Fresh off losing my Fantasy Curling league championship, I decided it was time to start putting together this season’s Breakouts, Busts and Sleepers lists. I have to be better at predicting fantasy baseball than fantasy curling. Right?
Well just in case my sauce soaked brain has spent too much time listening to Hob Gnarly and the Inhalers while watching old Dukes of Hazard reruns, I have opted to have my fellow fantasy staff alumni throw in their 3 cents as well.
There are just too many questions to answer alone. Can Soto and Martin come back to life? Does Posada have another solid season in him? Were Montero’s 2009 numbers a fluke? Do catchers get calluses on the palms of their hand?
So here we go, our various picks for 2010 Fantasy MLB Catchers…
Tab Bamford (yes, it’s true, he bought this name off Ebay for a Buy It Now price of $2.99, pre-recession)
Breakout: Ryan Hanigan, CIN - Hanigan had an OBP of .361 in 90 games as a rookie in 2009, and could become a prominent bat in the Reds lineup.
Bust: Victor Martinez, BOS – Martinez doesn’t have a new contract yet, will be flipping between 1B & C, and is in an aging Red Sox lineup.
Sleeper: AJ Pierzynski, CHW – Pierzynski will step up his responsibilities as the left handed bat in the middle of the Sox lineup. With Thome and Dye gone, he’ll probably see some ABs protecting Konerko with Rios behind him. Good RBI opportunities.
Ray Tannock (His real name, though not the one he used during his short lived 80’s porn career)
Breakout: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Tex – His recovery from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is going well and he has begun throwing. He is a major upgrade over Teagarden, has a ton of power and has a career .831 OPS. He doesn’t strikeout; he can hit the long ball, and is favored to have a breakout season.
Bust: Bengie Molina, SF - Molina has been on the decline for a couple of years and is expected to see fewer plate appearances, making his overall value worthless. With Buster Posey lurking about, Molina is not even worth a look for your bench.
Sleeper: Jason Castro, HOU – Castro is widely viewed as a shoe-in for the vacant starting catcher job, and while he will compete with J.R.Towles and Humberto Quintero, neither will offer much competition. Castro hit .300/.380/.446 with 10 HR, and 73 RBI in High Single-A and Double-A last year.
Jon Schuman (better known as Dave Letterman’s illegitimate love child)
Breakout: Miguel Montero, ARI – Montero will come a lot cheaper on draft day than Baltimore’s Matt Wieters, making him a better value.
Bust: Jorge Posada, NYY – With Posada the injury risk is too great, and a fall in production at some point is a foregone conclusion and it could be this year.
Sleeper: Russell Martin, LAD – Martin was certainly a letdown in 2009 for fantasy owners, but I think he’ll have a much better season in 2010. After the past two seasons he’ll come at a discounted price. My late round type sleeper is Lou Marson, CLE. He has a lot more upside than most of the leftover catchers at the end of the draft.
Mike Sholty (his real name is Buffy Swindell)
Breakout: Chris Iannetta, COL – Iannetta has always been a great source of power from the catcher position but sadly he just can’t keep his average up. He’s 27 years old now and I think he’ll be ready to take the next step and hit .260 with 22 HR and 75 RBI. Great late round pick.
Bust: Jorge Posada, NYY – Posada is a bit of an obvious choice for a bust. I think the odds are 1:1000 for him staying healthy the entire year. I expect poor numbers from him all around, even in the NYY lineup.
Sleeper: Geovany Soto, CHC - Soto is another case altogether because we’ve seen his high-end already but he battled injuries all last year and his true potential was masked. Definitely expect him to come back swinging this year and I expect .280 with 20 HR and 88 RBI.
Rustyn Rose (I stole this name from a retired country singer in Oklahoma)
Breakout: Miguel Montero, ARI – Can we call him a breakout when he already quietly broke out? Did anybody besides stat hounds realize Montero ended the season in the top 10 at his position in 2009? I expect him to battle Brian McCann for best NL catcher all season long.
Bust: Matt Wieters, BAL – Don’t mistake my choice here as a lack of faith in this kid. He has the tools to be a fantasy stud. I put him here because fantasy owners are going to place a lot of stock in him right out the gate and he may not start producing fantasy caliber numbers until the second half.
Sleeper: Buster Posey, SF – Does anyone think Bengie Molina can keep this kid at bay? I almost cheated and put Molina down as my Bust pick. Posey hit .327 in the minors. His time will come this season.
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