Fake Teams Staff Post: Who's My Catcher?

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Each of your favorite FT writers let you in on who the catcher they will be targeting at their current values.

Each week, when we cover a position here at Fake Teams, in addition to all of the content you've been seeing, we're going to be doing two staff posts where each of the writers will contribute a brief comment on a player they will personally be targeting in drafts and a player they will be avoiding. Because we're generally an optimistic group here, we're going to start with a player each of us thinks is a good value. Come back tomorrow to find out who the guys we're avoiding are.

So without any further ado, I present the Fake Teams staff and their favorite targets for 2013:

"Jonathan Lucroy wasn't much of a known quantity outside of deep leagues entering 2012, but he certainly raised his profile despite an injury shortened season. Lucroy put together a slash line of .320/.368/.513 in 316 at-bats, elite numbers for a catcher if I ever saw them. He also added 12 home runs matching the career high he posted in 2011, but in about 115 fewer at-bats. Some could point to Lucroy's massively decreased K% (21.2% in '11, 12.7% in '12) but he never posted a rate lower than 16.9%, minors included, outside of 2011. This leads me to believe 2011 was the aberration and not 2012. Add in that Lucroy is entering his age-27 season, and while I think there's a chance for some regression, there's enough going for him that he should remain similarly valuable. If his wife doesn't drop a suitcase on his hand (or any other part of his body), I think Lucroy finishes 2013 as a top-10 catcher easy, if not top-7." --Craig Goldstein

"After being the first catcher taken off the boards in ESPN leagues, and the second in Yahoo! leagues in 2012, Mike Napoli is sure to fall down lists after a .227 season with 24 home runs and just 56 RBI. Napoli was ranked 10th by the Fake Teams writing staff, and that's tremendous value for a catcher with 20-plus home runs in five consecutive seasons. Even if he leaves Texas, it's not going to sap his home run total much. He's going to get his 20, and if you can land him as the 10th catcher off the boards, he's going to pay huge dividends. His average should creep closer to his .259-career mark, and his first base flexibility makes him a lock for 400-plus at bats." --Alex Kantecki

"You would think that after a season of hitting .275 with 18 HR and 75 RBI from the catcher position, Ryan Doumit would finally start to get the love he should have gotten (and that I was giving him) in the 2012 pre-season. I mentioned it in my State of the Catcher piece, but it bears repeating: if you can get a catcher who spends most of his time away from the position, it is worth your while. Catchers in Name Only (CNO's) are extremely valuable for their extra playing time and lower injury risk. And while the top CNO's on draft boards will be Victor Martinez and Jesus Montero, Doumit should be right behind them. I personally have Doumit ranked as the 10th catcher off the board, in front of guys like Napoli and Ruiz because I think he has the better chance to be an all-around offensive contributor and to stay on the field for 500+ at bats. Doumit was the #10 catcher on the ESPN Player Rater in 2012 and I see no reason why he can't do it again." --Bret Sayre

"Sky-high expectations can be a killer. Jesus Montero was projected by many fantheads (yourself included) to be a finalist for the AL Rookie of the Year and a breakout young star at the catcher position. That will happen when you hit .326/.406/.590 in a cup of coffee as a rookie. Unfortunately, Montero didn't hit like the second coming of Roberto Clemente and many are down on him now. I understand why many fantasy owners are bearish on Montero at this point, but you have to put his year in perspective. For a 22-year-old catcher playing in his first full season, and playing in the pitching-rich AL West and hitting in one of the toughest ballparks on hitters, a 95 OPS+ just isn't bad. There's improvement to be had, but he's still super-young and he improved in the season's second half. In 2013, I think we can expect to see more of the hitting savant that we saw in the minors. The fact that the Mariners are moving the fences in at Safeco can only help." --Paul Rice

"I have been high on Matt Wieters for several years now, as he has the power potential to put up a 30 home run season in the very near future. Wieters hit .249/.325/.435 with 23 HRs, 67 runs and 83 RBI in 2012, displaying solid home run and RBI totals despite a disappointing triple slash line. His monthly splits show that he had three really good months, where his SLG ranged from .462 to .574; and three bad months, where his SLG fluctuated from .301 to .432. If he can show less fluctuation in his SLG in 2013, along with a bit more contact when he swings the bat, Wieters could easily top my projection of 25 HRs and 80 RBI in 2013." --Ray Guilfoyle

"Raise your hand if you saw the production in 2012 coming from Phillies catcher, Carlos Ruiz. That's not many. For the record, neither did I. I waited on catcher in a two-catcher, fifteen team league, and one of my fellow league-mates, without even asking me, drafted him right before I was going to take him. (I have other fish stories, if you're interested) Even in an injury shortened season, Chooch hit 16 HR, drove in 68, and scored 56. Next season, with Howard and Utley healthy, and John Mayberry back, I expect those numbers to improve. Batting average? Not so much. His batting eye (walks/strikeouts) went from four straight years of 1.00+ to .58. I think that .325 he posted in 2012 will be more like .284 in 2013, but with the counting stats that bat should produce, I will be targeting Ruiz early and often in 2013." --Brad Dengler

"Looking at our consensus rankings, I imagine that J.P. Arencibia will likely be targeted on many of my teams. His low ranking is in part due to the fact that there is another catcher right on his heels in Toronto, but he remains a very nice power source later on in drafts. Realistically, he's going to be available late, freeing you up to pick better players at other positions early. Right now, his playing time looks like it will be cut into by the arrival of Travis d'Arnaud, but there seems to be consistent rumors right now that one of the two catchers will be traded by the start of the season. If this occurs, Arencibia's value should definitely rise, as he is one of only 8 or 9 catchers with 20+ home run potential, even if it comes at the cost of batting average." --Jason Hunt

"I was going to write about Jesus Montero. But that guy gets enough publicity as is. Instead I will focus my attention on fellow AL West backstop Derek Norris and it might be wise for you to do the same on draft day 2013. Norris reminds me of a poor man's Mike Napoli because he possesses a lot of power at the dish and an excellent on-base percentage, despite racking up his fair share of strikeouts. Put it this way--I could easily see Norris finishing 2013 with a similar stat line to Napoli's 2012. Not great, but for the price, an excellent return on investment. He fits perfectly into Oakland's all or nothing approach at the plate and I expect 2013 to be a whole lot more all than nothing. (See what I did there?) Norris is a very strong candidate to rack up 420+ plate appearances, he has the power to hit 20+ home runs, and he will even steal a fair amount of bases (read 10+), something no other catcher can boast besides Yadier Molina. Don't expect Norris to help out in the batting average department, but in standard 5x5 leagues you can count on him to produce in the other four categories and do it for pennies on the dollar. So the question remains: Why burn a draft pick on an aging vet with high miles or a guy like J.P. Arencibia who has the same basic skill set but less of a guarantee of a starting gig? The choice is yours but I recommend not letting this draft day bargain pass you by in 2013." --Brian French

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