Get ready to move Yankees catcher Jesus Montero up in your catcher rankings! Why, you ask? Because if you are a believer in Bill James projections, and he is usually optimistic, then you should move Montero into your top 5 catchers for 2012.
Fangraphs has updated their player pages with 2012 projections from Bill James. I am not sure where I read it last night, could have been on twitter somewhere, but someone wrote/tweeted that James was very optimistic on Montero for 2012, so I had to verify it for myself. Here is Montero's player page, and you can see his projections after the jump:
James projects Montero as follows in 2012:
BA - .289
HR - 26
RBI - 83
Runs - 65
Doubles - 29
AB - 505
K% - 19.7%
BB% - 8.5%
I think James is being optimistic in believing that Montero will get over 500 at bats. With Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in the mix to DH a bit in 2012, I can see Montero getting closer to 450 at bats next year. Montero certainly has the bat to put up an impressive rookie season, but he has struggled in the first half of each of the last two seasons in the minors, and I can see that trend continuing in the big leagues in 2012.
Montero hit well in his September cup of coffee last season, hitting .328-.406-.590 with 4 HRs, 4 doubles, 12 RBI and 9 runs in just 61 at bats. He calls the hitter friendly confines of the new Yankee Stadium as his home, and the Yankees impressive lineup as teammates, so he could build on his fine work in September, but I think he could struggle to start the 2012 season.
But, with all that said, Montero should be drafted in mixed and AL-only leagues in 2012, and is a solid candidate for AL Rookie of the Year in 2012.