Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Catcher

As I eagerly await my road trip to Lakeland for three Detroit Tigers Spring Training games, I have decided to fill this space with a steady stream of fantasy baseball content. It is by far the best fantasy sport available and something I take very (read: too) seriously. Over the coming weeks, I’m going to share my rankings for the upcoming season at each position. I am by no means an expert, but I have been a part of print magazines issued by Sportsblurb.com and some of my work has appeared on FOXSports.com in the past. Unfortunately, the advertising just wasn’t there for a 2007 edition of the magazine.

Don’t worry, I’m not switching to a fantasy-only blog. I’m still dedicated to the Tigers, but I am not entirely interested in posting about the minutiae surrounding the early goings of Spring Training including the hub-bub over PFP. Without further ado, I present my top 25 catchers for 2007:

1. Joe Mauer, Minnesota – Leads off the quartet of M-named catchers found in the top 5 with an incredible batting average and blossoming power. The scary thing is that he is just 24 years old and has yet to scratch the surface on his potential as a dominating force behind the plate.

2. Victor Martinez, Cleveland – Three straight years of declining HR output offset by three-year growth in batting average. Durability proven with three consecutive 500+ AB seasons and ensured by occasional days off played at 1B.

3. Brian McCann, Atlanta – Explosive first full season powered by 19 second half home runs. The huge boost in flyball % from 05 tells the story of power production. Though just 23, he set himself up as the best NL catcher as much because of his excellent production in 06 as it is the dearth of quality options in among the Senior Circuit.

4. Ramon Hernandez, Baltimore – Though just 30, Hernandez is the elder statesman among the upper tier of catchers. The 20+ HR power seems bankable providing health; a big IF considering 06 was his high watermark for AB (501) and games played (144).

5. Russell Martin, Los Angeles (N) – Doesn’t thoroughly excel in any one category, but delivers valued production across the board. Peripherals suggest an 07 increase in batting average. Value sees significant improvement in OBP leagues.

6. Jorge Posada, New York (A) – As part of that incredible lineup, age will take longer to catch up to him. Still good for 20 HR with a boatload of RBI. Age and depth in AL only will make him a bargain.

7. Kenji Johjima, Seattle – Carried over his skills from Japan without incident offering an excellent power and average combination. Presents an OBP liability, which is also in line with his numbers from overseas.

8. Michael Barrett, Chicago (N) – Has hit 16 HR each of the last three seasons despite dropping AB total each year suggesting 20+ HR potential with a full season of play. Peripherals say that 06 .300 batting average was both long overdue and very much sustainable. Lineup improvements could mean first season topping 70 RBI.

9. Ivan Rodriguez, Detroit – Power numbers in a three-year decline, but still a viable option at C capable of double-digit HR and near .300 BA. Continues to sprinkle in a handful of SB. Like Johjima, value takes sees a stiff drop in OBP leagues.

10. A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago (A) – Second half power spike (12 of 16 HR) saved him from being a one-trick pony in 06. Got some luck in the BA last year after performing below expectations previous two seasons.

11. Johnny Estrada, Milwaukee – Exceeded expectations with .300 BA, but it earned him the gig in Milwaukee. You could do worse at catcher as he should notch double-digit HR with 65-75 RBI.

12. Jason Varitek, Boston – Age and injury bit Varitek in a hurry with a lost season in 06 from a fantasy standpoint. Approach cautiously as assuming health could prove unwise.

13. Mike Piazza, Oakland – Surprising resurgence in San Diego blew expectations out of the water given his home park and the lack of DH as a security blanket. Though 38, another 20 HR season might be in the cards as he fills in at DH for Oakland and attempts to copy his predecessor’s season in that role.

14. Paul LoDuca, New York (N) – Continued declines in HR and RBI, but topped .300 BA for the first time since 2001. There are no surprises with LoDuca, he will play a lot and stabilize your BA, nothing more. Any other contribution is gravy.

15. Bengie Molina, San Francisco – Traded BA for HR in 2nd half of 06 en route to his best offensive season to date. Part of the group of catchers that sees his valued slashed in OBP leagues.

16. David Ross, Cincinnati – Big power output in 06 enough to push LaRue to Kansas City and solidify a starting role. Be prepared for a significant BA hit in the tradeoff for 20+ HR from Ross. Conversely, value rises even higher in an OBP league should he prove his .352 performance as repeatable. Struggles mightily v. RHP posing a problem as AB rise with a full season of play.

17. Josh Bard, San Diego – Piazza’s departure gives Bard a chance to build upon 06 success. Plate patience presents potential for more value in OBP leagues.

18. Gerald Laird, Texas – Rising talent that obliterates lefties. Struggles against righties could be exposed with increased playing time now that Barajas is out of the picture. Power potential creeps into 20 HR territory

19. Ronny Paulino, Pittsburgh – Peripherals scream that BA was a major fluke and 07 will be his proving ground for otherwise. Power way down from minor league numbers thanks to groundball tendencies.

20. Rod Barajas, Philadelphia – Leaves one HR friendly park for another and still possesses 20+ HR power if he tops 400 AB.

21. Gregg Zaun, Toronto – I don’t like him as a #1 catcher, either on your team or for the Blue Jays all year long. That said, he’s a fine power source as end-gamer backup catcher. OBP leagues raise stock significantly.

22. Mike Napoli, Los Angeles (A) – Very David Ross-ish with his big power/no average combination. OBP leagues raise his value somewhat as do 4×4 leagues where you can avoid that BA. If you want HR, he will deliver, but make sure you can take the BA hit.

23. Chris Iannetta, Colorado – Drastic groundball-to-flyball ratio limits power potential and does not take advantage of home park. The disciplined youngster just needs to wait out Javy Lopez’s last hurrah before getting his chance.

24. Jason Kendall, Oakland – Sometimes leagues are won by 1 HR… maybe Kendall will be that 1 HR for you.

25. Dionner Navarro, Tampa Bay – More of an investment for 08 and beyond, but he benefits from being on a team that has no reason to show him anything but patience should he struggle.

Long considered the scarcest of positions in fantasy baseball, it once again fits that billing as the drop off can be seen even within the top 10. The upper level is laced with youngsters that have a lot to prove and outside of Mauer and Martinez, there are no sure-fire winners in the bunch. There is a bit of potential for big seasons scattered throughout the list, but nothing worth betting big on. If you miss out on the first wave, take a pick from the grab bag that is 10 through 20 and hope for health and exceeded expectations.

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3 Responses to “Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Catcher”

  1. Nice breakdown of this years catchers. If you have a chance, look over my rankings and give me some feedback. GNUru Catcher Rankings

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