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If you are drafting for a deep league, one of the keys to success is the ability to wait for for certain players, until the later rounds. This is the first in a series of articles that will look at possible late round picks in deep league drafts. The series will cover middle infield, corner infield, outfield, starting pitchers, closers, and today's post, catchers.
If you play in a two-catcher league, you know how crucial it is to have a quality second, and possibly third catcher. Strategically your best bet is to wait until after much of the power is off the board, before taking a catcher, but if you wait too long, you could find yourself in Mark Knopfler territory. Here are three catchers I believe will have value in 2013, and who you can probably wait for until the late rounds to draft.
The first is John Jaso, of the Oakland Athletics. Jaso will likely platoon with Derek Norris, but, batting left, is on the correct side of that platoon. Last year John batted .276, hit 10 home runs, drove in 50, and scored 41. He even stole 5 bases, but I never draft a catcher with any expectation of steals, so that was gravy. He has a history of an over 80% contact rate, and the plate patience to generate a double-digit walk rate, so this is one catcher to keep on your radar. Additionally, he is only 29, so in a keeper format, he could be valuable. In 2013, I think he will get 400+ at-bats, bat .264, hit 7 home runs, drive in 40, and score 41. Certainly valuable as a second catcher, in a two-catcher league.
The second is Rob Brantly, starting catcher for the Miami Marlins. Last year Brantly batted .267, hit 7 home runs, and, unable to decide which he enjoyed doing more, scored 41 times, and drove in 41 runners. While only able to get to a 6% walk rate, he was able to make contact 84% of the time, which should keep his 2013 batting average at .254, while hitting 7 home runs, scoring 32, and driving in 34. This slight regression may result from pitchers learning a little bit more about how to pitch to him in his second major league season, but he makes enough contact to keep the regression minimal.
Finally, there is Gerald Laird, the backup catcher for the Atlanta Braves. What happens if Brian McCann does not come back, as planned, for the Braves? While McCann is expected to play two-thirds of the season, how many times have we seen an injury keep a player out longer than expected? Could Mr. Laird get half of a season, or more, of at-bats? Gerald Laird makes good enough contact to bat .258, and while his power is nothing to write home about, you will probably be able to get him in the reserve round, if not off the waiver wire, and, at the very least, he will not hurt you.
There is nothing earth-shattering about any of the above backstops, but in a two catcher league, each gives you the ability to draft other positions that potentially have more value, and wait to draft a second catcher until very late. This ability may be the edge you need to win your league.