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2011 Fantasy Baseball: Overrated, Underrated, Sleepers and Busts -- Catchers

A comprehensive look at a weak catching crop, including a powerful steal in blue

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We've ranked the players.

We've analyzed the ballparks.

We've discussed the hot stove winners and losers, and we've told you whom to keep.

Now it's time for the position-by-position analysis -- the most overrated and underrated, the potential sleepers, busts and steals, along with the key stats.

First up: The catchers. As media icon Ryan Seacrest would say, "Dim the lights. Here we go."

Overrated

  • John Buck, Marlins: He batted .281 with 20 homers, 66 RBI and an .807 OPS with Toronto last season, helping him land major bucks from Florida. But he's a .243 career hitter whose previous career-high before 2010 was 50 RBI. His position is so weak, though, I still ranked him 10th, which I like even less than Seacrest.

Underrated

  • Buster Posey, Giants: I already explained why here.
  • Mike Napoli, Rangers: I ranked him 10th at catcher in December, then bumped him to 16th in the most recent rankings after he was traded twice -- to the Blue Jays, then the Rangers. He likely will share time with Yorvit Torrealba, who was signed to start, but if Michael Young is traded, Napoli should be viewed as a starting catcher because of the potential at-bats he could receive at catcher, first base and designated hitter. He has hit at least 20 homers in three straight seasons.
  • Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks: He was limited to 297 at-bats by injury last season, but still drove in 43 runs. In 2009, his first full big-league season, Montero batted .294 with 16 homers and 59 RBI in 425 at-bats. Eight seems to be his average ranking, and where he is here, but if he stays healthy, he could provide top-five value.

Potential steals

  • Carlos Santana, Indians: Click here.
  • J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays: He hit two homers in his major-league debut Aug. 7, sending some of us scrambling to the waiver wire, then barely was heard from again. I blame John Buck. The latter's exit should give Arencibia the starting job, and he's produced everywhere he's been. In Triple-A in 2010, he batted .301 with 32 homers, 85 RBI, 76 runs and a .985 OPS in only 412 at-bats. You can draft him as a backup catcher and might get 2010 Buck-like production -- or better.
  • John Jaso, Rays: He hit .263 with 43 RBI and 57 runs in 339 at-bats as a rookie. He'll likely sit against lefties (Jaso hit .191 against them last season), but he has the potential to hit for average (.290 in the minors) with decent power (57 homers and 330 RBI in 2,165 minor-league at-bats).

Potential busts

  • Geovany Soto, Cubs: I like him, as you can tell by the rankings, but I would still be nervous selecting him as the No. 6 catcher because of his hit-and-miss nature. Soto was terrible in 2009 (.218, 11 homers, 47 RBI) and terrific in 2008 (.285, 23 homers, 86 RBI). Last season, he was productive (.280, 17 homers, 53 RBI), but had just 322 at-bats because of injuries.
  • Russell Martin, Yankees: He likely will be drafted as a starting catcher in a 12-team league, and the Yankees would seem to provide an upgrade for his fantasy value. But let's not forget this former fantasy stud has batted .249 with averages of six homers and 40 RBI the last two years, and his stolen bases have dropped from 21 to 18 to 11 to six the last four seasons.

Sleepers

  • Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers: He is regarded as one of Milwaukee's top five prospects, though he didn't show much in 277 at-bats in 2010 (.253, four homers, 26 RBI). Take a look at his minor-league numbers, and you see sleeper potential (.298, 35 homers, 198 RBI, 188 runs and an .837 OPS in 1,250 at-bats).
  • Jason Castro, Astros: Not to be confused with the former American Idol wannabe, the Astros' 2008 first-round pick might be their best prospect. Castro hit .205 in 195 at-bats as a rookie last season, but his minor-league numbers are impressive (.287, 111 RBI, 106 runs in 795 at-bats).

Key stats

  • 43: Home runs by the Rockies' Chris Iannetta in 810 at-bats since 2008. Iannetta has 144 RBI in that span, but he's a .234 career hitter who has struck out 290 times in 1,084 at-bats. If you are lacking in power, Iannetta is an OK late-round option in deep leagues. Just don't expect much else.
  • 97: Average RBI by the Tigers' Victor Martinez since 2004, not counting 2008, when he was limited to 266 at-bats. The .300 career hitter should have a solid first season in Detroit, which will rest him quite a bit behind the plate by playing him at first base and DH.

NEXT: First basemen

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL RANKINGS: Catchers, First basemen, Second basemen, Shortstops, Third basemen, Designated hitters, Outfielders, Starting pitchers, Closers, Top 100 overall

MORE RANKINGS: Your guide to all of our 2011 fantasy baseball rankings, your guide to the top keepers in fantasy baseball

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