Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Players view catchers in fantasy baseball in a mixed way. There are owners who feel they have to get a catcher that has excellent power potential early because of the scarcity at the position. Other owners like to wait until the middle rounds and grab a catcher that will have decent offense but nothing spectacular.
Then there are owners, such as myself, who wait as late as possible to grab a catcher who will put up double-digit home runs and hit above .260. The owners who fall into this category know the value in drafting a catcher late.
The earlier you take a catcher the better your chances of getting a diminishing return based on the players that are drafted around him. The position players taken after a catcher in the early rounds can put up numbers that are above and beyond what you are going to get out of the catcher you drafted.
A great example is Joe Mauer, the most overrated player in baseball. Owners are still drafting him based on this fantasy that he will hit 20+ home runs like he did five seasons ago. I have never understood the reasoning for drafting Joe Mauer so high. Mauer’s batting average is the only exceptional statistic that will really help your team
As a rule you should take the best player available in the first five rounds. I would much rather draft a five-tool player who will contribute across the board. When making the decision to draft a catcher that high, take into account who you are not drafting.
Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Gomez will give you major contributions in five categories to your team. Gomez is a little deficient in RBI’s but he still managed to amass more than Joe Mauer last season. Their run and stolen base statistics can be fantasy baseball gold if you have the right pieces around them on your team.
Both Choo and Gomez had far superior stats to Mauer in 2013
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Mauer will hit better than .300 and drive in a mediocre amount of runs. He will also be first base eligible this year. One thing he will not do — carry your fantasy team when he is on a hot streak for a month like some of the players taken after him. When comparing him to more well rounded players, his statistics pale in comparison. He no longer looks like the attractive option for your team as he once did.
Yadier Molina is similar to Joe Mauer. He will give you double-digit home home runs and a good amount of RBI’s, but he comes at a steep price when comparing the players that are drafted around him. He is vastly overrated in drafts because of the 22 home runs he hit in 2012. Once again owners are drafting him based on the season he had in 2012. He came nowhere near those power numbers in 2013 and won’t in 2014, either.
Below are two players that can be options for you instead of Yadier Molina and his lofty draft position.
Jose Altuve plays a scarce position, second base, and he has the added benefit being an excellent base-stealer. He won’t give you the RBI production but if you draft correctly can be more than made up for in other rounds of your drafts.
Kyle Seager’s third base position is one of some scarcity when it comes to finding player who will contribute to four categories. He won’t hit for a high average but he has plenty of power and should produce a similar number of RBI’s to Molina’s this season. He has the potential to have double-digit steals, an outstanding attribute from a third baseman.
Like with the above example, both Altuve and Seager had more complete numbers than Molina in 2013.
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You can find very good production out of the catcher position in the middle rounds of most drafts. This is the point where you are getting a lot of value from the position.
A great example of the type of value I am talking about would be Jason Castro. He is being taken in the middle rounds of drafts and hit for more power than Mauer and Molina last season and his batting average won’t hurt your team like a lot of other catchers will.
Sure, he’s not going to drive in as many runs as Yadier Molina and probably not score as many runs as Joe Mauer. But he is someone who has a lot of upside that I can see improving upon his statistics from last season.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is similar to Castro and he is even more underrated in drafts. He can be taken with a late middle-late round choice. He has good power for a catcher and he won’t embarrass you with his average. He will be limited by the Miami Marlins offense this season, but that should not deter you from drafting him because he is an exceptional value, like Jason Castro, producing similar numbers last season.
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Your catcher’s shouldn’t need to produce league leading statistics because the position players you drafted early will more than make up for your mid-round catcher selections.
If you have already and took a catcher in the early rounds of your draft, you will have leverage with trades. There are owners who covet catchers who go in the early rounds of drafts but do not draft them because better players are available.
That doesn’t mean that they won’t trade for your catcher that you drafted like a Joe Mauer or Yadier Molina. When making this kind of trade make sure you get a mid-round catcher in return and not the last catcher taken in your draft. You then will be able to get an additional player who has the same value as your high round catcher that you are willing to trade. This type of deal will always work out in your favor.