“Variable, this is Knife! Over! Variable, this is Knife! Over! Variable, this is Knife! Where the heck are you!?!?”
With that out of the way, let me clean up the catching variables: depending on where Cap’n ‘Tek ends up, he could fall completely off this list or move up (you assume someone paying him good free agent money would give him more playing time than the Sox might).
There are also a lot of rumblings about Boston trading for a young stud catcher (which should probably shake up/clarify the Texas catcher situation). Until that stuff plays itself out, it’s hard to rank the Saltalamacchias and Teagardens of the world.
I don’t know if there is a ton of surprise here outside of the Indians catcher position. This is more an indictment of Ryan Garko and Travis Hafner than anything else. It is conceivable that Victor Martinez slides to first base or DH to make way for Shoppach to get more at bats. While getting his first opportunity at consistent playing time, Shoppach hit three times as many HRs (21) and twice as many doubles (27) as last year – granted he had about twice as many at bats in 2008 than in 2007. He also scored 67 runs (and if the Indians offense improves) that number could increase to somewhere in the 80s in 2009. He was a second round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox, so there is potential here. It will be important to see how Matt Laporta does in camp – if he can snag an everyday spot in the line-up that could limit Shoppach’s upside.
Mike Napoli at 13 seems about right to me. In some (smaller) leagues I might take a chance on him over proven vets like AJ or Ramon Hernandez. He did hit .273 last year with 20 HRs and 7 stolen bases. He could conceivably be a 25 HR 10 SB guy. That combination of stats in a catcher is intriguing.
There’s also Matt Wieters. Let’s see if he breaks camp first before he gets ranked. But man, am I looking forward to his debut. I haven’t been this excited since Ben MacDonald…we all know what can happen with prospects, eh J.R. Towles?
“Circular error probable zero. Impact with high-order detonation. Have a nice day.”
1. Brian McCann (overall ranking: 61)
2. Russell Martin (69)
3. Joe Mauer (76)
4. Geo Soto (87)
5. Ryan Doumit (125) – can he stay healthy?
6. Jorge Posada (128) – ditto
7. Bengie Molina (132)
8. Victor Martinez (148) – where has the power gone?
9. Kelly Shoppach (153) – will he get at-bats?
10. AJ Pierzynski (164)
11. Chris Iannetta (169)
12. Ramon Hernandez (176) – watch our for Matt Wieters
13. Mike Napoli (178) – will he claim that stat potential?
14. Chris Snyder (185)
15. Dioner Navarro (209)
16. Kurt Suzuki (210)
17. Yadier Molina (212)
18. Gerald Laird (218)
19. Ivan Rodriguez (223)
20. Rod Barajas (225)
21. John Buck (236)
22. Miguel Olivo (241)
23. Jason Veritek (249) – his landing spot could answer a lot of question marks.
24. Pablo Sandoval
25. Jeff Clement
Last year’s top 10*:
1. Russell Martin (last year’s overall ranking: 29) Finished: 3rd among catchers
2. Victor Martinez (60) Finished: 27th among catchers
3. Jorge Posada (76) Finished: 39th among catchers
4. Brian McCann (102) Finished: 2nd among catchers
5. Joe Maurer (103) Finished: 1st among catchers
6. Geovany Soto (109) Finished 5th among catchers
7. Kenji Johjima (110) Finished: 34th among catchers
8. Bengie Molina (160) Finished: 6th among catchers
9. A.J. Pierzynski (175) Finished: 8th among catchers
10. Ryan Doumit (178) Finished: 4th among catchers
11. Mike Napoli (195) Finished: 10th among catchers
12. Ramon Hernandez (205) Finished: 11th among catchers
*I only ranked 12 catchers last year for two reasons. One: I didn’t play in a league – beside my 18-team SABR auction competition, which was an entirely different ranking experience – that had more than 10 teams. Two: typically people don’t double up on catchers. Frankly, after the top five, it gets a little muddy anyway. The injuries to V-Mart and Posada hurt my initial rankings and Johjima being horrible didn’t help, but otherwise, it appears my rankings ended up suitable for a standard 5×5 h2h league.