Monday, March 20, 2006

Fantasy Preview - Catchers

Only because I am contractually obligated, I hereby present a breakdown of MLB catchers. This is not pretty.

Player Value
Victor Martinez 23.13
Joe Mauer 23.03
Jason Varitek 20.14
Ivan Rodriguez 20.02

Jorge Posada 18.01
Javy Lopez 17.27

A.J. Pierzynski 16.74
Jason Kendall 16.46
Kenji Johjima 16.41
Brian McCann 15.32
Rod Barajas 14.20
Josh Willingham 14.05
Paul LoDuca 13.44
Michael Barrett 13.22
Benjie Molina 13.15
Ramon Hernandez 13.03
Mike Lieberthal 12.60
Ryan Doumit 12.33
Mike Piazza 12.19
Toby Hall 10.76
John Buck 10.75
Jason LaRue 10.57
Yadier Molina 10.33
Johnny Estrada 9.56
Dioner Navarro 9.04
Damian Miller 8.99
Brad Ausmus 8.34

Ugh. What's worse, in most fantasy leagues you are obligated to pick two of these duds.

The best thing one can do is simply pick players who will not hurt you. That means drafting catchers who will compile at least halfway-decent batting averages. In that case A.J. Pierzysnki, Paul LoDuca, Mike Lieberthal, Ramon Hernandez, and Benjie Molina should all hit above .270. But there's not a single player on this list that will pop much more than 20 homers, and many will not even approach that total.

You might be tempted to draft one of the better catchers, but the guys at the top - Vic Martinez, Javy Lopez, Joe Mauer, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jason Varitek - are ultimately only going to give you equal production to the average second baseman, thus they're not worth the inflated value. If you somehow find youself in a situation where you can get one of these guys on the cheap, sure, go for it. But the better bet is to let them go and find your value elsewhere.

The one potential advantage to this category is that there is some ability to gamble on a sleeper. The prime suspect is Seattle's Japanese import Kenji Johjima. By all reports the guy's got a cannon for an arm, but that doesn't really help from a fantasy baseball perspective. The more positive projections see him as a mid .260's hitter with somewhere between 15-20 homers and knocking in a little under 60. But it's tough to predict how Japanese players will adapt to the majors. I'd take a shot on him if he's available in the mid-to-late rounds, or if he comes in under $6.

Then there's Mike Piazza. At this point in his career it is difficult to expect much, but he has shown flashes of the old Mike off and on the past few years. I don't know that playing in San Diego will give him a boost, and home games at Petco won't boost the statistics - though he'll play 9 games in Coors, where he usually puts up insane numbers. If he's sitting there late in the draft, he might still be worth the shot.

Ultimately I will just repeat what I said above: look for catchers who won't hurt you, and do not waste resources at this position.


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