This is the first series of our 2012 fantasy baseball rankings looking at the position of catcher. Some of the notable names from the list you will not see include Jesus Montero from the New York Yankees and Devin Mesoraco from the Cincinnati Reds. While most fantasy players consider Montero a catcher, he only played three games there in 2011 so unless your league has very liberal position requirements, he is likely only going to qualify at the utility spot in 2012 to start the year. For Mesoraco, while he is one of the top catching prospects in baseball, Ryan Hanigan is in the picture and manager Dusty Baker has not been known to have a long leash when it comes to playing rookies. If Mesoraco struggles out of the gate in spring training, he could be looking at a time share in 2011 so for now I have him pegged for roughly 300 at bats though that could change as we hear more news in spring training.
Here is a look at the top 20 fantasy baseball catchers for 2012 with my comments. A longer list with 2012 fantasy baseball projections are available in the 2012 FBT Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide which is on sale now.
1. Victor Martinez – the move to designated hitter on a more permanent basis should keep his offensive numbers afloat for another year or two. He failed to homer in 26 games when catching last season and batted .340 when in the lineup as a designated hitter.
2. Carlos Santana – he had no trouble hitting southpaws in 2011, batting .318 against them. His average against right-handed pitching was a meager .201 and that should go up a good amount in 2012.
3. Buster Posey – a broken left leg cut short his 2011 campaign, but in 162 at bats he showed his numbers from 2010 were no fluke. He figures to hit in the middle of the lineup again and with his average upside, he slightly nudges ahead of Brian McCann and Mike Napoli.
4. Brian McCann – has hit 20+ home runs in four straight seasons and holds a .286 career batting average. Runs scored have dropped the last couple of seasons with in a weaker Braves offense. As solid as they come at the catcher position.
5. Mike Napoli – Napoli was on fire the second half of 2011, hitting .383 with 18 home runs in 214 at bats. He also showed improved plate discipline with a career high 58 walks. He has a slight downside risk if the Texas Rangers decide to make a splash and sign Prince Fielder.
6. Matt Wieters – power finally came around and he showed improvement throughout the season, hitting 14 home runs in 224 at bats after the All-Star Break and he also improved his walk rate.
7. Joe Mauer – while Mauer is expected to be healthy in 2012 after suffering injuries to his leg and knee last season, his power numbers from 2009 are a definite outlier and he failed to hit a home run at home in 2011 in 157 at bats.
8. Miguel Montero – Montero bounced back from his injury shortened 2010 season and his numbers were right where they were in 2009. He delivered when batting cleanup, hitting .297 with six home runs and 28 RBI in 155 at bats.
9. Alex Avila – Avila was the biggest fantasy surprise at catcher in 2011. One thing to consider is that he skipped Triple-A so in essence he has been learning on the job in the major leagues and did show power when playing at the University of Alabama so while he may not hit 19 home runs again this season, he does have some pop in his bat.
10. J.P. Arencibia – his batting average held up the first two months of the season at over .255 but then it quickly dropped off as he batted .215 after the first half. Power is not in question, it is just a matter of if he can cut down on his strikeouts to give his average a chance.
11. Jonathan Lucroy – wore down the second half of the season which masked some of his potential. If he can put together his 2011 first half over the course of a full season, he is going return a nice profit.
12. Miguel Olivo – set a career high with 477 at bats and put up solid mid-tier catcher numbers outside of his .224 batting average. Always seem to get drafted later than he should which makes him a solid second catcher for leagues that require two of them.
13. Kurt Suzuki – batting average has dropped for three straight seasons and there are few runners to drive in hitting in the Oakland lineup. He has not been able to replicate his 2009 numbers the last two years.
14. Geovany Soto – he had 99 more at bats in 2011 but yet could not improve on any of his numbers and his batting average plummeted as he lost his strike zone discipline from 2010. His 421 at bats was only the second time he was over 400 at bats in a season in his career.
15. Yadier Molina – set career highs in four of five offensive categories in 2011. His .465 slugging percentage was the first time it was over .400 for his career. I am not banking on double digit home runs again but he is solid in all five categories.
16. Wilson Ramos – acquired by the Nationals in a deal for Matt Capps in 2010, Ramos spent all of2011 in the major leagues and flashed good power. He has some work to do on his batting average on the road where he hit .222 in 207 at bats.
17. Russell Martin – belted out 18 home runs in 2010, but batting average fell for the fourth consecutive season and he stole just one base the second half of the year.
18. Chris Ianetta – owns a career .208 batting average away from Coors Field and has struggled more against right-handed pitching making the chance of a breakout year very, very slim.
19. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – his average would get a nice boost if the Red Sox sat him against left-handed pitching which he has hit just .207 against in his career.
20. John Buck – his 2010 batting average was way too high and last season’s average was a large drop but it should not have been that big of a surprise. He was okay at home with a .243 batting average but struggled on the road, hitting just .213.
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