Fantasy BaseballFront OfficeTotal Run Index

Total Run Index: Catchers

If you read the introductory article on total run index then you know what this is all about. If you have not read that article, it might be helpful to you to understand a little about what is going on. What follows is a table showing the TRI scores for the top 25 catchers in 2012, their three year average, and their five year average.

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2012

3YR

5YR

Alex Avila

-1.1

6.1

—-

Rob Brantly

3.9

—-

—-

Jason Castro

0.5

—-

—-

Ryan Doumit

6.8

2.7

3.3

A.J. Ellis

11.4

3.4

1.5

Tyler Flowers

-2.3

-1.5

—-

Yasmani Grandal

10.8

—-

—-

Ryan Hanigan

-3.6

1.9

-0.6

Chris Iannetta

0.8

-0.1

2.6

John Jaso

23.2

8.4

—-

Jonathan Lucroy

15.1

0.1

—-

Victor Martinez

0.0

11.6

10.7

Joe Mauer

30.1

21.1

31.5

Brian McCann

-9.3

4.9

15.0

Yadier Molina

25.1

7.9

3.6

Miguel Montero

13.8

7.2

5.6

Mike Napoli

6.9

17.8

17.1

Salvador Perez

4.3

—-

—-

A.J. Pierzynski

8.5

-4.1

-5.9

Buster Posey

48.6

16.2

—-

Wilson Ramos

1.6

1.5

—-

Wilin Rosario

4.6

—-

—-

Carlos Ruiz

25.2

14.5

5.9

Carlos Santana

14.8

14.6

—-

Matt Wieters

1.1

-0.6

—-

All numbers have context and without that context they are just a bunch of numbers. So, we need to filter through these numbers to make some sense out of what has happened in the past and what could possibly happen in the future. As a wise man once said, past is prologue. That being said, a lot of things happened in the past, so I will go through and profile the players you are likely most interested in.

Buster Posey– San Francisco Giants

Posey’s 2012 and three year average obviously look very different because of his injury riddled 2011 campaign. He was good in 2010 as well, but not nearly as good as he was last season. So, the question burning in everyone’s mind is how much we should trust those numbers.

I’ve always been a split the difference kind of person. I think Posey is clearly the class of the catcher position, but I don’t think he is on the same level as the best hitters in baseball overall. He is due to come back to the pack a little. For him, that might mean only a .300 average with 20 home runs and 90-100 RBIs. For a catcher, that still makes him elite.

Joe Mauer– Minnesota Twins

Mauer has been a more consistent force in terms of fantasy value, but even he had his lost campaign. It is very difficult for catchers to stay healthy year in and year out. Most do not last more than ten to twelve seasons as a positive offensive force. The dilemma for the Twins is whether to weather the storm with Mauer at catcher and simply accept that he will not be able to live out his contract or to switch him to another position.

He has already played some first base, so they may be planning to phase him there over the next couple of seasons. As long as he is eligible at catcher that is good news for fantasy owners. Justin Morneau is blocking him currently, but they do not want him to be useless at the end of his contract.

Yadier Molina– St. Louis Cardinals

The three year and five year averages were included for players like this. I love Molina as a player. He has been the best defensive catcher in baseball over the past five years and he proved he could hit last year. Still, he is not an elite offensive player even though he put up elite numbers last season. He would probably be closer to what we might call a solid offensive performer for his position.

Fantasy players will be tempted to draft him as the third best catcher with Carlos Ruiz being suspended for 50 games. Please don’t do that. There are a few catchers (notably Carlos Santana) that should be selected above him. Split the difference between his 2012 season and three and five year averages to get a more accurate look at what he might do this season.

Carlos Ruiz– Philadelphia Phillies

Let’s see, you got a solid catcher that suddenly put up huge numbers. Then, you find out he tested positive for a banned substance. Knock me over with a feather. The whole PED nonsense was overblown years ago. The morality police will tell you that Ruiz was nothing before he got on the sauce. The three and five year average tell you different, but I would agree that 2012 is also an inaccurate depiction of his true abilities.

Carlos Santana– Cleveland Indians

If you caught my article on catcher sleepers and sliders then you saw some advanced metrics for Santana that would indicate improvement. To summarize, his batting average on balls in play is lower than expected. If that elevates to where it should be it will throw his average above .250 or .260 and thus all the other numbers (namely runs and RBI) will follow that. He’ll be the third catcher on my board.

John Jaso– Oakland Athletics

On the one hand, the Athletics have set up Jaso to be in a traditional platoon with Derek Norris. That should help him keep his percentage numbers up. Yet, it will also limit the number of games he will play. Jaso has never been a 120-130 game catcher anyway. He has always been the kind that will go 100-110 games instead.

That has a way of limiting the traditional counting numbers that most fantasy players go for. That can work in your favor if Jaso falls in the draft. You can win plenty a fantasy league with a catcher that holds your average (and/or OBP and SLG) up. Keep tabs on where he is being taken in average drafts to see if he could fit a sleeper profile.

Victor Martinez– Detroit Tigers

Martinez is an interesting player given his recovery from ACL surgery. He is a pure DH, so he really doesn’t have to run or field, but we want to see how the injury has affected his power. Martinez is a part of a lineup that is begging for huge RBI numbers, so he might be a heavily sought after catcher in your league. He might also be left on the board for a long time if players are worried about how he will recover.

Mike Napoli– Boston Red Sox

Napoli could end up being a valuable player because of his impending move to first base. He has never been a 600 at bat guy and his power has always been impressive in limited action. It isn’t difficult to envision him hitting 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in full action.

Napoli’s overall value depends on what kind of league you are playing in. If your league includes walks and on base percentage then Napoli should be drafted amongst the top five catchers. If you are in a standard 5×5 league you might wait a little longer to take him, but he shouldn’t be overlooked.

Miguel Montero– Arizona Diamondbacks

Montero fits what the consistent and steady category of catchers. After the first half dozen catchers are taken there will be a mad dash among the remaining players to have a quality backstop on their squad. Montero is a quality offensive player. He won’t kill your percentage categories and that can be especially beneficial if you have enough run production from your other players.

Brian McCann– Atlanta Braves

McCann is questionable for the start of the season, but he should be a high selection anyway because of his track record of top notch run production, Last season, he was playing through injuries that zapped his overall production. Players that pay attention to only last year will miss out on one of the top five fantasy catchers of the last decade. That is why you get the three year and five year averages in addition to 2012.

Jonathan Lucroy– Milwaukee Brewers

On a long enough timeline the survival rate drops to zero. Statisticians of all stars and stripes prefer lots of data over a little data. Since Lucroy has been in the league for only three seasons it is impossible to know whether 2012 was a career year or if he was simply coming of age. I tend to play things safe in this regard, but you cannot win fantasy leagues without taking a few risks. Lucroy might fall to tenth or lower among catchers and if you want to take a chance that might be a chance worth taking.

A.J. Ellis– Los Angeles Dodgers

Here is another guy that would fall into the reasonable gamble category. He is playing in a high powered offensive attack and he has a knack for getting on base. That can mean some cheap runs and RBIs. He also fits the profile of someone that won’t affect your percentage numbers in a negative way.

Yasmani Grandal– San Diego Padres

There are sleepers and then there are hibernators. The morality police will infect some fantasy players and they will leave Carlos Ruiz and Yasmani Grandal completely off of their draft list. That is foolish in my opinion. You can treat them as players that are injured and will be coming back just before June. Either player could be the shot in the arm your team needs at that point in the season.

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