Fantasy Rankings 2012: Catcher
During the month of February, we here at Baseball Nation are going to release our own list of fantasy rankings by position. We are going to kick it off with the Catcher position. This position as a whole is a bit deeper than it has been in the past 5 or so years. Newcomers like Posey, Santana, and Wieters have added a little depth to what used to be a very shallow position. Without any further ado, here are the 2012 B-N Fantasy Rankings for Catcher:
1) Carlos Santana - A lot of owners were very hesitant to draft Santana very high last year because of his horrific knee injury in 2010. Rumors were swirling about a move to 1B or DH. He played 95 games at Catcher last year and 66 at 1B. While doing so he hit 27 home runs while amassing 79 RBI's, 2nd and 3rd most in the league respectively. While his batting average was low (.239), that is easily attributed to an extremely low BABIP of .263. He still managed a solid OBP (.351), and he is bound to be a lot luckier on balls in play in 2012.
2) Brian McCann - Brian has been at the top of the catcher rankings for 5 years and running. There isn't a safer bet at the Catcher position to hit 20 HR's and drive in 80+ RBI. He hits for a great average, and is even more of a monster in leagues that count OBP. If you are looking for a safe place to use your money (draft spot), then McCann is the guy you want. Still only 28, he has a good 4-5 years left in his prime.
3) Mike Napoli - A lot of people are going to draft Napoli ahead of McCann or Santana this year, and i just dont understand why. His batting average in the first 3 months of the season were .267, .206, and .179 respectively. Ouch. BUT, he obviously went on a torrid stretch of outstanding hitting from July on through the World Series. What keeps me from ranking him ahead of McCann and Santana is that we havent seen Napoli put together a full season at the Catcher position. The Rangers are rumored to be giving him the full-time gig at the Catcher position this year, so i guess we will see how his legs and stamina holds up over the course of a full-season. Still a great pick, but i just want to see him prove he is worthy of selecting in the top 50 (which is where his ADP is right now).
4) Buster Posey - Speaking of wanting to see a player prove themselves (did you catch that segway? perfect.), Posey comes in at #4. His power was down a bit from his outstanding rookie season, but he wasn't even able to log 200 AB's before that jerk, Scott Cousins, took him out. Power is one of those stats that accumulates over the course of a season. I am not ready to say that Posey would have only hit 12 bombs last year if healthy. If you are in a league that counts OBP or OPS, his value increases even more. There could be a lot of value to Posey if he comes back healthy, just look at Carlos Santana last year. He is currently the 4th Catcher coming off the board according to Mock Draft Central (MDC) with an ADP of 59.55.
5) Miguel Montero - I view Miguel Montero as a McCann Lite. He is going to produce in 3 categories very well: batting average, HR, and RBI. He is good for 15 HR, 70 RBI, and a .280+ BA all day long, if healthy. He was another catcher last year who was coming off an injury. He is a safe bet if you miss out on the top 4 guys. His ADP of 102 means you can get him in the 9th or even 10th round, which really comes at a better value than you may have to pay for McCann or one of the big 3. All the taste, with less calories my friends.
6) Matt Wieters - Wieters has improved every year since he first came up in 2009. His HR production doubled last year to 22, which was fifth-most among catchers. He is really in the middle of the pack in batting average and RBI, but his draft day price tag of 99 means that you can wait until the 8th or 9th round to snag him up.
7) Joe Mauer - Say it ain't so Joe! Bilateral Leg Fatigue? I am still trying to google that term. Disappointment is the only thing that comes up. His days of hitting 28 HR are long gone my friends. Please don't fall for past performances. The good news is the worst average he has ever hit for in a season is .287, and he will be a monster in leagues that count OBP. ADP of 81 is a bit of a high price to pay (especailly for a guy that might not even spend much time at the Catcher position in the future), but he also brings a great reward if he can find his stroke again. Classic high risk, high reward situation.
Okay, i will interject my opinion into the rankings at this time. The top 7 are pretty clear to me, and are worth looking into and investing in. The guys who follow are useful players, but most likely will not be major producers on your team. I know a lot of folks out there fill the Catcher position in the last 3-5 rounds. These are the guys i would look into if that's your style.
8) Alex Avila - Yoda would say, 'One lucky season, a top catcher does not make'. His .376 BABIP tells us that he was very lucky last year to have hit .295. His splits show that he did pretty well in both the first and second halves of the season, even though he seemingly faded in the playoffs. The power is legit, he seems to be good for 15-20 HR, but i think those are gong to come with a .260-.270 average this year. He is going to be hitting behind Fielder and Cabrera, so the opportunity to drive in runs will be there for him. He might not be an all-star again this year, but he will be a good enough power source to merit a spot on your fantasy roster.
9) Yadier Molina - Last year was a career year for Molina in terms of power. Don't plan on 14 HR again this year. His HR/FB% was double his career norms. However, his 65 RBI and .305 average are pretty much in line with his career numbers. He has always been known for his outstanding defense, but he has steadily improved with the bat as he has aged. Among catchers with at least 300 AB's last year, he ranked 2nd in average and 8th in RBI. Not too bad for a guy who is currently being drafted 180th. Don't reach for him, but if he falls into you lap in the 18th or 19th rounds, then i think you could do much worse.
10) JP Arencibia - JP is a two-trick pony, but his two tricks are really good. His power is legit, but it is going to cost you in batting average. His average of .219 is ugly and it isn't getting any better with a 0.68 GB/FB rate. His BABIP will always be low because of that, and he may not be able to hold on to his position when Travis D'Arnaud is ready. That being said, if you get to the back end of the draft, and you have a couple high average guys to balance him out, the power he brings to the table will help your team.
11) Wilson Ramos - Ramos has the catcher's position all to himself with the exit of Pudge from DC, and we will have to see what he does with the stage all to himself. Look for his average to come up a bit from the .267 it was last year. Who knows? With a lucky year and a high BABIP, he could easily be a .300 hitter. The power should remain about the same at 15 HR, which is par for the course at the Catcher position. He would be a thrifty add to your team if you wait late.
12) Russell Martin - Martin had a bit of a renaissance year last year with the Yankees. It ended up with a batting average that will hurt your team (.237), but counting stats and power numbers that are slightly above average (18 HR, 67 RBI, and 57 R). If he didn't hit in the Yankees line-up, he wouldn't be worth a spot on your team, but he does and so he comes in at #12.
13) Jonathan LuCroy- LuCroy is a last ditch effort for your team. There is potential for 15 -20 HR and 65+ RBI, but he hasnt done it yet. His .265 batting average might come up a few ticks, but is about what he is likely to reproduce in 2012. He did fade a bit in the second half of the season. However, for a guy that will go undrafted in some leagues, you might be willing to take a shot that he takes a big step forward in 2012.
14) Chris Iannetta- This is really just a shot in the dark. He has always had big promise he has failed to live up to so far. His batting average is likely to top out at .250, but there is a lot of promise in his power. If you are in a league that counts OBP or OPS, he has shown to excel at getting on-base. I would give him a shot in leagues like that.
Ok, so this pretty much wraps up the Catcher position. There were some guys left off that you might find on other lists. I generally don't fall for guys like Nick Hundley who play on bad teams and have only played for half a year. I also wont be drafting guys like Carlos Ruiz who only hit for a decent average and dont produce anywhere else. At the end of the day, you need production in multiple categories from the Catcher position...
Stay tuned for the First Base rankings...should be ready later this weekend.