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February 1, 2011
Catcher Rankings Review
This is a review of my 2010 catcher rankings. This time around, not only will we use auction values for mixed leagues, but also the dollar value for AL- and NL-only leagues. These dollar values come from Graphical Player 2011, and I think these will do a good job illustrating how much I missed by on the players I missed—though, broken record style, the why is more important than the result when it comes to these rankings. All PECOTA projections, dollar values, and other statistics in the parentheses are for 2010.
Joe Mauer (.328/.418/.482 PECOTA, .327/.402/.469 2010; $24.3 mixed/$25.5 AL): Missing time cut into Mauer's dollar value (again), but he dominated when he took the field (again). Neither of those items is much of a surprise, and kudos to PECOTA for nailing his forecast after an incredible 2009 campaign.
Brian McCann (.290/.366/.488 PECOTA, .269/.375/.453 2010; $17.5 mixed/$19.9 NL): McCann had a great season, but this—and even Mauer's year—makes me wonder whether there is a five-star catcher, or if the list should begin with the fours. McCann didn't even reach $20 in value, which has generally been the low point for four-star players at other positions.
Victor Martinez (.286/.363/.463 PECOTA, .302/.351/.493 2010; $20.9 mixed/$23.5 AL): Martinez's season is even more remarkable when you consider he played in just 127 games—$3.4 in value less than Mauer—meaning Victor did some serious hitting.
Jorge Posada (.270/.361/.440 PECOTA, .248/.357/.454 2010; $8.5 mixed/$13.9 AL): Posada appeared in just 120 games and accumulated 451 plate appearances, but using that as an excuse for the ranking doesn't work, since his average over the last three years is just 361 PA. I should have considered the injury troubles and age a bit more and bumped him down to three stars.
Chris Iannetta (.253/.372/.461 PECOTA, .197/.318/.383 2010; -$5.7 mixed/$2.0 NL): Did Iannetta struggle because he had zero job security, or did he have zero job security because he struggled? The Rockies believed in Miguel Olivo's hot start to the year, which doomed any chance owners had of getting a return on Iannetta. This makes me nervous going forward about certain young players in the Rockies organization (Iannetta, of course, as well as Ian Stewart—number one on the Rockies offseason agenda was "All your third basemen are belong to us," which doesn't bode well for him) and is something I should have considered more heavily heading into 2010.
Geovany Soto (.276/.367/.476 PECOTA, .280/.393/.497 2010; $9.7 mixed/$14.0 NL): Soto played with a bum shoulder and hit like crazy despite it, though his season ended once rosters expanded so he could have it cleaned up. He's expected to be ready for 2011, which should keep Colin Wyers from having too many Koyie Hill-induced nightmares in the future.
Ryan Doumit (.290/.346/.468 PECOTA, .251/.331/.406 2010; $3.2 mixed/$8.8 NL): Doumit finished strong in September 2009, which inspired hope that his formerly broken wrist had healed and wouldn't inhibit his 2010 season. Here is a life lesson for you, kids: Things you hope for rarely work out (if you play for the Pirates).
Matt Wieters (.296/.367/.479 PECOTA, .249/.319/.377 2010; $2.2 mixed/$9.1 AL): I have been less optimistic than PECOTA about Wieters for two years now, but as of today his production lives a few floors below my pessimism. Maybe I'll do everyone a favor and rank him in the two-stars, so he either busts completely or breaks out relative to my expectations, and we can all move on with our lives.
Mike Napoli (.261/.356/.509 PECOTA, .238/.316/.468 2010; $13.3 mixed/$17.7 AL): Napoli strikes out in bunches, and it kills his batting average, but you're playing him at catcher—does it really matter what the guy sending 26 balls over the wall does with his batting average? His dollar values say no, no, you do not care.
Miguel Montero (.272/.350/.454 PECOTA, .266/.332/.438 2010; $2.4 mixed/$8.3 NL): Montero had knee surgery on tax day and ended up missing 62 days of the season, which kept him from being the force at catcher he was meant to be. I'm starting to wonder if 2009 was a bit of a fluke from a power perspective, though it may be that his injury-shortened 2010 just happened to look similar to his career line.
Kurt Suzuki (.282/.344/.417 PECOTA, .242/.303/.366 2010; $8.0 mixed/$13.3 AL): At first blush it appears Suzuki was a fantasy waste, but given the state of the position and his 544 plate appearances—that's a whole lot of chances to pick up R and RBI—he ended up meriting the ranking.
Yadier Molina (.297/.364/.416 PECOTA, .262/.329/.342 2010; $4.7 mixed/$10.7 NL): I had the same idea with Molina as Suzuki: He would pick up enough plate appearances to boost counting stats and offset an uninspiring line. But without the high batting average, he had trouble being on base often enough to score runs.
Russell Martin (.277/.375/.414 PECOTA, .248/.347/.332 2010; -$0.2 mixed/$6.4 NL): Martin's steal totals have dropped from 21 to 18 to 11 to six since 2007; when combined with his diminishing hitting skills, a pitcher's park and a division that leans heavily to the pitching side, it's easy to see how his value disappeared. I mentioned he might be better off as a two-star catcher, but alas, I left him here so I could learn a lesson about listening to my second-guessing of myself.
Bengie Molina (.282/.310/.452 PECOTA, .249/.297/.326 2010; -$3.8 mixed/$4.5 AL): Fact: The only thing that kept Bengie Molina from being the least-valuable Molina in fantasy in 2010 was the existence of his offensively challenged brother, Jose. Opinion: The Molina clan has really let themselves go. Or is that a fact, too?
I'm jumping into the quick hit format for the last two tiers of catchers, because, in all honesty, many of these players are just as interesting as you think bottom-of-the-barrel fantasy catchers would be.
Kelly Shoppach (-$8.7 mixed/$0.7 AL) was replacement level in mixed leagues, which was partially due to his .196 batting average, and also in part because John Jaso is a swell backstop who, like Robin Hood, rightfully stole Shoppach's at-bats away for the good of the people. Jesus Flores didn't play in the majors all season once again due to his shoulder, which is a shame as he had cheap sleeper written all over him. Brayan Pena's -$7.6 dollar value in mixed leagues can be placed squarely at the feet of Jason Kendall and departed manager Trey Hillman. Pena wasn't great when he played, but he put on pads about as often as I did in 2010. A.J. Pierzynski ($6.0 mixed/$12.2 AL) isn't anywhere near what he used to be, but continues to be an effective, inexpensive option if you miss out on one of the more productive and pricier receivers.
Nick Hundley ($0.3 mixed/$6.6 NL) had to deal with Yorvit Torrealba playing well along with pitcher-friendly Petco; these two items obscured a solid season and kept his fantasy value down. John Baker (-$11.5 mixed/-$2.0 NL) missed most of the season thanks to an elbow condition that eventually required Tommy John surgery. Ronny Paulino (-$1.6 mixed/$5.4 NL) owners benefited from this in NL leagues, at least until Paulino was caught using an illegal substance and was suspended for 50 games. Chris Snyder (-$0.4 mixed/$5.4 NL) picked up more playing time than expected thanks to Montero's injury in Arizona and his own subsequent trade to Pittsburgh, but it's safe to say he didn't take advantage of either situation by hitting .207/.320/.376 overall. While he still has the pop to keep him on a list of interesting backups for your roster, his batting average needs a boost. If the Mendoza line were represented by latitude, Snyder would have spent his 2010 hanging out down by the equator. If he could just get to Mexico with his batting average, everything would be up to snuff.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (-$12.4 mixed/-$1.9 AL) and Taylor Teagarden (-$10.7 mixed/-$0.7 AL) combined for fantasy production that barely exceeded Elbonia's GDP. Any fantasy owners who drafted both players in a handcuff, assuming one of the two would start, could probably use a friend right now. John Buck ($13.9 mixed/$18.1 AL) took very well to the Rogers Centre, like everyone else on the Blue Jays in 2010. Carlos Ruiz ($8.1 mixed/$13.2 NL) had a great season, but almost all catchers tend to miss a lot of games; Ruiz was no exception, and it kept his value down. Gerald Laird (-$7.6 mixed/$1.6 AL) and Rod Barajas ($4.0 mixed/$9.2 NL) had somewhat similar projections, but Barajas, on the strength of 17 homers, pulled away. You paid for it if you owned him, though, as he hit .240 and drove in just 47 runners. Gregg Zaun (-$8.0 mixed/$0.8 NL) hit very well in his short time playing in 2010, but a labrum injury put him on the disabled list and resulted in season-ending surgery. At least it gave him time to listen to Rush and work on his website.
Buster Posey ($8.9 mixed/$17.1 NL) ended up with far more playing time than it ever looked like he would get, and the reward for owners who took a chance on him was one of the best seasons from backstops from May onward. If you had Miguel Olivo ($11.6 mixed/$15.6 NL) on your team early on in the year and were able to replace him, then hooray for you. Olivo hit .193/.225/.313 after the All-Star break, so he should fit in great on the Mariners. Lou Marson (-$6.9 mixed/$2.2 AL) was barely adequate as Carlos Santana's opening act, though in catching-starved AL-only leagues he was worth the buck you spent on him to fill a hole. Rob Johnson (-$9.5 mixed/-$0.2 AL) was barely worthy of one star with the Mariners, but was still better than Dioner Navarro (-$12.0 mixed/-$1.7 AL). Ramon Castro (-$2.9 mixed/$5.4 AL) was great with the White Sox thanks to a .504 slugging percentage, but, as is usually the case, he did this in a limited sample of time.
For one-star catchers, let's just cover the ones who surprised with their performances. Ramon Hernandez ($3.9 mixed/$10.1 NL) turned out to be useful, though thanks to his splitting playing time with Ryan Hanigan ($0.9 mixed/$7.6 NL), he wasn't able to do much better than his ranking. Yorvit Torrealba ($2.1 mixed/$8.9 NL) had a BABIP of nearly .400 at Petco Park, which is the kind of thing no mortal should be able to do—it therefore qualifies as a surprise. Francisco Cervelli (-$2.4 mixed/$5.4 AL) racked up 317 plate appearances thanks to Posada's maladies, and was worth more than this in leagues that use on-base percentage.