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Count on your catcher

top 10 picks

The catcher position has always been regarded as one of the more shallow positions in fantasy baseball. It makes sense that elite offensive production would be hard to come by from any backstop since catcher is one of the three most important defensive positions on a baseball diamond. However, seven of the top 15catchers are projected to reach 20 or more home runs and four more are projected to come within two long balls of that mark. The scary part is that the majority of these catchers either haven’t reached their prime yet or they are just barely tapping into their power potential.

Take a deeper look at the position

All this is to say that catcher really is much deeper than people realize. You may feel the need to reach in your draft to get one of the top catchers because they are a lock for 20 homers and 80 RBI with a serviceable average, but you can find that value later in the draft without paying for the name.

My top 10 Catchers for the 2011 fantasy season:

1.Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers- I get a weird feeling in my stomach when I don’t see Joe Mauer at the top of my list but I think this is V-Mart’s year. His power was right where it belonged last year and he will be catching less in 2011 therefore his offense will be his focus as he takes on a larger DH role for Detroit. ESPN.com’s 2011 projections are accurate at 25 home runs and 94s RBI, but I don’t see why he shouldn’t be able to push those numbers a little higher hitting in a lineup with Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez.

2. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins- If he can recapture the magic of his amazing 2009 season in which he hit 28 homers and 96 RBIs with a .365 average in less than a full season, then he’ll no doubt be the top backstop after 2011. However his injury history and his inability to stay in the lineup pose problems for those looking for elite production, not to mention the Twins’ new home, Target Field can be the death of power hitters in that lineup (Mauer hit only one home run at home in 2010). His career batting average is .327 but I want more power from my catcher than the 10-12 homers Mauer offers.

3. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves- I don’t think anyone can offer a reasonable argument to not put McCann here. He doesn’t offer as much upside across the board as the two previously mentioned, but his shining talent is his consistency. Since his first full season in 2006 he leads all MLB catchers in home runs and RBIs and he always puts up a better than decent batting average. His eyes gave him trouble last year and he wasn’t producing to his full potential, but he will be in his age 27 season and hits in a lineup with solid veteran protection like Dan Uggla and Chipper Jones and also top young studs such as Martin Prado and Jason Heyward. I think we could see his best numbers yet in 2011.

4. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants- The pride and joy of the Bay Area and 2010 Rookie of the Year, Posey has his sights set on stardom in 20110 (if he hasn’t attained that already). He can flat out hit, he always has, and will continue to do so. In 2010 he didn’t hit one infield pop up all year long. Many suspected he would struggle when the Giants called him up in May but he improved as time went on. From July 1 through the end of the year he hit .311 with 17 home runs and 57 RBIs, and his projected totals of .294/21/78 are less than generous. He wants the top catcher spot and very well could produce like it in 2011.

5. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians- He was ticketed to be one of the better catchers in 2010 after he was called up, until his season was ended early because of an injury. He will pick up right where he left off. His patience at the plate mixed with his power will be threatening to opposing pitchers everywhere, but his one drawback is his lack of lineup protection. He won’t be as good as the other four mentioned, but you shouldn’t be disappointed drafting Santana.

6. Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers- It was so disappointing to see all his power go to waste in Anaheim, but his new home in Texas should be welcoming. His problem is inconsistent playing time. I don’t know why he has never been handed a full starting job because he is the only legitimate threat for 30+ homers from a catcher in my opinion. He won’t catching full time which should be good for him and allow him to concentrate on knocking baseballs out of stadiums, especially in his new home park. The Ballpark in Arlington is prominently known for being a hitters haven. If Napoli could get 500-550 at bats then I can see him hitting 30 bombs and close to 90 RBIs with a decent average.

7. Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles- He may not have come out of the gate destroying the league like many had hoped, but he is still believed to one day be the saviour of the once abysmal Orioles lineup. He showed great potential in his first half season in the major leagues but he hasn’t capitalized on that yet. I expect to see a big step forward for Wieters in 2011, perhaps into the 20 homer range and an improved batting average. Like many scouts have said, we have yet to see a fully armed and operational Matt Wieters.

8. Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs- Soto rebounded from his horrid 2009 campaign by hitting 17 homers and a .280 average in 2010, and proved that he has the tools to step up be an elite fantasy catcher. His playing time scares me a little because he hasn’t had more than 331 at bats in the last two years and has platoon split possibilities hanging over him. If he could get closer to 450-500 at bats like he had in 2008 then he’d be top option, but until that day he sits closer to bottom of the top 10.

9. Kurt Suzuki, Oakland Athletics- Last season he was coming off a year in which he hit 15 homers and drove in 88 runs with a .274 average, but he struggled with an injury and had some off-the-field problems he had to deal with and that led to a drastic drop in batting average and at bats. He was likely headed to the 20 homer range and will continue that trend in 2011. He’s just entering his power prime and hits in a much improved lineup from last year. I don’t expect the kind of numbers the top four catchers put up from Suzuki, but he’s dangerously close.

10. Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks- I want to see a full season from Montero before I place him any higher because I’m not so convinced about him. He hits in a lineup that lacks pop and he hasn’t had the benefit of a full season under his belt. In 2009, after taking the starting job from Chris Snyder, he hit 16 home runs and .294, but then in 2010 he got hurt and never regained his stroke when he came back. He’s 27 and has no reason why he can’t produce like a top five catcher, but I don’t think this is his year.

Honorable mention:

Jorge Posada and J.P. Arencibia

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