Throughout the season, we ran a series of fantasy rankings for each position at the top of each month to help you keep track of the risers and fallers and to see who might be worth a sell high or buy-low effort. Well, this week, we are rolling out a series of Keeper Rankings for each position to help you get a leg up on the competition and begin your preparation for the 2012 season. Each author will take his assigned position and each post will be dedicated to a specific tier within that position. With that, here is the top tier for catchers in keeper leagues.
One caveat before we begin — as always, evaluating keepers is based on past performance, expected performance and cost. You could have a catcher who pops you 25 HR, but if he costs too high a percentage of your draft budget, then you may want to consider letting him go back into the player pool and find yourself a cheaper alternative. Conversely, you could have a player who may not have had the strongest 2011 campaign, but you expect him to break out next season and you’ve got him for a song. If the cost is super low, then you may want to take the chance and hold him for another year , waiting for the break out. The decisions aren’t always easy to make and many times it comes down to the individual owner’s current roster status, needs and preferences. We do the best that we can here in helping you make the right decisions and while some will disagree with specific players and their rankings, we have nothing but your best intentions in mind.
That being said, here is the top tier…
Mike Napoli, TEX — As expected, Napoli’s star shined even brighter once he escaped the clutches of the evil Mike Scioscia. Trues, his playing time in Texas may have been a bit more limited had it not been for the injury to Adrian Beltre, but once he got it, he did not disappoint. His .320-30-75 batting line with 72 runs scored marked career highs across the board, and he did it in just 432 plate appearances. He increased his walk rate, dropped his K%, and became an integral part of Texas’ run to the World Series this year. He has commanded the playing time and will subsequently receive it next year. Even better for his owners was that his cost is probably fairly low. While Zach Sanders’ 2011 FVARz retro auction value sheet shows Napoli’s return of $19.78, there’s no way he cost that much. Not when he was going somewhere between the 11th and 13th round in most drafts. He should make for a rock solid, cost-efficient protect for next year.
Carlos Santana, CLE — The only knock you can throw down on Santana right now is the batting average. A .239 mark just isn’t going to cut it unless your popping 40 HR in a season. However, there is tremendous belief in the youngster and knocking 27 HR with 79 RBI in your first full season ain’t nothing to sneeze at. Add in that his still fantastic 14.7 BB% and respectable (for a rookie) 20.2 K% are both a few ticks below the numbers he is really capable of producing, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a long term backstop in fantasy. You can easily imagine what that OBP would look like with improvements in both stats. Yahoo and ESPN tried to kill his value with 2011 pre-draft rankings that were too high, but for the most part, Santana was taken between the 8th and 10th rounds in most drafts. Perhaps next year the luck dragons won’t be too hard on him and we’ll see an even better return than this year’s $13.00.
You might be surprised to see me stop here for the first tier with so many other names out there, but based on the criteria of performance and cost, these sit as the absolute no-brainers right now. The second tier, which you will see on Wednesday, doesn’t have much of a significant drop-ff in production, however, each player has a sticking point or two that may require further evaluation before you automatically hold them over.
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