It’s time again to re-visit the catcher tiers as the calendar flips to July. I’ve taken both current and expected performance into account, some thoughts and expectations of my own and a few comments from you, my very own Peanut Gallery. Things are looking a little different than they did back in June, so without further ado…
He’s in a class by himself right now. Match him up with any other backstop in the game today and you’d be a fool to not say you’d rather have Posey on your fantasy team. He may not have the highest totals right now, but he’s been the total package. Great numbers in the counting stats, his average hovers around the .300 range, his OBP lingers above .360, and both his walk and strikeout rates are better than league average. There’s nothing about his numbers that says he won’t duplicate his first half totals over the next three months. Oh yeah, and he’s done it all after missing almost a full year in 2011 due to one of the more horrific leg injuries we’ve seen in a while. Think your guy is better? Think again.
It was just a matter of time before this group started getting a little crowded. If I’m looking to make a deal to improve my catcher spot, I’m probably looking in this tier. Why not the one above? Can’t afford the price tag. But in this group, as great as all of them are playing right now or as I expect them to play over the next three months, each guy has a flaw or two that helps you negotiate that asking price a little more into your favor. Whether it’s the batting average for Salty, Napoli or Wieters or the injury history of Montero or Mauer’s lack of power or the age concerns of Ruiz and Yaddy, each guy falls just a little bit short of top-tier material. Happy to own any of them….still rather have Posey.
Here’s where some of the tough decisions needed to be made. As great of a year as Pierzynski is having, given his age and annual decline over the last few years, he has a strong chance of pulling a Berkman here and, more or less, disappearing in the second half. His bounce-back has been outstanding, but it’s a tough pace for him to keep up. McCann’s drop-off is a little troubling and with the exception of a mini-surge in May, he looks like a shell of the player we are used to seeing. I still see improvement on the horizon for Montero, but it hasn’t taken flight as quickly as I thought/hoped it would. And Santana’s just driving everyone nuts right now. Between the rash of injuries and overall disappointment at the plate, I don’t care where his OBP is. He’s been a disappointment all around. Maybe he does in the second half what he did last season, maybe he doesn’t. But he’s going to have to prove his worth before he gets ranked any higher.
This tier stays the same for the most part but gets the addition of both Rosario and Perez, two catchers definitely on the rise. Given Perez’ minor league totals, this tier might be his ceiling unless he pulls a Yaddy (pulls a Yaddy? Am I even allowed to say that?) and beefs up the power. But Rosario could easily find himself in the tier above if he continues to pull that average up and learns how to hit better against right-handed pitching. Ellis does not get the bump down with a weak month of June, but could if we don’t see improvements in July. There were plenty of questions as to whether or not he was playing over his head and we should get our answer soon enough.
Not a whole heck of a lot to see here. There’s hope that Soto turns things around and Norris supposedly steals the job from Kurt Suzuki, but for how long? Flores has been okay in his new full-time role and Lucroy should return to a full-time role once he’s healthy. Adequate backstops in a deep, two-catcher league.
Now it’s gettin’ ugly. Thole has no power, Buck is steadily dropping out of sight, Martin has been atrocious, and Suzuki may have lost his job. You’ve got Dusty hating on Mesoraco and Mesoraco not doing much to change Dusty’s mind, Iannetta is likely behind Lucroy on the return schedule and Hernandez is likely to be out of a job upon his return. Did we miss anyone?
There’s a piece of me that wishes I ranked Barajas in the tier above, but that piece of me isn’t yelling in my ear loud enough. Not sure if there’s really anything to say about the rest.
So much for that Hundley prediction…