Without question, the thinnest position in fantasy baseball is catcher. While a few big names do come to mind, there are only a handful of players that fill the catcher position that will end up worth their draft position. Not only will Victor Martinez be worth his current average draft position of 113 overall, but he’ll overproduce that number easily.
Current projections rank V-Mart as the seventh best catcher going into the 2013 MLB season, behind Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters and Miguel Montero in that order.
When Martinez makes his return to baseball for the Detroit Tigers on Opening Day, he’ll return with a career line of .303/.370/.469 while averaging 20 home runs, 104 RBI, 82 runs and 64 walks per season over his 10-year career. This year, he finds himself batting fifth behind Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, who will bat first through fourth respectively.
Most projections have Martinez seeing about 65 RBI in 2013, while maintaining his usual .300 batting average on the season. While he’s not a big-time home run hitter, 20 home runs and an RBI total closer to 80-85 this year seem a lot more likely with all that fire power atop the Tigers’ lineup.
Although Martinez will be hitting fifth this season, the value he’ll bring should compare a lot to his 2010 season with the Boston Red Sox. Martinez batted third for the Sox 88 times in 2010, with Marco Scutaro and Dustin Pedroia usually in front of him and either Kevin Youkilis or David Ortiz followed by Adrian Beltre behind him. A similarly potent offense in comparison to what we’re expecting from the Tigers this year. That season hitting third, V-Mart dropped 20 home runs, 79 RBI and hit .302.
At 113 overall, you’re looking at players like Josh Johnson, Jesus Montero, Nick Swisher, C.J. Wilson, Brett Gardner and Mark Trumbo. Not only do I have V-Mart way ahead of each of the aforementioned players in terms of potential value, but I also have him as a much safer player over each of them, in a much better situation, and in one of the top lineups in baseball.
Now consider the position eligibility factor. As I said in the beginning of the article, catcher is the thinnest positions in fantasy baseball entering 2013. Buster Posey is the only catcher that I’m comfortable saying will have a better year than Martinez. That’s a reflection of both how well I’m anticipating Martinez will play, as well as a reflection of how thin the position is.
In many formats, Martinez will also come with first base eligibility which will add flexibility, and also much more fantasy value to Martinez.
Instead of spending an early pick on Posey, or drafting any other catcher ahead of V-Mart, I’ll gladly take Martinez at any time after 70th overall. Projected players in that draft spot include Santana, Napoli, Jimmy Rollins, Mat Latos and James Shields. The value you’ll receive from Martinez in your catcher position will be of far greater value to your team in comparison to drafting a player at another, deeper position, which you can easily fill in another draft position.
In reference to his return from injury, all signs have him looking 100%, so don’t let that hold you back from one of the top fantasy baseball catchers in 2013. Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McLendon has been raving about Martinez this off-season, so the backstop is finally ready to get back to action.
Kill any questions you have regarding Martinez’s injury, and then remember he’ll be the Tigers’ primary designated hitter in 2013. He will be allowed to do what he does best, and just swing for the fences.
2013 Fantasy Prediction: .315/.385/.475 with 22 home runs, 86 RBI, 77 runs
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @Jewish_Jeff