By Scott Barzilla

Baseball’s second season is alive and well, but for most fantasy baseball players, their season just ended. For those diehards that have to have a game, there are some post season games you can get involved in, but the vast majority of fantasy players have shifted their attention to fantasy baseball. Yet, we can always glean a little bit of knowledge for next season by taking a quick look back at the season that was.

Of course, the greatest lesson comes in recognizing change early on in the process. In the league where I won, I switched from Alex Avila to Carlos Ruiz pretty early on. In the league where I came in seventh (out of 12) I did not. Recognizing changes in production are key, but let’s look at the season that was for catchers.

1. Buster Posey– San Francisco Giants

AVG: .336 (1st)

HR: 24 (4th)

Runs: 78 (2nd)

RBI: 103 (1st)

BB: 69 (4th)

Posey was coming off of that nasty ankle injury, so he didn’t go as high in fantasy drafts as he normally did. Moreover, he didn’t get off to a great start, but he had a heck of a finish. Owners that stuck with Posey throughout the season were rewarded ten times over. A large part of being a successful fantasy player is having that feel for when to hold on to someone and when to jump ship and move on. It can’t be taught, but it does separate the great players from the bad players.

2. Joe Mauer– Minnesota Twins

AVG: .319 (3rd)

HR: 10 (16th)

Runs: 81 (1st)

RBI: 85 (3rd)

BB: 90 (2nd)

Mauer was another catcher coming off of a tough season and this season brought us back to the Joe Mauer before he became a high priced stud. Mauer has always hit for average, but he added power right before his huge contract. He doesn’t hit home runs anymore, but he continues to get on base and score runs. His RBI total was also surprising given the relative lack of power.

3. Yadier Molina– St. Louis Cardinals

AVG: .315 (4th)

HR: 22 (7th)

Runs: 65 (7th)

RBI: 76 (6th)

BB: 45 (10th)

If you could nitpick a little you would say that Molina needs to draw more walks, but he is a guy that has gone from a great defensive player that was a decent hitter to an all around force. Unfortunately, 99 percent of fantasy leagues don’t include defense or he would be the first pick at the position.

4. Carlos Santana– Cleveland Indians

AVG: .252 (11th)

HR: 18 (10th)

Runs: 72 (3rd)

RBI: 76 (6th)

BB: 91 (1st)

He snuck up on everyone by finishing strong down the stretch. Everyone thought he would be a fantasy force before last season, but his average just hasn’t recovered. Still, leagues that utilize OBP and walks should keep him on their short list. He is one of those that could put it all together in 2013.

5. Matt Wieters– Baltimore Orioles

AVG: .249 (12th)

HR: 23 (6th)

Runs: 67 (5th)

RBI: 83 (4th)

BB: 60 (7th)

Wieters is essentially the American League version of Yadier Molina. He is the best defensive catcher in that league and he has managed to elevate his offensive game in the last two seasons. Orioles fans would love for him to take the next step like Molina did this season, but he is certainly good enough to help the Orioles get to the second round of the playoffs.

6. Miguel Montero– Arizona Diamondbacks

AVG: .286 (5th)

HR: 15 (13th)

Runs: 65 (7th)

RBI: 88 (2nd)

BB: 73 (3rd)

Montero is a steady performer if there ever was one. Last season he came to the forefront as the Dbacks made it to the playoffs. This year he performed just as well, but his teammates didn’t support him. The numbers are still there and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be there in the future.

7. Wilin Rosario– Colorado Rockies

AVG: .270 (8th)

HR: 28 (1st)

Runs: 67 (5th)

RBI: 71 (9th)

BB: 25 (17th)

Rosario is one of those players that really came on at the end of the season. He rewarded those that either stashed him away or paid attention to the waiver wire. He ended up leading all catchers in home runs and was easily the second best catcher in baseball in the second half of the season. He could do more of the same next season, but he needs to improve his plate discipline.

8. A.J. Pierzynski– Chicago White Sox

AVG: .278 (6th)

HR: 27 (2nd)

Runs: 68 (4th)

RBI: 77 (5th)

BB: 28 (16th)

Pierzynski may have been my ultimate mea culpa. At every step of the season I thought he was going to turn back into pumpkin and he never did. I imagine I am not alone. I don’t think I would rank him this highly next season as he has never produced anything close to this before.

9. Carlos Ruiz– Philadelphia Phillies

AVG: .325 (2nd)

HR: 16 (12th)

Runs: 56 (9th)

RBI: 68 (10th)

BB: 29 (13th)

Carlos Ruiz represents one half of the catcher debate in fantasy baseball. Some look for guys that are going to accumulate a lot of numbers even if it means sacrificing batting average and other percentage stats. Ruiz represents the other half. He is ranked this low only because he missed about a month of action. Had he been healthy all season he would be in the top five. Next year he should rank around here if healthy, but will be solid in terms of percentage numbers.

10. Ryan Doumit– Minnesota Twins

AVG: .275 (7th)

HR: 18 (10th)

Runs: 56 (9th)

RBI: 75 (8th)

BB: 29 (13th)

As a catcher, Doumit was born to be a designated hitter. I suppose there is no shame in that if you are one that supports the DH rule. Doumit served faithfully as a backup catcher and sometimes outfielder as well. He will be coming back to the Twins and you have to think he will continue to get 400 or more plate appearances again. Plan accordingly.

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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