2009 Fantasy Projections – Catcher

Gary Carter: He won't get injured and his BA won't hurt your team

Hi. My name is John. I enjoy eating pizza and yelling at parked cars.

Joe asked me to step in here and write something, so here goes… I’m going to rank the top 5 players at each position in the NL and the top 5 in the NL East. These offensive rankings are both for the season and for fantasy baseball – because that’s just how I roll.

Today’s position is catcher. Here goes:

National League Catchers

Catchers… Always a crapshoot and usually a big disappointment if you draft them too high. My strategy is to draft Gary Carter and live in a nostalgic fantasy world while everyone else’s catchers are on the DL or batting .220 due to sprained fingers and bad knees. When in doubt, think about ’86. Bring on the rankings:

  1. Brian McCann (.295-22-95) – If he stays healthy, the numbers could be even better.
  2. Russell Martin (.290-15-75) – Solid hitter without much power. If Torre doesn’t run him, his overall value could drop significantly in mixed leagues, but he has been durable and should drop no lower than the #2 catcher in the NL.
  3. Ryan Doumit (.310-18-75) – This guy can flat out hit but he’s an injury risk.
  4. Chris Iannetta (.260-20-85) – A decent prospect who finally came through last season. He should continue to improve and you can’t really go wrong with a catcher who calls Coors Field home.
  5. Ivan Rodriguez (.275-14-60) – I don’t believe in Geovany Soto (yet) and I’m willing to bet Pudge has enough in the gas tank for one more decent season. It looks like he may be hitting second, which could improve SB totals (he had 10 last year). Steroids or not, the guy knows how to play the game and he could be one of a few bright spots in Houston this season, until he is traded.

Sleeper: Keep an eye on Pablo Sandoval. He has an undisciplined approach at the plate, but he should get ABs and he should have or attain 1B/3B/C eligibility in most fantasy leagues.

National League East Catchers

After Brian McCann, things fall off sharply. If you take any other NL East catchers in your fantasy draft, you should probably just forget about your team, because you’re in serious trouble. There’s always fantasy NASCAR…

  1. Brian McCann (.295-22-95) – If he stays healthy, the numbers could be even better.
  2. John Baker (.250-12-65) – I like Baker’s approach at the plate and he may benefit from hitting in a decent lineup (if Florida’s lineup doesn’t regress). Get him cheap and hope for the best.
  3. Jesus Flores (.240-12-65) – Flores may be overrated because his name isn’t Paul LoDuca. I like him if he comes cheap.
  4. Ramon Castro (.250-7-35) – I can’t put Brian Schneider on this list. I just can’t. At least Castro has some upside – I could see him posting line of a .260-10-60 if he gets the chance to play everyday for extended time. If you’re in a deep NL-only league, Castro for $1 might pay dividends. Or not. Hey, it’s only a buck.
  5. Carlos Ruiz (.240-6-40) – Eh. I think Ruiz loses his job by mid-season, if Ronny Paulino shows up to play. If not, the Phillies could trade for a competent catcher (Ivan Rodriguez?).

Sleeper: Keep an eye on Ronny Paulino. He could be out of baseball and working in a car wash by mid-August, but he could also be hitting .270-8-55 by then too.

UPDATE: 3/26/09 – I have updated Ramon Castro’s projection. Thanks to Isuzudude for pointing out my projection was incorrect based on probable playing time.

John Fitzgerald is an independent film/TV producer. In 2007, he followed former Mets 2B Wally Backman and his minor league team for the TV show, "Playing for Peanuts." Click here for DVD ordering information NOTE: $5 from each sale goes to maintenance costs of MetsToday.com
  1. wohjr March 26, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Could you flesh out your not-sold-edness on Mr. Soto? Is it just because he doesn’t have much of a track record?

  2. isuzudude March 26, 2009 at 9:20 am
    Welcome aboard, John. Look forward to future posts. But now let the grilling commence…

    I agree with wohjr – where’s Soto? He’s at least a top-5 NL-only catcher. I like your pick for John Baker as #2 in the NL East, though I think he’ll hit for a higher average than you project (.299 as a rookie and .277 career mark in the minors). I don’t see how you could rank Flores over Castro if you think Ramon will hit 20 points higher and hit only 2 fewer homers with 5 less ribbies. However, I highly question your projection for Castro. Though for a dollar he could wind up being a solid sleeper, what makes you think he’ll be in the lineup enough to drive in 60 runs? Let alone for the fact that Jerry has made Schneider his “everyday” catcher, but also because Castro can’t stay healthy long enough to make Jerry remember he’s even on the team. And if there’s anybody to take a gamble on with the Phillies, it’s Chris Coste. Paulino can’t hit his own weight and the team has already suggested he’s on the block. Tell you what, though. Unless you’re in a deep NL-only league, if you’re taking anyone other than McCann in your fantasy draft, chances are you have a pretty bad team.

  3. John Fitzgerald March 26, 2009 at 12:03 pm
    The projection for Castro was if he gets the starting job at some point. I should have been clearer. Sorry.

    As for Soto, he was a .270 with no power in the minors before 2007 (http://thebaseballcube.com/players/S/Geovany-Soto.shtml). He strikes out too much and I expect his average to drop significantly and his power could drop too. That said, I’m slotting him at #6 this year and I realize I may be undervaluing him. In the end, I’d rather pay less for Pudge and hope he still has something left.

  4. John Fitzgerald March 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm
    Isuzu – My projection on Baker’s BA has more to do with playing time than anything else. As a full-time, everyday catcher, I think his average will drop significantly. Maybe it won’t drop that much, but I feel safe going into a draft figuring he is a .250 hitter. I don’t think he will drop below that.

    If he manages to hit .275, he deserves a serious look as a #1 catcher in NL-only leagues. I just don’t think he is there yet.

  5. isuzudude March 28, 2009 at 8:41 am
    It looks like Paulino could wind up being a solid sleeper after all after yesterday’s transactions, which saw him get shipped from Philly to San Fran to Florida. He now figures to get the predominant playing time behind the plate for the Fish against LHP, spelling Baker, and could wind up getting a longer look if Baker struggles in his sophomore season or gets injured. Good call, John!