Taking a look back at 2010 and trying to project what will happen in 2011 is what we do at Fanball. To that end, Ted Carlson has been sending out assignments for the staff to rank our top options at each position for the 2011 season. Today, I’ll explain my rankings for the Top-10 Catchers for 2011.
For the other reviews in this series, click on the following links.
Joe Mauer – The best hitting catcher in the game, period. Mauer hit .327 with 75 RBI and 88 runs scored, not to mention a .402 OBP, in 2010. Not worth the top-15 overall selection he was taken as last season, Mauer hit just nine homers, and if we remove his anomalous 28 homers season of 2009 we find that Mauer has averaged 9.4 homers in his other five seasons (I’m not counting his six homer effort in 107 at-bats in his first season).
Victor Martinez – The last six seasons that he has accrued at least 450 at-bats he has never failed to hit at least 16 homers or to produce at least 79 RBI. Toss in that he owns a career .300 batting average and you have yourself the second best fantasy catcher in baseball.
Brian McCann – Since 2006 McCann has hit at least 18 homers with 77 RBI each season. Moreover, since 2006, McCann leads the position in homers (107), extra base hits (283) and RBI (443). A rock solid option.
Buster Posey – If you watched the Giants all year, you’re sold on Posey. If you paid close attention in the playoffs, you should be sold as well. I worried about Posey’s ability to go deep heading into the year, but 18 homers in 406 at-bats would seem to waylay that fear. The young man can hit, and it’s not a stretch to think that he could match the production of V-Mart or McCann in 2011.
Geovany Soto – The Cubs’ catcher rebounded from a down 2009 to produce some solid totals. He nearly doubled Mauer with 17 homers, knocked in 53 runs, and hit a solid .280. Soto also was third at the position in OBP (.393) while he actually led catchers with a .890 OPS (Mauer was second at .871).
Carlos Santana – His season ended when he needed knee surgery, but he should be 100 percent by opening day. If he maintained his pace from last season and had 450 at-bats in 2011 he would hit .260 with 18 homers, 66 RBI and 69 runs scored. Given that his OBP was .401 last year, you have to think that his batting average could easily climb.
Kurt Suzuki – He didn’t match his breakout 2009 effort (.274-15-88-74) hitting .242-13-71-55, but he played more than 130-games for a third straight year and was still pretty darn effective for a catcher. He’s not an elite option, but he should still, easily, be a top-10 selection.
Matt Wieters – From the penthouse to the outhouse. After hitting .288 with nine homers in 354 at-bats as a rookie, Wieters slumped to .249 with 11 homers in 446 at-bats leading everyone to bail from the bandwagon as quick as they can. I’m not – I’m holding on for dear life. Wieters walked more frequently in year two while striking out less boosting his BB/K from 0.33 to 0.50. I like that. I also think his 15.4 line drive rate should improve in 2011, and with it his .287 BABIP, allowing that average to climb as well. Buy low on this guy.
Miguel Montero – Montero was a fantasy star in 2009 (.294-16-59-61) who failed to match his production in 2010 (.266-9-43-36). However, he had to come back from knee surgery and received 128 fewer at-bats, so his production actually wasn’t substantially different. At the same time he has only one season with more than 300 at-bats, one season of an average of .270 and just one season with more than 36 runs scored. I’d like to see another strong effort from him in 2011, but he is clearly still a top-10 option.
Mike Napoli – I’d rank him higher if I knew he would get the at-bats that he deserved. However, I just feel like that won’t ever happen unless he leaves the Angels. Napoli owns a strong .831 OPS in his career, and he has gone deep at least 20-times each of the past three years despite averaging a mere 353 at-bats a season. He may only have a .251 career average, but he has hit in the .270′s two of the past three years.
By Ray Flowers