Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2012: Russell Martin and Catchers Sure to Breakout

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 06:  Russell Martin #55 of the New York Yankees bats against the Detroit Tigers during Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 6, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Tigers won 3-2.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Catcher is the most valuable position in fantasy baseball.

There are so few superstars at the position—and it takes such a toll on the body—that there is a temptation to reach for any name that squats behind the plate. 

However, there does seem to be an influx of talent at the catching position right now.

We all saw what Buster Posey did for the San Francisco Giants in 2010, and Joe Mauer won an MVP award in 2009, but there are a lot of developing stars ready to make their presence felt this year. 

Here are the best catchers you can bank on that won't cost you an early pick that would normally be devoted to another position. 

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 25: Russell Martin #55 of the New York Yankees hits a grand slam home run in the 6th inning against the Oakland Athletics on August 25, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Imag
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Russell Martin, New York Yankees

When the Yankees traded Jesus Montero, who was likely not long for the catcher position anyway, it was a clear signal that Martin is going to be entrenched behind the plate for at least the next year. 

There was a time when he was one of the best and most valuable fantasy players in baseball, but his numbers dropped significantly after 2007. 

He did have a nice fantasy season, at least from a power perspective, last season.

He hit 18 home runs and drove in 65, his best numbers since that 2007 season in Los Angeles. 

If you can live with a mediocre average, Martin will be the man for you. His power numbers should remain the same, and he could drive in more runs depending on how strong the bottom of the Yankees' lineup is. 

Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

Fresh off signing an old-school five-year, $7 million contract, Perez is now firmly entrenched as the Royals' long-term catcher.

It was a bold step for the team to take, and fantasy owners are going to have some questions. 

Depending on what you are looking for from a backstop, Perez could be the right fit for you.

He is not going to give you a ton of power, though he did set a career high with 13 total home runs across three levels last season. 

Where he really shines is in batting average.

He is a free swinger, but makes enough contact that he should be able to keep his average around .300 all year. Add 50-55 RBIs to that, and you have an above-average fantasy catcher. 

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals rounds third after hitting a two-run home run in the fifth inning during a game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 20, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (P
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds

While this is an aggressive push for Mesoraco considering that he has just 50 at-bats in the big leagues, but his offensive potential is extremely high right away because of his advanced approach to hitting. 

Balancing patience with a powerful, compact swing that can produce 25 home run power, Mesoraco is going to be a star, both in fantasy and reality.

He is going to need some time early in the season—assuming Dusty Baker actually lets him play. 

As long as Mesoraco gets 450 plate appearances, there is no reason to think that he won't hit 15 home runs and drive in 60 runs in that potent Reds' lineup.