Catching fire

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Yesterday, news broke that the gold standard for fantasy catchers was hanging up his shin guards for good.

And while none of the backstops who call games on a daily basis in this generation will ever measure up to Ivan Rodriguez -- especially the 1999 MVP version who hit .332 with 35 bombs, 113 RBIs and 25 steals -- I'm here to tell you that the state of fantasy catchers really isn't as bad as we originally thought.

At least not through the first two weeks of the 2012 season.

Heading into Thursday's action, 28 catchers had hit at least one home run this season, and 12 have two or more.

In addition, 29 backstops had knocked in three or more runs, while 20 were carrying an OPS of .800 or better (minimum 15 at-bats).

The standard-bearers have been Yadier Molina, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Wieters and Mike Napoli.

Molina was hitting .317 with three home runs, 10 RBIs, 10 runs, one steal and a 1.050 OPS as the top-ranked catcher in standard Yahoo! leagues.

Meanwhile, Pierzynski and Wieters had each clubbed four homers. Pierzynski was hitting .400 with a 1.234 OPS and Wieters .308 with a 1.054.

Napoli started out ice cold, but in the past three games he hit four homers and knocked in nine runs to raise his OPS from .369 to 1.042.

But these four are not the only catchers who have started off hot. Highly drafted players like Carlos Santana, Brian McCann, Buster Posey, Miguel Montero, Alex Avila, Miguel Montero and Joe Mauer have all contributed in one way or another, with each player being part of the group of 20 with at least an .800 OPS.

And catching success goes deeper than the top draftees.

Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the slugging of Milwaukee duo Jonathan Lucroy and George Kottaras.

The two Brewers had combined to go 14-for-41 (.341) with five round-trippers and 14 RBIs. Each player had an OPS above 1.000.

Lucroy is the starter in Milwaukee, having accumulated 29 at-bats to Kottaras' 12, but in daily leagues one could carry both catchers and have a potential Top 5 option at the position when mashing the two together.

Just call your creation Georgathan Lucttaras.

If you dig a little deeper into the pool of iron-masked warriors, you'll unearth additional gems such as Josh Thole (.355/.926 in 31 at-bats), Ramon Hernandez (two homers, six RBIs in 30 at-bats), Carlos Ruiz (11-for-36 with a homer and three RBIs), A.J. Ellis (one homer, four RBIs, .810 OPS in 30 at- bats) and Kelly Shoppach (6-for-16 with four runs scored, three RBIs and a steal).

All five are owned in 20 percent or less of Yahoo! leagues.

Over in Anaheim, Chris Iannetta has been useful as well, putting up two homers, eight RBIs and a .920 OPS in 30 at-bats. Iannetta's career never took off playing in Coors Field, so don't expect him to suddenly slug 30 bombs, but he could be a decent option playing in a solid Angels lineup.

This isn't likely to be the Year of the Catcher in fantasy baseball, but to date the backstop pool has been relatively deep, so finding production at that position shouldn't be that difficult through April ... unless you're stuck with J.P. Arencibia.

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