Preliminary 2012 Rankings: Top 10 Catchers

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:

  1. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians
  2. Victor Martinez – Detroit Tigers
  3. Brian McCann – Atlanta Braves
  4. Miguel Montero – Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants
  6. Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins
  7. Matt Wieters – Baltimore Orioles
  8. Alex Avila – Detroit Tigers
  9. Mike Napoli – Texas Rangers
  10. J.P. Arencibia – Toronto Blue Jays

Thoughts:

  • 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.

24 comments

  1. Mark says:

    it is absurd that yadier molina doesn’t make the top 10…

  2. Chuck says:

    Avila is really an interesting guy to me, how repeatable are his stats in your opinion?

    Also, Wieters seems to have turned a corner.

    It looks like there is a lot of value around those 7-8 spots…

  3. SimonJ - Trade Counsel says:

    Pretty similar to my own for what it’s worth. I’m slightly higher on Napoli and Avila. I agree Posey is a wild card depending on his health. Drafting Mauer in 2012 really scares me – I think he’ll go way earlier than I’d take him on name value alone.

    Trade Counsel rankings:

    1. Victor Martinez
    2. Carlos Santana
    3. Brian McCann
    4. Mike Napoli
    5. Miguel Montero
    6. Alex Avila
    7. Buster Posey
    8. Joe Mauer
    9. Matt Wieters
    10. Yadier Molina

    Sleeper: Wilson Ramos

  4. Marky Mark says:

    An idea for when you get to the outfield…In addition to a top 30 (or whatever number you decide on), could you also do a top-10 at each specific OF position…LF/CF/RF?

    • SimonJ - Trade Counsel says:

      How easy is it to get the eligibility for LF/CF/RF for next year? I’ve never played in a keeper league that used those positions and I could imagine it would be quite a nightmare to get hold of.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Mark, I’m not promising anything, but I will definitely see what I can do!

      • Marky Mark says:

        Simon – The only way I know how to do it would be take this year’s end-of-season eligibilities, and adjust for players like Ellsbury, that haven’t started/played enough games at a position to qualify any longer. (FYI – CarGo becomes a god in this setting, qualifing across the board)

        Prof – Fair enough.

        • Marky Mark says:

          It occurs to me that I currently have access to precisely the end-of-season eligibility list that I suggested be used.

          Seems reasonable that I could do a bit of the legwork and put it into a excel file or something and send it out, if that interests you….

  5. MJ says:

    I can’t justify having Montero or Wieters higher than Avila….ESPECIALLY Wieters. He is nothing but potential still while Avila has already done it.

    In any case, I’d avoid ALL these guys and look at grabbing Salvador Perez later in drafts. If he gets the 500 at bats he seems likely to get he could prove this year was no fluke!!

    • SimonJ - Trade Counsel says:

      I’m taking Avila over Wieters but I still prefer Montero in a single season league. The major element here is risk. Avila has looked like the real deal, but we only have that one year to go on. Remember when Wieter was hailed as a can’t-miss catcher following his 2009 rookie season. If I remember correctly, he was getting drafted in the top 100 in an awful lot of leagues in 2010.

      It’s important not to get carried away with the hype of a young player. Everyone thinks about the upside, but it’s critical to consider that his floor is lower than guys like Montero too.

      As regards Perez, the key word in your statement is *could*. I’d much rather take a late round flyer on Ramos. He is much nearer to being the finished article and has greater upside. Perez won’t hold much value except in AL-only, deep or 2 catcher leagues.

      • MJ says:

        Wieters was hailed all of that while never taking a swing in the majors. Avila now has more than one full season in the majors. And his month to month totals have been pretty consistant. I think the average could dip, but overall I see him being the 2nd or 3rd best catcher next season after Santana.

        Ramos is a good call, but I don’t see him lasting late enough to have enough value…at least not in my league. Perez will be there late enough in drafts to make him a nice value play.

      • SimonJ - Trade Counsel says:

        The example of Wieters is really just to point out the dangers of assuming that a young player is already the finished article. If you want non-catching examples for 2011 then look no further than Pedro Alvarez and Jason Heyward. I just think the risks of regression are much greater with players that young. Chances are that Avila might end up as a top 3 catcher, but there is a significant risk that he doesn’t come close to that mark. I’d much rather roll the dice on Napoli if I wanted to take a risky play at catcher, but for a safer play I’d prefer to go with Montero.

        With Ramos, it depends on the depth of your league setup. I don’t see him getting drafted in the top 12 catchers in most leagues. Perez will be way down the draft list and like I say, only relevant in very deep leagues.

  6. Rotoprofessor says:

    Let’s take a few of these comments:

    In regards to Yadier Molina, I definitely see him as a Top 15 option, but I don’t know that the upside is there for him to be Top 10. I’m not a believer in his power “outburst”, with 14 HR, which will have a major impact on his numbers. He’s borderline, for sure, but not quite up to that level.

    Avila is a very interesting player as we head into 2012 and we will definitely take a much closer look at him throughout the offseason. I easily could see him moving up, but it’s not a given.

    As for Salvador Perez, I’m as big of a proponent of his as anyone, but it’s impossible to consider him a starting option on draft day (outside of 2-catcher formats). However, by year’s end? He could be a great steal.

  7. Will Overton says:

    The big difference between Avila and Weiters hype is that Avila has a full year of consistent production under his belt to backup the hype.

  8. Rotoprofessor says:

    It’s true, Avila has put it up for an entire season. Can he replicate it, though?

    We all know Wieters hype prior to jumping to the Majors. Obviously it has taken him some time, but he’s showing the power (21 HR) and has reduced his strikeouts every year:

    2009 – 22.3%
    2010 – 18.7%
    2011 – 15.3%

    Wieter’s BABIP = .278
    Avila’s BABIP = .370

    Avila strikeouts more (23.9%) and had a lot of luck on his side.

    Is it really a stretch to have Wieters outproducing Avila in 2012?

    • MJ says:

      Is it a stretch, no. Do I think Wieters is going to turn it around over night and outproduce Avila in 2012? No. Maybe three years down the road Wieters will finally be close to the player people thought, but he needs more time before I’ll make him my #1 catcher.

      • Rotoprofessor says:

        Outside of average (which you agreed will likely fall for Avila), what is the major difference right now, though?

        Wieters – .262, 21 HR, 65 RBI, 70 R
        Avila – .298, 19 HR, 81 RBI, 63 R

        Wieters has better plate discipline, similar power and similar run production. I think the “stigma” of Wieters, after all the hype, is that he has been a major disappointment again this season. At the end of the year, the numbers are actually pretty good.

        Yes, he fell flat to start his career, but he’s been improving every year. I think saying he’s three years away from producing is a little extreme at this point. It wouldn’t surprise me if he fully broke out in 2012.

        • Icey says:

          ok do you not realize avila played for the entire season if he gets more rest next season those numbers are going to be up a lot expect him to be hitting 305 he should have 20+ homers and if they let him bat higher in the lineup he will easily have 100 rbi’s only thing weiters has over avila is defense which i feel in a few years avila will be better then him. i will be drafting avila as my catcher because he will be underrated.

  9. Cornelius says:

    Put me on the Wieters bandwagon. Mark my words. He will be the top fantasy catcher next year. We all know he has the tools and talent, and now he’s putting it together. Over the final month he had a .913 OPS and 8 HRs. Wieters has arrived. Showalter was even putting him in the 5 spot towards the end of the season.

  10. bruce says:

    I love the statement that his babip can’t be repeated, the same was said about aaron hill, twice now. Santana is a great young talent but he is not going to hit 300 and that is a crazy thing to bring up. His upside is probably in the neighborhood of 275

  11. Jake says:

    I think I take Montero in pretty much all leagues next year. Posada will be gone for sure (if you remember, Cashman was adamant on only offering 3 years to Posada when his last contract was signed, but ownership upped it to 4) and a DH/C split of Russel Martin/Montero creates an ideal situation where Montero will get rest (and more playing time than usual) while getting C eligibility. Has power, good eye, and a powerful lineup in a park suited for his opposite field power.

    I’m not saying, let’s take him at No. 2 or anything, but for where he is going to go, I think he’s a MAJOR steal.

  12. Ron says:

    While I think Posey is a good talent, he is also evidently suseptable to injury. He has yet to play a complete MLB season.

  13. Jim Botsch says:

    I think Napoli may even improve next year. In LA and for most of this season, he has not been starting. With a full season, I think he will be one of the top catchers for next year.

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