In many of the drafts and auctions I do, there isn’t much love for catchers. Many players look upon them as a necessary evil. This could be because so many of them are unspectacular while the rest are batting average drains. But every league I know of requires them. If you happen to be in a NL only league that requires two catchers, you’re really feeling the pain.
In a 15 team mixed league that requires two catchers per team, fourteen of them come from the American League while the other 16 come from the National League. This makes sense since there are still two more teams in the NL. But when you look at the catchers that comprise the 30 that are in the positive pool that makes up the quantity required to start, there is a pronounced difference. Only four of the AL backstops have a value less than ten dollars while nine from the NL have a value less than ten dollars. Only one from the AL has a value of five dollars or less while there are five from the NL with the same type of value. In a mixed league, the catchers from the American League are pushed up into the top and middle tiers while the catchers from the National League are more spread out with the bottom tier consisting predominately of National Leaguers.
Here’s how my top 15 catchers rank for the NL.
- Brian McCann – You really can’t argue against McCann getting top billing. He’s done it for many years now. Since 2006 (his first full season in the majors), the Atlanta Braves backstop has hit at least 20 homeruns at least five of six years. The lowest he’s ever hit for a season with Atlanta was .269 in 2010. He has even managed close to a handful of stolen bases most years.
- Miguel Montero – Every year Montero has received at least 425 at bats he has hit at least 16 home runs with a career batting average over .270 – a trend that should easily continue due to the friendly confines of Chase Field.
- Buster Posey – Some would put him ahead of Montero and, possibly, McCann. I think he very well might finish the year with more value than the top two; I’m hedging my bet a bit after his horrific injury last year. The Giants are said to be looking to give him at least one day a week at first base to take away some of the wear and tear behind the plate.
- Yadier Molina – The next level starts with the St. Louis Cardinal catcher who has been steady, if not spectacular. The 14 homeruns he hit in 2011 were at least double what he has hit in any year of his career so don’t count on that as the norm. What he does bring to the table is a good average and 135+ games played.
- Geovany Soto – Soto has demonstrated mid 20’s homerun power but has been very inconsistent. This is evident in his batting average which has gone from a low of .218 in 2009 to a high of .285 in 2008. I wouldn’t bet on which Soto I’m going to get.
- John Buck – Demonstrated he can hit 20 homeruns but, at the same time, demonstrated that hitting over .250 for a season is a fluke for him. Entering his second year in the NL and has hopefully learned the pitchers enough to improve on his .227 2011 batting average.
- Carlos Ruiz – Hasn’t hit double digit homeruns since 2006 in AAA. His batting eye has improved as he’s hit .302 and .283 in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Has pretty much a 1:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
- Wilson Ramos – The 24 year old had quite the scare this off-season as he was kidnapped in his native Venezuela and was rescued after a few days. This after a successful rookie campaign in which he batted .267 and hit 15 homeruns. If he builds on this even a small amount he could quickly move up the ranks. And he’s only 24 years old.
- Jonathan Lucroy – Combines low double-digit homerun power with a batting average over .250 that won’t totally decimate your team.
- Ramon Hernandez – After hitting double digit homeruns in Baltimore two out of three years, it was surprising that Hernandez only managed at least ten homeruns in only one of his three years in Cincinnati, another hitter’s park. He moves to Colorado where he can perhaps regain that double digit power with a pretty good batting average.
- Rod Barajas – Mid to upper teens power with a poor batting average is what Barajas provides.
- Wilin Rosario – Hernandez is only holding a spot until Rosario is ready. Wilin has 20 home run potential, possibly more at Coors Field.
- Devin Mesoraco – This ranking is maybe a little aggressive given Dusty Baker’s penchant for going with veterans. Has power and has proven he can hit for average in the minors, although he was inconsistent. He did improve 58 points in Triple-A from 2010 to 2011.
- Ryan Hanigan – Single digit homeruns with an OK batting average. It’s obvious why he’s just a place-holder for Mesoraco.
- Chris Snyder – Coming off back surgery and getting a new lease on life with the Houston Astros. He has hit double digit homeruns in the past and maybe he can again in Minute Maid Park.