to early Round 4 for CBS/Yahoo leagues. ESPN has him ranked inexplicably low, so you can wait safely til Round 5 or 6.

Risk profile: Medium.

Target: Steven Vogt
508 PA, 14 HR, 57 R, 56 RBI, 1 SB, .256 AVG

Steven Vogt is another decent bet for playing time, slotting in as Oakland's primary catcher and #2 hitter, as well as a good option to get time at DH or 1B this year (Yonder Alonso won't have much to say about that, but Ryon Healy might...). He's not flashy, but if you miss the top options at catcher, Vogt can be had cheaply near the end and should reliably give you top-10 catcher production. Say it with me now: "I BELIEVE IN STEVEN VOGT!"

When to target: Wait until all other catching options look truly unappetizing (Molina, Castillo, Wieters, etc.). Likely safe to wait 'til Round 17 or 18 in all 12-team formats.

Risk profile: Low.

Avoid: Welington Castillo
390 PA, 14 HR, 42 R, 49 RBI, 1 SB, .246 AVG

Beef Welington is like Vogt, except with a worse lineup spot and playing time situation, and going as much as two rounds earlier. In an age where most MLB teams have realized the importance of catcher defense, he's a bat-only catcher, and therefore at constant risk of being replaced (remember his 2015 split between three different teams?). He's coming off a nice season (by his standards) at the plate, but it was built on a .337 BABIP, which is exceptionally high for a plodding catcher. A quick check of tells us to expect a more-typical .240 AVG from him, just about the same as his projection.

Risk profile: Medium.