Here is an early look at the catcher rankings for 2011 fantasy drafts. We saw a couple rookie catchers called up in 2010 who will probably be in the Top 3 catchers by the end of the 2011 season. Giants catcher Buster Posey and Indians catcher Carlos Santana are heading into their first full season in the big leagues next year, and both could outperform their draft position.
Here is my early look at the 2011 catcher rankings:
1. Buster Posey, SFG-If he can hit .300, hit 20+ HRs and drive in 85, he will be the #1 fantasy catcher in 2011. I know this is an aggressive rating, but the young catcher hit .305-.357-.505 with 18 HRs and 67 RBIs in 406 ABs in 2010. Bill James projects him to go 21-83-.308 in 2011. Does Mauer even sniff 20 bombs?
2. Joe Mauer, MIN-will he ever hit 28 HRs again? Did he have a contract push in 2009? Mauer provides fantasy owners with excellent BA and RBIs, but he has middle infielder power. I meanJames Loney hit more HRs than Mauer in 2010. Can he put up a 15-90-.320 season in 2011?
3. Victor Martinez, DET-VMart signed a 4 year, $50 million deal with the Tigers on Tuesday. VMart hit .302-.351-.493 with 20 HRs and 79 RBIs in 2010. He has hit 20+ HRs in 5 of his last 6 seasons, driven in 100+ runs three times in his career, and is a career .300 hitter.
4. Brian McCann, ATL-McCann is as consistent as they come, and could be the top fantasy catcher in 2011. Bill James project 24-94-.280 in 2011 and I could see him hitting that projection in the improved Braves lineup.
5. Carlos Santana, CLE-it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from his knee injury in 2011. The guy can flat out hit, has a solid plate discipline, and can hit for power. He is another who could pass the Mauers, McCanns and Martinez's in 2012.
6. Miguel Montero, ARI-Montero was hurt for a good part of 2010, but stlll hit .266-.336-.432 with 9 HRs and 43 RBIs in 325+ at bats. Can he go 20-80 in 2011? I think he can as long as Arizona doesn't change the dimensions of the BOB.
7. Geovany Soto, CHC-Soto had an injury filled season in 2010, but still hit .280-.393-.497 with 17 HRs and 53 RBIs. He should play everyday in 2011, and could approach 20 HRs and 75 RBIs, which is right around where Bill James projects for him.
8. Kurt Suzuki, OAK-Suzuki put together another solid season in 2010, after going 15-88-.274 in 2009. Suzuki hit just .242-.303-.366, but hit 13 HRs and drove in 71 runs, which was good for 4th amongst catchers in 2010.
9. Mike Napoli, LAA-Napoli strikes out alot-more than 30% of his at bats-but has lots of power as well. He hit 26 HRs in 2010, the third straight year with 20+ HRs. If you need some power out of your catcher spot, Napoli is a good late round pick.
10. Jorge Posada, NYY-he still qualifies at catcher in 2011, and is slated to be the Yankees DH at the start of the 2011 season. He isn't the same hitter he was a few years back, but provides solid power and could be ready to make one last contract year push.
11. Miguel Olivo, COL-Olivo was signed to backup Chris Iannetta last year, but found himself starting by May. Olivo responded by hitting .269-.315-.449 with 14 HRs and 58 RBIs in 394 ABs. He has averaged 16 HRs over the last 5 years.
12. Matt Weiters, BAL-is 2011 the year where we finally see the real breakout season from Weiters? He hit .249-.319-.377 with 11 HRs and 55 RBIs in 2010.
After the top 12 or so catchers, it comes down to a flip of the coin for the most part. I will provide a deeper catcher ranking as we approach spring training.