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Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL POSITION PRIMER: CATCHER

We will begin our 2013 fantasy baseball position primer today by taking a closer look at the always volatile catcher position.  Just like with the tight end in fantasy football, catcher has been a position in fantasy baseball where there historically has been only 3 or 4 top notch guys and than a bunch of mediocre options who wind up being cut and picked up a dozen times each throughout the course of the season.  However again like the tight end position in fantasy football, the catching position in fantasy baseball has gotten deeper than it has in years.  There are now arguably 10 very good to solid starting options, which means there pretty much is one for almost every owner in a standard 12-team league. 

Looking towards the draft when it comes to catchers, we continue to stand by our tried and true strategy of never drafting one of these guys until the middle rounds.  You can have the Joe Mauers, the Brian McCann's and even the Buster Posey's.  Remember that the 2012 MVP Posey severely set back his owner's seasons early on in 2011 after suffering broken leg that finished him in May after he went as one of the top three catchers in that draft.  So as good a hitter as Posey is, the position is so full of injury risk that it makes picking one of these guys a colossal risk.  Remember that you want to minimize as much risk as you can in the early rounds of a draft and catchers is about the opposite of what you would want to do there.

So without further delay let's take a look at how we view the current crop of catchers with an eye toward the 2013 fantasy baseball season.

3 Catchers Who Should Turn a Profit

1.  Jesus Montero:  Truth be told those who drafted Montero last season expected more out of the guy who many compared to Miguel Cabrera when it came to his natural ability to hit.  Montero batted only .260 with 15 home runs which was not even in the ballpark of what those owners thought they would be getting.  Well for 2013 Montero falls under the very profitable "post-hype sleeper" category which has yielded immense value in guys like Adam Jones, Alex Gordon, Homer Bailey, and other over the years.  Basically it goes that a young hitter with immense hype struggles during his first full season and than fantasy baseball owners dump said player and being looking for the next best thing.  Montero is in that class this season and should easily take another step up in his development.  The natural hitting talent is still there just waiting to come out and with his draft price a lot lower this season, Montero could bring some sizable value.

2.  Victor Martinez:  You are all probably saying "oh yeah I forgot about him" as Martinez missed the entire 2012 season with injury.  He is in the last year of his deal with Detroit and will be back to full health for 2013.  He is slated to be the primary DH hitting behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder which is quite possibly the best hitting spot in all of baseball.  The guy can still hit ropes with the best of them and even though his power was already fading, Martinez could hit .300 in his sleep with a big amount of RBI's.  The best part is that his "out of sight/out of mind" presence is sure to bring some positive value along for the ride.

3.  Salvador Perez:  Last but not least we bring you the guy who will be on both of my Experts Leagues (if I can help it).  Perez is the absolute best bet to be this season's Wilin Rosario as a guy who supplies the biggest bang for cheap bucks.  Perez was already the rare catcher who could hit .300 without blinking an eye and the power showed up in 2012 after he came back from a first half knee injury.  Perez hit 11 home runs in less than 300 at-bats which speaks to his power growth.  This should continue as he gets closer to his power prime and in the end we could be looking at a .310/20 HR/80 RBI campaign.  GET HIM!

3 Catchers Who Should Fail To Turn a Profit

1.  Joe Mauer:  Mauer has been on this list since 2009 when he came off that beyond fluky 28-home run season.  He has not come ANYWHERE near that total since and instead has become an injury mess with barely double-digit pop.  The name value severely outpaces Mauer's actual value and that is a losing proposition all the way around.  No thank you.

2.  Brian McCann:  McCann is starting to enter the Mauer discussion as a guy whose name is inflated his value based on past performance.  He crashed and burned last season with his worst year since arriving as a full-time player and the biggest reason is the fact he can't touch lefties and opposing teams are employing a strict shift that he has shown no sign of being able to beat.  Once a good average hitter, McCann will struggle to hit .260 unless he makes inroads there.  So far the evidence is not strong that he can do so.

3.  A.J. Pierzynski:  We don't need to tell you that Pierzynski's 28-home run 2012 goes right at the top of possibly being the flukiest fantasy baseball output ever.  This from a guy who struggled to hit double-digit home runs the previous decade of his career and just when he reaches a critical contract year, the power takes off.  We already saw a similar out-of-nowhere season like this from Carlos Ruiz get clouded due a positive amphetamines test and there are whispers Pierzynski was up to no good.  The guy is now 37-years-old which is ancient for a catcher.  Leave him alone.

There you have it.  As always we would love to hear your thoughts on all of this.


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