Arencibia living up to hype

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Toronto Blue Jays rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia drew plenty of media and fantasy attention this spring after posting "monster" numbers in the minors at AAA Las Vegas last year and he's done nothing to slow the process down through the first two months of the season.

What they saw in 2010 was a power hitting catcher, who in his second season with the 51s slammed 32 homers, knocked in 85 runs, batted .301 and posted an OPS of 0.986. Those are pretty impressive statistics for any minor leaguer, but particularly good for such a weak-hitting position as catcher. It's no surprise, therefore, that Arencibia became the Blue Jays primary catching option this year.

Of course, there were also a few detractors, who know that power stats are often inflated in the PCL where they play many of their games at altitude.

Arencibia has continued to show off his muscles in Toronto, altitude (112m/367 ft). On Friday night, he crushed his ninth homer of the season, a grand slam, which brought his RBI total to 30 in just 43 games.

With Toronto just over a third of the way through the season, we can extrapolate that the 25-year-old Miami, FL native should put up 26 home runs and 86 RBIs by season's end.

In 2010, there was just one catcher who hit that many home runs (Mike Napoli) and no catcher who knocked in more than Victor Martinez's 79 runs. Which means the rookie with a 2011 preseason ADP of 256 is on pace to surpass every major league catcher's 2010 performance.

And the good news for those fantasy owners who weren't a "believer" in March, is that he's still available in about 40% of all leagues.

So if you've just lost Buster Posey to injury or you have been impatiently waiting for the return of Joe Mauer, here is an excellent way to get production out of your catching position.

As you can see from the chart below, Arencibia is not the only late-round catcher producing top-five statistics, but he is the most likely to be available as a free agent in your fantasy league as the other four players are owned in at least 85% of all leagues.

2011 Top-Five Fantasy Catcher Production
Player, Team AB R HR RBI SB AVE OPS ADP
Russell Martin, NYY 157 23 9 27 6 0.242 0.802 199
Brian McCann, ATL 192 18 6 30 1 0.302 0.834 .50
Alex Avila, DET 149 17 8 31 2 0.275 0.858 345
Victor Martinez, DET 154 22 5 28 0 0.305 0.848 .43
J.P. Arencibia, TOR 161 20 9 30 0 0.255 0.809 256




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.