Catcher isn’t as thin as it once was. While there were always a few studs at the top, the drop off from the first to second tier was usually steep. That’s not the case this year.
Players such as Jeff Clement, Chris Snyder, Kelly Shoppach, and the winner of the Texas catching position offer substantial upside at a modest price. The point is, while this is my top 10 fantasy catchers, you don’t need one of the top two or three to get good production from your catcher slot. Anyways, on with the rankings.
1.) Brian McCann – My undisputed No.1 catcher. A near lock for 20 homeruns and close to 100 RBI, along with a .300 avg. McCann lost 25 lbs. this offseason, so perhaps a slight drop in power can be anticipated, but nothing to be concerned about.
He’s as consistent as they come and has logged over 500 ABs his past two years. Expect more of the same as he remains firmly entrenched in the heart of the Braves' lineup.
2.) Geovany Soto– Last year was just the beginning. Soto offers similar stats to McCann at a cheaper price. That being said, he could be buried in a stacked lineup, limiting his RBI potential. Definitely in the top tier of catchers, but I’m not paying for him.
3.) Russell Martin – The rare five tool catcher. Offers 20 steals from the center position and could score close to 100 runs. Martin doesn’t offer as much pop as the top two catchers; however, he could be the beneficiary of hitting in the middle of a formidable lineup.
One point of concern however, is his heavy usage. Despite Torre’s desires to either give Martin more rest or days at third base, this 26-year-old spent 149 games behind the dish last year. With increased rest/move to third base, Martin’s production should stabilize over the course of the entire season, rather than drop off like it did at the end of last season. Overall, be prepared to dish out big bucks for this stud.
4.) Victor Martinez – A year removed from being head and shoulders above the rest of the catchers, V-Mart’s injuries plagued him all year and sent his stock tumbling. The emergence of Kelly Shoppach will fore manager Eric Wedge to get Shoppach’s bat in the lineup.
This will push Martinez to first base more often and should keep him fresher throughout the course of the year. No catcher has the RBI potential of V-Mart, and he makes for a perfect bounce-back candidate. Don’t let him slip too far.
5.) Ryan Doumit – Clearly outside the top tier, but has all the tools to join the elite by year’s end. Has decent pop, and hits for a high average, while a weak lineup will stymie his RBI potential. Should bat cleanup and provide protection for Nate McClouth. Injuries are a concern as he hasn’t appeared in more than 120 since 2005, but match Doumit with a replacement level catcher and you have a very appealing option. A player to target.
6.) Joe Mauer- Early injuries, especially to a catcher, always concern me. Mauer received offseason kidney surgery, which he’s struggled to return from, and his recovery was complicated even further by an inflamed lower back.
His status for opening day is up in the air. The reigning A.L. batting champ is one of the best when healthy, but his back injury might cost him the early part of the season. Even if he returns for opening day, he may not be 100 percent. That said, barring any major setbacks, he should knock in 75 and score 75, while maintaining his .320+ average. He won’t be on any of my teams this year.
7.) Chris Iannetta – My favorite center target this season. Never quite billed as an All-Star type catcher, but a solid regular, Iannetta has proven that he can perform at an elite level.
He hit 18 homeruns in a little over 300 AB’s last year, and will see his playing time increase. That bodes well for the young catcher who should hit put up a line like .270/70/20/75 with potential for more. Bid the extra dollar.
8.) Mike Napoli – In a little over 200 AB’s last year, Napoli blasted 20 homeruns. Unfortunately, he also struck out 70 times. Few offer this type of power potential and he showed enough last year to earn himself more regular time behind the plate, but be wary of the low average.
If you’re looking for run production, this is your guy, but be aware that he is not an everyday catcher. He will split time with Jeff Mathis.
9.) Bengie Molina, – Molina quietly puts up top 10 numbers from the center position every year. This year shouldn’t be any different. Any catcher occupying a cleanup spot in a lineup is a valuable commodity, even if that team is the Giants.
That lineup is improved from last year with the addition of Edgar Renteria, along with a full year from Pablo Sandoval. Last year he approached 100 RBI. While that type of production shouldn’t be expected this year, a very respectful 75 RBI with 15 bombs and a .270 average is always welcome at my center spot.
10.) Matt Wieters – What haven’t we heard about this kid? He’s hailed as the second coming, the savior, and Superman. But can he single handedly save your team from fantasy damnation? Not quite. His skills are undeniable. He oozes upside. He’s been compared to Mark Teixeira.
All that potential however, cannot, and will not come in his rookie season. With a clearer picture of where he’ll be come opening day, his ranking could change either way, but this is the middle of the road projection. At the very least, he should be up by the middle of May, which was plenty of time for Evan Longoria to put up gaudy numbers. While I wouldn’t bank on 27 homeruns from Wieters, he could deliver 20 homeruns, 60 RBI, and hover around .280. Overall, he is the complete package, just temper expectations for 2009.