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February 1, 2013 posted by Patrick DiCaprio

AL Catcher Individual Player Blurbs

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Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins Catcher

These are posted in their order of ranking. John Jaso will be moving up in the next set of rankings.

AL Catchers

Mike Napoli (BOS)

2011 was such an outlier that if you remove it from his batting history 2012 fits in perfectly with the rest of his career. His BABIP in 2011 was over .350 so it seems as clear as day that it is an outlier. Pay for 2012 and you won’t be disappointed, but you also will not get him either.  His BA will rebound back to the .270 range, giving him top billing here in a very weak field.

Joe Mauer (MIN)

If you disagree with the above comment on Napoli’s outlier of 2011 here is Exhibit B. 2012 gave him his highest BABIP since his MVP 2009 season, so one is tempted to call for regression, but then he has done it before. A .310 BA is a lock but a 22%(!) FB rate over his last 900 AB makes us want to vomit.

Matt Wieters (BAL)

Wieters is an outright slap in the face to anyone who thinks that the best prospects cannot flop. He is one of the more recent examples of a long line. It is so tempting to think that this is the year. But there is no actual evidence for that other than wishcasting; he has shown no skills growth at all. 20 HR is a strong bet, but after that it is up in the air.

Carlos Santana (CLE)

Santana is an outright slap in the face….you can fill in the blanks. Unlike Wieters, Santana has the skill set to bat for a much higher BA, and also is a strong bet for 20 HR. Only the meager SLG and inability to hit for a .270 BA holds him back, but that is like saying only a dull brain keeps Paul Greco from a Nobel Prize.

AJ Pierzynski (TEX)

His high ranking here is no endorsement of a 2012 power redux; it is an indictment of the quality of AL catchers. Simple question: Here are his HR totals since 2005: 18-16-14-14-13-13-9-8-27. We will give you one guess as to whether that “27” is a fluke.

J.P. Arencibia (TOR)

Though we do not have him ranked that way, there is a good chance he ends up higher than both Wieters and Santana. He has to control the strike zone more, as a 0.17 BB/K rate won’t cut it, but call this a gut feeling. Sometimes it is agita, but sometimes it is a .250 BA with 35 HR.

Alex Avila (DET)

His 2011 season is clearly an outlier, not to be repeated any time soon. His 2012 was bedeviled by injuries, so we can give him a mulligan there as well. If his FB% rebounds he can hit 15 home runs, but after that we are groping in the dark.

Salvador Perez (KC)

Here is another player that might end up in the top five AL C by default. Perez has potential, but is vastly overrated by most players, if only because a small hope of greatness is better than no hope of mediocrity. Like most of the guys below him. He is only 22, doesn’t walk and doesn’t run so if his power goes bad there is not much left. However, his 2012 was a decent follow up to 2011, but this is not a star player on cold dope. There is a non-zero chance George Kottaras outperforms him.

Chris Iannetta (LAA)

The days when he was a power hitting prospect are long gone; now he is trying to hold on to a job, and there are only glimmers of his old potential. If 15 HR and a .230 BA upside excite you then be our guest and make him your #1 catcher. There is a 50-50 chance of a sub-.700 OPS and under 250 PA.

Ryan Lavarnway (BOS)

If Theo Epstein cleared a path for him to a full time job, we would be excited. But Ben Cherington needs to re-take his “Your Ass From A Hole in The Ground; A Comparative Study” course. Kudos to whoever thought of that line, it wasn’t me but it is apt. if Lavarnway does anything with the bat Jarrod Saltalamacchia won’t stand in his way. He is a decent gamble as a #2 catcher in AL leagues.

Tyler Flowers (CHW)

At his best he is a poor-man’s JP Arencibia, which is damning with faint praise indeed. He swings and misses far too much to be a major league hitter without 40 HR power, and there is no reason for optimism here other than blind faith. Sometimes, that is enough. The power is legitimate but so are the gaping holes in his game.

Ryan Doumit (MIN)

Will probably be the Twins DH and may not end up qualifying for catcher in leagues where you need a set number of games at C within a season. Gravity is a powerful force, and he is 31 with some power, but eroding batting skills cannot take much more erosion. He may be a $15 player or he may be worth negative $. Maybe we are overly pessimistic, so feel free to go your own way, just don’t come crying to me when he five HR in August.

Francisco Cervelli (NYY)

After getting screwed out of a major league roster spot, Cervelli comes into 2013 with something to prove and the motivation to prove it. He is only 26 and has show some power growth in his skill set, and he can control the strike zone, so his BA will not be a drag. He has little downside and decent upside, but this ranking seems accurate. 450 AB in Yankee Stadium can do wonders for his burgeoning power skills.

Jason Castro (HOU)

The fact that he is in the major leagues is a testament to just how atrocious the Astros are. His minor league numbers show potential, and he is only 25, and has the batting skills to be at least a .250 hitter, As much as anyone in the AL he makes a nice second catcher flier.

George Kottaras (KC)

Though the surface stats look ugly, he takes walks, makes decent contact and has enough power to be a 12-15 HR guy with a .260 BA. Don’t sneeze at it; were it not for Perez having the starting gig he might be a top five catcher.

Josh Thole (TOR)

He brings a good batting eye and literally nothing else to the plate. But JP Arencibia is no lock to get 450 AB, and Thole won’t kill you in the BA department. Not a ringing endorsement, but it is what it is. A second catcher who might hit .270 in 300 AB.

Dave Ross (BOS)

He should not be ranked at all, except for the fact that there is a good chance both Salty and Lavarnway either stink or one of them loses the backup role to Ross. Ross is solid, should hit double digit HR in limited time and will hit .260. He is the new Gregg Zaun, the perfect backup catcher.

Derek Norris (OAK)

Like Tyler Flowers only with a worse route to playing time. Norris has some positives and is young, and his minor league numbers say he can hit for power and batting average. But while he is entrenched behind John Jaso, he has little to recommend him.

Jose Molina (TB)

His career high in dollars earned is a robust $2, in 2012. On a good day he aspires to be a bad hitter. On a bad day he aspires to sell insurance.

John Jaso (OAK)

His ranking will be much higher in the next iteration after his trade to OAK. He has some good batting skills, but last year is likely a peak and gravity is very powerful. His HR/FB spiked last year while his FB% plummeted, and those two will not happen again. But he is a decent AL only starter or a mixed league #2,

Geovany Soto (TEX)

Backing up AJ Pierzynski in Texas is no way to make a living. Neither is hitting below .230 in three of the last four years. His BABIP was terrible last year, and gives some hope of a rebound, and the park is favorable as is his power, so there is some hope. Not much, but some.

Brayan Pena (DET)

A poor-man’s Josh Thole. But one who could garner at-bats if Avila struggles or is not healthy. Like Tony Cincotta, he is a switch hitter, and his BA will rebound. But, as sad as this is, 2009 is his peak.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (BOS)

Finally showed some life in his bat, but the danger is believing that he can repeat. His HR/FB% will not be 20% again any time soon, and he simply does not have the batting skills to be a credible hitter without some luck. His power looks legit, but so does that of JP Arencibia and Tyler Flowers. And Salty is not as good as Lavarnway with the glove, so there is a good chance he ends up either down on the bench or a third catcher behind Ross.

Hank Conger (LAA)

The former first-rounder is polished with the glove which matters when forecasting at-bats. But he hits like a lesser version of Chris Iannetta, so his only hope is that the manager somehow believes he is the second coming of Jeff Mathis. Keep your fingers crossed if you are a fan, but time is short.

Chris Snyder (HOU)

He is the equivalent of the last lady standing at 2 am when you are hitting the road. How attractive does he look in the light of day? He is a 31-year-old with back problems who is behind Carlos Corporan on the depth chart. How about now?

Chris Stewart (NYY)

If Austin Romine goes back to the minors he may merit a look in the deepest of leagues. He hits a lot of fly balls, so maybe he lucks his way into five homers.

Jose Lobaton (TB)

If you are actually reading this because you need an end-game catcher, welcome! You are probably one of five or ten guys who will read this blurb. Email me this phrase: “purple monkey dishwasher” and maybe you will win some swag. If you are in an OBP league he might warrant #2 C status, but if you are not, then the swag will be the only way to get something out of him in fantasy.

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