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Keeper Rankings part I-Catchers

I notice that a lot of people come here for keeper advice, so I'm going to take a crack at doing some keeper league rankings by position.  I am assuming that this is a 12 team 5x5  league with 10 keeper spots, why?  Because 12 teams 5x5 is what I generally consider standard and 10 keepers is what I do in my league.  If your league is bigger then younger players might need to move up (and down if its smaller) and if you only have say 5 keepers then age is less of a factor, and older players should move up.  Jump with me.

(Note: I forgot that I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow and wont be back until monday so I probably wont be able to start the 1B rankings until then)

1) Victor Martinez.  V-Mart has set the standard for Catchers for a long time and while he will be turning 33 later this season the fact that he plays most of the time at DH means that he not only plays in more games, but will be getting at bats without the wear and tear of actually playing catcher.  This ranking is assuming that he will continue to get enough games behind the plate to retain that little C next to his name.

2) Brian McCann. Taking his career lows for each stat (not including the half season he played in his rookie season) we wind up with 51 runs, 18 HRs, 77 RBIs with a .269/.320/.452 triple slash.  Not eye popping numbers at most positions but at Catcher that is fantastic production.  And thats a compilation of his worst seasons.  So far this season he has been far and away the best catcher with 14 bombs and a .316/.389/.520 triple slash.  He is only 27 and is more of a 1B choice to V-Mart's 1A for me.  Actually writing this is making my almost convince myself to switch the two but for now I'll keep McCann at two because he actually will be playing behind the plate every day.

3) Carlos Santana.  This was a tough call, but I decided to go with Santana.  Before the seaosn he was being touted as the next big thing at catcher and while he started out slowly he has 7 HRs in the last month which is quite promising.  His .245 BABIP should get turned around at some point and his 16.2% BB rate is fantastic.  At just 25 he should be a mainstay for a very long time at the position.

4) Buster Posey.  Posey is a year younger than Santana and had an absolutely unbelievable 2010, but breaking his leg this year really hurt him.  OK, obviously it hurt him, but I mean it hurt his stock.  He's still a 24 year old with some great years ahead of him, and when all is said and done, he could wind up with the best career of anyone on this list, but for now I'm going to be conservative with the young backstop.

5) Joe Mauer.  How far the mighty have tumbled.  In the spring of last year Mauer was a consensus top 15 talent in all of baseball, but after a somewhat disappointing year last year (well as much as a season where you hit .327 can be a disappointment) he has dealt with injuries this year, and through 25 games played this year still has not gone deep once and has a .236 batting average. with a slugging 15 points (.281 V .296) lower than his OBP.  With a .271 BABIP it seems as if more is wrong than just being unlucky.  He has been a top teir catcher for so long that I can't justify putting him lower than 5th, but give it another month and he could slide further.

6) Alex Avila.  Despite being a top 3 catcher so far and only 24 years old, Avila comes in at 6 on this list.  His production can't really be called into question, but I don't think he will continue at this pace.  In 300 MLB at bats last season he had just a .666 OPS (Oh shit.  666?) and while obviously he has improved significantly from last year I think he will regress a bit and will not match the production of the two other young catchers above on this list.  Avila will at the very least be servicable for a good amount of time, but does not have the star potential that his numbers this season seem to imply.

7) Miguel Montero.  This past offseason in my keeper league I missed Soto in round 1 (after everyone kept their 10 players) by one pick, and in the 4th I missed Napoli by 2 picks.  I was pissed when I had to settle for Montero in round 16.  Needless to say, I've been wrong before and will probably be wrong again.  Possibly within a month this list will look somewhat different, but I have rectified the mistake of underestimating Miguel Montero.  Unless he goes on a tear.  Then I have only partially rectified it.  Anyway, Montero responded to being passed over for the all-star game by hitting another home run, giving him 10 on the season.  He has shown the ability to produce before and the not quite 27 year old should have solid production for the next few seasons.

8) Jesus Montero.  Montero is the biggest high risk-high reward player on this list.  After struggling to start last season, he turned it up and mashed over the final few months, re-establishing himself as a top prospect and possibly even improving his stock.  So far this season has seen him start slowly for the second consecutive year.  His batting average has been high at .289 but his power hasn't been as great with only 7 HRs and a ,418 Slugging percentage.  Montero is blocked at catcher right now, but could be called up soon as a DH or could be traded.  At just 21 years old he has a lot of room to grow BUT he has yet to put together a full season of high performance at a high minor league level and more troubling for the purpose of this post, may lose catcher eligability as soon as next season if he moves to DH.

9) J.P. Arencibia.  The good: 12 HRs.  The bad: 28.8% strikeout rate.  The ugly: .215 batting average.  Arencibia is 25 this year and has not only demonstrated his pop in the high minors but is now showing it in the big leagues, on pace for 20+ HRs this season.  The killer stat here is batting average and while he has an extremely low BABIP the more troubling thing is the strikeouts.  He's always been a free swinger so that may be part of the package that comes with the power, but it is a tough pill to swallow.  Then again, a catcher that will significantly contribute in even one category is helpful and while on most keeper leagues he'll be available in the draft he is someone to keep an eye on for the rest of the year as a target to fill your catcher spot next season.

10) Matt Wieters. I debated putting Soto or Napoli here, Soto has been hot as of late and Napoli has contributed where expected, although not to the extent that I expected, but ultimately Wieters gets the final spot with his combination of youth and more rounded contributions.  Last season he was one of the earlier catchers taken, and while he had a rough 2010, he has quietly bounced back this season.  Another 25 year old catcher he was more highly touted than Arencibia albeit with less minor league experience/success.  I see Wieters settling in to about what he has done so far this season, 15 HR per season with 60-70 RBIs and Runs scored and a .270 average, a low-mid .300's OBP, and a mid .400's slugging percentage.  He has the potential to outproduce that and remind us what everyone saw in him to start his career, but he would need to take a few steps forward to get there.

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