Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CATCH!: 2013 Early Pre-Rankings--Catchers

Is this the year that Carlos Ruiz cracks the
Top 10, Catchers' list?
(photo courtesy of Mike McCann's Field of Fotos)



Felipe M

It's only February, but I'll go ahead and release my preliminary rankings at every position, beginning with the catching position.  The list has a deep emphasis on the upcoming, fantasy baseball season. Names highlighted in GREEN indicate players that are currently on my keeper team.  Other different colors will indicate "tier breaks" on the list.

TOP TIER

1.  Buster Posey: Let me count the ways that Posey has become a valuable commodity in baseball:
  • The San Francisco Giants seem to always win with him in the lineup.
  • Probably the best keeper catcher in any format imaginable
  • Quite possibly the best, all-around hitting catcher in the game today.
  • And I can go on and on, but we'll have to save that for another day...
2. Yadier Molina: Has always been an above-average defender, but has seen his offensive production increase in terms of batting average, on-base%, and SLG%.
3. Joe Mauer: Like Posey, Mauer was once considered the best, all-around catcher in the game, but age and lack of power production has slightly dropped him from the top spot.  Nevertheless, Mauer is still a good-hitting catcher and is a solid, "safe" pick at the position.
4. Mike Napoli: Injury concerns in the offseason along with decreases in his slash line last season prevented Napoli from one of the top 3 spots.  However, a move to the Boston Red Sox, where he will be permanently situated at 1B and the fact that he can still provide power, put him comfortably in our top 5.
5. Carlos Santana: Santana has had to battle injuries that has sapped some of his ability to produce power and average, but he's still an on-base machine and he's still young enough to prove his prowess.
6.  Miguel Montero: MLB Network has named the Arizona Diamondback catcher the face of the franchise.  He basically has also become the D'backs' best hitter by default as well.  
7.  Matt Wieters: Just like Santana, Wieters, at 26, is young enough to improve on his offensive numbers, but unlike Santana, Wieters' low batting average also comes along with a low, on-base%.  The switch-hitting catcher can still hit for power, but he needs to prove he can contribute in other categories before we move him up on our list.

SECOND TIER

8. Salvador Perez: Seems like every baseball publication has him ranked high, but we warn our readers about this guy: he's only 22 and is far from having fully developed batting skills.  His power production, at this stage of his career, is merely based on potential.  Be cautious.

9. Wilin Rosario: Another, young, power-hitting catcher.  But as we explained on this site already, Rosario comes with a lot of holes in his game including poor plate discipline, low contact rate, and unpolished defensive game.  Just like Perez, many publications have him ranked high, but be cautious of this player.
10. Jesus Montero:  Struggled mightily as the Seattle Mariners' DH, but he's only 23 years-old and Safeco Field will have new, somewhat hitter-friendly dimensions for 2013 so that should help the young hitter as well.  
11. Carlos Ruiz: His advanced age and the fact that he will begin the season on suspension drops him outside the top 10, but Ruiz has been one of the more dependable, steady catchers for the past few years or so and has a reputation for his clutch-hitting.  Having Ruiz along with one of these younger catchers would provide you with insurance at the backstop position.
12. Ryan Doumit: Injuries have been a hindrance to Doumit reaching his full potential.  Despite no real position for Doumit for the Minnesota Twins, he's still projected, by many publications, to reach 500+ at bats.  He can be a cheap source of power, injuries notwithstanding.
13. Jonathan Lucroy: A career year moves Lucroy into a borderline, starting fantasy catcher.  However, as impressive as 2012 was for him, it's hard to envision him posting another .881 OPS in 2013.
14. A.J. Pierzynski: A career year by A.J. gave him the opportunity to sign with the Texas Rangers. Very questionable that he'll hit for that much power again, but playing in Texas gives him the opportunity to come close to reaching those numbers again.
15. Brian McCann: I'm the biggest McCann fan and his biggest apologist.  It's hard to look past the decrease in his numbers last season, but he was battling a nagging shoulder injury.  The Atlanta Braves still have confidence in him and he'll be given every chance to come back at 100%.

THIRD TIER

Here are how the rest of the catchers pan out:
  • John Jaso
  • Alex Aliva
  • A.J. Ellis
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia
  • J.P. Arencibia
  • Tyler Flowers
  • Chris Iannetta
  • Russell Martin
  • Welington Castillo
  • Rob Brantly
And here are a few catchers to keep an eye on this spring:
  1. Travis d'Arnaud
  2. Wilson Ramos vs Kurt Suzuki-- Suzuki is still ahead of Ramos in the Washington Nationals' depth chart.
  3. Mike Zunino
First Base is next!  Who?  Exactly!


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