RankingsFebruary 22, 2012

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Cafeholic Rankings: Catcher - 8 comments

By Brendan Horton

The Cafe has long been known for its vast variety of useful rankings, helpful mock drafts, and insightful articles. Chances are this won’t fall under any of those categories. What I did was appeal to the Cafe’s longstanding contributors, some of the Cafe’s most fantasy savvy and intellectual minds, and asked them to literally do one of the most rudimentary tasks the human brain can function: make lists. The goal being to compile a positional ranking guide for the 2012 season. I then compiled these individual lists, found the mean and median of each score, and created the most basic set of rankings humanly possible. The best part: there isn’t even a uniform “cut-off” on the rankings. Some have 15, some 16, some 18, it really depended on where the massive drop-off happened in the rankings I received (where the “Natural Tiers”* fell off the table, so to speak). Is your mind blown yet?

I then looked at those central tendencies and created what I’m terming ‘Natural Tiers’. Here’s where the fun comes in. These are not based on talent, ability, or projections in the slightest. It’s simply where the naturally occurring gaps popped up within the central tendencies. What determined whether a gap was significant enough to constitute a new tier or not? I eyeballed it and used my better judgement, which, to date, has yet to fail me, save that dead prostitute they found in my hotel room in Cabo. At any rate, I’ll provide a bit of commentary and my own (unwelcome?) insight on each Natural Tier, and hopefully won’t offend anybody in the process. So join me on a fantastical journey as we look at each position set, beginning with the game callers who reside behind the dish.


Natural Tier 1

1Mike NapoliTEX1.561
2Carlos SantanaCLE2.112
3Brian McCannATL2.893

I don’t know why, but I’m just not buying Mike Napoli as being the No. 1 ranked fantasy catcher when 2012 closes its doors. Sure, that’s easy enough to say about any player, but I’m not even convinced he’ll be in the top five, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him scraping into the top 10. Brian McCann? Unless he suffers some sort of crippling injury, he’s going to be in the top five. At this point I feel it’s like death and taxes. The guy is about as consistent a fantasy player behind the dish that you can find, and while Santana may have more all-around upside, he could also repeat the .240 AVG he flashed last year and not quite live up to expectation again this season. It’s tough to go wrong with these three, but for my money, McCann is the name I want on my roster.

Natural Tier 2

4Buster PoseySF4.895
5Joe MauerMIN5.785
6Matt WietersBAL5.786
7Miguel MonteroARI6.226
8Alex AvilaDET7.567

To be completely honest, I think Avila outperforms every other member of this tier this season. There I said it. I see a stat line very similar to that of last year, and Avila has something that almost no other member of this tier can claim to have themselves: elite offensive teammates. San Francisco, Minnesota, Baltimore, and Arizona have nothing that compares to the one-two punch of teammates that Avila gets to share a lineup with this season. Keep in mind Avila did most of his dirty work from the eight-hole last year, but a move higher in the order behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder should give plenty of opportunities to drive in whoever the aforementioned don’t drive in themselves.

Natural Tier 3

9Jesus MonteroSEA9.679
10J.P. ArencibiaTOR10.8011
11Yadier MolinaSTL11.4011
12Russell MartinNYY12.6013
13Geovany SotoCHC13.4014
14Wilson RamosWAS14.4013

Here’s where you start to get into the “could be an absolute bust and provide me nothing but headaches” territory. Not that the previous names are completely devoid of this possibility, but here is where it starts to become an increasing risk for “It’s June, and how did I not anticipate this level of suck?” Does Montero’s minor-league mashing and hot fall translate into success in Seattle? Are Arencibia and the rest of the Toronto lineup as lethal as some project? Can Martin repeat the success he had his first season in pinstripes? Can Soto get his average back to an acceptable fantasy level? Does the loss of Albert Pujols affect Molina’s production? If you’re drafting one of these catchers in a standard league, the good news is you likely got them late-to-very late in your draft, so you won’t mind having to part ways if at some point the other shoe drops. Some fantasy teams live and die off this tier; just hope you’re on the side of the former if that’s the route you choose.

Natural Tier 4

15Ryan DoumitMIN16.2016
16Kurt SuzukiOAK16.917
17Chris IannettaLAA17.317

This is where you begin the bewildered feeling of desperation at the catcher position all season long. Where you’re weighing the pros and cons of taking one of these guys, crossing your fingers, hoping for the best, and hoping you’re not hoping that the thin air in Colorado makes Ramon Hernandez forget that he’s pushing 40. Suzuki had a spectacular 2009 but has been dreadful ever since, and back in 2006 Doumit was the most added player in all of fantasy baseball after the Pirates called him up. He’s never really lived up to many of the expectations that were thrust upon him by fantasy owners, but he hasn’t been detrimental in either of the past two seasons. If he bats .280 with 10 HRs and 50 runs and RBIs apiece, you got more than you bargained for out of a guy being drafted in the 300s.

After this, the mean scores drop sharply and become erratic. It’s like throwing darts at a board. What’s interesting about catcher is the large group of guys who all provide a very similar production value from a 5×5 standpoint who are drafted so widely apart from one another. Not that this doesn’t occur across the board, but I feel with catchers it’s even more extreme. If you get a guy who doesn’t totally annihilate your average and can chip in double digit homers and a handful of runs and RBIs, chances are you should be happy. It’s when you’ve got 260 at bats of .210 staring you in the face that you start cursing the day you didn’t draft your catcher sooner. The good news is you’re probably in good company.

Thank you to all those who contributed their personal rankings for this compilation (credit to come at the end of this series), and don’t miss the next installment of Cafeholic Rankings when we take a look at the big boppers at 1B!

Brendan Horton is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Brendan in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of bigh0rt.
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8 Responses to “Cafeholic Rankings: Catcher”

  1. User avatar GiantsFan14 says:

    How dare you talk ill of Mike Napoli. He is a man-god, like the Hercules of catchers.

  2. You are not buying Napoli, heck I am not buying Santana to hit over 230

  3. User avatar bigh0rt says:

    ^ That’s why if I’m going to take one of those 3 C and burn a draft pick, it’s going to be McCann.

  4. User avatar bigken117 says:

    ^ that is why I am not burning an early draft pick or expensive keeper selection on a catcher

  5. Ender says:

    Napoli won’t repeat last year but he should do enough to be in that top tier still. Avila is the most likely to be a bust because his year was pretty flukey. Sure Fielder and Cabrera both bat in front of him and bump up his RBI a little bit but remember they are both base cloggers, Fielder was the worst basenrunner in baseball last year so it will take extra base hits to drive them in and the guys hitting behind Avila aren’t impressive at all.

  6. User avatar bigh0rt says:

    @bigken117, nor am I. The bottom two tiers are much more enticing for me, because they come ridiculously cheap, to the point where even if they don’t pan out I won’t be more than slightly perturbed that I have to find a replacement, because some of these guys are last round picks. However, gun to my head, with an early pick forced on a C, it’s McCann every time.

  7. theblackjet says:

    Am I the on l y one who thinks that Jesus Montero is going to be an absolute stud? How often do pitchers in their mid-20s who can throw 90+ get traded by small market teams? Almost never. Pinieda was and it was for Montero. I could see him as the Napoli of 2012.

  8. User avatar bigh0rt says:

    @theblackjet, Montero could very well put up a monster season, but I think it’s irresponsible to expect, or even project that out of a player with such a short track record of Major League at bats. I’d be much more likely to be bullish on him if he were still playing half his games at the Yankee Stadium launch pad, buried in a lineup of All-Stars, but the move to Seattle has made me temper expectations even more. I wouldn’t use the trade as a benchmark for what to expect of him in his first full rookie season. I think he’s appropriately ranked, with the upside to be better.


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