It’s that time of the year again, fantasy fanatics. Spring is right around the corner, and pitchers and catchers have already started reporting to spring training to prepare for the 2014 Major League Baseball season. While the players are working out and getting back in shape, future fantasy baseball owners are searching the internet to see the latest mock drafts and investing their time in reading about each team and what lineup card and pitching rotations are managers are going to roll with on opening day.
Each week, I will give my two cents about the players at each position, naming a clear-cut number one, a comeback player, a sleeper/breakout, a bust, my full rankings and a little advice as to what to do in your draft and throughout the season.
Let’s start with catchers:
Which catcher should go off the board first?
Buster Posey (SF) – While he wasn’t the top catcher in the 2013 season, he did win the National League’s Most Valuable Player award just two years ago. Posey posted a solid 2013 campaign hitting with a .294 batting average, 15 home runs and 72 runs batted in. Apparently, he gained 10 pounds during the off-season. Maybe this will give him a little more power, who knows.
Who is making a comeback from a bad 2013 season?
Carlos Ruiz (PHI) – Last season, Ruiz took a step back from his 2012 career year. He tallied a lousy five home runs and batted in just 37 runs. He was suspended for the first 25 games as well for amphetamines. I owned Ruiz in 2012, though, and I remember how good he was. He hit 16 home runs and had 68 runs batted in, both of which are career-highs. Ruiz hit for average in 2012 as well, batting .325. I don’t expect him to be a top-5 catcher, but I do expect him to crack the top 12.
Don’t sleep on this guy
Travis d’Arnaud (NYM) – The 25-year-old prospect is going to be the everyday catcher for the Mets this season. He has battled the injury bug throughout his young career, but he’s healthy as of now and worth a gamble in leagues. In fact, you may be able to pick him up off the waiver wire because he might go undrafted in leagues that only have one catcher on the roster. Last year, he hit a poor .202 in 31 games, and while that is unattractive for fantasy to say the least, he was a great hitter in the minors, and I think this could be his year to become a relevant fantasy player.
Bound to Bust
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (MIA) – Last year, Saltalamacchia hit a very respectable .273 to go along with 14 home runs, 40 doubles (second among all catchers) and 65 runs batted for the Boston Red Sox, who happened to be the best team in the majors, winning the World Series. Great players in that lineup surrounded him. Now he is moving to Miami to play for the Marlins, one of the worst teams in all of baseball. I just do not see him repeating what he has done the past couple of years.
My Preseason Rankings: Catchers
Buster Posey (SF)
Joe Mauer (MIN)*
Yadier Molina (STL)
Carlos Santana (CLE)
Brian McCann (NYY)
Wilson Rosario (COL)
Salvador Perez (KC)
Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)
Evan Gattis (ATL)
Wilson Ramos (WSH)
Matt Wieters (BAL)
A.J. Pierzynski (BOS)
Jason Castro (HOU)
Miguel Montero (ARI)
Carlos Ruiz (PHI)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (MIA)
Russell Martin (PIT)
Alex Avila (DET)
Travis d’Arnaud (NYM)
J.P. Arencibia (TEX)
*Moving to first base, but he is still eligible to play catcher in leagues
I’ll leave you with this…
There are not many positions in fantasy baseball as forgettable as catcher. A lot of people consider catchers to be a very weak position, and while that may be the case, it doesn’t mean you should flat-out forget about drafting one because they could very well be the most valuable position on your team.
I would try to be included in that first wave of fantasy owners to draft a catcher. Nothing stings more than realizing you are in the last few rounds without a starting catcher because you thought you could wait and get someone that is “just good enough.”