Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
We are just five weeks away from Opening Day. Today we will continue our evaluation of talent with a stop at the catching position.
Victor Martinez, Detroit (ADP 43) - I understand all the media hype that surrounds Joe Mauer, but he's simply not the No.1 fantasy catcher. He wasn't last year either. Martinez is a career .300 so you don't lose too much ground to Mauer, but he has much better power. Martinez has hit 20-or-more homers in five of the last seven seasons. Mauer has cracked double digits just twice. Forget the hype and pick the better fantasy player and value -- Martinez.
Joe Mauer, Minnesota (ADP 24) - Mauer will give you a high batting average (lifetime .327 hitter) and around 85 runs and 80 RBI. But don't expect the home run power of 2009 and do expect to overpay for the privilege of owning him. You should also be concerned that Justin Morneau's health will not allow him to protect Mauer in the lineup.
Buster Posey, San Francisco (ADP 37) - In just half a regular season and a post-season run to a World Series title, Posey established himself as a top- five fantasy catcher. A .305 batting average with 18 homers and 67 RBI in 113 games will excite any fantasy owner. Posey should play around 135 games this season which extrapolates to a 20-plus HR, 75-plus RBI season. Coach Bruce Bochy has said he won't play first base, which will eliminate that eligibility, but his value is as a catcher anyway. There are plenty of 20 home run, 75 RBI first basemen, but very few behind the plate.
Brian McCann, Atlanta (ADP 50) - McCann had a "down" 2010 yet still managed to crack 21 homers and knock in 77 runs. With a stronger lineup around him (addition of Dan Uggla, maturation of Jason Heyward, return to health of Martin Prado), McCann should be worth 75 runs, 25 HR, 90 RBI and a .290 batting average which will again put him in the top-five at his position.
Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs (ADP 111) - Sure, you probably got burned by Soto in 2009 after his spectacular rookie campaign in 2008. But check the numbers from last season and you will become a fan again. Before a shoulder injury ended his season in August, Soto posted 17 HR, 53 RBI, a .280 batting average and an OPS of 0.890. The 2008 NL Rookie of the Year is ready to put up surprising numbers and given his low ADP which gets him selected in the ninth round, he should be a bargain in 2011.
Carlos Santana, Cleveland (ADP 76) - Santana's 2010 season was cut short by a season-ending knee injury, but he appears to be completely health heading into the 2011 season. In his 150 at-bats last year he hit .260 with six homers, 22 RBI and an .868 OPS. That level of OPS is reserved for only the best at the catching position and in fact only Mauer, Posey and Soto topped .860 in 2010.
Miguel Montero, Arizona (ADP 139) - Despite missing 57 games due to injury (knee), the Diamondbacks had enough confidence in Montero to send Chris Snyder to Pittsburgh in the offseason. Assuming he stays healthy, Montero figures to be just a step below the guys listed ahead of him, but still a viable option considering you can get him in the 12th round. The 27-year-old has some pop in the bat, hitting 16 homers in his only full season, and given that he'll play half his games in hitter-friendly Chase Field, he could post 20 long balls and an 0.800+ OPS.
Mike Napoli, Texas (ADP 128) - Napoli will start his sixth major league season and his first with a team other than the Angels. He's shown plenty of power, hitting 20-or-more homers in each of the past three seasons and now will play half his games in Arlington where the ball carries very well. The Rangers are deep at catcher, but with Napoli's ability to play first as well (he started 51 games there after Kendry Morales went down), he should get 500 at-bats and that could be worth close to 30 home runs.
John Buck, Florida (ADP 181) - Buck has never played more than 118 games in a season, but odds are good that will change in 2011. He's the starting catcher in Florida where he just signed a three-year deal and backup John Baker is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Buck had career-highs in homers (20),RBI (66) and batting average (.281) last season while playing in Toronto. If he can repeat those numbers, he's a fantasy-worthy starter.
Matt Wieters, Baltimore (ADP 105) - The Joe Mauer comparisons are long gone, but Wieters is just 24-years old and in his third season so there is still plenty of time for improvement. He seemed to tire in mid-season last year, but appears to have worked on his endurance during the offseason. He's certainly capable of 15 HR and 70 RBI, but it's not a guarantee.
Kurt Suzuki, Oakland (ADP 165) - Playing in Oakland, the nation knows very little about Suzuki, but he's a low-end fantasy starter. In 2009 he hit 15 HR, knocked in 88 runs, stole eight bases and batted .274. His statistics dipped a bit last season because he played just 131 games. The A's have added offensive punch, bringing in Josh Willingham, Hideki Matsui and David DeJesus which should help take pressure off of Suzuki and he should return to his 2009 form.
Jorge Posada, New York Yankees (ADP 172) - Posada will retain fantasy value for as long as he remains eligible at the catching option. He'll likely spend most of his time as the Yankees' DH with just a few starts at catcher and first base. Your league's rules regarding position eligibility will determine his worth to your team and your league. Posada's .248 batting average was his worst since 1999, but he still displayed power, hitting 18 homers in 383 at- bats. He's a borderline starter these days and if that's your plan, you better draft a second catcher who can plays for weeks at a time, not just during off days.
J.P. Arencibia, Toronto (ADP 321) - The reason the Blue Jays were willing to let John Buck go to Florida is because of the expectations surrounding Arencibia. Arencibia was named the MVP of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League after hitting .301 with 32 homers and 85 RBI for Las Vegas last year. He could be this year's rookie find at the catching position. He has a huge upside with little risk.
Chris Iannetta, Colorado (ADP 898) - The best news I can give you is that Iannetta should play everyday. While his batting average was ugly last season (.197 in 188 at-bats), he did hit nine homers. Given 450 at-bats, that translates to around 22 home runs in a full season. But the lifetime .234 hitter better keep his average well above the Mendoza Line or the team could go looking for other alternatives.
Ryan Doumit, Pittsburgh (ADP 233) - The Pirates have been trying to move Doumit and his $5 million salary, but haven't found any takers. He's got fantasy value so long as he continues to be eligible at catcher because he can hit you 15 HR and knock in 60 runs. That assumes he doesn't get traded or goes to a team where he can play every day.
Russell Martin, New York Yankees (ADP 190) - Gone are the days when Martin was a catching anomaly who stole 18-20 bases while hitting close to .290. His final years in Los Angeles were disappointing -- averaging around .250 with a total of 17 steals and 12 homers over two seasons. He joins a crowded catching contingent in New York with Jorge Posada, Francisco Cervelli and minor league prospect Jesus Montero.
A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox (ADP 289) - He's not a lovable guy, but he's a lifetime .284 hitter who has hit double-digit homers in seven of the past eight seasons.
Miguel Olivo, Seattle (ADP 311) - Olivo signed a two-year deal to catch in Seattle -- a ballpark which can limit his home run hitting capabilities. He's averaged 16 homers over the past five seasons playing for Florida, Kansas City and Colorado, but he'll be "long-ball challenged" this year.
Yadier Molina, St. Louis (ADP 235) - There is not much to get excited about from a fantasy point of view, except that you know he'll be out there for a majority of the Cardinals' games. He's a lifetime .268 hitter who will knock in around 60 runs over the course of 130 games.
Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia (ADP 202) - Ruiz is a fan and pitcher favorite in Philadelphia, but he's a better player in real life than in the fantasy world. His 2010 was probably as good as it will get, a .302 batting average with eight homers and 53 RBI.