Here we go with the least exciting position to draft in fantasy baseball. It's the one position you are almost assured of coming up twenty or thirty games short in reaching your league's maximum games limit. That is unless you want to carry two catchers on your roster and you don't want to do that. The trick is to find a catcher who splits time at another position, usually first base or DH. It is foolish to spend one of your first five picks on a catcher... OK, OK, I admit I've done it in the past with catchers like Victor Martinez and Carlos Santana. But I had really, really bad remorse about it afterwards.
I can rationalize those Martinez and Santana picks in past years because I tend to be a "position-scarcity" drafter, as opposed to the "best player available" drafter. If you can get a catcher who is a good bet to play 150-plus games, that could be a huge advantage in fantasy baseball, especially, of course, if they're putting up good numbers. Catchers like Martinez and Santana have such a good bat that their teams don't give them the typical "Sunday off" which catchers tend to get. Instead, their teams keep their bat in the lineup by giving them a "day off" by DHing or playing first base.
This year, the depth at catcher is pretty deep once Buster Posey is off the boards. Many advocate waiting until the final two rounds to draft a catcher. This year, in particular, I would advocate waiting until the latter rounds to draft a catcher. It is a similar philosophy to waiting until the last round to draft a kicker in fantasy football.
Here are my tiers with my projections:
1. Buster Posey (21 HR, 93 RBI, .327 avg., 1 SB)
With no offense to Joe Mauer, Posey is head and shoulders above the competition. You can bank on a .300-plus average from Posey. But, the risk with catchers is their proclivity for injuries. And Posey is coming off a horrific ankle injury in 2011. It is encouraging that he played in 148 games with 530 ABs last year. It's even more encouraging that he hit .336 with 24 horme runs. I'd still be worried about using a second or third round pick on him, though.
2. Carlos Santana (25 HR, 80 RBI, .267 avg., 3 SB)
3. Joe Mauer (8 HR, 78 RBI, .323 avg., 4 SB)
I give Santana the slight edge over Mauer due to durability, home park, and power potential. I don't care what the stat sheet says, Santana is better than a .247 career hitter. Don't let the average scare you away. Second half of last year, Santana hit .281 with 13 HR and 46 RBI.
4. Victor Martinez (14 HR, 86 RBI, .307 avg., 0 SB)
5. Wilin Rosario (24 HR, 76 RBI, .264 avg., 4 SB)
6.. Yadier Molina (16 HR, 77 RBI, .296, 8 SB)
7. Matt Wieters (20 HR, 81 RBI, .249 avg., 3 SB)
This is where the tiers begin blending into each other. This may be the last time that the 34-year-old Martinez qualifies at catcher as he will be the Tigers' full-time DH this season following missing all of last season following knee surgery. The power is gone, but he can still hit .300 in his sleep. Rosario is a promising power-hitting catcher (28 HR in only 396 AB in 2012) who plays in Colorado. Molina is just solid all across the board and seems to only be getting better with age. Wieters has more power potential, but his average can weigh your team down. Maybe he should stick to hitting right-handed.
8. Miguel Montero (16 HR, 76 RBI, .277 avg., 4 SB)
9. Salvador Perez (18 HR, 56 RBI, .290 avg., 0 SB)
10. Brian McCann (20 HR, 70 RBI, .243 avg., 2 SB)
11. Mike Napoli (23 HR, 70 RBI, .253 avg., 0 SB)
12. Jesus Montero (16 HR, 74 RBI, .282 avg., 0 SB)
13. Jonathan Lucroy (14 HR, 60 RBI, .273 avg., 4 SB)
14. AJ Pierzynski (15 HR, 59 RBI, .276 avg., 1 SB)
15. Carlos Ruiz (11 HR, 47 RBI, .270 avg., 1 SB)
16. J.P. Arencibia (22 HR, 59 RBI, .230 avg., 1 SB)
17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (17 HR, 54 RBI, .227 avg., 0 SB)
If you want more power, you'll have to swallow Saltalamacchia and Arencibia's low averages, or take a chance on Napoli's hips. If you're risk-averse-- Miguel and Jesus Montero, McCann, and Pierzynski are safe, but unexciting bets. If you want to take a chance on young, promising catchers-- go for Perez and, to a lesser extent, Lucroy. Remember that Ruiz is suspended for the first 25 games.
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