It’s time for everyone’s favorite thing again……fantasy baseball rankings! It is quite possibly the ugliest position in fantasy baseball, and one of the thinnest, but you have to have a catcher so let’s take a look at what the league has to offer this year. I actually like a good number of guys this year as there has been a huge influx of young talent. Most of them haven’t lived up to the full potential we have hoped for and most have struggled to hit the ball consistently, but we have a good number of young power hitting backstops, and a few good ol’ vets to fill out the rest. From the NL MVP to the hottest young hitter in New York, check out the 2013 fantasy catcher rankings!
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1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
.336 average 24 homers, 103 RBI, 1 SB, 78 runs
Just one year after a horrific collision at home plate cost him all but 45 games of a season, Posey came back like a house of fire and was the NL MVP and gave fantasy owners production at the catcher position that we haven’t seen in years. Early on it seems that Posey is going very high in the second round. I know there aren’t a lot of great catchers and these numbers are very good, but I have to believe that they are all going to come down some in 2013. Posey is ultra-talented and he isn’t a fluke like Joe Mauer was in 2009, but I see him closer to .315, 18 homers, 85 RBI than his 2012 figures. I can’t take him that high, but if he was to fall to the third round I would likely jump on him there. I mean draft him, jump on him sounds somehow dirty and sexual. My bad.
2. Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles
.249 average, 23 homers, 83 RBI, 3 SBs, 67 runs
His strikeouts spiked a little last year, but it was another pretty solid year out of the Orioles’ backstop. I have had a little thing for this guy ever since he broke into the majors, and I can still see him getting better. The batting average for one thing……Wieters hit over .300 in each of his three minor league seasons, and while it went down each year, he was a masher. I’m not expecting him to go from .249 to .310, but I see no reason he can’t break .270. And if you can combine that with 25 taters, and 95 RBI, that’s a pretty damn good guy to get on your team. My <3 for Wieters continues!
3. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
.252 average, 18 homers, 76 RBI, 3 SBs, 72 runs
Another man crush at the catcher position, Santana’s second full season wasn’t as impressive as the previous, but those are still pretty good numbers. I think it is widely believed that he is better than this though and has the capability (not sure if he will realize the potential) to be the best catcher in fantasy. He is another batting average disappointment to this stage in his career, but he also had a .300+ average down on the farm. I believe you will see him hit for a better average and knock a few more out of the park. And I got through the whole analysis without one guitar reference! Yay!
4. Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox
.227 average, 24 homers, 56 RBI, 1 SB, 53 runs (108 games)
A hip condition found during his physical turned a three year deal into a one year deal, but finally Mike Napoli is a member of the Red Sox. He will be playing first base for them, but he will still be catcher eligible in basically all leagues. You might consider the hip issue a red flag, but he’s obviously been playing with it and didn’t even know it was there, and if the Red Sox thought it was bad enough they wouldn’t have even given him one year. I see no reason to limit Napoli’s value here, and if he can get that batting average back up he should again be one of the best guys behind the dish in fantasy baseball.
5. Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies
.270 average, 28 homers, 71 RBI, 4 SBs, 67 runs (117 games)
After getting just a brief cup of coffee with the big league club in 2011 coming from Double-A, Rosario got a lot more playing time in 2012, and to say he made the most of it would be a huge understatement! This kid came to the majors mashing and he ended up with one of the better seasons for a catcher last year. The question becomes can he repeat it? The power has been there throughout his time in the minors so I don’t see that as being a fluke. I could see a dip in his batting average now that pitchers have more of an idea what to do with him. The most important though is his defense as he was a piece of swiss cheese behind the plate, allowing over 20 passed balls. We have seen this before (Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis), if a catcher is bad enough, he could lose playing time due to defense. I can’t see the Rockies taking him out of the lineup though, so I think we will be ok there. He turns 24 in late February and is probably the most exciting young player at the position.
6. Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks
.286 average, 15 homers, 88 RBI, 65 runs
I know these numbers aren’t as high as some of the guys around him, but Montero got off to a really bad start last year and had just two homers through May. June and July were his best months before the power tailed off again at the end of the year, but I think that happens with a lot of catchers. The reason I put Montero here is because of consistency. He was hurt some in 2010, but was on pace to have a good season like he did in 2011 and 2012. You can pretty much pencil him in for a .285-.290 average with about 16-19 homers and 80-90 RBI. Not flashy, doesn’t get the big WOWs, but I like a guy I can count on, especially in an unstable position.
7. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
.315 average, 22 homers, 76 RBI, 12 SBs, 65 runs
I am a Cardinals fan. I don’t hide it, make no mistake about it I love the Redbirds. But three years ago Yadier Molina was a singles hitter that ran a 7.25 in the forty yard dash. He got big hits, but he wasn’t a power threat. Now, two years later he hits 36 home runs in two seasons? I’m not saying he’s doing anything he shouldn’t, hell Yadi is a big guy (and he still has to hit the ball to the wall to get to first base safely), but I’m not going to bank that he is going to hit for anywhere near this average again or for that much power, and ESPECIALLY not 12 stolen bases. But I like Yadier, and I think he will be a solid player, but I can picture him much more being a 13-14 homer guy that a 22 tater player. Don’t reach too far for him.
8. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
.319 average, 10 homers, 85 RBI, 8 SBs, 81 runs
OK, here we go. It is my yearly rant about how much I hate Joe Mauer. Although I have to say that in 2012 he had a pretty good season. Of course, the power that people liked him for in 2009 is never going to be there again. But the batting average, RBI, and runs scored are all solid. I think even the eight stolen bases are even high to expect again. He was also surprisingly healthy, and that is always an issue with Mr. Mauer. His ADP has come down and he’s not as overrated as he once was, but I still will not draft Joe Mauer on any of my teams. I encourage you to make the same decision.
9. Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
.320 average, 12 homers, 58 RBI, 4 SBs, 46 runs (96 games)
Lucroy burst on the fantasy scene in 2011 with a pretty nice season of 12 homers and 59 RBI and owners knew who he was coming into last year. Unfortunately, a hand injury cost him a ton of time, but if you look you can see that Lucroy nearly matched his production of the previous season in 40 less games! And he hit for an amazing average! He was excellent when he returned from the injury as he had a third of his home runs and 18 RBI in August after returning late in July. I can’t say that I see him hitting .320 again, but Lucroy is a fine hitter and although Milwaukee doesn’t appear to be in line for a good season, I believe that Lucroy can be an asset to your fantasy team.
10. JP Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays
.233 average, 18 homers, 56 RBI, 45 runs (94 games)
On the flip side of Mr. Mauer, Arencibia is a catcher that I actually like. The Blue Jays made some sort of commitment to Arencibia when they traded away both Travis D’Arnaud and John Buck. To take from former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, Arencibia is what you think he is. He’s going to hurt your batting average (last year’s .233 was a career high, ouch), but is going to give you pretty decent power from the position as he has hit 41 dingers in the past two years. I still think he can further improve his batting average, and perhaps now with Toronto’s better batting order, he can drive in some more runs too. If you decide you don’t need one of the top tier guys, I like Arencibia as a fall back.
11. Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners
.250 average, 16 homers, 52 RBI, 46 runs (135 games)
Montero’s June and September were both awful from a power perspective, but for the rest of the year he was fairly consistent. Not consistently good, but not completely awful. It was a disappointment after the cup of coffee he had with the Yankees in 2011 was so dynamic, but I also don’t think it was bad enough that we should be concerned about Montero not panning out. He had a great minor league career, and while the start was slow, I expect him to have a great major league career as well. I can see him getting to about the .275 mark and to challenge the 20 homer and 75 RBI plateaus. I believe that you can roll with Montero as your starting catcher this year and he won’t kill you for it.
12. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
.301 average, 11 homers, 39 RBI, 38 runs(76 games)
Perez was known as a defensive catcher throughout his minor league career, and put up good offensive numbers, but nothing to get overly excited about. Then after missing a good deal of time to a knee injury, he came to the majors and hit the hell out of the ball. Can he repeat this performance? I think he can. He’s only 22 years old, and has been in the Royals’ system since he was 17. He did get progressively better in his time in the minors and this winter he was rookie of the year in the Venezuelan Winter League. If you are the type to go after young guys (and not in a criminal sense), with some upside, Perez can definitely be your guy this year.
13. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves
.230 average, 20 homers, 67 RBI, 3 SBs, 44 runs (121 games)
A man crush that has fallen by the wayside, McCann was always my favorite, and I had him ranked as my number one catcher for years when I first started in fantasy. A variety of medical problems including his eyes in 2011 and his shoulder in 2012 have really hurt his reliability and production. McCann had successful surgery, and as of mid-January was ahead of schedule and said he feels great. So the question remains, is his shoulder healed after surgery and he will return to his usual .280/25/85 self? Or at age 29 are his best days behind him? With a lineup that includes two Uptons and a Heyward, an improving Freeman, and a slugging Uggla, I like McCann’s chances to bounce back now that he’s healthy, and I’m willing to bet on him in 2013.
14. AJ Pierzynski, Texas Rangers
.278 average, 27 homers, 77 RBI, 68 runs
I’m sure like me you all saw Pierzynski’s breakout season coming in 2012 at the ripe old age of 36, for a catcher! Give or take ten percent, A.J. has always been a .275 hitter, with mid-teens power and 50-65 RBI throughout his career. Obviously, you shouldn’t expect him to hit 27 jacks again, or quite drive in 77 runs, although I believe he will get closer to the RBI total in 2013 than he does the home run total. He is going to in a better lineup in a great ballpark, but you can’t expect a repeat of this. Do me a favor, go get one of Pierzynski’s baseball cards, take a look at the numbers on the back of that. They are likely to be pretty small to fit all of his career on there, but those are the numbers you can expect out of him this upcoming season. I don’t think I would want him to be my starter. Give me a young guy with some upside.
15. Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers
.243 average, 9 homers, 48 RBI, 2 SBs, 42 runs (116 games)
I was on the Avila bandwagon in 2011 when he had his big breakout season, but unfortunately, knee issues didn’t cause me to come off of the bandwagon in 2012 and was burned for it. Avila’s knees are still an issue, and although he is rehabbing them and is supposed to be ready for the start of Spring Training, I have to admit that I am concerned for him this year. He is capable of a .300 average with 50 homers and 80 RBI, but I have to say that I would be surprised to see him accomplish that. The good news is unless you are in a two catcher league there’s a decent chance Avila won’t be drafted, so if you see him get off to a strong start or have a good spring, the opportunity will likely be there for you to add him after your initial draft. Keep an eye on this kid, he could be a lightning rod again this year.
16. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston Red Sox
.222 average, 25 homers, 59 RBI, 55 runs (121 games)
I remember with Salty was coming up in the Braves system and he was going to revolutionize the catcher position and be a guy that everyone had to have in fantasy baseball for years to come. Then he when he was traded to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira, everyone got excited that he was finally going to get his shot. And he did. And he sucked. Then he sucked worse. Then he fell completely off the face of the fantasy map. He seems to have rekindled his career somewhat in Boston, now although his batting average is pretty awful he is hitting for pretty good power, enough that you have to pay attention to him in fantasy circles. He does have the chance to lose some time to Ryan Lavarnway if he continues to hit .220, but I think he brings enough power that he still plays 130 games. He’s really only going to help you in one category, but if you want big homers from your catcher, than Salty is your guy.
17. AJ Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers
.270 average, 13 homers, 52 RBI, 44 runs (133 games)
Ellis came out of nowhere last year to have a pretty solid campaign overall, but I want you to be aware that he will be 32 years old just after the season starts, so we aren’t looking at some up and coming young kid. He does work the count well, and has some decent gap power, but I really see his 13 dingers as pretty close to his ceiling. He will give you a decent batting average and could have a nice opportunity to drive in some runs in the second half of the Dodgers’ stacked batting order, but I don’t believe that Ellis is a starting fantasy catcher in 2013.
18. Russell Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates
.211 average, 21 homers, 53 RBI, 6 SBs, 50 runs
Martin came into the majors a young catcher who could hit some homers and steal some bases. After three years with the Dodgers it seemed like he completely forgot how to hit the ball. Two years later the Yankees brought him in and completely revitalized himself, well, at least as far as the power was concerned as he hit 39 homers in two years with the Pinstripes. The concern is his batting average has dropped every season since 2007 to the embarrassing .211 level it now sits at. Can he bring that back up? Can he hit home runs away from Yankee Stadium? Clearly by his ranking here you can see that I don’t have much faith in that. I believe that Martin will hit better than .211, but I see his home runs being cut by half if not more, and the rest of his numbers don’t make him fantasy relevant. The Pirates seem to have a good thing going the past couple of years, but I don’t think their magic puts a spell on Martin this season.
19. Welington Castillo, Chicago Cubs
.265 average, 5 homers, 22 RBI, 16 runs (52 games)
Here is an interesting little fella. What can you expect from Castillo this coming season? He came to the majors and did pretty well considering how awful the Cubs are, even though he was still splitting time. He comes into 2013 looking like the clear cut starter, and if you look into his minor league stats, you can see that we have a little bit of intrigue here with Castillo. I’m not saying we are looking at a superstar here, but the kid showed some pop in his long time in the minors, and if he is given the every day job he is definitely someone to keep an eye on in Spring and as the season starts. I wouldn’t consider drafting him unless you are in a two catcher leagues or if you have deep benches, but he is definitely someone that is on my radar (tough as a Cardinals’ fan to watch the Cubs) to start 2013.
20. John Jaso, Oakland Athletics
.276 average, 10 homers, 50 RBI, 5 SBs, 41 runs (108 games)
Jaso is a nice player. Especially for a catcher, the best I can say is nice. He isn’t flashy, he isn’t exciting, but at a position that isn’t designed to be flashy or exciting Jaso is nice. He isn’t a big power hitter, as the ten he hit last year were the same that he hit the previous two seasons combined. He doesn’t hit for an especially high average, but he doesn’t hurt you in that category either. He steals a few bases but not many, and his on base percentage is usually high for others at the position. The concern is the A’s are grooming young, power-hitting, exciting catcher Derrick Norris to be their catcher of the future. And if he wasn’t an absolute disaster as far as defense and batting average was concerned, Jaso wouldn’t be on the field. There’s a chance that by midseason this could happen, or at least more of a platoon. But Oakland hasn’t been a dynamic offense since the years of Canseco and McGwire, so if they have a way to get a slugger into the lineup, you have to believe they will try. Jaso is a nice player and a top-20 catcher, but you have to be concerned with what is behind him or he could be top-15.
21. Kurt Suzuki, Washington Nationals
.235 average, 6 homers, 43 RBI, 2 SBs, 36 runs (118 games)
Suzuki had been a pretty consistent bat over the past three or four years, and then came 2012. The bottom dropped out on him so badly last season, that the Athletics shipped him off to the Nationals in a pretty low radar trade. Suzuki should at least start the season as the Nats main backstop, but you have to keep your eyes on backup Wilson Ramos, who actually does have the tools to be a successful catcher in the major leagues. Unfortunately for Ramos, injuries and that whole being kidnapped thing has kind of kept him in the background for now. However, if he comes to spring and does well, Suzuki could be on a short list. If you end up with Suzuki, please be aware of the dangers and have a Plan B in place.
22. John Buck, New York Mets
.192 average, 12 homers, 41 RBI, 29 runs (106 games)
Outside of his one season for the Blue Jays, Buck has been the same type of player for most of his career. Decent power for a catcher, but the batting average of a 90 year old woman…..or what I would imagine a 90 year old woman would hit if she were in the majors. Look, here’s the scoop on Buck. Unless he starts out hitting home runs like it’s the steroid era, Travis D’Arnaud is going to take over for him pretty quickly. He’s only on here for the small chance he gets off to a fast start and hits a crap load of home runs and maybe could have the type of season that Jarrod Saltalamacchia did in 2012. I wouldn’t bet more than the change in your pocket on him though.
23. Chris Iannetta, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
.240 average, 9 homers, 26 RBI, 1 SBs, 27 runs (79 games)
I believed in Iannetta over and over and over and over in Colorado because I thought here’s a young, power-hitting catcher in the best hitters park (at the time) in baseball. And damn it, outside of one season where he hit 18 homers and drove in 65 runs, I never got much for all of my belief. He did fairly well last year in a season that was shortened by wrist surgery, and the Angels gave him a three year deal. He will be hitting in a great lineup and maybe, JUS T MAYBE, he will be the goods this season. I am a long way from trusting him as my starting catcher to open 2013, but he’s at least on my moderate to cool list.
24. Tyler Flowers, Chicago White Sox
.213 average, 7 homers, 13 RBI, 2 SBs, 19 runs (52 games)
With AJ Pierzynski gone, look for Flowers to be the starter at catcher to start the year for the White Sox. He was a pretty good power hitter during his time in the minors, but he is also 27 and is finally getting his first shot at the majors. Of course, Pierzynski was kind of a mainstay for the franchise so that explains why he was blocked, but in his short times in the majors he hasn’t exactly excelled. There are a certain number of fantasy players that love the unknown guy which is what Flowers is, but I believe there to be two or three guys in that category in front of him at catcher.
25. Francisco Cervelli, New York Yankees
.266 average, 4 homers, 22 RBI, 4 SBs, 17 runs (43 games in 2011)
Russell Martin is in Pittsburgh, Jorge Posada has retired, and Jesus Montero is in Seattle. I guess that just leaves Cervelli behind the plate to start in 2013. He has no power, very little speed, and offers you very little from a fantasy perspective. The Yankees do have a couple of catching prospects in the minors, but I don’t expect them to be ready in 2013, or not early in the year at all. You are really scraping the bottom of the barrel if you are using Cervelli and chances are your season isn’t going very well at all if you are.
26. Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies
.325 average, 16 homers, 68 RBI, 56 runs (114 games)
I know his numbers look impressive from last season, but this has to be a fluke and I think he is going to regress fairly significantly in 2013. His batting average has been all over the map throughout his career, but the power of Ruiz had always been in the single digits. I don’t know if it was because Philadelphia was so bad last year that he saw more fastballs, or what it was, but I am a long way from envisioning Ruiz having this type of impact again. Let someone else live off of his numbers from last year, I really don’t see him as a fantasy catcher in 2013.
******Wild Card of the Year*******
Travis D’Arnaud, New York Mets
.333 average, 16 HRs, 52 RBI, 1 SB, 45 runs (67 games at AAA Las Vegas)
D’Arnaud was the cornerstone of the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto, and you have to believe that the Mets want to show the fruits of this trade to a fan base that was in love with the departed knuckleballer. D’Arnaud really has nothing left to prove in the minors and has shown that he could hit for power at all levels. His batting average has been volatile so he could struggle with hitting consistently at the major league level right off the bat, but I believe he will be starting for the Mets by June, if not on Opening Day. There are a decent number of catchers you can trust this year, but if you have a spot open late in drafts, I would love to stash this guy on my bench and see what he is capable of. I’m just not willing to bet my starting catching spot on it.