As before, I'm using the projected numbers from Fangraphs at each position to determine the rankings.
1. Giants: 6.3 WAR (#1 overall)
Everyday starter: St Buster of the Flowers (5.8)
Backup: Andrew Susac (0.5)
And it's not even close, particularly in terms of offense. Posey scored +24.3 for his hitting, and the next best is the Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy, at +7.1. How good has Posey been so far? In terms of bWAR, the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft has been worth almost as much by himself, as the rest of the top eight picks from that year combined [23.2 vs. 23.8]. The Rays, Pirates, Royals and Orioles - who picked Tim Beckham, Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer and Brian Matusz respectively, while Posey was still available - must be kicking themselves. He is projected to be worth 3.5 wins more than the next-best catcher in the NL West this year.
2. Dodgers: 3.3 WAR (#12)
Everyday starter: Yasmani Grandal (2.3)
Backup: A.J. Ellis (0.9)
There's a lot of bunching in the middle here, with 0.6 wins covering everyone from 11th down to 23rd. I might just have given the Dodgers four stars, but Posey is so far ahead of the pack, that needed to be illustrated. And besides, I have no interest in giving LA the benefit of any doubt. This was definitely a position of weakness for the Dodgers in 2014, and the arrival of Grandal from San Diego will certainly help them. It's not clear how playing time will be split between these two: Ellis is certainly among the top tier of backups at the position, and is being paid $4.25 million this year, so is more expensive than most as well. He should appear fairly often
3. Padres: 2.9 WAR (#20)
Everyday starter: Derek Norris (2.3)
Backup: Tim Federowicz (0.6)
Amusing to see the Padres lose Grandal, then go right out and get Norris from Oakland, who is projected for exactly the same value, while being considerably younger and cheaper. If you watched the AL wild-card game last September, you'll know about Norris's defensive issues, as he allowed five stolen bases to Kansas City during the 8th and 9th innings, as they came back from four runs down. Expect other teams to take advantage too. San Diego also acquired Federowicz back from the Dodgers as part of the Grandal deal, and no backup in the majors is expected to see more playing time.
4. Rockies 2.7 WAR (#23)
Everyday starter: Nick Hundley (1.0)
Backup: Michael McKenry (0.9) and Wilin Rosario (0.9)
It's an odd situation in Colorado, with what could end up being a three-headed beast behind the plate. They signed Hundley to a two-year deal, suggesting they may be fed up with Rosario's defensive struggles, even though he has hit more home-runs over the past three seasons, than anyone else at the position bar Brian McCann. A trade to an American League team, where he can also DH, seemed a sensible possibility when Hundley was signed at the end of December. But at this point in the off-season, with the Rockies' catchers reporting to Salt River Fields in less than a week, the odds of a move appear to have declined.
5. Diamondbacks 0.4 WAR (#30)
Everyday starter: Tuffy Gosewisch (0.2)
Backup: Oscar Hernandez (0.0)
Here's the bottom line. Our projected everyday catcher would be at best a third-string guy on just about every other team in the majors. No disrespect to Tuffy, whom I love dearly - and don't forget, it likely still puts him among the top 100 baseball catchers on the planet [Would that I ever get into the top hundred at anything]. But it doesn't help the team in 2015. The hope is O'Brien, who gets a token 19 PAs in these projections, will be able to hold down the gig, but that's far from a sure thing. I think we probably won't be quite as bad as painted, because O'Brien will see more playing time and his offense will be better than the others. But if he doesn't stick, it's going to be a long season.
In case you were wondering, the Cubs sit at #15, at 3.1 WAR, with Miguel Montero responsible for 2.4 of those. I think the team's willingness basically to punt the position, and see what happens with more or less unproven talent behind the dish, is quite telling in regard to their real expectations for the season. But fans shouldn't throw O'Brien under the bus if he doesn't deliver a Rookie of the Year level performance in 2015. For we must remember that by the end of his age 24 season, after appearing in 160 major-league games, Montero was worth below replacement level. Patience definitely needs to be part of the game-plan.
The story so far
Below, you'll find a chart summarizing the findings, which we'll update as we continue this series. For each position, we have awarded the teams a rating of between one and five stars, depending on how strong they are projected to be at the position. Generally, a five-star rating requires them to be among the best in the majors; a four-star one is clearly one of strength; three stars would be about average; two stars is a position of concern; and one star is a gurgling vortex of suck.