How to Value and Manage Catchers on Your MLB Fantasy Team
Monday October 3, 2011
Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): The catching position is one that is often the most mismanaged by fantasy owners. A very thin position, it is difficult to find value from catchers in the deeper leagues. Furthermore, you take a big risk dedicating a high pick or significant auction money at a very injury prone position, as 2011 owners Joe Mauer and Buster Posey owners know all too well. Even a healthy catcher will sit for a significant amount of games each year due to the wear and tear of the position.
For these reasons, I generally advise to not overpay for a player at this position. But with that said, for the right price, the top batch of catchers can provide you significant value. However, too many times before we have seen significant year yo year decline from players at this position. You simply should not rely on production at this position. Spend your bucks elsewhere. Based on matchups and playing time, it is possible to scrap together value for next to nothing.
For example, Chris Iannetta and his .238 average, 51 runs, 14 HR, and 55 RBI, disappointed many fantasy owners in 2011. But a closer look at the numbers shows the true value he provides. We all know the effect that Coors Field has on hitters, but for Iannetta it is staggering. His 2011 home numbers look like this: .301 batting average, 10 HR, 39 RBI and 3 SB.
If you were to only start Iannetta at home in 2011, you would great numbers all across the board for half of the season. You are essentially getting 50% of Brian McCann for way less than 50% of the price. The discrepancy in his splits is dramatic that it makes him so easy to use as an owner. Only start him at home and never think about starting him on the road!
Now, for the days that Iannetta is on the road, there are plenty of options in the bottom half of the rankings that would be available on the waiver wire. Let’s pick someone like Miguel Olivo. His 19 HR and 62 RBI provide great production from the thin catching position, but his .224 average leaves a lot to be desired. However, an owner is much better equipped to muster this average if the number of at bats are cut in half. If you combine this morph of Olivo and Iannetta, you are looking at these types of numbers:
.260-.270, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 6 SB.
These numbers are essentially right on par with Brian McCann’s 2011 line (.270, 24HR, 71RBI, 3SB). McCann is a consensus top five catcher, while Iannetta and Olivo are viewed outside of the top-15. You are essentially creating McCann for a lot cheaper and inherent risk that comes with investing money in the catching position. Furthermore, there are more options out there if you think Olivo’s average is too much of a killer. It all depends on your team’s needs and what categories you are chasing. If you are more concerned about average, guys like Nick Hundley and Jonathan Lucroy might be more attractive options. Looking for power and RBI production? Names such as J.P. Arencibia, Russell Martin, Geovany Soto, Kurt Suzuki (there are even more) are all useful under the right circumstances.
For example, look at Geovany Soto’s numbers against left-handed pitching in 2011: .296 average, 7 HR and 15 RBI in just 98 at-bats. This is in stark contrast to his .207 average and 10 home runs in 323 at-bats against right-handed pitching.
The point is that it’s easy to piece together production at this position. There are several players who contribute in the HR and RBI categories and you can get the most out of them by maximizing their strengths based on matchups and ballparks.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***
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Posted on October 3, 2011, in Players: Fantasy Baseball Articles and tagged arencibia, athletics, baseball, catcher, cubs, fantasybaseball, giants, hundley, iannetta, jays, lucroy, martin, mauer, mlb, olivo, posey, rockies, soto, suzuki, twins, yankees. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.