One of my favorite things to do around this time of year (aside from tormenting myself watching the maddening Knicks) is to peruse ADP rankings. Yeah, I know, it is a bit too early to take these all that seriously, as the only fantasy owners doing mocks in the first week of January are the true diehards (like us), but it’s fun nonetheless. At least we can start to get an idea as to which players could be available at a discount and which guys we’re better off staying away from as the price will likely be too high. And besides, with the fantasy football season now over and the fantasy baseball draft prep period just beginning its relaxed stage, what else are we going to do with all this free time?
So without further adieu, let’s take a look at the catcher position. The ADP rankings are courtesy of Mock Draft Central.
RANKED TOO HIGH
Carlos Santana (Catcher Rank: 1 Overall Rank: 40)
I get it. His power upside is enormous, and a .263 BABIP suggests that his .239 batting average last year was on the fluky side. Still, anyone who strikes out 133 times in a season has plenty of work to do, and in a non-keeper league I’ll almost never spend a third or fourth round pick on a guy with barely over a year of big league experience. There’s a lot to like about Santana, but I see this as a case of owners overvaluing potential and undervaluing a proven track record. I have Carlos ranked fourth on my list behind Brian McCann, Victor Martinez and Mike Napoli.Joe Mauer (Catcher Rank: 6 Overall Rank: 81)
Now this is strange. Who would have thought a couple years ago that drafting Mauer sixth among backstops would be a reach? Here’s the bottom line. Not only is the guy a major injury risk, but his 28-homer ’09 campaign can now officially be considered an outlier. And it’s not like Target Field will aid Mauer in his quest to recapture his power stroke. The reality is that if Mauer fails to bat .300 (he hit .287 last season), he’s a good but not great mixed league starter. I’d bump him down a couple spots to eighth, behind Miguel Montero and Alex Avila.
RANKED TOO LOW
Russell Martin (Catcher Rank: 24 Overall Rank: 332)
Crazy, right? How in the world can a catcher who slugged 18 homers last year and who will again play just about every day, hitting in the high-octane Yankees’ lineup, be valued as barely a No. 2 backstop in a standard mixed league? Your guess is as good as mine, but it probably has something to do with that .237 batting average. The funny thing is that while everyone was lavishing Martin with praise in the early going, his numbers were actually better in the second half. Will Russell ever return to the elite level of fantasy backstops? Maybe not. But he’s a top-12 catcher in my book. No doubt about it.
Chris Iannetta (Catcher Rank: 25 Overall Rank: 336)
Time and time again, Iannetta has disappointed me, including last season, when in my NL-only keeper league I was so convinced that $9 was a great price for him that I signed him to a contract extension. Lucky for me, his trade to the AL means that his contract is now null and void! But seriously, I’m not yet ready to jump off the Iannetta bandwagon. In fact, I’m convinced that a change of scenery will do him some good. The bad news is that he’s moving away from Coors Field, but the Halos will give him every opportunity to earn the starting job. For some reason, the Rockies never really offered Chris that chance, banishing him to the bench for long stretches and even sending him to the Minors on a few occasions. Granted, he needs to cut down on the strikeouts, but last season’s .370 on-base percentage is encouraging. And we all know he has plenty of pop. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Iannetta is a top-12 backstop in 2012.