My boy Ray has successfully run through the top 10 at each position in the NL over the past weeks. So now it's my task to tackle the AL top 10's.
With the Catching position i've decided to yank the Bandaid and rank them first.
1. Joe Mauer - Not much contest here after Victor Martinez crapped the bed last year. With that said, Ron Shandler makes the point that Mauer and Placido Polanco have similar skill sets. After looking it up their numbers of the past 4 years I'm REALLY agreeing with him. Mauer has averaged 77-9-71-7-.317 compared to Polanco's 84-7-58-5-.319. Not as big of a difference than you might think but, throw in their ages in '09 and their positions and you get an idea of why their value is so different. But, is it $10 and 10 rounds different? Probably not
2. Victor Martinez - It's easy to argue that VMart had the most disappointing '08 given the round that he went in compared to what he gave you. I was privately hoping that he'd get stunked in the HR department after making it to September with a donut. Many are predicting a bouce back and I'm one of them but, I'm not sure he'll ever get back to his '07 numbers (78-25-114-.301). I'm thinking more 75-20-90-.290 which puts him just behind Mauer in the AL
3. Mike Napoli - He went nuts in the 2nd half hitting .367 with 8 hr's in 90 abs. This gave hope that he could raise his career average of .248. Let's not get ahead of ourselves too much. A guy with a career contact rate of 70% needs to get obscene hit rates to not kill you in the average category. He's pretty much a 1 category player. It's a good thing he's great in that category. Bump him up in OPS leagues. He walks a lot and slugged to a tune of .586 last year.
4. Matt Wieters - I'm buying into the hype by putting up at #4. Even if his minor league stats translate 80% as well as they might normally he'll be a monster. With Ramon Hernandez out of the way and Gregg Zaun providing support it appears that the path is clear for Wieters to begin battling Joe Mauer for top AL All Star votes for catchers the next 6-8 years.
5 Jorge Posada - Another AL catcher who disappointed greatly in '08 with injuries and lack of production during on-field time. Even if the reports from spring training insist his shoulder is 100% bid/pick cautiously. With that said he's still got a great lineup around him and I expect 17-21 hrs with a .280 BA.
6. Kelly Shoppach - Mike Napoli-like with his power but, I'm worried about his playing time with the 4 guys for 3 spots thing he has going with Garko, Martinez, and Hafner. His playing time could really plummet if the other 3 start out completely healthy. In the second half last year he learned to take a walk and voila. Look for more of the same IF (it's a big if) he gets regular playing time.
7. AJ Pierzynski - His average fluxuates in a common manner while his runs, rbi's, and hr's stay the same in an uncommon, almost Adam Dunn-like manner. You pretty much know what you're getting with him.
8. Winner of Texas catching derby - I'm going a bit off the board with this one but, whoever gets the bulk of the playing time in Texas I'm loving this year. In a bubble, I'd rather take a chance on a talented young player in Texas than a player with minimal upside in a pitchers park. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Teagarden is the man and gets at least 300 ab's.
9. Dioner Navarro - His contact rate is nice but, doesn't provide much else. If you're set everywhere else towards the end of the draft he makes a nice 2nd catcher option. However, he's not one to target in 1C leagues.
10. Jeff Clement - His minor league stats never followed him to Seattle. I could put down the Laird, Olivo, or Buck's of the world here but, where's the upside in that? If I'm in the end game of a 2C league why am I penciling in a .240, 10hr stat line when I could take the chance on someone with skills who hasn't quite put them together yet? He's no lock but, with limited risk at the end of the draft there's some upside here.