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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JOE MAUER CATCHER MINNESOTA TWINS

                                                             Joe Mauer

The catching fraternity in fantasy baseball is undergoing a major renovation with a lot of it not good for the overall strength of this group.  Specifically speaking, both Mike Napoli and Victor Martinez will no longer carry eligibility at the catcher spot which is a big negative to say the least.  Both Napoli and Martinez were considered top five catching options in fantasy baseball terms but their move to full time first baseman or DH's removed the C from next to his name.  After the 2014 season Joe Mauer will also join that group as the Minnesota Twins have now made the firm decision to move their best hitter to first base full time in order to save wear and tear on his aging body.  So with Mauer now getting out from behind the plate and the nicks and fatigue that comes with it, let's take a look at what the two-time batting champion could provide his fantasy baseball owners this season.

The last three seasons I have qualified Mauer as a draft bust due to the fact his name value far exceeded the actual production he put forth on the field since his outlier for the ages 2009 season when he clubbed 28 home runs with an insane .365 average.  Almost immediately Mauer turned back into the light on pop hitter he always had been as he hit only 10 home runs the next season in 2010 and than proceeded to smack only 3, 10, and 11 from 2011 through 2013 which continued to speak to his mediocrity there.  The story will remain the same for Mauer in 2014 as this is clearly who he is as he turns 31 in April which is well past his ceiling years.  However the fact Mauer will be getting out from behind the plate should give a slight boost to his overall numbers so Mauer has a chance to be closer to 15 home runs than 10.  Good but not great. 

In moving past the home runs, Mauer has more than proven himself to be one of the best pure hitters in baseball as his two batting titles show and he carries an extremely good .323 career average which speaks to his major strength there.  The last two seasons Mauer has hit .319 and .324 which is amazing for any hitter, especially for a catcher and that stat is no doubt his best asset in fantasy baseball.  With all those hits also comes very good counting stats in both runs and RBI.  Mauer should be in line for 80 runs and 80 RBI is he can stay on the field which getting away catching will improve his chances of doing such.  Finally, you can forget about anything in the way of steals at his age.  While Mauer was a guy who could steal between 7-10 bags in the past, those days are finished as injuries and age refuse to allow them back into the equation of his game. 

When you put everything together, Joe Mauer remains a top 5 or 6 fantasy baseball catcher.  The fact he plays every day is a big plus in addition to the swell batting average which will help your overall team mark in a big way.  However Mauer is getting hurt more and more lately as he ages and his power has very little going for it.  The draft price has finally come down to levels where I no longer have to label him a bust but Mauer still carries risk given the injury threat.

2014 PROJECTION:  .315 11 HR 75 RBI 71 R 4 SB

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

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