Fantasy Baseball Draft Day Decision: 5 Catchers to Avoid in 2012

Eric StashinSenior Writer IFebruary 8, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 31:  Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins takes a swing against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 31, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Twins defeated the White Sox 7-6.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There are a lot of reasons that people may suggest not drafting a player.  It could be based on injuries (both a high risk for one or the recovery of a previous one), potential loss of playing time, diminishing performance or various things in between.  Let’s take a look at five catchers I likely won’t be drafting in 2012:

Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins

This one seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?  Forget about the fact that he has become a significant injury risk (he played just 82 games in ’11), but his name value is a lot greater than he performance justifies. 

We all knew that his 2009 power outburst (28 HR) was likely an aberration, but can he continue to hit close to .300?

Catching has put a lot of wear and tear on his body, so it is not a stretch to think that his days of posting a .340 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) are behind him.  Last season he posted a .319 BABIP, leading to a .287 average. 

Is there value thanks to a good average and a spot in the lineup that will likely lead to a fair amount of RBI/R?  Absolutely, but with a current average draft position (ADP) of 81.05 (according to Mock Draft Central) he is being drafted way too early. 

That’s before Ben Zobrist, Kevin Youkils and Jimmy Rollins, just to name a few.  The cost is just way too high, especially with the negatives associated with him.

Mike Napoli – Texas Rangers

He had a monster 2011 (.320, 30 HR) and with Victor Martinez out he will enter the year as the No. 2 catcher on my draft board (click here to view my Top 15 catchers for 2012).  

Then why would I not select him?  There is far too much risk involved in selecting him at his current ADP (45.41).

He’s not going to repeat his average from last year, given his .344 BABIP and the risk that his strikeout rate increases significantly (19.7 percent in ’11 vs. 24.5 percent for his career). 

While you would anticipate more playing time (369 AB in ’11), it also is hard to imagine him replicating his 25.4 percent HR/FB.

That means a drop in average and a likely drop in power (you could try to argue extra playing time will allow him to remain consistent, but I’m not sure I buy it).  Plus, what if the Rangers don’t find him more AB?  What if they want to keep him at around 400 AB and no more? 

J.P. Arencibia – Toronto Blue Jays

He showed his power potential last season, hitting 23 HR in just 443 AB.  Of course, that came at a major cost as he hit just .219 thanks to a consistent inability to make contact (27.4 percent strikeout rate). 

While he may be able to reduce that number, it’s not going to be enough to make him a force in the average department.

If the drain on your batting average wasn’t enough, the presence of Travis d’Arnaud in the minor leagues could ultimately lead to Arencibia losing his job. 

Do the Blue Jays, who have plenty of power up-and-down their lineup, really want to continue going with an all or nothing option? 

As it is, they didn’t seem to fully commit to him last season, despite only Jose Molina behind him. 

With Jeff Mathis on Opening Day and potentially d’Arnaud later, the chances are too high that he doesn’t last the season in a starting role.

Russell Martin – New York Yankees

He was a nice story in his first year with the Yankees, hitting 18 HR.  Of course, he hadn’t hit that many since 2007 and it wasn’t just Yankee Stadium (he hit 10 HR on the road). 

Can we really expect him to be able to replicate that type of success? 

Throw in the fact that the Yankees are stocked with young catchers (even after the trade of Jesus Montero) and the fact that he’s hit .250 or worse in each of the past three seasons and there is way too much risk involved in trusting him.

Geovany Soto – Chicago Cubs

Since bursting onto the scene in 2008 (.285, 23 HR, 86 RBI), all Soto has done is consistently disappoint.  Over the past three years he has:

  • Hit under .230 twice
  • Failed to hit more than 17 HR
  • Failed to score more than 47 runs
  • Failed to drive in more than 54 runs

What makes us think that anything is going to suddenly change? 

Yes, there is the potential that he can post a usable average (he needs to reduce his 26.2 percent strikeout rate and improve on his .280 BABIP). 

Sure, 17 HR isn’t too shabby.  However, in a weak lineup can we really expect much in the RBI/R departments? 

There’s just not enough upside to excite me at this point.

What are your thoughts on these five catchers?  Are you targeting any of them?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings:


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