Fantasy Baseball Catcher Preview: Mauer, Posey on Comeback Trail
Fantasy Baseball: Draft a catcher early at your peril. Last year, two of the top four catchers in most drafts – Joe Mauer and Buster Posey – saw their seasons wrecked by injuries. Another of the top four, Brian McCann, hit .203 after the All-Star break after suffering an oblique injury. The fourth top-rated catcher from a year ago, Victor Martinez, had a spectacular year, only to tear his ACL in the offseason, which will cause him to miss all of 2012. Two other catchers who are highly rated this season – Carlos Santana and Miguel Montero – suffered their own serious injuries in 2010.
Carlos Santana, Cleveland
Mike Napoli, Texas
Brian McCann, Atlanta
Napoli hit an incredible .383 BA with 18 HR in the second half last year and followed it up with a spectacular postseason. Though not top-rated before this year, Napoli did not come out of nowhere – he also led all catchers in HR in 2010 with 26. Napoli’s career 162-game averages are 32 HR and 85 RBI. But the career .264 hitter is unlikely to hit .320 again. Bothered by an oblique in the first half, Napoli hit just .232 before his second-half explosion. This preseason, he has still not fully recovered from a postseason ankle injury. Napoli gets plenty of starts at 1B and DH, giving him a lot more AB than the typical catcher-eligible.
Rising star Santana had a breakout year with 27 HR. He hit only .239 but did have 97 walks. Santana’s second-half power numbers of 14 HR and 38 RBI were not far off Napoli’s 18-42. As with Napoli, Santana gets a lot of starts at 1B.
With Martinez out, McCann is the most consistent catcher of the last few years, with at least 18 HR, 70 RBI and a .270 BA in six straight seasons.
Buster Posey, San Francisco
Joe Mauer, Minnesota
Matt Wieters, Baltimore
Monitor the health of Posey and Mauer this spring. If healthy, either could vault into the first tier.
While Posey and Mauer are more likely to give you BA then HR, Wieters, who hit just .262, had 14 HR in the second half with an .840 OPS.
Miguel Montero, Arizona
Alex Avila, Detroit
Jesus Montero, Seattle
Miguel Montero (18 HR, 86 RBI, 65 R) and Avila (19 HR, 82 RBI, 63 R) put up similar numbers last year. Avila hit .295 to Montero’s .282, but Avila also had a .366 BABIP. Montero gets the edge since he’s done it before – in 2009, he went 16-59-.294.
Jesus Montero is supposed to be the next big thing. But when will that happen? Hugely-hyped Posey was an instant star, while even more hugely-hyped Wieters is still developing. Bear in mind that Montero looks like he will start the season at DH. Since he currently does not have catcher eligibility, he may not get it until May or later.
Yadier Molina, St. Louis
Geovany Soto, Cubs
Wilson Ramos, Washington
Consistent Molina won’t torpedo your BA like some other catchers. Hit .305 with 14 HR last year, both career highs.
Soto’s career 162-game average is 23-81-.258.While his last four seasons, his BA has been .285, .218, .280, .228., if he continues that pattern, he’s due for another good season.
Ramos showed promise in his first full year, but in the offseason, he was kidnapped in his native Venezuela. Fortunately, he’s fine physically, but it remains to be seen if there are any aftereffects from his ordeal.
Russell Martin, Yankees
J.P. Arencibia, Toronto
They’ve got power, but could kill your BA. Martin (18-65-.237) had a strong April, but was terrible at the plate the rest of the year except for August. Arencibia (23-78-.219) may lose his job to prospect Travis D’Arnaud by 2013.
Rookies to watch
Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati
Wilin Rosario, Colorado
Photo by Bart Hanlon.
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