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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.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

2011 fantasy baseball rankings: Catchers

Joe Mauer, as expected, is the consensus No. 1 catcher as we enter the 2011 season.

Victor Martinez and Brian McCann usually follow in some order — but we prefer to stray from the norm.

I would take Giants rookie Buster Posey after Mauer is off the board, and consider the phenom among the top 20 players overall after a rookie season in which he produced 18 homers, 67 RBI, 43 extra-base hits and an .862 OPS in 406 at-bats.

Mauer will hit for a better average, but do you really believe he’ll hit more home runs (Mauer had nine last season) or drive in more runs than Posey?

It says here he won’t, and we don’t think Posey will endure a sophomore slump.

That brings us to our first set of rankings for 2011 — the backstops. Players are ranked where we expect them to spend the most time this season, not at every position at which they are eligible. For example, Jorge Posada is listed as a designated hitter, not a catcher.

Posada is obviously much more valuable at the latter position, and should be considered in the No. 12 range (one spot ahead of Jaso) at catcher.

On to the rankings:

Rank, player: R-HR-RBI-SB-Avg.
1. Joe Mauer, Min: 88-9-75-1-.327
2. Buster Posey, SF: 58-18-67-0-.305
3. Victor Martinez, Det: 64-20-79-1-.302
4. Brian McCann, Atl: 63-21-77 -5-.269
5. Carlos Santana, Cle: 23-6-22-3-.260
6. Geovany Soto, ChC: 47-17-53-0-.280
7. Kurt Suzuki, Oak: 55-13-71-3-.242
8. Miguel Montero, Ari: 36-9-43-0-.266
9. Matt Wieters, Bal: 37-11-55-0-.249
10. John Buck, Fla: 53-20-66-0-.281
11. Russell Martin, NYY: 45-5-26-6-.248
12. John Jaso, TB: 57-5-44-4-.263
13. J.P. Arencibia, Tor: 3-2-4-0-.143
14. A.J. Pierzynski, CWS: 43-9-56-3-.270
15. Carlos Ruiz, Phi: 43-8-53-0-.302
16. Mike Napoli, Tex: 60-26-68-4-.238
17. Yadier Molina, StL: 34-6-62-8-.262
18. Chris Iannetta, Col: 20-9-27-1-.197
19. Josh Thole, NYM: 17-3-17-1-.277
20. Rod Barajas, LAD: 39-17-47-0-.240

Preseason top 100 players (5): Mauer (19), Posey (20), Martinez (36), McCann (44), Santana (78).

Short hops
Was Mauer’s 2009 home-run total of 28 a fluke? Since 2005, he has hit, in order, nine, 13, seven, nine, 28 and nine home runs. ... The Tribe’s Santana appears to be fully recovered from his scary knee injury and could be a seventh- or eighth-round steal in a 12-team league. ... Montero was very good in 2009 (.294, 16 homers, 59 RBI, .833 OPS in 433 at-bats), but was limited to 297 at-bats by injury last season. ... Wieters seems to have regressed, but his minor-league track record suggests he should put it all together soon. ... Jaso, who should be the Rays’ everyday catcher, could be a sleeper. The same goes for Arencibia, who will be a starter now that Buck is in Florida. The latter batted .301 with 32 homers and 85 RBI in 412 at-bats in Triple-A last season. ... Napoli is an intriguing choice after hitting at least 20 homers in three straight seasons, but unless Michael Young is traded, he is a backup catcher, first baseman and DH.

NOTE: Statistics are from the 2010 season. ... Players are listed only at the positions at which they are expected to spend the most time in 2011.

THIS WEEK: We’ll preview the first basemen on Tuesday and the second basemen on Wednesday.

Shortstops, third basemen and designated hitters.

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