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, Marco Scutaro!” and now you don’t have baseball or a girlfriend.  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 2011.  It’s important to look back before we look ahead to 2012. 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 ESPN’s Player Rater.  It may not be wholly accurate, but it’s wholly unbiased.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 catchers for 2011 fantasy baseball and how they compared to where I originally ranked them:

1. Victor Martinez – ESPN’s overweighing average here.  I don’t care, he’s not the number one catcher.  He’s good, but the number one catcher only has 12 homers?  C’mon.  I mean, c’mon c’mon.  Even c’mon c’mon c’mon.  In the bigger picture, he was about as valuable as Jimmy Rollins and Beltran.  Weird how four years ago that was probably true too.  Not weird as in funny or interesting.  Just weird.  Preseason Rank #3, 2011 Projections:  70/18/85/.300, Final Numbers:  76/12/103/.330/1

2. Mike Napoli – Eat your heart out, Mike Scioscia!  It’s absolutely bonkers that a catcher is ranked this high and some people didn’t even want him on their team for at least two months of the season.  He’s basically the reason why the Ron Popeil ‘Set It and Forget It’ catcher strategy was invented.  The catcher field is so shallow that you don’t need to do much to be a top ranked catcher, i.e., a guy that doesn’t even play every day can be close to the top ranked catcher.  I love you, Napoli, for as much as your stats as for how smart you make me look.  Now introduce me to your Moms!  Preseason Rank #5, 2011 Projections:  65/24/75/.255/5, Final Numbers:  72/30/75/.320/4

3. Alex Avila – First (and really only) out of nowhere guy to place in the top of the catcher rankings.  AA, you are no longer anonymous.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  63/19/82/.295/3

4. Miguel Montero – Never hit more than 4 homers in a month and only had one month over a .300 average.  3 ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 fantasy baseball catchers!  Preseason Rank #8, 2011 Projections:  55/15/70/.275, Final Numbers:  65/18/86/.282/1

5. Yadier Molina – He could be next to the definition for yawnstipating in the dictionary, but yawnstipating isn’t a word you find in a dictionary.  Yet.  Preseason Rank #12, 2011 Projections:  40/7/55/.270/7, Final Numbers:  55/14/65/.305/4

6. Carlos Santana – Pretty weird season from the Supernatural.  If you jumped out of a DeLorean and told me he’d have 27 homers this year, I’d say why are you time traveling with that info?  Can’t you tell me something could actually make me money?  I’d also say Carlos must have a .300 average and be the best catcher.  His K-rate went up, walk rate went down, ground ball rate went up, fly ball rate went down, line drive rate went down… Honestly (as if I’d lie to you), you’re pretty lucky you got the homers and counting stats from Santana.  This could’ve been a disaster season.  Preseason Rank #10, 2011 Projections:  55/15/65/.280, Final Numbers:  84/27/79/.239/5

7. Brian McCann – Every year I will continue to rank him number one.  Whether he wants to actually listen to me is between us.  I ask that you respect our privacy.  Preseason Rank #1, 2011 Projections:  80/25/95/.280/3, Final Numbers:  51/24/71/.270/3

8. Matt Wieters – Had a nice bounce back season, or he had a good August and September that is totally clouding my judgment.  I think it’s more the former than the latter, assuming I’m not confusing what former and latter means.  I could see ranking him as high as number two for catchers next year.  I probably won’t because that sounds insane to me as I write it and that’s how much forethought I had on the matter.  Maybe I think about it a little bit.  Preseason Rank #6, 2011 Projections:  60/18/85/.280, Final Numbers:  72/22/68/.262/1

9. Russell Martin – I put him in the preseason tier of upside guys because of his tremendous potential.  I mean, he only had four straight years of declining homers, RBIs, runs and average.   Oh, wait, he was an upside pick because he went to the Yankees.  Yeah, made sense then and now.  Thank you, genius brain inside my head.  Genius Brain Inside My Head, “You’re welcome.  Or is it ‘your?'”  Preseason Rank #16, 2011 Projections:  70/10/60/.270/10, Final Numbers:  57/18/65/.237/8

10. Wilson Ramos – His walk rate and ISO went up and he’s only 24 years old.  I could see him getting a sleeper post in the offseason then hitting 15 homers and a .270 average next year and being valuable in 2012 but still not that interesting.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  48/15/52/.267

11. J.P. Arencibia – This is about where the fun ends for catchers, and really was it that much fun prior to this?  Arencibia hit 23 homers and had 78 RBIs, yet as late as mid-September he was only owned in 50% of ESPN leagues.  Either a lot of people play in 8 team leagues or a lot of people overvalue average.  Next time I’m in a place with a bunch of fantasy baseball nerds, I’ll ask that question.  Speaking of which, we should have a Razzball field trip to Vegas this year.  Preseason Rank #17, 2011 Projections:  40/15/55/.240, Final Numbers:  47/23/78/.219/1

12. Miguel Olivo – His Hacky McHackstein ways seem to have translated across the whole catcher pool, i.e., most of this top 20 have batting average issues.  Preseason Rank #20, 2011 Projections:  45/15/55/.235/7, Final Numbers:  54/19/62/.224/6

13. Chris Iannetta – Let’s give you an idea of how bad/shallow/synonym the catchers are.  Iannetta is ranked here and he was replaced by his own team for a few weeks in September.  When can I start recapping the 1st basemen?  Oh, in my next post.  Preseason Rank #15, 2011 Projections:  40/15/60/.245, Final Numbers:  51/14/55/.238/6

14. A.J. Pierzynski – I hate A.J. from a fantasy standpoint.  It doesn’t look like I’m alone either since he’s the 14th best catcher and was owned in less than 10% of all ESPN leagues just about the whole year.  I think he’s the poster child for all that’s wrong with the ESPN Player Rater.  How does a guy who hits 8 homers and 40-ish runs and 50-ish RBIs rank this high?  Cause of the decent average?  I don’t buy it.  Preseason Rank #13, 2011 Projections:  50/12/55/.275, Final Numbers:  38/8/48/.287

15. Jonathan Lucroy – The Brewers backstop had a solid season for him and when you look at his numbers you realize why he wasn’t ranked by me in the preseason.  Lucroy, you are Matt Wieters’s po’ boy.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  45/12/59/.265/2

16. Carlos Ruiz – Snooze.  Preseason Rank #14, 2011 Projections:  35/10/55/.265, Final Numbers:  49/6/40/.283/1

17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – In the preseason, I said, “He’s not quite old; he’ll be only 26 years old in 2011.  In the last round of draft, you got better things to do than to draft an upside catcher in a hitters’ park and lineup?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.”  And that’s me quoting me!  Preseason Rank #23, 2011 Projections:  55/16/70/.255/5, Final Numbers:  52/16/56/.235/1

18. Ramon Hernandez – If you put Hernandez and Hanigan together, you get a Latino-Irishman — a Leprecano — that has very little fantasy value.  Please let Mesoraco catch in 2012.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  28/12/36/.282

19. Kurt Suzuki – In the preseason, I said, “I stared at the screen for three minutes trying to think of something positive to say about Suzuki.  What you ended up with was me confessing to you that I had nothing positive to say about him.  That about sums it up.” And that’s me still having nothing to say positive about Suzuki!  Preseason Rank #11, 2011 Projections:  60/14/70/.260/3, Final Numbers:  54/14/44/.237/2

20. Geovany Soto – I haven’t given up on Soto yet.  Sure, this year was miserable.  And last year was miserable.  And… Was he ever good?  I think he was.  Never the hoo!  Soto and I have high apple pie in the sky hopes, and you can’t take that away from us.  Preseason Rank #7, 2011 Projections:  60/18/75/.270, Final Numbers:  46/17/54/.228

 
  1. Ben says:
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    Joe Mauer not in the top 20 is kind of ridiculous.

  2. Howard says:
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    @Grey I like the idea of a field trip in Vegas! Actually I just came back but am always game! Glad I picked Napoli in most of my leagues this year!

  3. The average thing can really be a killer though in H2H because you can’t wait for the stats to normalize and if anyone is in OPS leagues instead of HR then it almost counts double, i found this out the hard way to start this year. It does prove that those in one catcher leagues have no reason to waste an early pick on one.

  4. Gtg says:
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    Grey, you forgot Mauer you dummy. Oh wait… Crap. No. Argh. Damnit. Never mind.

  5. TheNewGuy says:
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    Hey Grey, hope you’re still doing questions. If so am weighing up whether to keep Ervin Santana aka Big Erv. It costs me more the longer I keep him so am thinking of likely doing a 1 yr deal or none at all. 1 yr costs me $7, is he worth it or could I likely get him cheaper at auction anyway?

  6. Jeff Akston says:
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    Last year was horrible for Geo Soto? Wow, you have some high expectations.

  7. Scott says:
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    I can keep 2 (out of $320 budget auction draft):

    D Hudson, $3
    J Hanrahan, $4
    T Cahill, $3
    J Weeks, $7
    S Victorino, $12

    Any advice at this early stage?

  8. royce! says:
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    Field trip! I just need to figure out how I can trick my wife into signing the permission slip…

  9. Wake Up says:
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    *edit AJ final numbers…

  10. The Den says:
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    There is no justice in Fantasy Baseball. The guy that won my league drafted three catchers: Mauer, Wieters, and Santana.

  11. chata says:
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    nap … flattened .

  12. chata says:
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    ump called the guy safe …. before he even touched the plate

  13. It’s a shame Leprecano was buried in the #18 guy’s blurb.

  14. Wake Up says:
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    Moore is reminding me a lot of Kimbrel

  15. VinWins

    VinWins says:
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    The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America voted Granderson their AL MVP

    Jose Bautista was 6th; Verlander 7th.

  16. Yep, I said it! says:
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    @Grey: what do you think about Conger’s future? Is it too much for me to hope for him to be “Arencibia”-like in 2012 (or 2013)? I can always hope, right? Cheers!

  17. VinWins

    VinWins says:
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    I know your catching strategy is a good one, but I’m incapable of following it. When a catcher is struggling, I figure, “They’re all the same, try someone else.”

    I took Saltalamacchia with the last pick of the draft, but dumped him pretty quickly. I ended up using 14 catchers who hit .204 with 12 home runs and 53 RBI for me, slightly worse than what I could have had by sticking with Saltalamacchia (.235/16/56).

  18. chata says:
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    thought = though (#38)

  19. OaktownSteve says:
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    Nice craps chatter. I was this close to relocating to Vegas to be a craps dealer *holding finger approximately two inches apart*

    There are Hawaiian leprechauns by the way: The Menehune they’re called.

    I would have done well in the catcher challenge. Had Martin in the beginning of the year, rolled to a hot month with Soto and finished with Yaddie.

  20. Steve says:
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    Coke is not it.

  21. chata says:
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    deciding to face goldy , instead .
    could put this game out of reach .

  22. chata says:
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    do-or-die situation with the tiger and yanks . thursday night .
    both teams are going with their 2nd best .

  23. TheNewGuy says:
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    Thanks for the last piece of advice Grey, got another question for you now.

    Alex Avila, do you expect him to be just as good next year i.e is he legit? Had him in my OBP league and he was vital for me, is he worth keeping for 1 yr ($9) , 2yrs ($12) , or not at all?

  24. Wake Up says:
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    I’m in for the revolving catcher challenge. I usually don’t even draft one, instead I usually take both sides of a closer crapshoot, until it is sorted out. Then, rotate in the hot hand, or at least the least cold. Kind of the anti-Ronco method. Pour in some cold water and stare directly at it until it starts to boil.

  25. OaktownSteve says:
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    @Grey: My system is pass plus odds. Pass plus full 3x odds has a house edge of .417%, or $99.59 payback on every hundred you bet. Higher odds multipliers. Casino Royal next door to the Flamingo will let you play 100x odds. Basically what I do is get s**tface drunk playing the casino to a draw and then I either walk away with something very close to what I started with, or I make a bunch of jackass bets and try to get lucky and walk away on a roll.

    Jackass me: “gimme 88 inside and a twenty dollar high low yo and gimme all the hardways and push the odds on my four and can you get that cocktail gal over here…you guys sell cigarettes?…of course you f**king do, am I right??? C’mon nine! Ninah ninah from Carolina…use to date her, now I hate her…you know you fellas are alright…hey dealers play…givin’ you a pair of shoes”

    etc

  26. VinWins

    VinWins says:
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    The well-respected Internet Baseball Writers Association of America announced their Cy Young Award winner.

    Voting results are as follows:

    1st Place: Clayton Kershaw, LAD
    2nd Place: Roy Halladay, Phil
    3rd Place: Ian Kennedy, Ariz
    4th Place: Cliff Lee, Phil
    5th Place: Craig Kimbrel, Atl

  27. OaktownSteve says:
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    When I first started playing in Vegas I had a dealer who called the middle of the table “the jackass pen” because of all the stupid bets in there. I still call all that stuff the jackass bets. The insidious thing about Vegas is that’s where all the drunken fun is.

    The great thing about craps is the lingo. It’s just fun to call out “horn bet” and “press my six” and “dealers have shoes” and “yo” and hear the dealers call “FIVE…no field five” and “shooter you must make nine” and “eight came easy” and so on and so on. If you’re going to lose money anyway, might as well lose it slow and engage in a lot of shite talkin’.

  28. Steve says:
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    This is the Edwin Jackson I drafted!

  29. VinWins

    VinWins says:
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    I knew more squirrels would be encouraged to run on the field today after the one yesterday got great TV coverage.

  30. OaktownSteve says:
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    “Ok, Mr. Mustache down there, this is the last time I’m gonna tell you, anything on 4 and 10, even numbers on 5 and 9 multiples of 5 on 6 and 8”

    “Got…got it. What was the middle part again?”

    Cockail!

  31. chata says:
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    with all due deference to john lennon ,
    “imagine” a world series with no sawx , yanks , or , phillies .

    could happen .

    feb/march 2011 … whodathunkit ?

  32. Terrence Mann says:
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    Heh. I dealt craps for a year when I was 21. Came in on stick after break on a table with a lot in play. First roll, a die gets cocked between two stacks of cheques. Was still a clear 7 out but I didn’t have the sack to call it so I had the base dealer call it. The table went apeshit so the manager went to the video. Unable to determine what the roll actually was and gave everyone their $$ back. $17k. I was amazed that I barely even got a talking-to. I must have made that place millions.

  33. OaktownSteve says:
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    @Chata: the prop bets are lousy because of the juice. Boxcar odds 35:1 but pay out 30:1 and so forth. Just a numbers game.

    @Terrence Mann: That’s a good story. Must see a lot of stuff standing there day after day.

  34. Steve says:
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    Wolfman jacked.

  35. Steve says:
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    You can’t beat that Krispie coating.

  36. chata says:
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    if arizona had hit this well during the regular season ,
    i’d have finished much better .

  37. Rabbit says:
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    Grey,
    So I just received the latest issue of Esquire (I stopped paying for it three years ago but they keep sending me issues–seriously, I swear), anyhoo, on the back page they have their usual pseudo-comedy gambit, and this month it’s the “2011 MacArthur Genius Grants for Men,” which I guess is supposed to be a Bud Light take on the MacArthur Fellow grants, and they list 12 things that apparently are genius “guy’ things, but the important thing here is that the last guy genius they list, No 12, is “Grey Albright.” That’s right, “Grey Albright,” listed as an Existentialist Genius, which may be an oxymoron, though I’m not sure. Now, I’m no nomenclaturologist, in fact I’m pretty sure no one is a nomenclaturologist, but the important thing here is what are the chances that Esquire randomly picked the name “Grey Albright” as a fake name for one of their fake lists of fake funny things? I’d say 0.0%, but that’s just a guesstimate. I believe that either (1) Esquire is trying to cash in on the steamrolling popularity of razzball by misappropriating your nom de plume, or (2) there’s a writer at Esquire who is a fan of razzball and wanted to give a surreptitious nod to the best fantasy sports website on the Internets. Any commenter here want to claim credit? If not, Mr. Albright, I would be glad to represent you in your Misappropriation of Name or Likeness lawsuit against Esquire. California even has a statute that makes illegal the misappropriation of your name or likeness even after you’re dead, which is the reason we don’t see Fred Astaire vacuuming up living rooms on our TVs anymore.

  38. TheNewGuy says:
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    Getting to the bottom of my somewhat uninspiring keeper list!

    Mike Morse, guy was a great early pickup for me so think I owe him at least another year. Could keep him for 1 yr at $6 or 2 yrs at $9. Bearing in mind its an OBP league though and that Morse doesn’t walk much, is it safer to take the 1 yr?

  39. royce! says:
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    I am amazed that no one here has been griping about the “beast mode” and newly minted “snake mode”. Whoever came up with these deserves an Anti-Genius Grant. I was almost on board with the Brewers’ thing because everyone enjoys referring to Milwaukee’s Best as Milwaukee’s Beast, but the D-Bags look like they’re playing with sock puppets.

    I just hope it doesn’t spread any further, because I know that whatever the Padres would devise would be terrible (actually, I bet it would be “priest mode,” which would be dope if they were referring to Judas Priest, b/c Rob Halford has a house in SD, but I digress (which is clear because I was writing in parentheses)).

  40. Terrence Mann says:
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    Grey, if I found out you were an Esquire writer, I would have to stop reading razzball. On principle. Consider me relieved.

    Good luck with the grant.

  41. chata says:
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    are we counting down yet ?

    yankees have 9 outs left .

  42. Steve says:
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    Benoit and Coke up in the bullpen (it says here). Sounds like a drink that should have an umbrella in it.

  43. royce! says:
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    I’m really enjoying the lack of hand-jiving in the ALDS.

  44. chata says:
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    a-rod or a-fraud ?

  45. chata says:
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    benoit ought to rub some of that pimple juice on the ball

  46. chata says:
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    ko – rod

  47. chata says:
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    next down …. the phillies .

    hoo-ray for the for the little guy !!

  48. Awesomus Maximus

    Awesomus Maximus says:
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    Scherzer hurts my fantasy team in the regular season, and then hurts my real life team in the postseason. What did I ever do to him?

  49. Jeff Akston says:
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    So I’m a few days let, but Geo Soto was a monster last year.

    He hit .280 with an .890 OPS (and many leagues are moving from BA to OPS as it is) along with 17 homers and 100 runs+RBI in 100 games.

    That’s a pretty monster season. He finished as a top 10 catcher (top 6 in my league that counts OPS instead of BA) which alone would mean that he didn’t have a horrible season.

    The fact that he got all of those stats in the first four months and sat much of August and September, which means I could have had another catcher in there for those months means to me, that he had a monster year in 2010.

  50. Richard says:
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    Is W Ramos a better option than Pierzynski for 2012?

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