Recreational Fishing: Catchers

We’re doing a little recreational fishing here at MillionDollarSleeper.com. Today, we’re ignoring the trophy fish that adorn the walls of Babe Winkleman’s log cabin, we want those rough, ugly fish; the fish that are fun to reel in. Round 25 and beyond, no one who goes before our 288 ADP cut-off. We’re angling for Catchers and we don’t have much for bait. Grab some of that rotten bologna and a piece of corn, we’re fishing for bottom-feeders. Make the jump for the underrated few who the public largely (and mistakenly) ignore.

12-team Mixed Leagues

Chris Iannetta -ADP 325- Post-hype sleeper alert. Chris Iannetta is free to roam the waters undistrubed and log some serious At Bats this season. The team has made it clear to Iannetta, the starting job is his to lose. While he has trouble making contact (26.8% career K%), he is improving in that area with each passing season. He’s also experienced BABIP troubles the past two years (.245, .212) that are related to weak Line Drive percentages, but these are very small sample sizes (289 and 189 At Bats). The bottom line is this: we have 20 HR potential here, if given 400 AB. 2011 Projection: .250-19-58-70-0 (400 AB)

J.P. Arencibia -ADP 364- Arencibia is a cheaper version of Iannetta, but without the Walks. JPA is coming off a PCL MVP season (Geo Soto won the award in 2007) in which he hit .301 with 32 HR in 412 AB. He also hit two more HR last season in his MLB debut against Tampa Bay. The PCL is known for putting up big numbers, but make no mistake about it, JPA has power and the potential for profit is here. 2011 Projection: .248-22-54-62-0 (400 AB)

Jesus Montero -ADP 297- The best hitter of this bunch. One of the best bats in the minors. Sweet Baby Jesus hit 21 HR in AAA as a 20-year old. No one questions his bat, the problem lies with his defense. However, word from Spring Training has it, he’s displayed surprisingly improved defensive skills and now that Francisco Cervelli is out 4-6 weeks (foot fracture), Montero has the inside track as the Yankees backup. All that stands in the way of a fantasy baseballer catching a 30 lb monster is Russell Martin’s surgically repaired knee and hip. The At Bats here are a wild card, but Montero has the type of bat that is worth the gamble. Stash him if you can. Must own in keeper leagues. 2011 Projection: .278-8-33-37-0 (180 AB)

Two Catcher Leagues

John Jaso -ADP 374- Jaso’s claim to fame is that he will be the leadoff hitter for the (Devil) Rays, at least when the team faces a Right Handed Starter. Last season Jaso was the leadoff hitter in 45 games, so if this plays out over the course of the season we can expect more At Bats in 2011. The Walks are plenty, but the HR and SB are nothing special. Think Yadier Molina. Think decent value at this ADP in two-Catcher leagues. There is a difference between value and production, Jaso is a good example of this. 2011 Projection: .271-8-68-48-5 (435 AB)

A.J. Pierzynski -ADP 288- Nobody likes AJP and they have good reason to do so. Just look at the guy and you’ll know what I mean. This was the greatest moment of his career. I think Pierzynski’s ADP is higher in fantasy wrasslin’ leagues. There’s nothing special about A.J. and that combined with his smugness is the reason for his Average Draft Position. He’s just a stop gag plug-n-play at the Catcher position. Last season was a down year for AJP, his LD% fell a few percentage points, the BABIP followed suit and the HR/FB% fell a little bit too. Will he bounce back or is this age (34) related decline? Either way, if you stick him in there you’re just hoping he doesn’t hurt you. 2011 Projection: .276-12-54-58-1 (500 AB)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia -ADP 393- Surprisingly, Salty will be only 26 years old come May. It seems like this guy has been around forever as he’s bounced around from Atlanta to Texas to Boston, but he’s only one year older than Matt Wieters. The upside: he’s posted good Line Drive percentages in his limited MLB time and he’s got some power. The downside: the strikeouts (30.9% K%) and shoulder injuries. Also, he developed a (mental) problem when throwing the ball back to the pitcher. That should be a dead issue though as he goes through a method of listing the likes and dislikes of Playboy centerfolds he learned from acupuncture. 2011 Projection: .248-14-48-53-0 (400 AB)

Josh Thole -ADP NA-  Thole is the kind of underdog I like. He doesn’t strike out much (12.4% in 202 AB), takes Walks (10.6%), hits Line Drives (22.7%) and has very little power and speed. I’m not anticipating a repeat of the 22.7% LD% and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come crashing down as Thole wasn’t hitting many Line Drives until 2010 (First Inning). This only makes him a more endearing underdog. I wish I knew more about him (if he made some sort of adjustment that enabled him to make better contact), but I haven’t dug up much for scouting reports. 2011 Projection: .275-6-48-49-3 (400 AB)

Ryan Hanigan -ADP NA- Hanigan is another underdog that I like for the same reasons. He doesn’t strike out often (10.3% in 200 AB), takes Walks (13.6%), hits Line Drives (22.7% in 549 career AB) and has very little power and speed. In fact, Hanigan has no speed (0 career SB). Hanigan is a bigger underdog than Thole because Ramon Hernandez is still in the picture. That soon-to-be 35-year old has made seven trips to the DL and if he’s not careful, Virgil will help him make it eight. Hanigan is on my Roto Arcade Pro-Am team, not because of my fondness for underdogs, but because I spent my money elsewhere. Not even the Million Dollar Sleeper has unlimited funds. I want Hanigan to do well, but he’ll need At Bats. Avoid him if you can. Draft him if you must. 2011 Projection: .279-7-35-39-0 (300 AB)

Wilson Ramos -ADP NA- Ramos was blocked by someone named Joe Mauer while he was in Minnesota so the team traded him in the Matt Capps deal. Ramos will share duties with Ivan Rodriguez, receiving the lesser share of playing time to start the season. Eventually Ramos will take over, likely by midseason. There’s really nothing here to go crazy over, but he puts a twinkle in the eyes of some because of that “prospect” label. He keeps the strikeouts down (15.2% K% in 79 AB, in line with his minor league numbers), the Line Drives are there (16%-20%), but he hasn’t showed much for power since High A ball (13 HR in 452 AB). He’ll be OK. 2011 Projection:  .268-6-31-38-1 (325 AB)

Recreational Fishing: [C] [1B] [2B] [SS] [3B] [OF] [SP] [RP]

2011 Catcher Rankings and Projections

ADP numbers provided by MockDraftCentral.com