Posts Tagged ‘Catcher’

h2h Corner ~ Don’t Look Back: J.R. Towles

“Don’t look back in anger, I heard you say”

From 2008 – 2010, J.R. Towles put up a .158/.247/.286 line with seven HRs in 275 plate appearances. Of course, he was a massive sleeper going into 2008 based on 44 plate appearances in 2007, during which he went .375/.432/.575.

That’s not exactly fair, as Towles had built a pretty good minor league resume, posting good averages and great on base percentages. Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Knowing ADP – How To Win Your League Before It Starts: Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer – Current ADP 19; 1st Catcher – My Rank: 44; #1 Catcher

Clearly, Mauer is the consensus top spot at the catcher position (although I believe Posey is nipping at his heels). However, where that #1 overall catcher should go is a matter of contention as I have Mauer and most catchers well below their ADP.

Mauer tied for 39th in runs scored with 88; tied for 177th in HRs with just nine; 72nd for RBIs with 75; and fourth in average.

He lead catchers in runs by 25, was tied for 14th in HRs, had the third most RBIs and the best batting average.

Mauer was far and away the most consistent performer at catcher. However, in 50 fewer at bats, Mike Napoli scored just 28 fewer runs and had seven less RBIs – yet he out-homered Mauer by 15. Sure his batting average is light years away from Mauer, but he is getting picked a full 100 slots later. Would you rather have Joe Mauer and Bobby Abreu or Napoli and Matt Holliday?

I’ll take the second pairing all the way to the bank. I’m also a tad concerned about Mauer’s durability. Over the last three years, he has appeared in 140 games on average (a ton for a catcher).

Lastly, I think 2009 was more the outlier of his career than 2010. In 2009, his BABip was .373 (the year before: .342, 2010: .348). In 2009 his HR/FB rate was a ridiculous 20.4%, the year before: 6.5%, the year after: 6.7%.

Quite simply, Mauer is not a .360 hitter with 20 HRs. He is a .330-.340 hitter with 10 – 15 HRs – and that might be generous. Furthermore, it’s incredibly unlikely that he’ll be more than an 85 run scored or producer given he’ll play at least 20 games less than regulars.

While catcher is scarce, you can pair guys like Napoli with proven top 25 hitters and not miss a beat. Only once has Mauer been worth his price tag and all evidence points to that being an incredible aberration.

Feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner).

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Maximizing every drop of value in every pick is hugely important. Taking a player in the fifth round that you could just as easily have taken in the sixth round is a major mistake. To avoid this, you need to know all about Average Draft Position (ADP).

While no two drafts are identical, knowing where a player typically goes gives you a general idea of where he will go in your draft. That said, be sure to do homework on your league mates subjective tendencies. For example, if there are Red Sox fans, be sure to snag guys like Lester and Youkilis a bit earlier than you normally would. In addition, you should talk up your sleepers before the draft (discretely of course) to see if anyone is on to them. If you don’t, an opponent with an itchy trigger finger who hasn’t done his ADP homework might snag one of your sleepers a round before anyone else is typically taking him.

Now that you know WHY ADP is important, I want to show you HOW to exploit it by highlighting those players who are going too low compared to players with similar ADPs. You can grab an ADP report at Mock Draft Central.

Feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner).

h2h Corner ~ 2011 head-2-head Catcher Rankings

For a downloadable spreadsheet, please visit: awesome-h2h-rankings.comsizzle.

Not since my little league hay-day, when I was a switch-hitting catcher like Mickey Tettleton (before he left the Orioles, cause afterward I hated him – I didn’t understand free agency) with the speed of Craig Biggio, has the catching position been manned by so many interesting specimens.

As my twitter followers know, I have, again, become obsessed with baseball cards. I’ve bought a number of 2010 Topps packs and have been blessed with a few Buster Posey (ranked: #2 catcher, 45 overall) rookie cards. I’m as shocked as you are by Posey’s immodest ranking, to be honest. Usually, my rankings really deflate catchers. Posey is that special. I honestly believe Posey will finish in the top 5 among catchers in four of the five main categories. You can’t make that same claim with Mauer, given his schizophrenic power numbers. The only thing that hasn’t forced me to push Posey higher is his relative lack of at bats and Mauer’s awesome average potential. This is such an atypical rank for me (I am also typically way down on sophomore phenoms) that I’m more confused than anything else. So, let’s move on.

While Posey, Mauer and Carlos Santana seem to be claiming all the catcher fantasy headlines, I’ve become a big Geovany Soto (6, 107) fan. Clearly, his abysmal 2009 burned many-a fantasy owner. But his 2010 (.280/.393/.497) showed me enough to put him back in my good graces (especially in OBP leagues). As a backstop who won’t kill your ratios (think .270 AVG, .370 OBP) and has 20+ HR upside, he’s a very good low-risk selection. Honestly, I was tempted to put him higher and could see arguments for tabbing him over Posada, but I’d be confident with him as my backstop.

Going into 2010, the only concern with Miguel Montero (7, 115) was how much playing time Chris Snyder would take – well Snyder’s been exiled to Pittsburgh and Montero is healthy. While he doesn’t possess the 20 HR upside of Soto and those catchers above him, Montero should settle into the 14 – 18 range and provide a non-life-threatening average in the .270s. He is, by no means, a sexy pick, but I think a relatively safe one.

In the past, I have been concerned about young players with relatively little track record (Chris Davis, Dallas McPherson, Brandon Wood, etc.) who are getting tons of hype and picked high without much major league experience to back that up. I do not think Carlos Santana (8, 128) fits in there; however I also don’t see him as a surefire top 5 catcher. I like him at number eight and in the 12th round or so because there is very little risk. If you are picking him in the top seven rounds, you’re likely passing on a 200+ K pitcher or a solid contributing outfielder for a guy with 192 MLB PAs who might go .260/.380/.440. In OBP leagues, he gets a huge bump. But in AVG leagues, I don’t see his 20+ HR potential making up for the real batting average risk. Quite simply, Posada, Soto and Montero are safer and likely cheaper options.

Mike Napoli (9, 150) might be too low on my rankings. He did receive a significant bump after the trades, but I’m worried my significant bump might be too cautious. A perennial 20+ HR threat (if given the PAs), Napoli is moving to an incredibly hitter friendly ballpark and away from a not so offensive-healthy environment. He could really push 30 HRs, but probably will struggle to bat above .250. He is definitely a needs-based selection – if you can forego batting average and need power, he should be your catcher.

Sleeper sofas:

Chris Iannetta (#15 catcher, 215 overall): he was a sleeper last year until, somehow, Miguel Olivo posted the best first half of his life. However, that didn’t sway the interesting and clearly intelligent Rockies front office as they continue to believe in the underlying statistics for Iannetta. As the Rockies have brought in career backstop back-ups, Iannetta will be the starting catcher. I think his floor could be a Miguel Montero-lite: .245-.255 AVG, 15+ HRs. I also think there is upside here, potentially to 22-25 HRs and a .270 AVG.

Ryan Hanigan (20, 224): never has Hanigan seen over 300 PAs in a season. However, he should be the “starting” catcher for the Reds this year, which should earn him around 100 games and the near 400 PAs that go along with it. I don’t think there will be much counting numbers with him (think single-digit HRs), but he could provide nice, non-painful ratios. I see him capable of hitting .275 at the least with upside to .300. He should also post a very good OBP (has a career 12.6% walk rate). At the end of drafts, or two-catcher leagues, he makes a lot of sense.

Josh Thole (23, 239): If you are looking for power, Thole (who never had a SLG% higher than .430 in the minors) isn’t your guy. However, he has shown a keen eye at the plate (11.5% walk rate in AAA) and 10.6% in 227 MLB PAs last year. It’s unclear how much playing time he will get – he might only see spot duty (think 70 games and 270 PAs), but he will put up decent ratios: .280 AVG and .360 OBP. If he could luck into full time duty, you’d have a catcher with good peripherals and 8-10 HRs.

A.J. Ellis (24, 248): With the corpse that is Russell Martin in New York, Ellis could finally get the chance he deserves. Ellis, who will be 30 in April, has just 141 career MLB PAs, yet has consistently posted .380+ OBPs in the minor leagues. Sure he hasn’t added any pop whatsoever, but I think we can see a low-teens walk rate and a .275 AVG if he gets to play. Rod Barajas is no good.

I think the moral of the sleeper story is to get one of the top nine catchers.

You can get full catcher ranks here.

If you have ideas for other columns, post your thoughts in the comments. Also, feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner).

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Mark Johnson

mark johnson backmark johnson frontThere are just all kinds of problems with the back of this card! For starters, would it really matter if Mark was in a relationship? It was a WIVES’ cookbook – not a married/engaged players’ cookbook. The distinction the card should have drawn is that Johnson is a player, not a wife. But, yeah, who doesn’t love a good venison jerky? I’ll submit that any cookbook without a good jerky recipe is just lame.

The second problem I have with the back of the card: 59 at bats do not make anyone good at any type of hitting...but 50% of the time it works all of the time. In the 409 plate appearances Johnson had in his career during the day, he posted a .221/.333/.303 slash line. That is pretty similar to his night slash line of .217/.302/.327. Shockingly (except, not really) Johnson’s career numbers look like .218/.314/.318. So, yeah, I guess he does perform somewhat better when the sun is shining…I near about fell in love).

In all, Johnson simply didn’t live up to his draft status (first rounder in 1994). He did show some promise in the minors, posting several awesome OBPs from 1994-1998. Of course, at age 22, he hadn’t advanced beyond AA.

In reality, outside of his wonderful cookbook appearance, the most interesting aspect of Johnson’s career was the trade he was involved in: him along with Keith Foulke and Joe Valentine to Oakland for Billy Koch, Neal Cotts and Daylon Hoyt.

Oh, and he led us to this wonderful video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_TwkupP1SA.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.