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Position Profiles: Catcher

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Catcher – First BaseSecond BaseShortstopThird BaseOutfieldDH
Starting Pitcher
Relief Pitcher
Draft Kit Home

Now that the calendar has flipped over to February, it’s time to dive into fantasy baseball. Your draft is probably still at least six weeks away, but laying the groundwork with a little research one position at a time will prevent cram sessions and relying on fantasy magazines you haven’t even read. First up are the catchers. Rehashing last year’s breakouts and breakdowns, the list of viable catching options is scarce, so you’re best off hitting the home-platers early, or taking a stab at young guys later on. The middle is more questionable than that cheese-like substance they put on ballpark nachos.

1. Joe Mauer, C, MIN
Yep, that 2009 home run surge was a fluke. After blasting a career-high 28 dingers, Mauer’s power deserted him, as he fell back under double-digits. That’s not why you draft this guy. You get him because he’s far and away your best bet for average and runs, with decent contributions elsewhere. Will he up the homers to the teens? Maybe. Will He hit over .325? Most likely.

2. Buster Posey, C/1B, SF
Posey was no poser once he got the call last May. .300-20-80 seems like the bottom floor for 2011. Displaying tremendous poise and gaining a full postseason’s worth of experience, I have no hesitation nudging Posey ahead of some of the ol’ reliable options.

3. Victor Martinez, C, DET
Vic heads back to the AL Central, where he’ll be protecting Miguel Cabrera in the Tigers lineup. Martinez is as solid as they come at catcher. Typically, you can pencil in .290-20-85. Injuries are a minor concern now that V-Mart’s 32, but he’ll leave the catching gear in his locker most days, as Detroit’s primary DH.

4. Brian McCann, C, ATL
I’ve never owned “Meh-Cann” because it’s just tough to get excited about him. There’s no mystery, no intrigue. He deserves to be ranked in the top 5 because of his pop and consistency. However, don’t overlook his declining batting average. You have to wonder if those eye problems have permanently affected his contact rate. If you’re a play-it-safe kind of owner, just say “Yes, we McCann” and move on. Soon after this point, the question marks ensue.

5. Carlos Santana, C, CLE
With such a weak crop of catchers this season, why not bump up a promising young sophomore? His sample size vs. MLB pitching was truncated after he got barreled over at home plate, wrecking his knee in early August. Still, he displayed double-digit power potential with 6 home runs in just 46 games. If you’re going to roll the dice in the middle rounds, this is the guy to grab.

6. Geovany Soto, C, CHC
There were major concerns about Soto after he busted out in ‘08, then bottomed out in ‘09. Fantasy owners weren’t sure which Soto would show up last year. Despite injuries and a low spot in the batting order, Geo bounced back to provide solid stats in his 322 at bats. With better health and new manager, we could easily see another .280-20-80 season.

7. Mike Napoli, C, TEX
I like Mike. He’s probably the best pure power-hitting catcher in the league. Gotta appreciate him chipping in 4 SBs too. The average took a hit last year, dropping to an unsightly .238, after two .270+ seasons. Look for a rebound in a better lineup, ballpark and situation in Texas. Naps should see time behind the plate, at 1B and at DH, which will allow him to stay around 450 at bats.

8. Matt Wieters, C, BAL
It hasn’t been all crab cakes for Wieters thus far. Fantasy owners are jumping off his ship like it was the Titanic. Keep in mind, the guy’s just 24. How successful were you at that age? Just because Buster Posey made a mockery of the learning curve, doesn’t mean that catcher is an easy position to master. Wieters was an elite prospect…and this is the year he starts to show us why.

9. Miguel Montero, C, ARI
Frack. Montero was my big sleeper last season. Worked like a charm in the first month of the season. Then his big breakout got derailed by knee surgery, from which Miguel never really bounced back. Would I try again with him this season? I would. The talent is still there and the opportunity is there. Hey, they named a Mitsubishi SUV after this guy, right?

10. Chris Ianetta, C, COL
This is what I mean about it getting questionable early on in the catcher rankings. Ianetta is here because a) he has 25 homers in fewer than 500 the past two seasons and 2) Miguel Olivo skipped town, which will bring more at bats for the young underachiever. Most people will be scared off by that .197 in ‘10. And rightly so. Ianetta isn’t for the feint of heart. But if the 27-year-old figures it out, he could put the comforts of Coors Field to good use.

11. Jorge Posada, C, NYY
Last season, “Hip, Hip Jorge” hurt everything but his hip. That’s what you get when you try to catch in your late 30s. Still, he put up 18 dingers and knocked in 57. The big change for Posada is that he’ll primarily play at DH, which should prevent enough wear and tear to allow the Yankee great to enjoy a swan-song season in 2011.

12. John Buck, C, FLA
I nabbed Buck in the last round of last year’s FSTA Experts draft—and it’s a 2-catcher league. So that worked out. I always liked Buck’s pop, but he never quite put it together in KC. New situation, better results. How did the Blue Jays thank Buck? By shoving him out of Skydome to make room for JP Arencibia. Now, he’s back to being underrated as Florida’s top catcher. Look, I wouldn’t bet a buck on Buck clearing .280 again, but I think his power is legit.

13. Kurt Suzuki, C, OAK
Here’s a sleeper who never woke up in ’10. With a .242 average, no one was confusing him with that other Suzuki guy in Seattle. Still, Kurt was second in at bats among catchers, so he’s a good bet to put up solid counting stats. I also think he’ll get back to swiping a few more bases.

14. JP Arencibia, C, TOR
In my 16-team keeper league, I picked up Arencibia, then immediately flipped him after his 2-HR debut. He had only one hit the rest of the way. Talk about a sell high. This season, J.P. will get plenty of P.T. I expect him to deliver some good power numbers, but the average might hover in the “Rob Deer Zone.”

15. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, BOS
If I had a nickel for every letter in his last name, I’d be able to buy a cup of coffee…which is all Salty had with the Red Sox in 2010. But he now inherits the starting role from Jason Varitek. No pressure there. It’s a solid situation for a guy’s whose skill set is far from solid.

16. Miguel Olivo, C, SEA
Olivo will soon face the cold reality that Safeco is anything but Coors. Don’t expect a repeat of the .269-14-58 you saw last year.

17. Carlos Ruiz, C, PHI
Ruiz was a find for everyone who got desperate behind the plate a season ago. His .302 average was flukier than a whale’s tale, and Ruiz doesn’t bring much power to the table.

18. AJ Pierzynski, CHW
He won’t kill your batting average.  So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

19. Chris Snyder, PIT
All-or-nothing hitter, who is apparently ahead of Ryan Doumit on the depth chart.

20. Russell Martin, NYY
Nope, I’m not buying a resurgence in New York. He’ll have to prove it before I put any stock in him.

21. Yadier Molina, STL
I don’t get why others have Yadier ranked higher than this. What’s to like about .262-6-62 with 34 runs?

22. Rod Barajas, C, LAD
Don’t Laugh. (Ba-ra-ha-ha-ha!) Barajas will probably hit 15-20 long balls. Again.

23. John Jaso, C, TB
In a timeshare with Kelly Shoppach, and not much of an offensive threat to begin with.

24. Ryan Doumit, C, PIT
Maybe he’ll get traded?

25. Ramon Hernandez, C, CIN
Power was down, average was up last year. A reversal back to the norm is on the way.

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