2010 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit: Catcher Rankings
By Tim McLeod and RotoRob
And we’re off. Today, we kick off the 2010 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit, bringing you all the tools and information you need to dominate your Fantasy baseball league this year. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be releasing a wide range of cheat sheets and rankings, including our long-awaiting keeper list of keeper lists, sleepers, busts, rookies and top prospects, plus our always fun Top 10 top 10 Lists Fantasy Owners Always Wanted But Were Afraid to Ask For. Today, we’ll begin the journey with our 2010 Catcher Cheat Sheet.
After the big three are gone, catcher gets butt ugly, so there’s no rush to get one. Be wary of Matt Wieters — he’s going earlier than his expected 2010 value, so clearly the hype is outstripped his performance at this point. If you really want him, be prepared to overpay.
Previous rankings are in parenthesis.
1. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins (3): With talk that the Twins are about to lock up their franchise player for 10 years, dreams of Mauer heading the 2011 free agent class will soon die. What a shame for the other 29 teams. Who wouldn’t want a 26-year-old catcher coming off a career year who, despite missing time with an injury at the beginning of the season, still reached 30 doubles for the third time in four years, while setting personal bests in hits, homers, RBI and BA? Oh, and he won another batting title and the AL MVP. Yeah, I guess this Mauer dude is okay.
2. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves (1): We seem to be in a golden era of young catchers and McCann – who just turned 26 last week – is near the top of the list. You can argue the order, but Mauer, McCann and V-Mart represent the clear leaders at this position. While McCann couldn’t quite duplicate his superb 2008, he still reached 35 doubles for the third straight season, and remained extremely productive even while his BA struggled at times.
3. Victor Martinez, Boston Red Sox (5): Martinez stayed healthy last year, setting a new career high in games played and at-bats, while also eclipsing his personal best in runs and walks. He really stepped up his game after the trade to Boston allowed him to escape from the mess in Cleveland. The power – absent in 2008 – was back in a big way. Hell, V-Mart even swiped his first base since 2003, while showing a fantastic batting eye. A free agent at the end of 2010, Martinez should be driven to put up a monster year to set himself up for what will likely be his last big contract. He is also listed in our first base rankings.
4. Kurt Suzuki, Oakland Athletics (19): If you were lucky enough to scoop Suzuki off the wire last year, you found yourself a real gem. One of the few bright spots on an otherwise dismal A’s team, this workhorse catcher developed some modest pop in 2009, and it stands to reason at his age, that this power could continue to develop.
5. Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles (10): When we last checked in on Wieters back in August, we identified him as a buy-low candidate. It looks like we were bang on there, as he hit .362 with 14 RBI and 11 walks in September, perhaps portending a big breakout season in 2010. Part of a young and cheap Oriole nucleus, Wieters is in a perfect low-pressure situation to develop and thrive as Baltimore matures into a contender.
6. Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks (NR): Montero took a quantum leap last year, and his impressive season not only allowed him to take over the No. 1 catcher job in Arizona but also landed him on our prestigious NL All-Wire Team. Another youngster (26) with great upside, Montero started flashing some nice pop last year, while also batting a career-high .294. Sure, I’d like to see a few more walks, but like with any young hitter, patience is usually the last thing to arrive.
7. Jorge Posada, New York Yankees (12): The long-time Yankee’s power returned last year and his BA also bounced back in a big rebound season. Yes, his defensive struggles were well documented, but when he played, Posada was still quite productive, driving in four runs in the four World Series games he appeared in. His walk rate is in decline, and that’s a concern, but Posada should remain a viable offensive force for another couple of seasons.
8. Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs (4): Soto burned plenty of Fantasy owners last year when the high draft pick succumbed to the dreaded sophomore slump. He was so bad in fact, that he was a candidate for Fantasy dud of the year. Well, at least his walk rate rose. Clearly, Soto is more talented than he showed in 2009, so he’s an excellent candidate for a big comeback.
9. Russell Martin, Los Angeles Dodgers (2): Martin is another young, offensively talented catcher who took a big tumble last year. His solid defense continued, but he struggled through his worst season at the plate. Martin got more rest last year, but that didn’t help, and he’s a big concern heading into 2010 as he’s been in decline for a couple of years now. His strikeout rate was up, his BA was down to career-worst levels and he lost 100 points of OPS. Even when Martin was able to show an uptick in pop in the second half, his OPS was just 670 after the break. Todd, for one, believes Martin is ready for a rebound, taking him in the 11th round of a recent expert draft.
10. Bengie Molina, San Francisco Giants (9): While the Mets were expected to nab the free agent this offseason, Molina wound up back in San Francisco. He slipped at the plate last year, but his pop actually bounced back and he reached 80 RBI for the third straight season – an impressive figure for a catcher. However, Molina’s BA dropped and, thanks to a putrid walk rate, he had his worst OBP ever. Note that the Giants plan to reduce Molina’s workload this season, and with Buster Posey coming soon, his shelf life is limited.
11. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals (15): Molina’s career year in 2009 earned him a nice rise in the rankings from a year ago and he’s now on the cusp of becoming the top Molina brother. He emerged as a real workhorse, setting career highs in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, walks, steals, on-base percentage and OPS. At the age of 27, is Molina ready to be a top 10 Fantasy catcher? We think so.
12. Mike Napoli, Los Angeles Angels (6): Napoli slipped significantly from our 2009 rankings as he failed to dramatically improve on his numbers despite seeing far more PT last year. His defensive deficiencies may cause the Angels to use Napoli more at DH this season, and if he’s going to remain behind the plate long term, he better show some improvements soon.
13. Ryan Doumit, Pittsburgh Pirates (7): Wrist problems decimated Doumit’s season to the point that he was a candidate for Fantasy Dud of the Year. He played in only 75 games and accumulated just 280 at-bats, and when he was active, his offensive game and pop really dried up. If you’re seeking a positive sign, Doumit upped his walk rate and enjoyed a big finish, batting .346 with 11 walks in September. We’ve seen him going around the 18th round in early drafts, and if he can bounce back, that would be a solid value pick.
14. Chris Iannetta, Colorado Rockies (8): After looking like he was on the cusp of a breakout in 2008, Iannetta was a huge disappointment last year. Like many catchers, he started extremely slowly, but unfortunately, he never really did come around, and ultimately his power dipped and he had to split time with Yorvit Torrealba. On the plus side, Torrealba is gone and Iannetta did cut his strikeout rate last year. He also somehow – despite the fact he has no speed – managed to ground into just four double plays. Hey, we’re trying to find something positive to say here…
15. John Baker, Florida Marlins (22): Baker was a Wire Troll recommendation in mid-July, and it turned out to be a wise one as he had a superb July and a strong August before cooling down the stretch. Unfortunately, that was really the highlight of Baker’s sophomore effort, as he was unable to duplicate the power and productivity he showed as a rookie. He also has no speed at all, so Baker needs to rebound this year or his days as a starter could be short-lived.
16. A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox (11): Pierzynski’s overall power slipped slightly last year, but we were bang on with our prediction of how many long balls he’d hit. Mr. Dependable also checked in with his first .300 season since 2003, while experiencing a rebound in his walk rate. Expect more of the same from Pierzynski this year, as the Sox will need to employ his left-handed stick as much as possible in a predominantly right-handed hitting order.
17. Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies (28): Ruiz was way down at 28 in last year’s catcher rankings, but he took a big leap forward on the strength of a career season. The Phillies rewarded him with a long-term contract last month, but I’m not sure he is a long-term solution at catcher (and definitely not at third base, where he saw one game of action in 2008 as the Phillies left no stone unturned in their incessant search for hot corner stability since Scott Rolen left). Ruiz’s BA bounced back last year, while he upped his walk rate and improved his power, but expecting him to build on that may be asking too much.
18. Kelly Shoppach, Tampa Bay Rays (14): Shoppach was dealt to the Rays in December, signing a two-year deal last month that will take him through his arbitration years. He wasn’t as productive last season, returning to a back-up role in the first half before V-Mart was dealt. Shoppach has never had any speed to speak of, but his pop slipped last year and that hurt. He did increase his walk rate, which is a damn good thing, because I can’t imagine how atrocious Shoppach’s OBP would have been otherwise. The trade to Tampa Bay may seem like a bad thing, but word on the street is there will be a legitimate position battle between Shoppach and incumbent Dioner Navarro, and Navarro could even be moved to give the job to Shoppach outright.
19. John Buck, Toronto Blue Jays (NR): When he was non-tendered by the Royals, Buck joined a weak free agent class for catchers, but he found a home in Toronto, part of a busy offseason for the Jays. While Buck missed a good chunk of the season because of his back, and he struck out way too much while walking less, he still had his best OPS ever. Clearly, that’s not saying much.
20. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Texas Rangers (24): We all expected Saltalamacchia to be the key to the Mark Teixeira deal, but it hasn’t turned out that way thanks to a string of injuries. His on-base percentage was completely substandard last season, and a shoulder problem simply destroyed any chance Salty had of making progress. Texas plans to give him every opportunity to win the starting job this spring, but health concerns remain as Saltalamacchia had to shut it down early in Winter Ball when the shoulder acted up. Rest seems to have done the trick, but I’m worried about his ability to make it through the season in one piece.
21. Jesus Flores, Washington Nationals (20): Owners of Flores must be getting frustrated. After he showed such promise in 2008, injuries decimated his 2009 season, although during his brief time in the lineup, his power continued to develop. He’s clearly considered the catcher of the future in Washington, yet the organization signed veteran Ivan Rodriguez to a two-year deal – a move vilified by many including us, and one that will again see the youngster denied a full-time gig. Flores’ best case scenario now is to split time with I-Rod – leaving both of them with little value. Like I said, it’s a frustrating situation.
22. Miguel Olivo, Colorado Rockies (25): After his best power season, the Royals declined Olivo’s option and then inexplicably gave veteran Jason Kendall – who has no pop whatsoever – a two-year deal. Remind me again why KC sucks every year. Olivo saw more action last season, and his doubles turned into triples and homers as he enjoyed his most productive season ever. He has modest speed for a catcher and he even slightly improved his pathetic batting eye. KC’s loss is definitely Colorado’s gain here.
23. Rod Barajas, New York Mets (29): After setting a career high in games and experiencing a slight increase in his extra-base pop this veteran backstop remained one of several notable players still looking for work until recently. As we expected, the Mets finally signed Barajas, but they originally only offeried him a minor league deal before changing their minds. Texas was also in the fray, but the Rangers weren’t willing to give him a major league deal, so Barajas wound up choosing the Mets.
24. Ramon Hernandez, Cincinnati Reds (17): After missing a huge chunk of the season because of knee surgery, Hernandez has dropped dramatically in the catcher rankings from a year ago. And while he was in the lineup, things didn’t go so well. So much for the power bounce back he experienced in 2008, and he barely scored any runs last year. The good news is top prospect Aroldis Chapman – who doesn’t speak any English – is stoked that his catcher is the Spanish-speaking Hernandez. Unfortunately, that doesn’t provide any Fantasy value for Hernandez. But hey, he also qualifies at 1B, in case you want an extremely weak-hitting and power starved dude at first base.
25. Ivan Rodriguez, Washington Nationals (23): Rodriguez was dealt by Houston to Texas for a couple of prospects at the trade deadline last year in a move the Rangers may live to regret as I-Rod failed to help them get into the playoffs. Washington took the stupidity a step further, signing Pudge to a two-year deal this offseason in a move we’ve already harped on many times. While Rodriguez saw more action last year (and hence had his highest run total since 2006) and experienced a slight rebound in power, his OBP has slipped to an unacceptably low level and he’s clearly in decline. Yet the Nats gave him a multi-year deal, blocking promising catcher Jesus Flores. Okay, I get it. Not.
Others to Consider
26. Adam Moore, Seattle Mariners
27. Omir Santos, New York Mets
28. Jason Varitek, Boston Red Sox
29. Yorvit Torrealba, San Diego Padres
30. Dioner Navarro, Tampa Bay Rays
31. Francisco Cervelli, New York Yankees
32. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
33. Nick Hundley, San Diego Padres
34. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
35. Chris Snyder, Arizona Diamondbacks
36. Lou Marson, Cleveland Indians
37. Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers
38. Ronny Paulino, Florida Marlins
39. Gregg Zaun, Milwaukee Brewers
40. Max Ramirez, Texas Rangers
41. J.R. Towles, Houston Astros
42. Gerald Laird, Detroit Tigers
43. Jason Kendall, Kansas City Royals
44. Taylor Teagarden, Texas Rangers
45. Koyie Hill, Chicago Cubs
46. Jeff Mathis, Los Angeles Angels
47. Rob Johnson, Seattle Mariners
48. Angel Salome, Milwaukee Brewers
49. Jonathon Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
50. J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays
51. Tyler Flowers, Chicago White Sox
52. Josh Thole, New York Mets
53. Brian Schneider, Philadelphia Phillies
54. Jose Molina, Toronto Blue Jays
55. Chris Coste, New York Mets
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