Sunday, February 19, 2012

(Updated) 2012 Fantasy Baseball Preseason Rankings: Top 25 Catchers

Although he hit only 12 homers last year after back-to-back seasons with 20-plus, Detroit's Victor Martinez had a great season, especially for a catcher-eligible player.

Martinez, who is a lifetime .303 hitter, hit .330-plus for the second time in the past three seasons and drove in 100-plus runs for only the third time in his career.

Unfortunately, Martinez will miss the season after tearing his ACL last month. However, he should be fine for the 2013 season.

Teammate Alex Avila had a breakout season for the Tigers. In addition to hitting with power (19 home runs and 82 runs batted in last year), Avila hit for average (.295). While he may not duplicate that level of production, Avila is definitely worthy of a top 10 pick at the position.

Here are some more notes on catchers:

- Although he played in more games and had more at-bats in the previous two seasons, Texas catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli hit a career-high 30 home runs in 2011. It was the fourth consecutive season that he hit 20-plus home runs. In addition, Napoli had career highs in runs scored (72), hits (118), doubles (25), runs batted in (75) and batting average (.320).

- Last year, Atlanta's Brian McCann tied his career high in home runs (24), but he drove in less than 80 runs and hit .270 or lower for the second straight season. From 2006 to 2009, McCann drove in 90-plus runs three times and hit over .300 twice.

- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina set several career highs last year: average (.305), home runs (14), runs scored (55) and runs batted in (65). After stealing a total of 17 bases in the previous two seasons, Molina stole only four bases and was thrown out five times. Molina has hit at least .293 in three of the past four seasons.

- Of all catcher-eligible players, Cleveland's Carlos Santana was one of three players to finish with 500-plus at-bats: Santana (552), Martinez (540) and Baltimore's Matt Wieters (500). Santana, who played 66 games at first base, ranked second in home runs (27) and fourth in runs batted in (79) among catcher-eligible players.

- Minnesota's Joe Mauer has the potential to deliver huge rewards for fantasy owners. Based on average draft position (ADP) from Mock Draft Central, Mauer is the fifth catcher and 77th player off the board, on average. While he was limited to only 82 games last year and set career lows in average (.287), homers (three) and runs batted in (30), he was ready to go at the start of spring training (unlike last year).

- If you're in a deep a league, a guy I like a lot is Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz. For catchers, he will hit for a high average: .292 over the past two seasons. And he's been even better after the All-Star break: .316 over the past two seasons. Ruiz is currently the 23rd catcher off the board based on Mock Draft Central's ADP data.

- Acquired this offseason in a trade for Michael Pineda, Seattle's Jesus Montero is one of the top prospects in baseball, specifically due to his offensive skills. While the 22-year-old will still need to play enough games to gain eligibility at catcher, he should hit .280-plus and 20-plus homers from the middle of the Mariners' lineup.

- Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia, the team's first-round pick in 2007, won't help you in batting average (.219 last year), but he provides plenty of power (23 homers and 78 runs batted in).

Here are our top 25 catchers for the 2012 season:

1. Carlos Santana, Indians
2. Mike Napoli, Rangers
3. Brian McCann, Braves
4. Buster Posey, Giants
5. Joe Mauer, Twins
6. Matt Wieters, Orioles
7. Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
8. Alex Avila, Tigers
9. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays
10. Yadier Molina, Cardinals
11. Geovany Soto, Cubs
12. Wilson Ramos, Nationals
13. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
14. Russell Martin, Yankees
15. Kurt Suzuki, Athletics
16. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox
17. Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
18. Salvador Perez, Royals
19. Devin Mesoraco, Reds
20. Chris Iannetta, Angels
21. John Buck, Marlins
22. Ryan Doumit, Twins
23. Ramon Hernandez, Rockies
24. Miguel Olivo, Mariners
25. A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox

Other Positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

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