2010 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Catchers

All 2010 Fantasy Articles | 2010 Position Rankings

If you’re like most guys, you hate shopping. You’ll wait until one of the sleeves is coming off your shirt before you even think about heading to the mall to buy new clothes. And even then, it takes your significant other to say, “Are you seriously going out in public like that?” before you actually turn the keys in the ignition and embark on one of the most annoying days of the year.

Once you’ve pinpointed where you want to shop, the clearance rack usually calls out to you like that 50-inch plasma at Best Buy. It draws you in and once you’ve selected six shirts for a grand total of $22.50, you’ve completed your clothes shopping for the year.

Drafting a catcher in fantasy baseball is sort of like when guys go shopping for clothes. Once you finally come to realization that you need them, shopping in the bargain bin (or the clearance rack, or whatever other analogy you prefer) isn’t a bad way to go.

Unless your opponents fall asleep on Joe Mauer and he drops in your draft, nabbing one of these seven catchers is a good way to fill category voids that were created in earlier rounds. By the end of the year, there probably won’t be a huge gap between one of these catchers and one of the top 3 (Mauer, Brian McCann and Victor Martinez) that your buddy just had to have. (He’s probably the same guy that likes dropping $100 on a new shirt and buys another once the color starts to fade.)

Matt Wieters, Orioles
There’s a good chance that you’ll miss out on Wieters because there will be someone in your league that has an infatuation with youngsters that have extreme upside and will take him a round or two early. That’s okay. But if he does happen to fall, grab him because 2010 might wind up being the 23-year-old’s breakout season. After hitting .259 in a little over a month before the All-Star break, Wieters finished his rookie season on a tear while hitting .288 with nine dingers and driving in 43 RBI in 96 games. In September, he hit .362 with three homers and drove in 14 RBI while hitting in the No. 3 spot of Baltimore’s improving lineup. Assuming his success at the end of the 2009 season carries over, Wieters is the one player in this group that is worth taking a round before you’re ready to select a catcher (assuming he’s still available, that is).

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MLB Power Rankings—Top 5 and Bottom 5

It’s getting down to pennant race times and there are some incredibly tight races and a lot of teams that are at least in contention. Here we’ll take a look at who we think the Top 5 teams are right now and who the Bottom 5 are as well.

Top 5

1. New York Yankees (73-43)—Not only did the Yankees sweep the rival Red Sox last weekend and make quite a statement, they’ve won 10 of 11 and are 22-6 (.786) since the all-star break. That is just scorching.

2. Los Angeles Angels (68-45)—You have to feel for the surging Rangers and even the Mariners, because neither one is going to catch this fundamentally sound team. If Mike Scioscia isn’t the best manager in baseball, he’s surely the most underrated.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (65-52)—The Cards grabbed Matt Holliday before anyone else could and he’s batting .493 with a slugging percentage of .813 in his first 75 at-bats with St. Louis. Pujols/Holliday has got to be the most fearsome 3-4 tandem in baseball.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (69-47)—The Dodgers hung on without Manny for a few months, and then cooled off when he returned. They’ve lost 7 of 11 but still lead their division by 5 games and are 32-14 against NL West opponents.

5. Philadelphia Phillies (65-48)—Suddenly with Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez, and Jimmy Rollins finally finding his stroke, the defending champs are poised to make another run deep into October and possibly November.

Bottom 5

1. Washington Nationals (41-75)—They recently won eight in a row but still trail the Phillies by 25.5 games and the fourth place Mets by 13.5. So yeah, they’re still the worst team in baseball.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (46-69)—The Pirates actually looked half decent early in the season, but they did what they always do in July—made a whole bunch of trades and pretty much surrendered the season as well as the next three seasons, as they’ve lost 11 of their last 13 games.

3. Kansas City Royals (45-70)—Remember the Royals were 14-12 and everyone started talking about this team being decent for the first time in two-plus decades? We remember, but then they remembered that they were the Royals.

4. Baltimore Orioles (48-67)—This team has some great young players like Adam Jones and Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis, but playing in that division is almost unfair.

5. Cleveland Indians (49-66)—Once again, the Indians have disappointed and started selling off players. Cliff Lee, like CC Sabathia last year, is the reigning AL Cy Young winner, and the Tribe also dumped popular catcher Victor Martinez and infielder Ryan Garko. Next year sure has a familiar ring on Lake Erie.

2009 MLB Preview: #28 Baltimore Orioles

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Offseason Movement: One of the busier teams this offseason, the Orioles acquired OF Felix Pie and LHP Rich Hill from the Cubs, while also adding free agents Ty Wigginton, Mark Hendrickson, Cesar Izturis, Gregg Zaun, Ryan Freel, John Parrish, David Pauley, Chris Gomez, Chad Moeller and Japanese pitcher Koji Uehara.

Top Prospect: Matt Wieters, C
Wieters isn’t only the best prospect in Baltimore – he’s the best prospect in baseball. He can flat out rake and once he gets some experience under his belt, he could be a .300 hitter who produces 12-15 home runs a year. Unfortunately, Baltimore fans that were hoping to see him play early this season will have to wait. Wieters is expected to start the first two months in the International League, but could be called up before the All-Star Break with the O’s not expected to be in contention. Some have compared Wieters to Joe Mauer and Mike Piazza.

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2009 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Catchers

All 2009 Fantasy Articles | 2009 Position Rankings

There’s an unwritten rule among intelligent fantasy football drafters that goes a little something like this: Don’t draft a quarterback before Round 5. That’s because unless you land Peyton Manning, there’s not a huge difference between the No. 2 rated quarterback and the No. 8.

A similar rule can be applied to catchers in fantasy baseball. Chances are if you selected Victor Martinez (the No. 1 rated catcher in most draft rankings in 2008) early in your draft last year, you punched a whole through one of your walls by the All-Star Break.

If you selected a guy like Joe Mauer in the fourth or fifth round, you probably were quite satisfied by his .328-9-85-98 production. But what if we told you that you could have had taken Bengie Molina much later and still wound up with .292-16-95-46 production out of your catcher spot? Sure, you would give up runs and sacrifice average, but you almost doubled your home runs and gave your RBI numbers a boost as well.

What we’re saying is – don’t overvalue the catcher position. Let someone else jump on Brian McCann’s potential or Russel Martin’s stolen base production while you’re concentrating on bolstering the other positions that don’t have the amount of depth that the backstops do.

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