I am so ready to get some fantasy baseball going. No offense to you basketball and hockey junkies out there, but America’s favorite past-time has been beckoning me since the beginning of February. I was lucky enought to have been able to contribute my pre-season rankings last year to Fantasy Pros as a member of The Hardball Times. I finished ranked top four of all fantasy baseball “experts” in the country.
I am now honored to bring those rankings and analysis here to FantasySports.org. Finding success in baseball on a daily basis involves more than preseason rankings, research, and analysis. It takes luck and decisiveness and the intestinal fortitude to stand behind your picks. We start the 2013 rankings with one of my favorite positions on the diamond, the catcher.
I was actually a catcher once but suffered from Rube-Baker Disease . If you don’t know what that means, then you are not a true baseball fan. I digress. Since I can not live my dream of squatting then let’s dive into these rankings. (You see what I did there.)
2013 Catcher Rankings
Guys I Like:
Matt Wieters C BAL- It seems like we’re always waiting for this guy to reach the next level of his development. He’s been proclaimed aseverything from future hall-of-famer to bust and everything in between. His power is legit, a near lock for 20+ home runs. I don’t know how much batting average we can all expect, but he’s turning out to be a daily must-start against left-handers where he’s hit .331 and 16 homers in 254 at bats over the past two seasons.
Wieters is also holding down the clean-up spot in the Orioles lineup with guys like Adam Jones and Nick Markakis hitting in front of him. There should be plenty of counting stats to be had to warrant a top five rank. Any batting average gains would be icing on the cake.
Jesus Montero C SEA- Normally, I say draft catchers that don’t have to play games as a catcher. The thought behind that resonates on the fact that other position players stay healthier and have more at bats than catchers. Well, that is true most of the time. In Jesus Montero’s case that may not actually be accurate. As Chris Cwik of Fangraphs pointed out in this, Montero has performed much better as a catcher than as a designated hitter (.310 versus a .227 batting average).
It’s undeniable that he will have much better protection around him in the line-up. With his age and pedigree, I could definitely see a coming-out season for Montero. Don’t forget the fences are coming in at Safeco, and who can’t get excited about the fantasy potential of that?
Wilson Ramos C WAS- Very few guys can say they’ve lived through the stuff that Ramos has. He is very blessed to still be breathing in 2013 much less catching one of the best staffs in the game. Even though he has every excuse to have a bad season this year, I don’t think it’ll happen. Living through the adversity that Ramos has over the past 12+ months with the kidnapping and the blown out knee, could have only built his character.
I’m not saying that Ramos is going to be able to expand much on his breakout 2011, but if he can slide somewhere near there with a .265 AVG and 15+ HRs, he should easily be a top twenty catcher. Once I have seen that Ramos is fully healthy this Spring, I would not be afraid to use Ramos as my catcher in a NL only league or as a salary filler in April match-ups.
Welington Castillo C CHC- Castillo will join Jon Jaso, Tyler Flowers, and Chris Stewart as back-up catchers finally getting their chance to play every day in 2013. Welington strikes my eye more than these other guys because he has very raw power potential. He has maintained a .163 ISO in his 224 plate appearances, and it’s been even better in his time spent in the Minors.
I believe Castillo will seize this opportunity in Chicago and garner 400+ at bats and profiles nicely as a number two catcher in deep leagues or a very cheap catcher fill-in for daily leaguers. He can strike out a lot but can mash lefties. I would use him as a spot start against lesser lefties all day.
Guys I don’t like:
Yadier Molina C STL- Don’t get me wrong; I loved this guy last year. The key phrase there is last year. I don’t hate Molina. He should be a decent middling catcher that could flirt with a .300 average and double digit home runs like he has for the past two years. Yady has a high floor, and he is very safe. The problem is that I think we saw the best possible season Molina could have last year. Therefor, I see his ceiling as lower than the seven guys I have ranked ahead of him.
I don’t think there is much difference between Joe Mauer all the way down to Miguel Montero, and that is why you stay away from guys like Molina that will cost a lot but not give you enough upside to warrant the high price.
Jonathan Lucroy C MIL- Really the only thing I don’t like about Lucroy is his plate appearances. Over the three years he’s been in the Majors, Lucroy has averaged 370 plate appearances.
He’s flanked with an above average back-up in Martin Maldonado who is much better defensively. Lucroy has potential to be every bit as good as his .320 AVG last year may suggest. I think that if he is healthy and achieves 500 plate appearances, he will undoubtedly make me look foolish. Reality is I’m not holding my breath.