Baltimore Sun

Baseball preview: Catchers

Now that I've previewed the starting pitchers and relievers, it's time to move into the offensive categories. Today, I'll give you the top catchers to keep in mind when you're preparing for your fantasy draft.

At the top of the rankings, there are a handful of rising superstars combined with some veterans on the back end of their careers. The position offers some good offensive potential in the top part of the list, but production falls off pretty quickly after that.


Be sure that you can grab one of the top catchers before they are taken or you'll be stuck without a solid fantasy option at the position. Because the position is pretty thin, there probably won't be many waiver-wire options as the season progresses. Therefore, it's important to draft a catcher who will provide consistency at the position for the entire season.

It's also important to realize that injuries are going to happen, and this affects the catcher position more than the others because of the physical nature of the position. Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca is already out for three to six weeks, but he should be ready for the season opener. Still, this injury will be something to monitor over the next several weeks as your draft approaches.


If your catcher gets hurt, then you might be stuck grabbing the best available catcher on the waiver wire. If this happens and there are no solid options on the waiver wire, then the first player I would look at would be the backup catcher on the injured player's team. However, he may not be much more than a body to hold the position until the hurt player can return, so you may need to make up the offense at other positions.

1. Victor Martinez, Cleveland Indians – Martinez led the Indians to the ALCS last season with 25 home runs and 114 RBIs. He also hit over .300 for the third consecutive season. Martinez is the best option at catcher because he'll likely hit over .300 again this season and could reach 30 home runs and 120 RBIs.

2. Russell Martin, Los Angeles Dodgers – In his second season, Martin emerged as a top fantasy catcher by hitting .293 with 19 home runs and 87 RBIs. He'll also pick up some stolen bases, which is rare for a catcher. Martin stole 21 bases last season and could repeat that performance again in 2008.

3. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves – McCann could wind up being the top fantasy catcher this season, but I ranked him third because his average dropped from .333 in 2006 to .270 last season. He'll get close to 25 home runs and 100 RBIs again, but needs to raise his average back over .300 to be considered the best fantasy option at the position.

4. Jorge Posada, New York Yankees – Call me skeptical, but I think Posada's batting average (.338) last season was a fluke. He'll still probably hit 20 home runs and collect about 90 RBIs, but keep in mind that his batting average will likely be closer to his career number (.277). My only concern is that he'll be 37 in August, which means he may be heading for declining numbers that typically come from players at the end of their careers.

5. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins – Mauer led the American League in batting average in 2006 (.347). Due to injuries, he was limited to 109 games last season and his average dropped to .293. If he's healthy this year, then he should hit above .300 again and will probably give your fantasy team 15 home runs and 80 RBIs.

6. Bengie Molina, San Francisco Giants – Molina has hit 19 home runs in each of the last two seasons. He's not the greatest catcher available, but he's a pretty solid option. This year, he will hit 15-20 home runs and get at least 60 RBIs, but he won't score more than 50 runs. His batting average will likely be around .280 this season.

7. Kenji Johjima, Seattle Mariners – Johjima has adjusted nicely since coming to play in the major leagues in 2006. While his numbers were down slightly last season from his impressive rookie debut, Johjima will still have a batting average above .285 this season. He'll also hit between 15-20 home runs and give you at least 60 RBIs.


8. Jason Varitek, Boston Red Sox – Varitek will help your fantasy team with home runs and RBIs, but he'll hurt you with his low batting average. He hit .238 in 2006 and .255 last season. There are better fantasy options out there, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if you wind up with Varitek as your catcher.

9. Ivan Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers – Last season, Rodriguez only had 11 home runs, which was his lowest total since 1993. He only scored 50 runs, which was his lowest since 1992. Rodriguez isn't one of the best offensive catchers in the major leagues anymore, but he's still going to hit at least .280 with 10-15 home runs and 60-65 RBIs.

10. Ramon Hernandez, Orioles – After an impressive first season with the Orioles in 2006, Hernandez struggled last season. He hit 23 home runs in 2006, but saw that total decrease to nine last season. He'll need to regain his power form this season because the Orioles have little power potential from other positions.

And the best of the rest…

11. John Buck, Kansas City Royals

12. Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies


13. Chris Snyder, Arizona Diamondbacks

14. Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs

15. Kurt Suzuki, Oakland Athletics

16. J.R. Towles, Houston Astros

17. Mike Napoli, Los Angeles Angels

18. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals


19. Ronny Paulino, Pittsburgh Pirates

20. Josh Bard, San Diego Padres

21. Brian Schneider, New York Mets

22. Jason Kendall, Milwaukee Brewers

23. Yorvit Torrealba, Colorado Rockies

24. Dioner Navarro, Tampa Bay Rays


25. Gregg Zaun, Toronto Blue Jays

Player to watch: Paul Lo Duca, Washington Nationals – As I mentioned, Lo Duca is expected to miss at least the beginning of spring training because of arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Keep an eye on his recovery because I would have probably placed him in the top 10 if he had not been hurt. He'll likely hit around .280 with about 10 home runs and 50 RBIs.