Fantasy Baseball Player Analysis - Catchers

by Nicholas Minnix on April 2, 2009 @ 01:00:01 PDT

 


Editor's Note: Player analysis profiles appear in the positions at which the players are projected. Profiles of players who may be eligible at other positions in your league include fantasy baseball advice related to a potential increase in value as a result. A player must have started at least five games or have played at least 10 games to be eligible at another position. Criteria for fantasy baseball leagues vary, so check your league rules.

Fantasy Baseball Player Analysis: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | DH | SP | RP

1) Brian McCann | Atlanta Braves | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 230 | DOB: 2/20/84 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
501
63
151
22
85
3
.302

Pros: The left-handed hitting backstop is about the safest source of power at the position. On top of it, he hits for average - or, at least, he won't hurt you. His solid contact rate, plate discipline and consistent fly-ball rate suggest these things won't change. For a catcher, he rarely rests.

Cons: The Braves have serious question marks on offense, especially now that first baseman Mark Teixeira (New York Yankees) is gone.

Fantasy tip: McCann is simply the best choice as your No. 1 fantasy catcher. However, that often requires sacrifice because of positional scarcity. If you can get him at value (outside the first four rounds), it's not a bad move.

2) Russell Martin | Los Angeles Dodgers | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 210 | DOB: 2/15/83 | Also eligible at: 3B

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
529
83
150
13
70
16
.285

Pros: This Canadian provides a rare blend of power and speed at backstop; he should drop about 15 bombs and swipe 15-20 bags. He's young, with no signs that his solid average is a fluke.

Cons: Although he's 26, Martin appears to have approached his ceiling quickly; it's unrealistic to expect much growth. He'll likely bat second, in front of a meat of the order that, without outfielder Manny Ramirez, is fairly green.

Fantasy tip: Who needs growth from a potential 20-20 catcher? In terms of value, Martin is about on par with Brian McCann and Joe Mauer. However, he often goes earliest of the three. The third base eligibility isn't worth much of a boost unless the Dodgers ever move him to the hot corner permanently.

3) Victor Martinez | Cleveland Indians | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 210 | DOB: 12/23/78 | Also eligible at: 1B

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
505
72
145
16
86
0
.286

Pros: V-Mart was the premier option at catcher from 2004 to '07 because he usually delivered three things: average (.300), power (20-plus dingers) and run production (90-plus RBIs). He'll DH and play some first base, which should limit wear and tear.

Cons: He's not the premier option anymore for three reasons: a 2008 power outage, myriad injuries sustained during said season and his age (30). The drop in home run-to-fly ball rate may be a fluke, but it's alarming.

Fantasy tip: It might be too early to say Martinez is over the hill. Be skeptical of a bounce-back, but consider him near the end of the first third of a draft. He could produce as well as the preceding choices.

4) Joe Mauer | Minnesota Twins | Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 230 | DOB: 4/19/83 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
467
79
142
8
69
2
.304

Pros: Mauer is one of the purest hitters in the game, regardless of position. He has a sweet lefty stroke and walks more than he whiffs. When he's not behind the dish, the Twins sometimes use him at designated hitter. A power breakout is coming; see his slowly rising fly-ball rate.

Cons: He's not scheduled to be ready for Opening Day as he's hobbled by pain and inflammation in his lower back. It may not be fair to label him "injury prone" yet, but numerous maladies have delayed his blossoming. Quad issues limited him in 2007, and he runs less each season. Tired of hearing about a power breakout?

Fantasy tip: He used to be a solid value for an elite catcher, but there may be too much risk to take him if he doesn't fall several rounds from his typical high middle-round price. If you want to take the gamble on grabbing him, make sure you have a backup plan.

5) Geovany Soto | Chicago Cubs | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 225 | DOB: 1/20/83 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
484
62
132
20
83
0
.273

Pros: The Cubbies' crouchmaster experienced a big breakthrough in the minors (and in the bigs during his September summoning) in 2007. He didn't disappoint last year (.285-23-86). The power is real. Chicago's helpful lineup and Friendly Confines are bonuses.

Cons: Soto's inexperience. Of course, a couple of years ago, the same could have been said about the other top-hitting catchers in the game today. With an unspectacular contact rate, can he maintain that healthy batting average?

Fantasy tip: I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore, Soto. Next year, he may be in the mix with the top three. This year, take a step back - don't reach if you miss out on said trio. Soto seems as much of a lock, but he still has to prove it.

6) Ryan Doumit | Pittsburgh Pirates | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 210 | DOB: 4/3/81 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
452
68
127
17
69
2
.281

Pros: Doumit finally took his career by the horns. He was healthy for much of 2008 and produced like his minor league numbers said he might. Most of his power comes from the left side, where he'll be more often than not.

Cons: Has he put his injury issues behind him, or was he just fortunate? Doumit still missed about a month between a thumb injury and a concussion. He won't have much support from the Bucs' depleted arsenal. Indicators say doubt his high average a bit.

Fantasy tip: Doumit has the potential to provide excellent value because he often lasts until near the middle of a draft. Unfortunately, he comes with some definite risk. Result: One might be tempted to go after a second backstop a little early.

7) Bengie Molina | San Francisco Giants | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 225 | DOB: 7/20/74 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
515
48
144
17
86
0
.280

Pros: Last season, Molina led San Fran in dingers and RBIs. That may not impress you, but .292-16-95 was the best all-around line of his career. In a down year, he's probably good for about 15 homers and a .275 average. Increasing fly-ball rate implies his mid-30s power spike is real. He's a catcher, and he bats cleanup!

Cons: Molina set career highs in at-bats (530) and games (145), too. Can he repeat that in his age-35 year? His 2008 campaign, though very good, represents the extreme high end of his range. Also, he plays for the Giants.

Fantasy tip: The eldest Molina is a fantastic consolation for those who wait until the middle rounds to grab a No. 1 backstop. He has no upside, though, and he may be slightly overvalued.

8) Chris Iannetta | Colorado Rockies | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 210 | DOB: 4/8/83 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
383
56
98
16
60
0
.256

Pros: Unlike prior catching prospects for the Rocks, this one is good. Last year Iannetta displayed his home run prowess (18 in 333 at-bats); imagine what happens with another 150 plate appearances. Who doesn't love Coors Field?

Cons: Even mile-high conditions can't sustain his 18.2 percentage of fly balls that left the yard. His plate discipline and contact rate may continue to improve, but he's not yet likely to rap out hits the way he did in the minors.

Fantasy tip: Iannetta has to demonstrate that he can repeat, but he could provide nearly Geovany Soto-like numbers at roughly half of the cost. He's a risky though exciting choice as a midrange No. 1 fantasy catcher.

9) Jorge Posada | New York Yankees | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 215 | DOB: 8/17/71 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
393
56
104
15
61
1
.266

Pros: Posada (shoulder) posted a career-year line (.338-20-90) in his age-36 season. Before last year, he had essentially been a 20-homer, 80-RBI catcher for eight seasons. He's expected to be ready for full duty by Opening Day.

Cons: A bum shoulder robbed Posada of his 2008 campaign. He finally resorted to surgery, in late July. It seems highly unlikely that Posada will fully recover his skills given his age. The shoulder should be ready in time, but it may not be 100 percent, which is likely to rob him of some power.

Fantasy tip: Posada typically lasts until near the end of the middle third of a mixed draft. At that stage, there's little risk involved. However, accept that he may not perform any better than those drafted behind him.

10) Kenji Johjima | Seattle Mariners | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 205 | DOB: 6/8/76 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
438
46
124
11
57
2
.282

Pros: The M's sent catcher Jeff Clement down to the minors, paving the way for a fulltime role for Johjima. As long the Japanese import hits, he'll be fine. His abnormally low average on balls in play says yes he can, considering his positive trend in line-drive percentage, batting eye and contact rate.

Cons: Conversely, his flyball rate has slowly decreased since his move to the States. Without a dramatic power spike resulting from a change in approach, a return to 15 homers is doubtful.

Fantasy tip: Johjima is an excellent bounce-back candidate in terms of batting average and Clement's demotion solidifies that stance. At the stage you can get him, he's worth the gamble.

11) Mike Napoli | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 215 | DOB: 10/31/81 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
310
53
73
18
48
6
.235

Pros: You might not find more power potential at catcher - 15.52 at-bats per homer in his career, 11.35 in 2008. Last year, he put together a solid average (.273), too. The Angels have considered using Napoli at designated hitter.

Cons: The right-hander has never registered more than 268 at-bats in a season. Jeff Mathis, more accomplished with the equipment on and a better signal caller, steals some. Don't look for that solid average; Napster has a mediocre contact rate and posted a higher-than-usual batting average on balls in play.

Fantasy tip: At-bats at DH increase his value, but fantasy owners have already overestimated him because of last season. Ideally he's a No. 2, but his upside is unnerving: How many dingers could he compile in 400 at-bats?

12) A.J. Pierzynski | Chicago White Sox | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 240 | DOB: 12/30/76 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
504
55
134
13
55
1
.266

Pros: Double-digit home run power is a lock with Pierzynski, especially because he digs in at U.S. Cellular Field. He'll sometimes go on an extended hot streak and provide above-average production from this slot.

Cons: Although he has hit .281 or better in two of the past three seasons, Pierzynski's batting-eye indicators have declined a tad. He appears to have already experienced his power spike. In the last four years, his percentage of fly balls that became homers has gone down, even as his fly-ball rate increased.

Fantasy tip: For those in mixed two-catcher leagues who wait for a No. 1, Pierzynski is not a bad option. There is no upside here, although you shouldn't feel bad about settling for him in the final third of your draft.

13) Ramon Hernandez | Cincinnati Reds | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 235 | DOB: 5/20/76 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
458
46
118
15
60
1
.258

Pros: The Baltimore Orioles did this backstop with moderate power a favor; Camden Yards favors hitters, sure, but Great American Ball Park is one of the best homer havens in the bigs. Hernandez has also maintained a steady contact rate in recent seasons.

Cons: The Queen City's digs may not be enough to stave off Hernandez's increasing ground ball-to-fly ball ratio. He has never been an extreme fly-ball hitter; still, although he hit 15 homers last year, the trend deserves attention. His average is also declining.

Fantasy tip: A low batting average on balls in play might be to blame, but it's trending, also. Don't expect the move to make a huge difference, but he should provide at least 15 ding dongs. He simply offers little upside as a midlevel No. 2.

14) Matt Wieters | Baltimore Orioles | Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 230 | DOB: 5/21/86 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
312
49
88
10
41
1
.284

Pros: This kid is considered the best prospect in the game. He's a studly first baseman-type - tons of power and a high average, backed by outstanding plate discipline - yet he dons the tools of the ignorant. The switch-hitter is adept from both sides of the plate.

Cons: Wieters has not played above Double-A ball (and there for only 208 at-bats). Top-rated prospects often disappoint because praise of talent mutes deficiencies. It's tougher for a catcher, who has abundant defensive responsibilities. Gregg Zaun will begin the season as the O's backstop while Wieters gets a taste of Triple-A.

Fantasy tip: Talent: undeniable. Playing time: uncertain. Wieters is the ideal No. 2 catcher with upside, but there is risk, and you may have to overpay.

14) Kelly Shoppach | Cleveland Indians | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 220 | DOB: 4/29/80 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
381
54
94
15
53
0
.248

Pros: When anyone blasts one into the stands every 16.8 at-bats, fantasy owners take notice. When it's a catcher, they drool. Shoppach has earned himself at least moderate PT in 2009.

Cons: The power is thrilling, but terrible plate discipline and a poor contact rate make one wonder if he'll hit enough non-home runs to keep him in the lineup. Despite a low line-drive rate, his average on balls in play has always been high, so it's possible.

Fantasy tip: You can afford to snap up Shoppach in the final third if you already have a very reliable No. 1 and you're not hurting for batting average. The power potential is worth it if you feel you might be slightly lacking there.

15) Jeff Clement | Seattle Mariners | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 215 | DOB: 8/21/83 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
427
48
105
16
58
0
.247

Pros: This Midwesterner can hit, particularly for power; in the past two seasons at Triple-A Tacoma, he took 34 round-trippers in 628 at-bats. He'll play some DH, so Kenji Johjima isn't expected to interfere here. Minor knee surgery in September is not a concern.

Cons: It's sink-or-swim time; the lugger of lefty lumber has nothing left to prove in the lower levels. Worrisome: Fifty-two hits in 219 big-league at-bats (.237). The batting eye he used in the minors (0.64 walk-to-strikeout rate) needs a monocle in the bigs (0.27). The arrival of Ken Griffey Jr. limits Clement's DH at-bats.

Fantasy tip: Clement is a knowledgeable hitter, so he should figure it out. Don't look for that career .286 minor league mark, but .260 is possible. Not a bad trade-off for potential 20-homer power here near the final third.

16) Yadier Molina | St. Louis Cardinals | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 215 | DOB: 7/13/82 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
428
35
123
7
50
1
.288

Pros: Yadi's batting average has been on the rise in each of the past two seasons. He walked more than he struck out and delivered his highest contact rate yet.

Cons: Even a modest increase in home runs doesn't seem likely for such a ground-ball hitter. He often hits in the cages with first baseman Albert Pujols, but he doesn't even have the upside of his brother, Bengie.

Fantasy tip: If your league rewards defense behind the dish, he's your guy. If not, he's still acceptable as a No. 2. Molina has probably approached his ceiling in terms of average, so if you take him, you're not in search of upside.

17) Dioner Navarro | Tampa Bay Rays | Ht: 5-9 | Wt: 205 | DOB: 2/9/84 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
406
42
114
7
48
1
.281

Pros: The switch-hitter has improved his approach and contact rate in each of the past two seasons. Result: a career-high .295 average in 120 games last year. Navarro has been fairly steady in the line-drive department (21.6 percent) in his career.

Cons: The Rays aren't likely to give him more than about 75 percent of the playing time behind the plate. As a result, he may have little impact in any category, even average.

Fantasy tip: View Navarro as the first of the fantasy backstops who merely won't hurt you. A jump in fly-ball rate might result in a few more homers, but don't look for much improvement this year. He's adequate, but adequate is reserved for solid No. 2 catchers with little upside.

18) Ivan Rodriguez | Houston Astros | Ht: 5-9 | Wt: 190 | DOB: 11/30/71 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
401
42
114
8
36
3
.285

Pros: Pudge, a career .301 hitter, batted .295 in 302 at-bats last season with the Detroit Tigers. The veteran's contact rate remains solid. Defensive skills and ability to handle a staff should net him a platoon job, at minimum. The rest of Houston's catchers are uninspiring, meaning Pudge has an opportunity to seize an immense amount of playing time.

Cons: His batting-eye indicators have taken a major tumble in the past few seasons; the reverse is true of his ground ball-to-fly ball ratio; a return to double-digit homers is extremely unlikely. Is it time to ride off into the sunset? He hit .219 in 96 at-bats with the New York Yankees.

Fantasy tip: At this stage of his career, Pudge has little to offer fantasy teams. Don't blame a guy for hoping for a swan song at the end of a draft, but if another option with upside is left, take it.

19) Kurt Suzuki | Oakland Athletics | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 197 | DOB: 10/4/83 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
526
55
138
8
48
2
.262

Pros: Suzuki turned in a solid first full campaign, complete with a .279 average. A much improved lineup should provide him with a little boost in the RBI and, more so, runs scored departments. His continually improving plate discipline should maintain his upward trend in average.

Cons: He'll never be mistaken for a home run hitter. The Hawaiian's modest fly-ball rate says so; never mind his middling power stroke. If he's not hitting, he's droppable, because he's providing nothing else.

Fantasy tip: Suzuki is essentially a young Jason Kendall. Meaning: He's a serviceable No. 2 fantasy catcher who could make a noticeable difference in your team's batting average as a low-end No. 1. Hopefully Suzuki doesn't lose what little power he offers seven years into his career.

20) Gerald Laird | Detroit Tigers | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 225 | DOB: 11/13/79 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
419
51
107
9
44
4
.256

Pros: After cutting his teeth with the Texas Rangers, Laird no longer has to contend with three top prospects all gunning for his throne. He joins an impressive lineup and should have an opportunity to exceed 400 at-bats. Mix that with a contact rate of nearly 80 percent for the past four years.

Cons: It's easy to see why the Oakland Athletics may have lost interest in him after a couple of years: low walk rate, high strikeout percentage. He also has little power. Los Tigres look good on paper, but the order has flaws. He has a little trouble staying healthy.

Fantasy tip: Laird can be serviceable as a low-end No. 2, but he's overvalued, likely because of the firmer playing time.

21) John Baker | Florida Marlins | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 210 | DOB: 1/20/8 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
396
52
102
8
50
1
.259

Pros: He has a solid batting eye and makes good contact, so his average should stay high. There isn't much to threaten his starting job in Florida. Baker has enjoyed a solid spring with a .370 average, eight RBIs and seven runs in 46 at-bats.

Cons: Baker benefited from a .375 BABIP last year, which is one reason for the .299 average. Those looking for a few dingers from this position might not find much; he hit a grounder on almost half of his batted balls and never had more than eight homers in a minor league season.

Fantasy tip: Only look to draft Baker in two-catcher or NL-only setups; he doesn't do enough in one-catcher mixed leagues to warrant consideration besides a rental.

22) Chris Snyder | Arizona Diamondbacks | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 245 | DOB: 2/12/81 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
337
40
83
13
55
0
.247

Pros: In 334 at-bats, Snyder ripped 16 homers and drove in 64. It's a good sign based on his two straight years of healthy fly-ball indicators. Last year he walked more often.

Cons: He also struck out more often, and his contact rate dipped. It's likely nothing alarming, but Snyder simply doesn't have the skills to contribute in the batting average column.

Fantasy tip: He's basically a one-trick pony, but his saddle is cinched a little tighter than a couple of the aging thoroughbreds ahead of him in the stable. He's a sneaky choice at the end in mixed two-catcher formats.

23) Jarrod Saltalamacchia | Texas Rangers | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 235 | DOB: 12/21/83 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
343
45
87
8
51
1
.254

Pros: Despite a rough start to his major league career, Salty is only 25 and still holds plenty of fantasy intrigue. In 66 at-bats in the Dominican Winter League, he dropped a .364-9-21 line. He has shown signs of improvement in his batting eye.

Cons: Making contact has never been his strong suit. Nagging injuries have held him back. Taylor Teagarden burst onto the scene at the end of last season, and Max Ramirez is waiting in the wings at Triple-A Frisco.

Fantasy tip: Here's another youngster with serious upside. When you're at the end, why not take a shot on such a possibility instead of settling for the same old same old? In mixed leagues, you're not investing much to find out.

24) Rod Barajas | Toronto Blue Jays | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 245 | DOB: 9/5/75 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
380
50
92
12
48
0
.241

Pros: Barajas has bargain-rate pop for a backstop this far down the totem pole. He has launched double-digit rainbows and driven in 40 runs in four of the last five seasons.

Cons: Why he ranks so low: a .253 clip in those five years. Excluding his injury-laden 2007, Barajas hasn't topped a batting eye ratio of 0.37 or a walk percentage of 6.0. Could prospect J.P. Arencibia knock him out of the picture this year?

Fantasy tip: Yawn - likely a continuation of uninspiring statistics here. Don't forsake taking a bigger payoff pick for him, but you could rent him as draft filler in the final round of deep drafts if absolutely necessary.

25) Jeff Clement | Seattle Mariners | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 215 | DOB: 8/21/83 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
307
35
75
13
52
0
.245

Pros: Clement is considered one of the most promising offensive catchers in baseball. He has lofted 34 homers over the last two seasons at Triple-A Tacoma, including a ridiculous 14 in 173 at-bats there last year. There's a chance that when he comes up, he'll see time at first base and designated hitter as well.

Cons: His offensive and defensive deficiencies this spring prompted his recent demotion to Tacoma. Starting backstop Kenji Johjima should hold that torch for most of the season. The M's "boast" a cluster of designated hitter options that could block Clement when he comes up.

Fantasy tip: AL leagues should be the first to target the lefty power hitter. Deep mixed players shouldn't lose track of him. If/when he earns MLB PT, he's a valuable option in two-catcher setups.

26) Jason Varitek | Boston Red Sox | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 230 | DOB: 4/11/72 | Also eligible at: N/A

AB
R
H
HR
RBI
SB
BA
413
43
99
12
53
1
.240

Pros: 'Tek's rising fly-ball rate is a sign he can still hit 12-15 homers. He has always hit for more power away from Fenway Park. The "cost-conscious" Boston Red Sox brought him back after a contract standoff because he gets the most from a pitching staff.

Cons: There's not much else to say. Well, good stuff, anyway. In the past three seasons, he has hit .238. Deteriorating offensive skills take the blame. His plate discipline and contact rate haven't deteriorated much, but his line-drive percentage has immensely.

Fantasy tip: An unexpectedly low batting average on balls in play suggests a slight bounce-back is possible, but that means what, .240? If you waited this long, you're settling for a body.

Fantasy Baseball Player Analysis: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | DH | SP | RP

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.


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