While others are compiling lists of the best available players, you will be crafting a team with the goal of winning categories. It’s simple marginal value. Take the parameters your are forced to accept in your league rules and find where that creates value. The auction dollar values below are based on projections for a 5X5 12 team mixed rotisserie league. This isn’t a guess of how much players will go for, but rather our idea of how much your budget they’ll be worth for the 2011 season.
2011 Catchers Rankings
“He looked like this little kid who got left at a bus station by his parents. You know why? Because he had to catch Hoyt Wilhelm’s knuckleball. Five long years. The worst gig in baseball. It was like trying to catch a greased pig with wings. I mean, he even told a reporter once, ‘Wilhelm nearly ruined me.’ Gus Triandos. Big slow guy.”
– Thomas “Herc” Hauk
1) Joe Mauer- $28
Phil Hildreth: Mauer is in a class by himself here. Even if he doesn’t ever get his 2009 home run stroke back, he is going to hit third in an offense that has only trailed the Yankees and Red Sox in putting batters on base over the past three years.
Herman Obandol: Unfortunately, the Twins organization’s decision not to move the outfield fences is going to ensure that Mauer’s power swing won’t be back. He only hit one home run at Target Field last year. Still, Mauer is a difference maker, I think he can be taken in the late first round.
PH: From what I’ve seen it’s a pretty safe bet that he will still be there in the second round of even a 12 team league, but I agree that you can build a winning team around Mauer even though he won’t play 150 games and he’s an injury risk. Taking Mauer instead of even someone in the next tier of catchers allows for greater flexibility at other positions (think of it as banking an extra 30 avg points to use later on Adam Dunn or Michael Stanton).
HO: Are you really concerned about injury here? It comes down to this, when you spend big with money or draft picks you better come away with a player that helps you win something. Mauer is a piece that helps you win categories. Taking Mark Texiera or Adrian Gonzalez in the first round doesn’t put you ahead of the rest of the league, its just holding serve.
2) Carlos Santana – $23
3) Brian McCann – $21
4) Buster Posey – $21
5) Victor Martinez – $19
HO: This is where teams have tendency to overpay/overdraft players who aren’t going to move the needle very much. Everyone knows there are only five catchers that make you feel good and that’s going to inflate the price of the top five in an auction. That said, our projections seem to think Santana is the best of the bunch, do you agree?
PH: Not really. Santana is recovering from a pretty terrible knee injury in a pretty terrible offense. All of these four come with a fair amount of hype so I’m most likely going to wait for the next tier if i miss out on Mauer. Victor Martinez would scare me the most, yet I’ve seen some “experts” put him as the #1 catcher.
HO: I also think that Posey is going to be a value trap this year. Remember that he still hasn’t played a full season in the majors and his monthly splits show that his stats benefited from a monster July. This also might be a good time to alert everyone that Cody Ross and Edgar Renteria have no fantasy value despite all of the home runs they hit last October.
PH: So because we haven’t said anything about McCann yet, does that mean he’s the best value of this group. Nah probably not.
6) Kurt Suzuki – $10
7) Geovany Soto $10
8) Mike Napoli $10
9) Matt Wieters $9
PH: This is probably the sweet spot value wise for this position. I like Suzuki more than most because there is no way that he repeats his 2010 performance of seeing 20% of his flyballs caught as infield popups (worst in the league). His average should rise and he is one of the few catchers that plays almost everyday.
HO: I like Napoli here now that he has finally escaped the Mike Socia platoon and should see plenty at bats in the powerful Rangers lineup. Also we forget how young Wieters is. He may not be as bad as we remember him from last year and don’t sleep on my revamped Orioles lineup.
10) Jesus Montero $8
11) Russell Martin $7
PH: Clearly both of these guys can’t be worth this much. One of these guys is going to get the bulk of the at bats in the Yankee lineup. Currently, that means stay away until this position battle sorts itself out. If Jesus is the back stop he could be a 20+ HR guy; Martin’s value comes from a potential for be a sneaky soursneaky double digit steals if he gets the nod.
HO: I agree that you shouldn’t pay these prices but one of these guys is going to be the great value find at the catcher position so I’m going to take a flier on Montero if he comes cheap/late.
12) Ryan Doumit $5
13) Miguel Olivo $5
14) AJ Pierzynski $5
15) Jorge Posada $4
16) Miguel Montero $3
HO: This group has talent but is flawed either in age or playing time. In Posada’s case it’s both. Its frustrating that the the Pirates seem to like Chris Snyder more than Doumit. It’s actually reassuring to be on the opposite side of the Pirates front office though. Free Doumit!
PH: Montero’s competition for playing time is the training room, but I like him in short stints as a platoon play. I’ve noticed that Pierzynski is disappearing off many cheat sheets but he doesn’t really hurt your team anywhere at thats almost all you can ask from a #2 catcher.
17) Yadier Molina $2
18) John Buck $2
19) Chris Ianetta $2
20) Ramon Hernandez $2
PH: There isn’t much value in a backup catcher. You need one but the waiver wire will have virtually identical stats floating around. The only thing this group really offers is playing time and job security. Hey, making sure you get 162 games played at each position is a large part of racking up counting stats.
HO: I can’t bring myself to spend money/draft spots on a #2 catcher. When I need a second catcher I’ll deal with the waiver wire later. I’d rather take a speculative OF or starting pitcher. Unless of course Bryce Harper is still around…
21) JP Arenciabia $1
22) Carlos Ruiz $1
23) Josh Thole $1
24) Bryce Harper $1
HO: You know someone is going to take Bryce Harper. Best case scenario is a repeat of Buster Posey’s call up last year. That’s a pretty high upside so if you don’t have to give up much I say go for it.
PH: Arenciabia is getting some hype as a power hitter and I see him as a better speculative play for this year because, unlike Harper, he is going to at least start the year in the big leagues. Thole has shown that he can hit for average so he might be a useful plug in player at some point during the season during a hot streak. I’m not really sold on rookie catchers though. Posey and even Santana last year are exceptions to the norm, not a new normal.