Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Fantasy Baseball Ranking: Catchers

There's a good chance that eventually I will group some positions together, but for now let's just look exclusively at the Catchers. For brevity's sake, I'll just give my top 15 with a short comment for each. Feel free to interject at any time (by leaving a comment, or even an email, if I offend you too much).

1. Joe Mauer (MIN) - Quite simply, Mauer is the best catcher in the MLB. He was the MLB batting champ last season, and should just be coming into his own as far as power is concerned. He had 36 2B and 13 HR, and both of those should go up as he gets closer to his prime. He's also the #3 hitter in the order, meaning plenty of chances to get RBI or get knocked in by Justin Morneau and Mike Cuddyer. And if all of that is not enough, Ron Gardenhire frequently makes Mauer the DH on the days he's not catching. That's really good for fantasy purposes.
2. Victor Martinez (CLE) - I feel Mauer is the #1 fantasy catcher, but if you like Martinez more, I can't argue too much. At this point he doesn't get on base as much as Mauer, but maybe has a slight, slight power edge. Another thing you have to like with Martinez is that he sucks defensively... meaning the Indians will play him more at 1B, which helps to stop wear and tear.
3. Brian McCann (ATL) - McCann was pretty awesome last year, batting .333 while hitting for very good power (24 HR). He's like 1C for fantasy catching purposes... you can't go wrong with Mauer, Martinez, or McCann, because both are excellent and are young enough that they could be even better this year.
4. Kenji Johjima (SEA) - Johjima quietly put together a nice rookie campaign last season, batting .291 with 44 XBH and 76 RBI. Now that he's more acclimated to the MLB, he should be even better in year 2.
5. Mike Piazza (OAK) - Piazza is obviously not the hitter he used to be, but that's ok. He should be doing a lot of DHing in Oak-town, which will be great since he still has catcher eligibility. He hit .283 with 22 HR last year in 400 ABs in an extreme pitcher's park in a pitcher's league. People are overlooking him some because of his age, but I think he'll be excellent this year.
6. Ivan Rodriguez (DET) - He's another guy that's getting older, but he did hit .300 once again last season. Also, with guys like Magglio Ordonez and the extremely underrated Carlos Guillen near him in the lineup, he should be able to provide another solid season of production.
7. Ramon Hernandez (BAL) - Hernandez adapted very well to Baltimore last season, with 23 HR, 91 RBI, and a solid .275 AVG. With the lineup around him and the fact the hitter's ballpark in Baltimore, good things should again be in store.
8. Michael Barrett (CHIN) - Barrett hit over .300 last year with 16 HR, a respectable amount. With some improvements to the Cubs offense (overrated as Soriano may be), it's not inconceivable to see a little boost for Barrett, which puts him definitely in the top 10.
9. Jorge Posada (NYY) - Posada has been around seemingly forever, but he's still productive for now. He hit 23 HR last year and racked up 93 RBI. He was much better in 2006 than 2005, so we'll see if that's just a one-year final gasp, or if he's still a top 5 catcher. I'm betting somewhere in between.
10. AJ Pierzynski (CHIA) - I feel like I'm repeating myself here... near .300 average for Pierzynski, mid-teens in HR, and mid twenties for doubles. He should also get solid RBI opportunities because there are some superb hitters in front of him in the Sox lineup.
11. Russell Martin (LAD) - Martin had a very nice rookie year for the Dodgers, with 26 2B, 65 R, and 65 RBI in only 121 games. Barring a sophomore slump, he could be a nice sleeper here.
12. Paul Lo Duca (NYM) - I still think Lo Duca is a little overrated, but he hit for a high average, had a good amount of doubles, and scored a lot of runs due to batting 2nd in a good lineup. I suspect that .318 average will drop some, but he sure does have a lot of protection in that lineup.
13. Jason Varitek (BOS) - Varitek may be a great gamecaller, but he was really bad at the plate last season. He only batted .238 and his power numbers were down. He was battling some injuries, so I'm sure that contributed, but he needs to bounce back offensively.
14. Johnny Estrada (MIL) - Estrada's always been a guy to hit for a pretty good average and get in the mid-20s in doubles. We pretty much know what to expect from him.
15. Javy Lopez (COL) - I know his numbers from last year aren't all that inspiring, but playing half your games in Coors Field tends to be a big help to offensive stats.

What changes would you make to these rankings?