Catcher is a shallow position in fantasy baseball, with obvious top options like Joe Mauer and Buster Posey and a steep drop in both value and impact after that.
Two players that belong in that top tier of fantasy catchers, just below Mauer and Posey, are Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals and Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles. Both guys topped 20 home runs and 75 RBI in 2012, making them part of a rare breed at the position. But is one a better fantasy option than the other for 2013?
Takeaways And Trends
– Molina has maintained an elite level contact rate for five straight seasons (at least 89 percent each season), and his batting average has followed suit with at least a .293 mark (three times over .300) in four of those five campaigns.
– Wieters has posted a batting average below .250 in two of his three full big league seasons, but a little bit better luck (.276 BABIP in both 2011 and 2012) could yield improvement in 2013.
– Molina’s stolen bases last season (12) are unlikely to be repeated, but his success rate (80 percent) should allow him to get opportunities even with far below-average speed.
– Wieters and Molina both had reasonable home run/fly ball rates last season, 16 percent and 14 percent respectively, making their home run totals from 2012 sustainable and repeatable. Molina’s home run/fly ball rate did jump fairly significantly last season compared to 2011 (14 percent, from nine percent), but even that is not unrealistic progression in that metric.
Here are my projections for Molina and Wieters for 2013.
Batting Average- .305
Home Runs- 19
Runs Scored- 63
Stolen Bases- 6
Batting Average- .265
Home Runs- 25
Runs Scored- 75
Stolen Bases- 2
Wieters and Molina are both clearly top-10 fantasy catchers, and any fantasy owner would be glad to have either one. But when choosing between the two it comes down to upside and potential draft day value, and for those reasons Wieters is my choice. He could be a draft steal as those that drafted him based on heightened expectations in the past avoid him, while Molina set career-highs across the board last season and may be drafted too early based on that production.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.