It is time to close out our rankings for the hitters with the catcher position. This is really a tale of the top four players, and everyone else. Pick your poison. Yes, there is some upside here, but always risk too due to inherent wear and tear catchers endure, so don’t spend too aggressively no matter which tier you decide to target.
1. Joe Mauer, MIN – Mauer had a huge drop off in homers in 2010, which may or may not have something to do with the Twins moving into the new Target Field. Regardless, he’s still the best fantasy catcher as he’ll provide a very high batting average and a lot of RBI. This kind of production won’t be cheap at a premium position like catcher as he’ll cost you a second round pick.
2. Victor Martinez, DET – When Detroit signed V-Mart, they said he’d bat most every day, usually as designated hitter. He’ll get some time behind the dish and at 1B, but he’ll amass about 550 at-bats, which is huge for a catcher, especially one with Martinez’ ability.
3. Buster Posey, SF – With less than a year of MLB experience under his belt, Posey is already among the fantasy elite. The Giants are likely to use him most days as they assume his youthful body can handle the wear and tear. Take advantage of his many trips to the plate but be mindful of possibly wearing out as the season progresses unless he is used at first base on occasion like last year.
4. Brian McCann, ATL – The only thing keeping McCann at the bottom of the elite group is a batting average that is solid, but not spectacular. He’s still a great bat to put at your catcher position but he’s being picked right after V-Mart in most drafts, and a round ahead of Posey. At that price McCann will provide considerably less value.
5. Mike Napoli, TEX – Napoli is a big swinger who will hit a lot of homers at the cost of his batting average. He’s likely to continue playing a little first base, providing you with extra at-bats and position flexibility.
6. Kurt Suzuki, OAK – Suzuki is here mostly for his ability to pick up about 550 at-bats. He’s nothing more than a solid hitter, but with the number of at-bats he’ll acquire, he will pile up some nice stats to help your team.
7. Russell Martin, NYY – Since his game has slumped at the plate in the last few years, Martin has fallen out of favor with fantasy owners, but look for a revival now that he’s in the Bronx. Hitting in the Yankees order can do wonders for anyone’s game and Martin should be rejuvenated with 2007-esque numbers. The steals might not break 20 like his big season, but look for the average and power to return. You can draft Martin pretty late, making him one of my key undervalued targets for 2011.
8. Geovany Soto, CHC – Expect a .286/20/72 line from Soto. He’s very solid and will provide decent value if you can wait him out to the seventh round. Soto is usually the first catcher off the board after the top four are drafted a few rounds earlier.
9. Miguel Montero, ARI – If you miss out on Geovany Soto, Montero should be available in the next round. He’s a similar player providing slightly inferior numbers.
10. Matt Wieters, BAL – He was supposed to be the next stud catcher, but it seems like his star has fallen. He is still young and has enough time to realize that potential. In the meantime, he will be solid but unspectacular. He’s a great second catcher in two-catcher leagues, but you probably don’t want him to be your number one guy with high expectations.
11. A.J. Pierzynski, CWS – There is nothing fancy about Pierzynski, just a good batting average and a dozen homers. He makes a great second catcher for the leagues who start two.
12. Carlos Santana, CLE – Carlos Santana will likely join the elite group next season, but is probably a few notches below for now. If you can’t get one of the big four, the next two tiers can be lumped together as pretty similar, starting with Mike Napoli and ending here with Santana, with varying degrees of risk and upside.
13. Yadier Molina, STL – This is the perfect “won’t hurt your team” catcher. Molina will give you a good batting average, but little else. If you are looking to wait until the middle-teens to grab your catcher, this is a great pick.
14. Chris Iannetta, COL – Iannetta will give you power, but will hurt your batting average. He makes a good backup or second catcher.
15. John Jaso, TB – As Tampa Bay’s leadoff hitter, he will be in great position to score a lot of runs, but he doesn’t steal bases or have much power. His batting average also isn’t anything that will help your team, so draft this guy only if you are desperate.
16. J.P. Arencibia, TOR – This guy only has 35 MLB at-bats under his belt, so expect some slumps. He has a lot of room to grow into a good hitting catcher, just don’t expect this to be the season he does.
17. Miguel Olivo, SEA – Call him “Iannetta-lite”. You’ll get some pop, but the batting average will hurt you.
18. Ryan Doumit, PIT – The Pirates list Doumit as their backup catcher and right fielder and he might get time at first base as well. As such, he is likely to get a bunch of at-bats while not being a starter. If it all works out, he could really be an asset to your team but watch his playing time closely and cut bait if he looks like he’s not getting enough at-bats.
19. Jorge Posada, NYY – If his knees hold up, Posada could put together a great season for a catcher-eligible player. Those knees are likely to be a little creaky all season though, and the temptation of playing the young phenom Jesus Montero will be too great to get Posada as many at-bats as he will need to be much more than a backup catcher for your fantasy team.
20. Alex Avila, DET
21. Rod Barajas, LAD
22. Jesus Montero, NYY
23. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS
24. Carlos Ruiz, PHI
25. Nick Hundley, SD
26. Ramon Hernandez, CIN
27. John Buck, FLA
28. Ryan Hanigan, CIN
29. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL
30. Josh Thole, NYM