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Catcher Ranking Comparison

My catcher rankings back in March:

Rnk Name $ VAL
1 Russell Martin $23.39
2 Victor Martinez $22.40
3 Joe Mauer $21.32
4 Brian McCann $18.38
5 Jorge Posada $17.43
6 Geovany Soto $12.22
7 J.R. Towles $12.15
8 Kenji Johjima $11.63
9 Bengie Molina $8.79
10 Carlos Ruiz $7.94
11 A.J. Pierzynski $7.49
12 Ivan Rodriguez $7.23
13 Ryan Doumit $6.86
14 Ramon Hernandez $6.70
15 Ronny Paulino $6.26
16 Jason Varitek $6.11
17 Mike Napoli $5.24
18 Paul Lo Duca $4.74
19 Chris Snyder $3.64
20 Kurt Suzuki $2.32
21 Johnny Estrada $2.28
22 Jarrod Saltalamacchia $1.55
23 John Buck $1.30
24 Josh Bard $1.00
25 Dioner Navarro $0.95
26 Gregg Zaun $0.58
27 Gerald Laird $0.40
28 Michael Barrett $0.10
29 Yadier Molina $0.02

The actual rankings for 2008:

Rnk Name Round
1 Joe Mauer 5
2 Brian McCann 5
3 Russell Martin 3
4 Ryan Doumit 26
5 Geovany Soto 14
6 Bengie Molina 19
7 Kelly Shoppach N/A
8 A.J. Pierzynski 20
9 Chris Iannetta N/A
10 Yadier Molina 25
11 Ivan Rodriguez 14
12 Kurt Suzuki 27
13 Dioner Navarro 28
14 Ramon Hernandez 21
15 Mike Napoli 23
16 Gerald Laird 28
17 Chris Snyder 27
18 Miguel Olivo 28
19 Rod Barajas 28

Shoppach was the biggest surprise at catcher in 2008.  Doumit and Soto have been huge, but they were definitely on the radar as preseason sleepers.  Suzuki, Navarro, and Iannetta came up at various points in that thread too (though Iannetta only received a brief mention).  Shoppach came up with a .268-21-55-66-0 line in 339 ABs, ranking behind only Soto and McCann in HR. 

Could this have been predicted?  PECOTA had Shoppach at .231/.305/.414 heading into the season, only a slight nod to his power.  He slugged .472 in limited duty with the Indians last year, so it wasn't out of nowhere.  I would've had him down for 16 HR if I knew he was getting 350 ABs.  We couldn't have seen the injury to V-Mart coming.

Martinez, Posada, Towles, and Johjima were high-profile busts.  As a 16th round pick, Towles' rookie failure didn't kill anyone's team.  Those who took Martinez as a top 30 overall pick got burned pretty badly though.  Three of the big five catchers came through, making early-round catcher picks pretty risky this year.  Martinez and Posada are the oldest of the five, so maybe that's the lesson to be taken away.  If you're going catcher early, he'd better be young.  I'd add Soto to the Mauer/McCann/Martin mix for '09, but no other catcher gets into the elite tier.  Martinez could be undervalued, but not if picked in the fifth round.

Don't think you're playing it safe waiting for that third tier crapshoot of catchers, though.  Sure, you might snag a Doumit or a Molina.  But catchers are scarce, and if you guess wrong you could be stuck with crap (Jose rather than Bengie/Yadier) all year.  If you're in a two-catcher league and plan to wait back for both, you'd better add security by drafting a third catcher as a reserve.  You also need to pounce on any chance to upgrade (for example, I dropped Ruiz for Doumit in April in one league).

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