The AL-only catcher scene actually looks pretty good. While there is a lack of elite talent, there should be plenty of useful numbers available in the later rounds on draft day as well as a few sleepers to consider.
Each list is ranked based on 2011 fWAR
There is a very strong top to this list. However, my calculations have both Napoli and Avila regressing in the AVG/OBP categories, though both are strong candidates to continue to put up very good home run numbers. Matt Wieters and Carlos Santana are the two names most likely to rise from this list. Santana could very well end 2012 as the number one catcher in fantasy baseball. Iannetta and Salty will provide some home runs, but little else, the same goes for Arencibia. I’ll buy a decent bounce-back from Kurt Suzuki and Joe Mauer, who should see less time behind the plate. Pierzynski has been a very consistent, though unspectacular fantasy catcher throughout the years, but his age is sure to catch up with him sooner or later. Ryan Doumit is an interesting name to consider if he gets a good amount of starts behind the dish while resting Joe Mauer.
Jose Molina made the best of his small sample size of at-bats in 2011, do not expect that to happen again. Shoppach is pretty much done, as he sits behind Salty and Lavarnway on Boston’s depth chart. Torrealba should see a good amount of time behind the dish in 2012, but he has upside to hit about .280-.290 with little else. Miguel Olivo’s stock dropped with the arrival of John Jaso and Jesus Montero – Montero, if he gains C eligibility, would obviously be among the best AL-only catchers in baseball. How do you downgrade from Jose Molina? By letting him walk and acquiring Jeff Mathis. That’s how.
Salvador Perez – Many people like Perez, I’m a bit more skeptical due to his lack of plate discipline.
Tyler Flowers – Should Pierzynski get injured, Flowers could hit 15-20 home runs with little AVG, but a decent OBP.
John Jaso – We’ll have to see how the Mariners intend to use their catchers and if Montero is actually a part of that mix. Jaso’s numbers fell apart last season, but he has a track record of solid plate discipline, which could give him some value in OBP leagues.
Hank Conger – He should get more at-bats in 2012. Then, again, Mike Scioscia might just view him as the next Napoli.
Ryan Lavarnway – Plenty of power, but he’ll split time with Salty and probably won’t hit for much AVG.
Robinson Chirinos – 2011 was a down year for the minor league veteran, but there is still some good pop in his bat along with a track record of good plate discipline. If he wins the starting job in Tampa Bay, he can definitely be considered an AL-only sleeper.