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2013 Position Rankings: Catchers

Welcome back to RotoAuthority's Position Rankings. Last week, we ranked Outfielders, and today we continue on with Catchers. Slightly less numerous in real and fantasy baseball, our catcher list goes up only to 30...but do you really want the catchers after that? Probably not, and if you do, they'll be waiting on the waiver wire. The players are divided into groups of similar value, and tiered by where they deserve to be drafted in a standard league. If you're bidding in an auction, consider players in the same tier to be of similar price. Positions in parentheses mark other eligibilities the player has. As before, these rankings were crafted after a team discussion, featuring Tim Dierkes and the entire RotoAuthority staff.

2nd Round

1. Buster Posey, SFG (1B)

I'm not normally an advocate of taking a catcher in the second round...but I'd probably make an exception for Posey. He's the top catcher by a mile.

4th Round

2. Carlos Santana, CLE (1B)
3. Yadier Molina, STL
4. Joe Mauer, MIN (1B)

I agonized for a while over who to install second on this list, Santana or Molina. Finally, I was won over by the possibility of Santana building on his power and the likelihood of Molina's homer total returning to its 2011 level. Mauer is more easily behind the other two, because his low power reins in his upside and his history of injuries makes his downside extra-steep.

5th-6th Rounds

5. Wilin Rosario, COL
6. Matt Wieters, BAL
7. Mike Napoli, BOS (1B)

Rosario came out of nowhere (or almost nowhere) to lead catchers in home runs. There seems to be a pretty good chance he does it again, playing in Colorado. Playing first for Boston, Napoli could put up some big numbers. Unfortunately, his health status limits his draft position almost as much as it did his real-life contract. If his own team isn't sure about him, neither am I.

9th-10th Rounds

8. Salvador Perez, KCR
9. Miguel Montero, ARI
10. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL
11. Victor Martinez, DET

Perez has put up two awesome partial seasons, and you can count me among those who think he can put them together. This Montero seems to be the rare case of a player getting overrated who does lots of things pretty well but excels in none. I don't think he's in line for a bad season or anything, but I wish he had more power. Martinez is a big question mark, having missed all of last season, but the extra plate appearances he could get as a full-time DH make him a worthy risk.

11th-12th Rounds

12. Brian McCann, ATL
13. Jesus Montero, SEA

A disastrous BABIP killed McCann's batting average last year, but I'd still be willing to draft him closer to his old position if he were expected to be healthy to start the season. Instead, expect to shelf McCann for a little while, though his exact timetable is in flux. He should still be great value, though--by the end of the year you'll have forgotten the weeks you spent with a placeholder catcher. This Montero should benefit from the moving fences in Safeco, though by how much remains to be seen. He could still make the jump to elite-hitting catcher, but the chances go down each year.

13th-14th Rounds

14. Ryan Doumit, MIN (OF)
15. A.J. Pierzynski, TEX

Doumit has some sock, and should get extra at bats playing in the outfield. His ranking makes him among the first second catchers, but don't be unhappy if he's your starter. Pierzynski shocked us all last year. We aren't exactly expecting a repeat, but if even a little of that power sticks with him in Texas, he will be huge value at this point.

17th-18th Rounds

16. J.P. Arencibia, TOR
17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS

These guys are the same. Lots of power, awful batting averages. Last names that make me question everything I know about spelling. There's a pretty big gap between these two and Pierzynski, because their downside is so low, and even at their best that batting average really drags you down. But they do hit home runs....

20th-22nd Rounds

18. Tyler Flowers, CHW
19. Rob Brantly, MIA
20. Wilson Ramos, WAS
21. Chris Iannetta, LAA

There's another big jump, as we get to the last few catchers started in two-catcher leagues. Flowers is interesting, but his upside appears to be joining Arencibia and Saltalamacchia. Accordingly, make sure they're off the board before you nab Flowers. Brantley could contribute in average, while Ramos and Ianetta might add a few bombs.

23rd and Beyond

22. A.J. Ellis, LAD
23. Welington Castillo, CHC
24. Russell Martin, PIT
25. Alex Avila, DET
26. John Jaso, OAK
27. Travis d'Arnaud, NYM
28. Carlos Ruiz, PHI
29. Yasmani Grandal, SDP
30. John Buck, NYM 

Well, it gets pretty rough back here. Fortunately, only three teams are selecting a starter from this bunch (and one of those is just an injury-replacement for McCann). Ellis and Jaso should get a bump if your league counts OBP. If it doesn't, at least they might score some runs. D'Arnaud is pretty much a prospect stash, while Ruiz and Grandal should only be stashed if you have a ton of bench spots or your league lets you keep suspended players on something like the DL.

Catchers are surprisingly deep this year. Most years, the names start getting ugly really fast, and you're getting a scrub if you don't have a top-six backstop. This time around, though, you can get some quality catchers quite late. In a two-catcher league, my favorite pre-season strategy for this position is to get both of my starting catchers between the ninth and fourteenth rounds, landing me two of the players ranked between eighth and fifteenth on this list. I won't have paid a premium price for my first catcher, and I won't be stuck with bad production with my second. In a single-catcher league, I'll probably try to be among the last to draft a catcher, because the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth catchers are all pretty good. Unless, of course, Buster Posey falls to the third round....




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