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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.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Where Carlos Santana ranks at catcher

You probably know about Carlos Santana's minor-league resume, which includes a 196 at-bat stretch in Triple-A this season in which he batted .316 with 13 homers and 51 RBI.

You know he's the Indians' top prospect, and you likely were incensed the Tribe waited until last Friday to call him up from Columbus.

What you probably didn't know -- since you weren't crazy enough to actually write down the stats of the notable fantasy catchers (it wasn't one of my finer moments) -- is catcher is such a weak position in fantasy that Santana is a legitimate top-10 choice at the position if he's anything close to decent as a rookie.

Entering play Tuesday night, three catchers had 30 or more RBI, and two are named John Buck and Rod Barajas. Three had at least 10 home runs -- Barajas, Buck and Mike Napoli.

In his first four games (through Tuesday), Santana is batting .214, but he has a homer, three RBI, two runs, an .853 OPS and two more walks than strikeouts (3-1).

In 1,787 at-bats in his minor-league career (roughly three full seasons), he batted .290 with 75 homers, 360 RBI and 348 runs scored. Maybe even more impressive was the fact he had 11 more walks (333) than strikeouts (322).

Since Friday was Santana's first major-league game, you know he will go through stretches in which you'll wonder why he's in your lineup. But you also know there will be weeks -- maybe months -- in which he rakes.

All of which brings us to a brief analysis of fantasy's best catchers.

Joe Mauer and Victor Martinez are the clear Nos. 1 and 2 at the position. Assuming he's healthy (and that often isn't the case), the Yankees' Jorge Posada, who is batting .291 with eight homers and 23 RBI in only 127 at-bats, is No. 3.

Arizona's Miguel Montero, who seems to be recovered from knee surgery, likely is in the top five, as is Atlanta's Brian McCann.

Quick question: Who's next?

The Mets' Barajas, who has 11 homers and 30 RBI, but is a career .240 hitter? The Rockies' Miguel Olivo, who has been very good thus far but is a career .247 batter? The disappointing Russell Martin, the Blue Jays' Buck (.238), Ryan Doumit, Kurt Suzuki, Ronny Paulino, Napoli or Yadier Molina? The batting-average-but-nothing-else Pudge Rodriguez?

Without overanalyzing all the numbers and based on the hot starts by Barajas and Olivo -- and assuming you can't play another phenom, the Giants' Buster Posey at catcher (the rookie is playing first base, but will be moved behind the plate at some point) -- I'd rank the top eight in this manner: 1. Mauer, 2. Martinez, 3. Posada, 4. McCann, 5. Montero, 6. Barajas, 7. Olivo, 8. Santana.

Each of the mid-level candidates has obvious flaws, but Santana, even if he bats .260 as a rookie, should be more productive than most of them.

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