What do Craig Biggio, Pablo Sandoval, and Neil Walker have in common? All three saw a significant amount of time behind the plate in the minors but found new positions in the big leagues.
The trend of moving young catchers to other positions because of their defensive deficiencies behind the plate or to increase longevity has left fantasy owners with a diluted pool of catchers from which to choose.
The rankings that follow are designed to help you get as much value as possible at the shallowest position in the game. All percentage of ownership numbers are from ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues. Stats through 7/18/2010.
Joe Mauer (100 percent owned)- Mauer owners might have expected a decrease in power numbers this season (28 HR, .587 SLG in 2009 and just 4 HR, .433 SLG in 2010), but few could have expected his on-base percentage (.372) to fall to what it was in his first full season in the majors.
The power outage can be explained by the fact that about one out of every five Mauer fly balls left the yard last year while only about one out of every 20 is leaving the yard this year. As for the on-base percentage, Mauer is simply chasing more balls outside of the strike zone.
All that said, only Miguel Olivo was better than Mauer in the first half, so Mauer must still be considered the top option at catcher.
Brian McCann (100 percent owned)- McCann provides great value at the catcher position, not only because he produces, but because he produces consistently. His home run totals the last four seasons are 24, 18, 23, 21, and he is on pace to finish this season in that range. Although McCann is currently hitting .270, he is a career .291 hitter, and it is entirely possible he finishes the season close to that mark.
Buster Posey (96.2 percent owned)- Since his call-up on May 29, all Posey has done in 145 at-bats is hit .352 with 7 HR, 23 R and 26 RBI. If you scale those numbers out to a full 162-game season, he would be on pace for 28 HR, 93 R, and 105 RBI. Sure, you are likely to see some regression from the young hitter, but to this point, Posey has done nothing but prove that he is the real deal.
Carlos Santana (92 percent owned)- In 125 big league plate appearances, Santana has walked a very impressive 25 times. Add the fact that he has only swung at 22.1 percent of pitches out of the strike zone, and it looks like the kid who might now be the best athlete in Cleveland has the ability to succeed against big league pitching.
Miguel Montero (78.8 percent owned)- Chris Snyder is cutting into Montero’s playing time a bit, but Montero is hitting .308 since his return from the DL after hitting .294 with 16 homers last season.
Kurt Suzuki (50.3 percent owned)- Suzuki is basically a poor man’s Brian McCann. He has just a little less power, will probably end the year 15 to 20 points behind McCann in average, and trails McCann in counting numbers (R, RBI) simply because he hits in a weaker lineup.
Geovany Soto (59.8 percent owned)- Lately, Soto has been ceding less time to Koyie Hill than he was earlier in the year. That is probably because he is hitting more like Geovany Soto circa 2008. In the last 30 days, Soto is hitting .309 with 4 HR, 8 R, and 15 RBI.
Miguel Olivo (90.4 percent owned)- So many things point to a significant Olivo regression in the second half. He is currently hitting .325, but he has never hit better than .263 in his career.
He also has a BABIP of .396 (Batting Average on Balls In Play; generally, above .300 means a hitter has been lucky, and below .300 means a hitter has been unlucky). However, no other catcher has been better to this point, so it may be worth it to try and ride the hot bat.
Matt Wieters (49.9 percent owned)- My Wieters man-love knows no bounds, but he was one of the bigger disappointments of the first half and is likely to miss a week’s worth of games in the second half. If you still believe, go ahead and stick with him, but you might be wise to temper your expectations.
Victor Martinez (100 percent owned)- If he were healthy, Martinez would undoubtedly be a top-five catcher option the rest of the way. However, he has only recently become able to squeeze a baseball without feeling soreness in his thumb.
There is just too much uncertainty about how much time V-Mart will miss in the second half for him to be considered the elite fantasy option that he usually is.
Mike Napoli (79 percent owned)- The sub .250 average is not ideal, but at the end of the day, you know Napoli is going to hit for power as he averages a home run every 17 at-bats for his career.
John Buck (42 percent owned)- Buck’s 2010 numbers look great: .272, 13 HR, 27 R, 41 RBI. The problem is that in the last 30 days Buck has only contributed 1 HR, 3 R, and 6 RBI to those season totals.
Bengie Molina (35.3 percent owned)– The move to Texas has to make Bengie more valuable.
Jorge Posada (92.4 percent owned)– Yeah, he is healthy now, but how long is that going to last?
Ryan Doumit (59.8 percent owned)– Doumit may lose some playing time because he has been abysmal defensively. His caught stealing percentage is easily the worst in the league, and he leads the league in passed balls. However, as long as he keeps hitting while he is back there, Doumit is a viable fantasy option.
A.J. Pierzynski (9.3 percent owned)– To date, Pierzynski’s BABIP is fairly low (.245), and he is striking out less than he has in previous years. There seems to be some potential for a better second half.
Russell Martin (58.6 percent owned)– Martin has no business even being discussed as ownable in a 10-team league, but in deeper formats, he has value simply because he plays alm ost every day. Among catchers, he ranks third in at-bats behind Jason Kendall and Mauer.
Jason Kendall (7.4 percent owned)– To reiterate, Jason Kendall leads the league in at-bats with 309. Add his .269 average and six steals, and it is clear that Kendall is a nice option in deeper league and AL-only formats.
Jonathan Lucroy (0.1 percent owned)– Lucroy is likely to receive the majority of the playing time in the second half for the Brewers, and he is hitting a respectable .280 with two homers and two steals so far this season.
Chris Ianetta (2.9 percent owned)– Ianetta could see increased playing time if Miguel Olivo does actually regress. His ISO (Isolated Power measures a hitter’s raw power based on his ability to get extra base hits) indicates that if he does see more ABs, he might be able to do some serious damage with them.
Just missed the cut: John Jaso (1.7 percent owned)
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Article written by Brett Talley exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com