Before we get into the rankings, let me put in a little disclaimer. These are extremely preliminary rankings for 2012 (prior to my projections being done) and have a lot of room for movement as the offseason progresses. They are done just on the surface, so as you look at them keep that in mind:
- Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians
- Victor Martinez – Detroit Tigers
- Brian McCann – Atlanta Braves
- Miguel Montero – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants
- Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins
- Matt Wieters – Baltimore Orioles
- Alex Avila – Detroit Tigers
- Mike Napoli – Texas Rangers
- J.P. Arencibia – Toronto Blue Jays
- I know if you just look at the numbers Santana may not look deserving for the top spot. How can a player with a .240 average be good enough? Well, a below average .263 BABIP is a number that is surely can’t be repeated. He’s got a great understanding of the strike zone (14.6% walk rate), to go along with plenty of power (27 HR) and RBI/R production (79 RBI & 83 R). Would it surprise anyone if he posted a .300/30/100/90 line in 2012? No other catcher has that type of potential upside (especially in the runs scored).
- Buster Posey is a tough player to place at this point. As we get closer to Spring Training and can confirm that he’s healthy, the picture will get a lot clearer. He has proven that he has the talent to be one of the elite offensive catchers in the league, so the news on his health will be of utmost importance.
- Honestly, I am not sure if I am a believer in Mike Napoli or not and will definitely take a lot of time this offseason digging into the numbers to try and get a grasp of him overall. Obviously, his .351 BABIP is unlikely to be repeated. Can he also maintain his improved strikeout (19.5%) and walk (13.7%) rates? How about a 23.6% HR/FB? He’s absolutely going to be a must use option heading into 2012, but Top 5? I just don’t see it. He has draft day bust written all over him, not because he won’t produce, but because he likely won’t produce the numbers he needs to justify his draft position.
- The days of Joe Mauer being considered one of the best catchers in the league are behind us. In fact, I’m not sure that he even should be ranked at #6 coming off a season in which he hit .287 with 3 HR in 296 AB. We all know the power isn’t going to be there, but his advantage was always that he could hit .300, as well as drive in and score 85+ runs. If he can get back to those types of numbers he’ll have plenty of value. If he can’t, then he won’t even be a Top 10 option.