Is Joe Mauer’s ADP Too High?

We see it all too often in fantasy — a former superstar and usual top pick ends up on the decline and still gets drafted or traded for value based solely on name and former reputation.  Maybe some people are anticipating and hoping for a return to the glory years.  Maybe some people are just fans and can’t let go.  Whatever the reason may be, the player’s value is over-inflated on draft day and, more often than not, a complete disappointment by season’s end.  With a top five ranking amongst catchers and an overall ADP of 79.64, Joe Mauer seems like a candidate who fits this description.

There’s no denying that, when healthy, Mauer is one of the top catchers in all of baseball.  His defensive abilities are well above average and the bat that he swings is mighty.  But since fantasy pushes defense aside, let’s just concentrate on and analyze his offensive production.

Again, when healthy, Mauer is one of the top hitters in baseball regardless of position.  The guy gets on base at an alarming rate, posting an OBP of more than .400 in four of his last six seasons.  His batting average has always been upper tier and his runs scored totals have surpassed every other backstop in three of the last four years.  His walk rates are rock solid, he doesn’t strike out very often and he has been a fantastic asset in all fantasy leagues, whether it’s points, head to head or straight roto.

But the fact that “when healthy” is needed to lead off every descriptive paragraph, to me, speaks volumes.  Sure, you can say that about plenty of players — “when healthy” they are tremendously productive.  But the problem here is that Mauer has been dealing with some injuries that are serious enough that full recovery becomes less and less likely.  We all know that catching is the most taxing of defensive duties in baseball, and the fact that Mauer’s problems sit in his back and in his legs makes it even worse.  Yes, the Twins will get him more time at first base this season, but he’s still going to be behind the dish multiple times per week and that wear and tear is going to continue to damage him.

Given the fact that he is still roughly the fifth catcher off the board, it doesn’t seem like too many people are concerned with his recovery/health.  How many times have we seen a guy drop in drafts because of his propensity to land on the DL multiple times in a year?  The only exception that really comes to mind for this is Josh Hamilton, who has slipped somewhat in drafts but still remains a high selection (no pun intended).

However, a huge difference between Hamilton and Mauer here is production upside.  When healthy, Hamilton is a 30-100 hitter with roughly a .300 average and hits in ridiculously strong lineup in a hitter-friendly home park.  Mauer, on the other hand, can really only boast the batting average these days.  He had one year where his power took a massive jump, but returned to his usual single-digit production the following season.  People can turn to his runs scored and show how those numbers surpass those of other backstops, but that’s as much a reflection of his surrounding lineup as it is his ability to get on base.  Justin Morneau is a shell of the player he once was and after that, the Twins are relying on the rickety bodies of both Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit.  Not to mention the fact that Target Field plays much better to pitchers than it does to hitters.

Yet, throughout all of this, Mauer still remains a top five catcher in most people’s eyes.  Injury risk?  Pfffft!  Who isn’t?  For so many, he’s got AL Comeback Player of the Year written all over him.  But for me, for my fantasy drafts, I’d rather wait a few rounds and grab some power from J.P. Arencibia or Geovany Soto.  And if  I really want batting average and runs scored, I’ll just wait the 100 picks more ti grab Yadier Molina.

Now for those about to roast me in the comments section here, allow me to just say this final word — I’m not saying that Joe Mauer is a bum.  He was a great player and can still provide a strong contribution to your fantasy team.  I just don’t see him being worth a 5th round selection based on the risk involved and the declining production.  Take away the name and reputation and he just belongs further down the list.




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

30 Responses to “Is Joe Mauer’s ADP Too High?”

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  1. jcxy says:

    how concerned are you about arencibia struggling early and giving way to d’arnaud in june?

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    • Howard Bender says:

      not very right now. I think they give JPA the full year. They love his power potential and may be willing to forgo average if it means 20+ jacks. D’Arnaud needs a full year in Triple-A anyway.

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  2. The Thin White Duke says:

    I tend to agree. I don’t believe I’ve owned Joe Mauer immediately post-Draft/Auction (I traded for him in a 2 catcher roto league last year & burnt up a bench spot for some time) since hs rookie year due to the fact that it seems his name always drives up his perceived value some. He’s probably come back to the pack somewhat, but I much prefer Buster Posey as far as 2011 injury guys go.

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  3. Oliver says:

    If Miguel Montero or Alex Avila are still on the board, you’re a fool for taking Mauer. If you’re going to take a flier in the 7th round, grab Matt Moore early. But gambling with picks that early just seems like a fool’s errand.

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  4. John says:

    It’s hard to even call Mauer the best catcher in his own division anymore.

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    • Major Tom says:

      That’s probably because he isn’t. Alex Avila is a far superior real life catcher to me even when assuming some sort of overall offensive regression in 2012.

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      • drewcorb says:

        Wow is Alex Avila that good defensively? I think Mauer’s offensive contributions (when healthy) dwarf Avila’s, so I’d have to assume Avila is a monster on defense to be superior overall to Mauer. I don’t know anything about Avila’s defense so this is a real question, not rhetorical.

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      • Adam B says:

        ell-oh-ell

        Avila is a fine player, loved having him on my team last year, but he’s got a long way to go to be a *snort* “far superior real life catcher” to Mauer.

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  5. Hunter says:

    Yes…and the even more concerning thing is Mauer has vague injuries that have no definite beginning and ending. Bilateral leg weakness? WTF is that? How do I know it’s not going to come back?

    I’d have no problem taking Mauer in, say, the 12th round, but no way is he falling that far. More power to the people who take him, I guess.

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  6. d_i says:

    This arguement was being made this time last year on Ian Kinsler.

    It seems this same arguement would apply to Hanley this year would it not? I’m taking the other side and banking on Mauer’s ave and obp to allow me to take someone like Chris Davis, Pedro Alvarez, etc later.

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    • Oliver says:

      In standard 5×5 Kinsler was a much better bet–the payoff is higher. Kinsler’s going to give you piles of HRs, SBs, RBIs and Rs, if he’s healthy. Same argument with Hanley–his bounceback, if it happens is a much higher payoff.

      Mauer’s only going to give you average and C eligibility, if he’s healthy. His lineup sucks too much to provide serious value in counting stats, and let’s be honest, if he hits 10 HRs it’s going to be a miracle. Though maybe he’ll stay healthy if he’s at 1B most of the year.

      If we’re in an OBP league, I’d look at Mauer more carefully, but in standard 5×5, I just don’t see it. Given who else you can draft in the 7th round, no thanks.

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      • d_i says:

        I can see that. My league is actually 8×6 with slug, RC, and OBP being the extra so that’s a pretty solid boost for Mauer’s value.

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  7. John says:

    I’ll definitely consider him that high, 5th C seems about right. Depends a bit on who’s left, both at C and other positions. ZiPS, CAIRO, and PECOTA all seem to think he’s bouncing back this year.

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  8. jimbo says:

    I’m with d_i this year. Given they brought in Doumit, I could see Mauer playing a lot of days at something other than catcher. Give an elite hitter more at bats, with less wear on his body over a season, and I’d have a hard time passing on him in the 10th. I’m in a one catcher league though…they all go later than ADP.

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  9. pat g says:

    In 10/12 team leagues, catcher is pretty deep. Gambling on mauer in the 6/7 range is probably a great play if you actually want to win. If he goes down you scoop a mesoraco, martin, soto et al you’re not up the proverbial creek. And in the 6/7th, mauer actually provides plenty of value.

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  10. Tvators says:

    Why on earth would he not bounce back, yes injuries but you cannot predict them, no matter how injury pron you believe a guy is. I will probably not be drafting Mauer anywhere just bc I choose to wait on C most often but def think Mauer will bounce back, no reason to beleive he wont bat .320+ w/ 75+ rbis, think he could step that up to w/ more 1b/DH pt…..I would not be so quick to annoint Alex Avila the best C in AL CEntral

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  11. adohaj says:

    Soto? Arencibia? really? is the difference in value of the player you would gain in the 5th really that much better?

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  12. SteveJobs says:

    That was a low blow on Hamilton. Unnecessary, IMO.

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  13. davisnc says:

    “Given the fact that he is still roughly the fifth catcher off the board, it doesn’t seem like too many people are concerned with his recovery/health.”

    I think the fact that he’s fifth off the board means people ARE concerned about his health. If he were guaranteed healthy, he’s no worse than third, and probably first. To me, pricing in the risk, I’d rank him behind Santana, McCann, Napoli, and Wieters for sure. He’s in the conversation with Posey, Wieters, Avila, and the Monteros for that 4–9 range. I’m not sure there’s really any right answer as to relative ranking; it’s just a matter of risk aversion and team fit.

    That said, I’m probably still waiting for Ramos or Mesoraco at a few bucks.

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  14. KJ says:

    I’m in a 20-team keeper and have to keep him in the 2nd round (38 overall) simply because I don’t anticipate there being other catchers to really work with. It’s painful.

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  15. Eminor3rd says:

    It’s an upside play, that’s all. I snagged him in Ottoneu for $18 because I think that the Twins are going to baby him at 1B/DH this year, especially with Morneau looking like he’s done for good.

    But, i”m doing linear weights points, so all those walks and doubles are especially valuable.

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  16. deadhead says:

    That was a low blow on Hambone. It was a wise crack, too. Ooops… It happened again. Blow… Crack… I’d better pipe down, I sound as smart as a bag of rocks. Darn it!

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  17. rickeycanstillplay says:

    Got him in a nice mid late round run.

    8th Stras
    9th Heyward
    10th Moore
    11th Mauer
    12th A Jones
    13th crawford

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  18. Congo Hammer says:

    I think he may be overvalued in my AL only league, since it’s an auction league and after him the next best options are Ianetta and Suzuki (Santana, Wieters, Napoli, Salty will all be kept). I was originally hoping he’d come at a value price :(

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  19. kid says:

    Remember a few years ago some people taking Joe Mauer in the 1st round, coming off of a 28-HR season? Hilarity.

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  20. Matt Metzinger says:

    I would still take Mauer as a top 5 C in my H2H points league. The BB/K factor is too nice to pass up. He’ll still rack up a ton of doubles and bat over .300. He was by far the number 1 catcher in 2010 even without any power (in my points league).

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  21. John says:

    A little context on his injury history would be helpful here.
    Rookie year – Knee injury: safe to say he recovered well.
    2009 – kidney obstruction (not a back injury): After surgery, he had the best season ever produced by a catcher, was AL batting champ and AL MVP. All of that w/o Spring Training.
    2011 – arthroscopic knee surgery in December, 2010: He never recovered. He was limited in games played and had a horrible season by his standards, but still hit above league averages.

    Mauer is arguably the best catcher in the history of baseball, he’s only 28, he plays everyday (DH, 1B), he has Doumit to reduce his catching time and he’s healthy right now.

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