Fantasy Rankings - Catcher

Predicting where a catcher will go is difficult - a lot of managers will reach at catcher because it's usually slim pickings and strategy does come into play at this position more than others because of the limited number of AB's that most catchers get in a season.  I think that, generally, you'll see a few guys go in the early rounds (guys that will play other positions besides catcher) and then a long wait before you start seeing other catchers coming off the board.  Some managers might reach for their sleeper picks but rest assured, the first four catchers on my list won't be around long.  So, without further adieu, here are the 2011 Fantasy Rankings at Catcher.

First four rounds
1. Joe Mauer - he's finished top 10 in MVP voting and won the AL silver slugger in each of the past three seasons.  Power was down in  2010 but still hit .327... clearly the top pick.
2. Victor Martinez - a change in scenery for V-Mart means a steady dose of DH duty, at least at the onset of the season.  Barring injury, that should mean more AB's and the opportunity to put up solid numbers but moving from Fenway to Comerica means fewer Green Monster doubles and more flyball outs.
3. Brian McCann - he hit .269 with 21 HR in a down year and won the NL silver slugger award.  One of the most consistent catchers in baseball; you can count on McCann for solid production.
4. Buster Posey - is there a sophomore slump looming?  I wouldn't bet on it.  I could envision the reigning NL Rookie of the Year ending up on some MVP ballots this year. 

7th Round and beyond
5. Geovany Soto - had a really nice bounceback season after a dismal 2009, earning him a nice raise.  He needs to show some consistency to become one of the elite.
6. Matt Wieters - the highly touted catcher limped through his first full season in the big leagues but there is no doubt that he's going to get every opportunity to succeed.  He turns 25 in May so there is plenty of time and glancing at his minor league numbers gives you a good idea of why everyone believes Wieters will be just fine.
7. Carlos Santana - Santana burst onto the scene in 2010 and was one of the lone bright spots for the Indians until a knee injury ended his season.  He sustained the injury while courageously blocking the plate; if you haven't seen video of the collision, it's worth a look.  Santana has the tools to hit 20-25 HR to go along with a .280-300 batting average.
8. John Buck - the highly coveted free agent all-star catcher was picked up by the Florida Marlins in the offseason; playing in a notoriously pitcher friendly park might sap some of the power potential here but Buck will have a chance to play every day and the Florida lineup is loaded with young talent so Buck could provide decent value.
9. Miguel Montero - Montero delivered a surprising first half; posting a triple slash line of .348/.412/.494 at the all-star break.  He carried a +.300 batting average through August before hitting a brick wall - he finished the season hitting .266 (hit .212 in September).  Not going to deliver huge power but 15 HR and .295 is not out of the realm of possibility.
10. Jorge Posada - the projections are all over the map for Posada, and rightfully so.  His every day catching days are over but the Yankees are still saying that he'll find time as the DH.  There aren't many jobs out there with worse job security than DH for the Yankees (head coach of the Raiders comes to mind).  After hitting .248 last year, Posada will have to do better if he hopes to retain a job this season.
11. Kurt Suzuki - he'll be the every day catcher and he's fairly consistent but the upside is limited so if Suzuki is a guy that you really like, he'll be there in later rounds.
12. Mike Napoli - all he has done is hit 20+ HR in each of the past three season but the question still remains as to whether Napoli can avoid a significant time share with Jeff Mathis.  For that reason, Napoli will fall in many drafts.

Sleeper candidates...
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- Salty is going to play every day and he'll be under the tutelage one of the most professional catchers in baseball history (Jason Varitek).  This could be the year that Salty breaks out. 
Carlos Ruiz - there is no doubt who the man behind the plate will be in Philadelphia and after posting a triple slash line of .302/.400/.396 in 2010, Ruiz has become a legitimate fantasy option for managers looking for some consistency.  The power hasn't manifested itself in gaudy HR numbers but Chooch will hit a lot of doubles and the .400 on base percentage is valuable at a very weak fantasy position.
Chris Iannetta - with Olivo out, Iannetta will have the every day job.  Have you heard this before?  This could be the year that we see the reemergence of Chris Iannetta, version 2008, when he hit 18 HR in 333 AB's.
JP Arencibia -  displayed a lot of power in the minor leagues.  Got his cup of tea with the major league ballclub in late 2010 and hit 2 HR in his big league debut.  The power is there, so are the question marks - his batting average has fluctuated wildly over the course of his young career.  He will have the opportunity to play every day and he's only 25 years old so JP might be worth a look.


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