Playing the waiting game with catchers is not a new concept at Chinstrap Ninjas, but this year we cannot emphasize it more.
There are plenty of catchers to go around in 2012. You don’t need to reach.
NOTE: Some of these blurbs are copied or modified from the AL-only top 20.
2012 early 5×5 ADP Top 20 catchers
1. Carlos Santana, C/1B, CLE: A dynasty gem, Santana showed signs of his eliteness in 2011. Position scarcity has affected this draft slot but it won’t be long before his bat alone will make him a top-20 overall pick. I’ve actually selected Santana in a couple mocks. Don’t think I’ll pull the trigger during a live draft unless the cards fall right.
2. Mike Napoli, C/1B, TEX: Can we expect Napoli to repeat his 30-homer performance from 2011? He has shown a great power profile in the past but it’s usually not a good idea to pay for a player coming off a career year.
3. Brian McCann, C, ATL: Still a stud catcher. I’ve never been a big fan of drafting a catcher early and his 50.91 ADP is too early, especially considering the other options out there. However, if you want a stud C, this is where it ends.
4. Buster Posey, C, SF: Posey has played in1 60 career MLB games and taken 585 at-bats. His numbers over that stretch are saliva-inducing: 76 runs, 22 homers, 88 RBI, .294 average. I hesitate to call him a stud catcher only because he’s only 24 and there’s still room for him to be better or worse than what he has shown us. And because we need to make sure that last year’s injury doesn’t become a recurring theme.
5. Joe Mauer, C, MIN: Those homers in 2009 are now an aberration. Mauer’s batting average needs to come up too. Yet, he’s still being picked inside the top 50 (best 43, worst, 110, average 79.78) by some people. That’s a bad investment.
6. Matt Wieters, C, BAL: We go from the worst catcher investment of the draft to the best investment from my seat in the Chinstrap Ninjas’ control room. It wasn’t long ago that everyone had Wieters pegged as a sure thing, but he didn’t live up to expectations. He’ll turn 26 in May, meaning he’s approaching a point where we can rely on his three-year averages. Last year he scored 72 runs, hit 22 homers and drove in 69 runs and hit .262. Those numbers are very Brian McCann-esque, about 50 picks later.
7. Miguel Montero, C, ARI: Montero hit 18 homers, drove in 82 runs and hit .282 last season. Maybe he doesn’t maintain that .280 mark, but if he’s health, a repeat of those power numbers is not out of the question.
8. Alex Avila, C, DET: A catcher who battled knee tendinitis the year before is a scary investment. But he hit 19 homers with 82 RBI and a .295 average while battling that wonky knee. 110 picks in, there are probably worse options.
9. Yadier Molina, C, STL: His batting eye trend is disturbing and Molina’s 14 homers in 2011 were probably his ceiling. He’s still a relatively safe pick to hit better than .280 with 10 homers and 60-60 in the runs-RBI department.
10. J.P. Arencibia, C, TOR: I’m surprised Molina’s ADP is higher than Arencibia. The Blue Jays backstop has a nice power profile and a very unlucky looking batting average on balls in play the last two years (.136 in 2010 and .255 in 2011).
11. Wilson Ramos, C, WAS: Not sure he’s ready to make a jump in any of the statistical categories. But if you pick Ramos here and get a near mirror-image of 2011′s performance you’ll be in good shape.
12. Geovany Soto, C, CHC: A catcher who profiles for 60 runs, 60 RBIs and 18 homers in the 23rd round? Madness.
13. Nick Hundley, C, SD: Hundley will be 29 in September. He could get to 10 homers, but his BABIP and BB/K rate say he has no shot of sniffing .288 in 2012.
14. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, BOS: He’s showed power skill before so don’t be surprised if he gets to 16 homers again.
15. Salvador Perez, C, KC: Knowing quite a few of the prospects and most of the players on pro rosters, I was surprised to find myself asking, “who is Salvador Perez?” He hit .331 with three homers in 39 games in 2011. He has some promise — and at this point in the draft (24th round) that’s a good commodity to have. Temper expectations, but it’s no stretch to think that he could finish as a starting fantasy catcher.
16. Yorvit Torrealba, C, TEX: I can’t think of any draft strategy or scenario where I would pick Torrealba over the next guy on the list.
17. Devin Mesoraco, C, CIN: Mesoraco is the top prospect in Cincinnatti’s farm system, according to www.fangraphs.com. Back when Wieters was a top prospect I balked at picking him because his value was horrible. You can get Mesoraco in the 24th round. This is the time to take a chance on a batter.
18. Russell Martin, C, NYY: His batting eye is trending in the wrong direction, but Martin returned to 18-homer territory in 2011 and stole 8 bases. He’ll never live up to the expectations we all put on him in 2007, but he’ll get chances to score and drive in runs in the Yankees lineup. Add 15 homers to that and you have a solid fantasy catcher.
19. Ryan Doumit, C, MIN: Doumit will start the season as DH with a few starts at catcher mixed in. If he stays healthy, 50-13-50-.275 is not out of the question.
20. Kurt Suzuki, C, OAK: Suzuki is the kind of catcher you pick up when your upside pick shows nothing but downside. Unless you play in a two-catcher league. In which case, count on 60-13-60-.250.
The next five: Jonathan Lucroy, C, MIL; Ramon Hernandez, C, COL; Chris Iannetta, C, ANA; John Buck, C, MIA; Miguel Olivo, C, SEA.