Both owners who splured on their fantasy backstops and those who went bargain hunting have seen mixed results so far this year.
Drafting catchers in fantasy baseball is treated like drafting kickers in fantasy football. A few owners recognize the value of having the best at the position and will spend money to acquire them. Some owners treat catchers like kickers and draft them in the final rounds. Some leagues have gone so far as to eliminate the second catcher on standard fantasy rosters and made the position a second utility player, an extra pitcher, or a flex position, allowing owners to juggle the spot on a weekly basis.
Personally, I do a mixture of the first two strategies, as I tend to draft one of the better catchers and then pair him with a $1 mate. Two seasons ago, I drafted Joe Mauer at $23 and Adam Moore for $1 in AL Tout Wars, and neither worked out. Last season, I went back to the Mauer well at $20 and paired him with a $2 Ryan Lavarnway. This season, determined not to spend $20 on a catcher, I saved money and spent $18 on Jesus Montero and $1 on Carlos Corporan. It took three seasons, but I finally made a great catcher selection—with my second catcher.
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One year, four months, and five days ago, the Yankees traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. It was an unusually exciting trade, in that we hadn’t heard much about it before it went down, and it involved two of baseball’s most promising young players. As the internet scrambled to write up responses, a consensus emerged: both teams had done well to address an area of need. The Mariners, who hadn’t hit much since Edgar Martinez retired, had more trouble attracting hitters than pitchers to their big ballpark, and had just batted Miguel Olivo cleanup 43 times, and thus needed someone who wouldn’t look out of place in the middle of a major league lineup. The Yankees, who had a surplus of 1B/DH types signed to long-term contracts, needed a young starter to slot into their rotation behind CC Sabathia. If either team was believed to have “won” the trade, it may have been the Mariners, who wound up with the position player, generally the less risky part of any pitcher-for-position-player swap. But neither team was widely believed to have lost.
Five hitters and five pitchers PECOTA expects to see big improvements from this year.
BP’s PECOTA projections arrived two weeks ago today, offering answers to two of the most common questions asked each spring: Which players are expected to make major improvements, and which are big risks to head downhill?
We’ll tackle five hitters and five pitchers whom PECOTA projects to make major gains today, then do the same for some of the biggest projected decliners tomorrow. One note: It doesn’t take PECOTA to tell you that a player like Troy Tulowitzki—who missed most of last season after left groin surgery—could be in line for a big bounceback with better health, so this list is restricted to people who played full seasons in 2012.
The Week in Quotes is a feature that ran roughly forever at BP, more or less from the advent of the site until last July, when it was temporarily retired. Since then, it's become the BP equivalent of Arrested Development—you've never stopped asking us to bring it back. Thanks to the hard work of BP interns Hudson Belinsky, Jonah Birenbaum, Andrew Koo, and Matthew Rocco, we are bringing it back, and unlike the new season of Arrested Development, you don't have to sign up for Netflix to see it. For the most part, we're following the old format, but we've also added a section for the week's best tweets by beat writers and players. Please let us know if there's anything else you'd like to see included.—Ben Lindbergh
Dusty Baker feels that Aroldis Chapman's best use right now is as Cincinnati's closer, and a conversation with Jesus Montero.
When Sparky Lyle strode from the bullpen the mound at Yankee Stadium during his days as a premier relief pitches in the mid- to late 1970s, organist Eddie Layton would play "Pomp and Circumstance." That probably wouldn't work as a ballpark song these days, but to hear Dusty Baker tell it, perhaps the traditional graduation accompaniment should be played on the sound system at Great American Ball Park when Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman takes the hill.
Stephen Strasburg faced the Pirates for the first time since his major-league debut, and he reeled off a similar line.
The Thursday Takeaway
Merry Strasmas, Nationals fans. With the team coming off a disappointing three-game skid, Stephen Strasburg took the mound against the Pirates and played stopper with results strikingly similar to his major-league debut.
Back on June 8, 2010, Strasburg surpassed even the loftiest of expectations by striking out 14 batters without issuing a walk over seven innings in his first career start. Strasburg’s victims that night were the Pirates, who managed only two runs on four hits, one of which was a Delwyn Young homer.