Fantasy Baseball 2012: AL-Only & NL-Only Catcher Rankings

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 02: Catcher Brian McCann #16 of the Atlanta Braves makes contact during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field on September 2, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

Ray, Jason, and I are in the process of releasing our league-specific ranks. Make sure to check out the first base ranks if you missed them. We've also got mixed-league catcher ranks, complete with commentary on each player listed, and prospect catcher ranks for 2012, so make sure you check those out. I've included some discussion on each league after the rankings. Feel free to leave me your questions and comments and I will do my best to respond to them.

AL-Only Catchers

1. Carlos Santana, CLE

2. Victor Martinez, DET

3. Matt Wieters, BAL

4. Mike Napoli, TEX

5. Alex Avila, DET

The rest of the ranks, plus some explanations after the jump.

6. Joe Mauer, MIN

7. Jesus Montero, NYY

8. J.P. Arencibia, TOR

9. Russell Martin, NYY

10. Salvador Perez, KC

11. Kurt Suzuki, OAK

12. Ryan Doumit, MIN

13. Chris Iannetta, LAA

14. Miguel Olivo, SEA

15. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS

16. Yorvit Torrealba, TEX

17. Ryan Lavarnway, BOS

18. A.J. Pierzynski, CWS

19. John Jaso, SEA

20. Tyler Flowers, CWS

One of the main talking points in the comments section of my mixed-league catcher ranks was my relatively low placement of Mike Napoli. I've come around on him some, but I still worry about a negative regression to his batting average, among other things. I've kept his rank the same here for consistency's sake. Truly, you could put Martinez, Wieters, and Napoli in any order you like and I wouldn't argue with you too hard. A definite drop in quality happens on this list right around Russell Martin; in an AL-only league, I want to grab one of the first 8 or 9 guys as my starter. Failing that, I don't want to get anywhere near any of the guys listed behind Ryan Doumit, who should benefit from a better lineup and the occasional chance to DH, but will be hurt by his home field. If you're looking for a value pick on the back end, I suppose you could do worse than Ryan Lavarnway, who is currently blocked by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ortiz, but could see some time if Salty rediscovers the yips and/or Big Papi shows signs of wear and tear.

NL-Only Catchers

1. Brian McCann, ATL

2. Buster Posey, SF

3. Miguel Montero, ARI

4. Yadier Molina, STL

5. Wilson Ramos, WAS

6. Nick Hundley, SD

7. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL

8. Geovany Soto, CHC

9. Devin Mesoraco, CIN

10. John Buck, MIA

11. Rod Barajas, PIT

12. Carlos Ruiz, PHI

13. Ramon Hernandez, COL

14. Ryan Hanigan, CIN

15. Josh Thole, NYM

16. Wilin Rosario, COL

17. A.J. Ellis, LAD

18. Jason Castro, HOU

19. Jesus Flores, WAS

20. Brett Hayes, MIA

The pool of elite talent is much shallower on the Senior Circuit, but the middle part of this list gives me more confidence. I want to rank Devin Mesoraco higher, since Ramon Hernandez left for Colorado (thankfully, he retained some value by moving to another hitter's park) and Yasmani Grandal was shipped to San Diego, but until the veteran-happy Dusty Baker comes to my house and tells me over coffee that Ryan Hanigan won't stand in his way, I'm keeping him at 9.

So if you're in a 14-team league or less that starts 1 catcher (do people actually do league-specific 2 catcher leagues?), you should be okay. However, the whole thing dives off a cliff after Wilin Rosario, who is that little twig that you desperately grab onto as you go hurtling over the edge. That twig will either be a surprisingly stout source of salvation (not very likely) or it will easily and expectedly come uprooted, leaving you with nothing left to cling to (that's more like it). If I can stretch an obvious metaphor even further, relying on anybody after that at backstop will likely result in something resembling this:

Theblogfromthecore20080921-lg_medium

via weblog.theviewfromthecore.com

Listen, if you're an NL-only veteran, you know that catcher is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad position. There are 16 teams in the National League and not that many catchers that I want anywhere near my fantasy squad. I'd like to recommend overpaying a little for one of the top-tier guys, but even McCann and Posey come with their own question marks. If you can't grab one of them, you probably want to keep your head down and try not to let the impending drop-off intimidate you into making a rash decision. On the other hand, you don't want to wait too long...

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