Go to a quiet, dark place and light a few candles (preferably scented). Cue up my theme musicNow close your eyes, listen to my intro in it’s entirety and visualize greatness. Then, and only then, may you open your curious eyes and continue on (make sure you go back and watch the video because it’s awesome). If you lack the heart of a champion, I strongly recommend you either 1) refrain from reading further, or in my opinion the better option 2) play my theme music on at full volume,on repeat, until you’ve built up the testicular fortitude to withstand any obstacle on your way to glory.

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I just went over the top 10 for 2014 fantasy baseball and the top 20 for 2014 fantasy baseball. Most of you know how I feel about catchers. If you draft a catcher any time before the first 100 picks, you don’t know how I feel about catchers. Let me freshen up your cocktail with a splash of insight. I don’t draft top catchers in one catcher leagues. I Reggie Roby them. Last year, Napoli was the top ranked catcher at the end of year. He was the 11th best 1st baseman. The best catcher can’t spray aerosol deodorant on the top guy for another position. Everyone was crazy about Buster Posey last year (everyone except me). Buster Posey did about as much as Kendrys Morales. Lowercase yay. In the top five catchers last year were Lucroy, V-Mart, Rosario and Molina. One guy was drafted in the top 100, and that was barely. No one should draft a top catcher because there are no top catchers. They’re all hot garbage with a side order of stank. Catchers are unreliable to stay healthy; the job is grueling and takes its toll on offensive stats. There’s not much difference between, say, the tenth best catcher and nothingness. Jarrod Saltymochachino, Jason Castro and Salvador Perez were the 8th, 9th and 10th best catchers last year. All of them were on waivers in shallower leagues as late as July. Only the depth of 2nd basemen is worst, and I say punt them too. Yes, I am saying punt the positions that are most scarce. Finally, a reason that is new to this current crop of catchers — they’re actually deep in mediocrity. You can draft the fifth best catcher or the 12th best and they’re tomato-tomato said with a different emphasis. Because I ignore the top catchers doesn’t mean I’m starting the top 20 catcher list at number twenty-one; some of you might want to know the top catchers. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them draft Devin Mesoraco. In two catcher leagues, catchers are a little more valuable, but I’d still prefer to avoid them. You can see other top 20 lists for 2014 fantasy baseball under 2014 fantasy baseball rankings. Listed along with these catchers are my 2014 projections for each player and where the tiers begin and end. Anyway, here’s the top 20 catchers for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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Maybe it’s the rush of the holiday season with two kids or the fact that some major cash is flowing in free agency, but I feel like this year’s offseason is just whizzing by. This will be the last sort of “stat review” for SAGNOF before I head into the territory of value plays for steals in 2014. This post will lay out some of the best and worst catchers in terms of their caught stealing percentages (CS%). Keep in mind that pitchers have a lot to do with holding baserunners as well, and you can find my previous post on the best and worst pitchers against the stolen base here at Razzball. A quick note on the catcher tables – I sorted them by qualified and non-qualified catchers. “Qualified” catchers played more than 1/2 of their team’s games, while “non-qualified” catchers played less than that. Catchers who split times between two teams, like Kurt Suzuki, also end up on the “non-qualified” list. The league average caught stealing percentage in 2013 was 28%, and that hasn’t really changed much over the last 3 years (27% in 2012, 28% in 2011). Last but not least, consider that playing time situations can fluctuate with free agent signings and trades, creating new opportunities for previously non-qualified catchers as the offseason transactions continue. Green columns indicate guys that are easy to run against, and red columns designate the toughest to run against:

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It feels like yesterday the baseball regular season started. You wrote “I heart baseball” in permanent marker on your arm, then you met a girl who wrote “I heart guys who heart baseball” on her arm, then, during sex in September, you screamed out “I love you, Chris Davis!” and now you don’t have baseball or a girlfriend, unless your girlfriend was Bill James. C’mon, calendar, make like a soldier and turn to March. The only cure for the post-baseball season blues — recapping the preseason top twenty lists and being hand-fed Doritos. First up, Cool Ranch and our preseason Top 20 Catchers for 2013. It’s important to look back before we look ahead to 2014. To paraphrase the one and only B-Real, “How do you know where you’re at, if you don’t know where you’ve been? Understand where I’m coming from?” It wouldn’t be fair for me to preseason rank the players, then rank them again in the postseason based on my opinion, so these postseason top 20 lists are ranked according to our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater. It’s cold hard math, y’all! Please, for the love that all is holy, don’t ask me if this is for next year. Anyway, here’s the top 20 catchers for 2013 fantasy baseball and how they compared to where I originally ranked them:

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Hunter Pence has the manic energy of a gangly man-bird. On average, Hunter Pence’s home run trots last about 20 seconds. So in the last week, he’s run for about minute and twenty seconds while the rest of the world has watched, thinking, “I wonder if he was raised by a pack of pink flamingos.” One time during a trip to the zoo, Hunter Pence got separated from his human family for two hours. He was eventually found in the aviary section of the zoo chewing popcorn and spitting it into a baby bird’s mouth. Those two hours were wiped from all zoo surveillance cameras so it was never accounted for, but anyone who has seen the gangly man-bird run probably can figure out that Hunter Pence was trying to reproduce with an ostrich or some other tall bird. This week he shedded more than feathers. He lost the OCD tissue boxes he’s worn on his feet most of the season and went power crazy: 6 homers in the last week with two coming on Sunday. Hunter Pence said thank you to his H2H owners for believing in this half-bird creature. For next year, I think he’s bound to disappoint as his speed evaporates and goes back to where it was prior to this season (the 10-12-steal range), but for now enjoy a bird/guy who was an afterthought in drafts and has turned into a top five outfielder, according to our Player Rater. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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I’m Asian, so it’s not raycess. Err, I think.

There have been many a fine years for a many a fine players in this 2013 Baseball season. As summer comes to a close and your mother puts her top back on, we can surmise the season like so — we have seen some good things, some bad things, and some strange things. Mostly because I’m including Tehol in the sample. Why? That matters less than you think. But this is why the game is played. And that point being established, I must say, Hisashi Iwakuma‘s year can be lumped in as a very fine year. A former Japanese starting pitcher, turned reliever by the Mariners, turned back into a starter by the aforementioned Mariners, Iwakuma has solidified the fact that he belongs on your Fantasy Baseball roster, including a 7.0 IP, 0 ER performance against the Cardinals last night. But to what degree does he belong on your roster? And are we doing Celsius or Fahrenheit? All important questions. Well, based on numbers, he looks to be around the James Shields, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels area. There doesn’t appear to be a crazy amount of regression due, the environment is a big plus, and there’s an okay history of health here. I’m willing to buy him in that zone next year. Anyhoo, here’s what else I noticed yesterday:

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Charlie Morton‘s start yesterday of 7 IP, 1 ER, 9 baserunners, 6 Ks wasn’t incredible in itself, but other than Lenny from Laverne and Shirley when he was wearing a Lone Wolf jacket and Burgess Meredith when he broke his glasses on The Twilight Zone, nothing in this world is to itself. There’s befores and afters, causes and effects and chewy watermelon Now and Laters. Morton has now strung together six straight starts and nine of his last ten, dropping his ERA to 3.00. His K-rate isn’t particularly inspiring, but his walk rate is more than solid and his xFIP is 3.62, which tells us he’s not that far from a guy you start every time out. With all of that said, I still don’t trust him for his next start vs. the Cardinals, but then he gets the Cubs and Padres, and for those two starts, I’d absolutely gamble that Morton is worth his salt. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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I remember as a kid trying to watch Kelly’s Heroes with my dad, and not understanding any of it.  I mean, it didn’t have a Wookie.  Reading over that Wikipedia synopsis, sounds a lot like Three Kings that came out almost 3 decades later.  Nothing original in Hollywood anymore!

But to baseball, Joe Kelly has some heroes of his own.  First there’s the Cardinals developmental system that seems to churn out pitching prospects that can throw upper 90′s faster than Hollywood sequel greenlights.  Then there’s the Cardinals offense that leads the NL in runs scored by 53.  Using his rag-tag unit of pitching coaches, arguably the best catcher in the game Yadier Molina, and an offense ready to give him a lead every game out, can Joe Kelly help you steal the gold in a fantasy title?  I tuned into his start yesterday in Pittsburgh to break down how he looks and if he can be a wildcard contributor to your final fantasy push:

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Sean Connery enjoyed the landing of B-Weezy.

So it’s official. Just in time for your playoffs or late-season run for a title, Matt Cain has joined Jason Heyward and Rafael Betancourt, all recent casualties, on the DL. Even though the X-ray’s came back negative after Cain got hit by a line-drive on Thursday, Bruce Bochy said it was too soon to say whether or not he would make his next start. A mere seven hours later, which I guess was not too soon anymore, it was decided that Cain would not only miss his next start, but at least three. You’d figure with such a big head, Bochy would have a better grasp of time. And, you know, bullpen usage. Granted, this season wasn’t shaping up to be Cain’s finest and was pretty up-and-down (more down) in general. But his second-half ERA of 2.84 and improved walk rate were representing an expected regression. So the timing couldn’t be worse, especially since the Giants are not postseason bound and really have no reason to rush a recovery. Relevant. Here’s what else I noticed yesterday…

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Finally, the Red Sox promoted Nomah’s heir apparent — Zandah Bogats! Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams’s frozen head said, “Allaka Xander!” and poof a direct descendant of Cahl Yahstremski, Nomah and former top prospect, Harvey Jod, who died tragically in a parking lot incident, appeared. Drafting a hard A-voweled hitter makes as much sense for the Sox as drafting soft O’s for the Twins: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau; they still must rue the day they lost out on Joe Charboneau. But, you know, you can’t spell Xander Bogaerts without Red Sox, and he’s got bat and range, to boot. So, here’s looking at you, Bogaerts! Went there, wrote that — Xander Bogaerts fantasy, that is. Now Xander’s here to Bogaert the Red Sox shortstop job. There’s a chance he simply platoons this year. If he’s only used against lefties, his value will be severely diminished in redraft leagues. My guess is he’ll play shortstop vs. lefties, and play some third base vs. righties with Middlebrooks grabbing pine occasionally. Obviously, it wasn’t a great sign last night that he was benched vs. a righty, but it was just one game. I’d grab him in all leagues because his bat is that good. Think of a Puig-type splash at shortstop. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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