Fantasy Baseball 2013 NL-Only Rankings: Catchers

Can Wilin Rosario match his 2012 power production in 2013? - Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

Ray Guilfoyle ranks the top 20 catchers in NL-only leagues for 2013 fantasy drafts.

We completed our 2013 Consensus Position Rankings last week, finishing off our 2.5 month long rankings project with our Top 40 Relievers. We are moving on to our NL and AL-only position rankings, starting off with the catcher position. In case you missed our consensus catcher rankings, here is Part 1 and Part 2, and Bret Sayre laid out the landscape of the position here. Something you should be aware of, is that there is more and more power coming from the catcher position than ever before. This from Bret's State of the Catcher Position:

The number of 20-HR seasons by catchers has gone up from four in 2010 to five in 2011 to nine in 2012. So as you would expect, total HR by catchers is on the same trend (480, 546, 627). What you might not have expected is that the 627 HR hit by catchers in 2012 was the most in major league history.

The most in MLB history! Think about that. In an era where power is down, strikeouts are up, catchers hit more home runs than ever before. Now, whether you can count on a repeat is a decision you need to make on draft day. There were 11 NL-only catchers who hit 10+ home runs in 2012, four of which hit 20 or more. There were eight catcher who drove in 50 or more runs, and four of which hit .300 or better. Let that sink in. In an era where most catchers don't provide much in batting average or power, there were four NL only catchers who hit .300 or better and hit 12 or more home runs to boot.

That doesn't mean there aren't any questions marks at the position, as catchers are a volatile bunch. There are several questions fantasy owners need to answer for themselves heading into 2013 drafts. Can Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario duplicate his 28 home run performance again in 2013? What can we expect out of Carlos Ruiz after his 25 game suspension is over? More of the double digit home runs and .300+ batting average, or did the amphetamines help him that much? And the big dog at the NL catcher position before Buster Posey's MVP season was Braves catcher Brian McCann. What can we expect out of him after he returns from shoulder surgery?

Let's take a look at the Top 20 NL-Only Catcher Rankings, with my thoughts on some of them below:

Rank

Player

Age

Tm

1

Buster Posey

25

SFG

2

Yadier Molina

29

STL

3

Miguel Montero

28

ARI

4

Wilin Rosario

23

COL

5

Jonathan Lucroy

26

MIL

6

Brian McCann

28

ATL

7

Carlos Ruiz

33

PHI

8

Yasmani Grandal

23

SDP

9

A.J. Ellis

31

LAD

10

Rob Brantly

22

MIA

11

Wilson Ramos

24

WSN

12

Russell Martin

29

NYY

13

Devin Mesoraco

24

CIN

14

Ryan Hanigan

31

CIN

15

Kurt Suzuki

28

OAK

16

John Buck

31

MIA

17

Hector Sanchez

22

SFG

18

Nick Hundley

28

SDP

19

Michael McKenry

27

PIT

20

Wellington Castillo

25

CHC

Here are some of my thoughts on some of the guys included in my Top 20 NL-Only Catcher Rankings for 2013:

The top 3 catchers on this list are as steady as they come: Buster Posey, Yadier Molina and Miguel Montero, each providing above league average batting average, home runs and RBI at the catcher position. Molina tosses in a few stolen bases as well. Molina stole 12 bases last year, a career high, but a conservative projection has him stealing 7-9 bases in 2013.

Posey, the reigning NL MVP, may not hit .336 again, but should provide 20+ home run power, along with 85-95 RBI in 2013. He also has first base eligibility, which adds to his value for fantasy owners.

Montero has been good for 15+ HRs, 65 runs, 85+ RBI and a .280+ batting average in each of the last two seasons, hitting in the friendly confines of Chase Field. I see that continuing in 2013.

A few guys with question marks on their backs coming into 2013 fantasy drafts are Brian McCann, Wilin Rosario and Devin Mesoraco.

McCann is coming off a solid power season where he hit 20 HRs, drove in 67 runs, but saw his batting average dip to .230. He is coming off shoulder surgery, so questions about when he will return, and when he will return to his old self are at the top of fantasy owners minds. Then, you have to consider this, from my player writeup in Part 2 of our Consensus Catcher Rankings:

His five straight seasons of 20 or more home runs will come to an end in 2013, and lost in that streak is that his extra base hits (XBH) have dropped in each of the last four years:

2008: 66 XBH

2009: 57 XBH

2010: 46 XBH

2011: 43 XBH

2012: 34 XBH

Certainly not a good trend, and something fantasy owners should consider when placing a value on McCann come draft day.

Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario hit 28 home runs in under 400 at bats in 2012, so some would think he could easily surpass 30 bombs with regular playing time in 2013. While Rosario's power is unquestionable, what is questionable is his plate discipline and how he will respond to pitchers start exploting him for his free swinging ways. He does a lot of damage at Coors Field, hitting 18 home runs with a .297 batting average, but he doesn't walk much. If he could improve the plate discipline just a bit, he could exceed the 30 home run level in 2013.

Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco was the top catching prospect heading into 2012 drafts last season, but stumbled and struggled his way to a .212/.288/.352 triple slash line in 165 at bats last season. He was the victim of a low .234 BABIP, but there is cause for some optimism heading into 2013. He struck out in under 18% of his plate appearances last year, and owned a 9.2% walk rate. He still owns solid power, and is a better hitter than what he showed in his limited role last season.

If you have questions about other catchers on this list, feel free to post a question here or on my Twitter account at @faketeams.

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