Fantasy Baseball 2013: The Catchers

Buster PoseyThe 2013 baseball season is a mere three weeks away, and for us that means only one thing: it’s time to start drafting. Over the next week, the Gunaxin team is going to be putting out our 2013 Fantasy Baseball guides, with rankings for every position and some extra content for hardcore players. We will be breaking down the top fantasy options by position, putting the players in tiers to make your draft day experience easier.

Today we start out behind the plate with the catchers. While historically a fantasy afterthought, a new young cadre of offensive catchers have made the position more valuable than in the past. When drafting catchers, keep in mind they have an additional injury and fatigue risk based on the position, and receive fewer at bats than other positions.

The Studs

Carlos Santana1. Buster Posey

2. Joe Mauer

3. Carlos Santana

Santana might be a surprise addition here to some, but his inclusion in the top-tier is justified by how the Indians use him. Like Posey and Mauer, Santana benefits from his ability to stay in the lineup when not behind the plate. Santana spent only 95 games at catcher in 2012, but still managed to amass an impressive 609 at bats. Combine that with the ability to get on base (.365 OBP), an expected power surge at age 27, and Santana deserved to be considered among the elites at the position.

The All Stars

Victor Martinez4. Matt Wieters

5. Yadier Molina

6. Victor Martinez

Martinez is the toughest decision on the fantasy board at catcher this season. After missing all of 2012 with a left knee injury, he is expected to be back at full strength for the start of the 2013 season. As the starting DH for the Tigers, the longtime slugger should see a lot of opportunities to drive in runs and plenty of good pitches to hit. One caveat before drafting Martinez is to determine if he remains catcher eligible in your league. Having not played in 2012, some leagues will default him to his primary position (DH) in 2011, and Martinez may not become catcher eligible until late in the season.

The Solid Starters

Mike Napoli7. Mike Napoli

8. Miguel Montero

9. Bryan McCann

All three of these players are capable of putting together solid seasons, but none are going to win you your league. Unless one of them drops, it may be best to skip this tier completely and target one of the players in the next group.

The Young Guns

Travis Darnaud10. Wilin Rosario

11. Jesus Montero

12. Salvador Perez

13. Travis d’Arnaud

All four of these players are under 24 and seem poised for breakouts. Perez is looking to rebound from an injury marred 2012, while Montero and Rosario need to improve their plate discipline in order to live up to their potential. Travis d’Arnaud is the best catching prospect in baseball, and could be in the majors in a matter of weeks. That said, if you take d’Arnaud you will need to pair him with another catcher late in the draft who can start until he is promoted.

The Second Options

Alex Avila 560x28014. Alex Avila

15. Johnathan Lucroy

16. Ryan Doumit

17. Carlos Ruiz

18. Jarrod Saltalamacchia

None of the players in this group should be drafted as starters in a 12-team league, but all have the potential to play their way into the top 10. Avila is the interesting name in this group, as a return to his 2011 form would vault him into solid starter status.

The Old Guy

AJ Pierzynski19. A.J. Pierzynski

You know exactly what you are getting with Pierzynski, a player you will hate to root for, but will produce in a still loaded Texas lineup. The only reason we have him so low is his age, as a 36-year-old catcher is never a safe bet.

The Has-Beens

Russell Martin20. Russell Martin

21. Kurt Suzaki

The Never Were

John Jaso22. JP Arencibia

23. John Jaso

24. Chris Iannetta

Don’t draft them outside of incredibly deep leagues. They will be on the waiver wire eventually.

The Enigma

Yasmani GrandalYasmani Grandal

We can’t rank Grandal among the top 24, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recommend picking him up. He hit well after a midseason call-up last year, hitting 8 HRs in only 60 games, while posting an OPS of .865. That would have put him clearly into the young gun tier above, if he had avoided a 50-game suspension for PEDs. With a shortened season and the extra threat of a full season ban hanging over him, Grandal is the riskiest player at the position, but a good stash-and-hold in deep leagues.