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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Top 20 catchers

Before we get to our first fantasy baseball preview of the season, here’s a quick question for Indians fans who are in AL-only leagues: Lou Marson, Mike Redmond or Wyatt Toregas?

The possibility that one of the aforementioned Indians catchers will be drafted — and possibly started — in any fantasy league this season is among the best arguments proponents of mixed leagues can make.

The Tribe trio combined for 56 hits in 247 at-bats (a .227 average), zero home runs and 17 RBI in 85 major-league games last season.

You already knew the Indians’ catching situation — at least until Carlos Santana’s arrival — was as tenuous as their starting rotation. But you might not have known the position, from a fantasy perspective, isn’t much better.

This season, there seem to be three sure things — the Twins’ Joe Mauer, the Red Sox’s Victor Martinez and the Braves’ Brian McCann — and three very good No. 1 catchers (the Dodgers’ Russell Martin, the Yankees’ Jorge Posada and the Orioles’ Matt Wieters).

The latter statement is assuming Martin rebounds from a season in which he batted .250 with seven homers and 53 RBI, the 38-year-old Posada stays healthy and Wieters lives up to the hype.

Translation: If you don’t want your catcher to be a liability, you better draft one in the first five rounds.

If you wait, you might be looking at a best-case scenario of gambling that Geovany Soto rebounds or 35-year-old Bengie Molina continues to produce solid home-run and RBI numbers.

On to the rankings:

Rank, player: R-HR-RBI-SB-Avg.
1. Joe Mauer, Twins: 94-28-96-4-.365
2. Victor Martinez, Red Sox: 88-23-108-1-.303
3. Brian McCann, Braves: 63-21-94-4.281
4. Russell Martin, Dodgers: 63-7-53-11-.250
5. Jorge Posada, Yankees: 55-22-81-1-.285
6. Matt Wieters, Orioles: 35-9-43-0-.288
7. Kurt Suzuki, Athletics: 74-15-88-8-.274
8. Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks: 61-16-59-1-.294
9. Geovany Soto, Cubs: 27-11-47-1-.218
10. Bengie Molina, Giants: 52-20-80-0-.265
11. Ryan Doumit, Pirates: 31-10-38-4-.250
12. Mike Napoli, Angels: 60-20-56-3-.272
13. Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 45-6-54-9-.293
14. Chris Iannetta, Rockies: 41-16-52-0-.228
15. A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox: 57-13-49-1-.300
16. John Baker, Marlins: 59-9-50-0-.271
17. Ramon Hernandez, Reds: 25-5-37-1-.258
18. Rod Barajas, Mets: 43-19-71-1-.226
19. Miguel Olivo, Rockies: 51-23-65-5-.249
20. Pudge Rodriguez, Nationals: 55-10-47-1-.249

Preseason top 100 players (3): Mauer (8), Martinez (43), McCann (46)

Short hops
In 523 at-bats last season, Mauer more than doubled his previous career high of 13 homers, set in 2006. ... McCann has 86 home runs and 366 RBI in the last four seasons. ... Soto was great in 2008, when he batted .285 with 23 homers and 85 RBI in his first full big-league season. ... Doumit was also much better in 2008 (.318, 15 homers, 69 RBI) than ’09. ... Napoli has 40 homers, 105 RBI and 173 strikeouts in 609 at-bats the last two years. ... Iannetta also can be a liability in points-based leagues that penalize for strikeouts. He has fanned 167 times in 622 at-bats the last two seasons. ... Same goes for his new teammate, Olivo, who has 208 strikeouts in 696 at-bats in that span. ... A possible sleeper, if healthy: The Reds’ Hernandez, who averaged 16 homers and 73 RBI from 2006 to 2008.

NOTE: Statistics are from the 2009 season. ... Positions listed are according to the depth charts at

THIS WEEK: We’ll preview the first basemen on Thursday and the second basemen on Friday.

NEXT WEEK: Shortstops, third basemen and designated hitters

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