When it comes to fantasy baseball, most people tend to disregard the catcher position. If you don’t land one of the top five or six backstops then the position becomes more of an afterthought and some owners are simply happy to just have a body in there that won’t hurt them.
Salary cap baseball has a much different feel to it as you can either spend big bucks on a top guy or you can bargain shop near the bottom of the list, play the daily matchups and hope for big buck production from one of the “little guys” each day.
Once the season begins, we’ll offer you daily fantasy advice to help you with your decision-making process and help you develop a successful strategy, but for now, we’ll start off here analyzing the top catchers from 2011 and what to expect from them in 2012, as well as throw in a few sleepers to keep on your radar.
Victor Martinez, DET (597 points) – Last season’s top point earner is now history for 2012. A torn ACL and microfracture surgery have put V-Mart out of commission for the season and you can cross him off the list. His 2013 starting salary should be fun to see though.
Carlos Santana, CLE (546) – The Tribe’s rookie backstop racked up big time points last year thanks to an outstanding 252 total bases and a killer walk rate. He led all catchers in extra base hits and should continue to provide top flight production in 2012. His power is trending upwards and he should also reduce his strikeouts this year. A bigger bonus for salary cap games is that he will likely amass more plate appearances than the rest of the catchers with some of his time dedicated to first base.
Mike Napoli, TEX (503) – In the first half of 2011 he was a decent play in daily fantasy games if you paid strict attention to the matchups and his playing time. In the second half, he was even better as the Rangers suffered some injuries that allowed him to play every day. There may be some playing time issues again early on, but when you have a 30-HR guy who can also draw a walk, it’s just a matter of time before he’s in your lineup every day again.
Miguel Montero, ARI (484) – Though he doesn’t get the attention as some of the other top catchers, Montero still provides excellent production on a daily basis. He was 4th overall here thanks to 36 doubles, 18 HR and 86 RBI and should continue that trend in 2012. He’ll bat cleanup for Arizona this season and will see outstanding RBI opportunities.
Alex Avila, DET (479) – He was rock solid in his second season with the Tigers in 2011 racking up 235 total bases including 33 doubles and 19 RBI. He was also very capable of laying down the sacrifices with 11 in total, good for second amongst all backstops. Be careful though in 2012. While he’s still a talented hitter, his .366 BABIP seems unsustainable and when that drops, so will the number of hits and total points he can accrue.
Matt Wieters, BAL (457) – There wasn’t anything special about Wieters in the first half last year as he appeared headed for another underwhelming season. But after June, he racked up 15 doubles, 15 HR, 44 runs scored and 35 RBI en route to an outstanding finish for the year. The 2012 season feels promising as most expect Wieters to carry that second half momentum into this season and take his game to another level.
Yadier Molina, STL (448) – Molina rounded out the lucky seven thanks to 145 hits, a .305 batting average and a very low strikeout rate (8.4%). His walk rate could be better, but he can lay down the sacrifice when needed, which is always a nice bonus. He did lead all catchers with 21 GIDP, but that’s not usually the norm for him. You can expect more of the same from him in 2012.
2012 Sleeper Catchers
With last season’s totals used as a partial way to calculate this season’s starting salaries, it is wise to check the prices on both Buster Posey (134) and Joe Mauer (235) to begin the season. If they don’t burden your salary cap plans with a high price to start, you’ll want to invest early as their costs will surely rise as the season progresses.
Nick Hundley, SD (212) – Though he ranked just 27th amongst catchers last season, check out his level of production for the final two months of the season after elbow surgery. He hit six home runs, posted a 1.060 OPS and dramatically cut down the strikeouts. If he carries that momentum into 2012, you’ll have a very cheap catcher with premium cost production.
Salvador Perez, KC (137) – The Royals love his glove and that will help keep him in the lineup regularly. But he’s also got a decent bat. The power isn’t great, but the plate discipline is and he should be able to hit close to .300 for the year. Think Yadier Molina with a little more pop.