Fantasy Baseball Preview: Catchers

Who to choose and who to avoid in your fantasy draft.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

There are multiple strategies when it comes to drafting the catcher position. I’ve always been one to surround my team around a top catcher, and although I had Buster Posey last year (who came off a ‘Rookie Of The Year’ ’10 season, only to be de-railed with a season ending collision at home plate a month into the ’11 season), I still won my ‘League Of Champions.’

No matter your strategy, I think it’s very important to get yourself a great bargain at catcher. At the very least, someone that can hit for a high average with some slight pop.

As long as I don’t have to over-pay, I am also one to take a prospect with high upside over a veteran with a guarantee of average numbers, (ie. Salvador Perez over A.J. Pierzynski)

Note: I will only ‘rank’ my top 12 players, considering these players would be the only guys I would start immediately in a standard 12-team mixed league. Please use this guide in helping you to determine which catchers to target, and who to stay away from and not over-pay for on draft day.

 

Great Value Picks! Guys I Love.

Based on their ADP (average draft position), these players could be draft day bargains. Get ready to jump.

1  Joe Mauer (Min) Injury plagued last season, but looks good for 2012. Even after last season, his three-year average is at .333. One of the best hitters in all of baseball, not just at catcher. He’s also eligible at first base this year. One of the most under-valued picks in all of baseball.

2 Buster Posey (SF) Another guy that’s virtually a lock to hit .300. Coming off a season in which he had to have a surgery, but all reports say he’s 100%. Has a .915 OPS on the road. I mean, come one, his name is ‘Buster.’

3 Brian McCann (ATL) The most reliable in the game over the past five years. Only Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza and Jorge Posada have ever exceeded his ongoing six-season streak of at least 18 homers and 71 RBI. And you gotta love his beard.

7 Yadier Molina (STL) In some drafts he’s going as low as pick 177. He’s the second highest paid catcher in the game for good reason. He challenges the .300 average plateau almost every year, and he’s as reliable as any. He will play every day. Then again, I’m a Cardinals fan.

12 Wilson Ramos (Was) All scouts love him. He hit .358 in April and September; now if he can just fill the gap. He’s still only 23 and could be headed for a break-out year. His ADP is at 194.

 

Value Is Appropriate

These guys are being drafted close to their value. Feel free to grab at the right time, but do not reach.

4 Matt Wieters (Bal) .262-22-68-72 – Brian McCann-esque. He’s still only 25. These numbers should slightly improve.

8 Jesus Montero (Sea) ADP is 154 as a DH, but he will soon become eligible at catcher after the first few weeks of the season. Should hit for a good average with 20 home run potential. If he already qualifies at catcher in your league, move him up your board. Then you can proclaim that your draft was saved by Jesus!

9 Miguel Montero (Ari) Just outside the ‘top five’ of catchers. Hit .282/18/86 last year.

10 Alex Avila (Det) He’s still only 25. Numbers should be solid, but don’t expect the high batting average, as his BABIP was a very lucky .366. Projected to hit closer to .267 with slight pop. If he still hits .300 in 2012, not only add him to your team, take him to Vegas with you.

Ryan Doumit (Min) Should get plenty of playing time with Mauer sharing time at DH and first base. He had a resurgence last year, recording an .830 OPS in 77 games. Could be late round bargain. But on the other hand, don’t over pay whatsoever. If you do, you’ll be repeating out-loud to yourself: DOUMIT!

Geovany Soto (CHC) Had an awful season in ’11 where he only hit .228, but still hit 17 homers. He’s an up-and-down player, where it’s hard to know what to expect. Could take a flier on him and hope for a .265/18/70 season, but I’m not holding my breath. Then again, I’m not a Cubbie fan.

 

Don’t Over-Pay!

These guys have solid numbers, but be careful. They’re going much higher in drafts than they should, considering their value.

5 Mike Napoli (Tex) He would have to fall more than a few rounds for me to hop on board. Had a monster year in Texas in 2011, but his career numbers suggest digression.  He is the number one catcher on many boards, but he had a very lucky BABIP last year (batting average of balls in play) at .344. He’ll probably hit closer to his 3-year average of around .270, but he also won’t play every day. He played 113 games last year. I want a guy that’s going to play more and has more than just one good year on his resume.

6 Carlos Santana (Cle) Sure, he smashed 27 home runs, but he also only hit .239. Will hurt your average some. His ADP is at 39.8 right now across all major sites, which is way too high, considering that’s ahead of guys like Paul Konerko and Nelson Cruz. He’s also very young, so there’s no guarantee for a solid year by any means.

Chris Iannetta (LAA) Angels manager Mike Scioscia loves to platoon catchers, which means he’ll be lucky to play more than 110 games. He’s a career .235 hitter. You could take a flier on him, but don’t pay too much.

Russell Martin (NYY) He showed some resurgence with the power at 18 HRs last year, but still only hit .237. Would be a top back-up in my book.

11 J.P. Arencibia (Tor) If you’re in the need for home runs then grab him, but be careful, he’ll kill your batting average. He only hit .219 in 2011.

Josh Thole (NYM) Could very well hit .280 in a newly adjusted Citi Field. Still only 25 years old.

 

Late Round Gold Mining. AKA Deep Sleepers!

Salvador Perez (KC) Just signed a fat contract. One of the top prospects in the KC system. Could break out with a solid batting average.

Jonathan Lucroy (Mil) Had a good campaign as a rookie (.265/12/59). If he cuts down on strikeouts the numbers could get better.

Devin Mesoraco (Cin) Could compete for Rookie of the Year.

 

Don’t Draft Under Any Circumstances!

Victor Martinez (Det) Just in case you’ve been sleeping. Martinez is out for the year with a torn ACL. Don’t let your brother-in-law play a trick on you.

 

The rest of the league

I wouldn’t bother looking at any of these players unless they’re your back-up catcher. These guys are second-string, at best.

Kurt Suzuki – Oak

Ramon Hernandez – Col

Nick Hundley –  SD

A.J. Pierzynski – CHW

Rod Barajas – Pit

Carlos Ruiz – Phi

Ryan Lavarnway – Bos

John Buck – Mia

Miguel Olivo – Sea

 

Josh Helmuth is the lead baseball writer for CraveOnline.com and has won ‘The League Of Champions’ fantasy baseball league four out of six years.

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS