Joe Mauer, who will retain catcher eligibility despite moving to first base full-time, overall draft position in 12-team mixed leagues 49.5. Also include your 5x5 projection.
Brandon – UNDER. I'm happy to be the bullish one in regards to Mauer. In '12, he was a top 50 fantasy hitter with a line of .319/10/85/81/8. Playing 1B full-time obviously gives him a significantly better chance to avoid injury this season and push career highs in plate appearances. Sure, he won't hit for much power, but you can take his .300 average to the bank, and he should once again push 80 RBIs and Runs. Plus, you still get to use him at catcher, a position where few reach 20 home runs (Mauer's lack of power won't hurt you here). It's also a spot where many of the rosterable backstops will be happy to finish even close to a .270 batting average (put Mauer down for a huge advantage here). I think he finishes very near to his '12 numbers.
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Andy – Slightly OVER, because I don't currently have any catcher-eligible players in my overall top-50. Remember, none of them finished in the overall top-80 last season. I do however think Mauer has an excellent shot at playing 150 games for the first time in his career while maintaining a .315-.320-ish average. The move to first unquestionably helps him. I'll go 72-15-92-2-.319 for a final 5x5 stat-line.
Scott – Has to go OVER. Joe Mauer has 912 career at-bats at Target Field - and 10 home runs. And it's not like he's Mickey Tettleton on the road (or surrounded by much of an offense). I doubt I'll own Mauer. Projection: .315-73-11-71-1.
Evan Gattis, the feel-good story of 2013, home runs in the follow-up 21.5.
Brad – OVER. Gattis is blessed with devastating raw power. The ex-office janitor jacked a homer once ever 16.85 at-bats last year. Now thrust into a near everyday role, he should sail over this number with ease, settling in the 24-27 range.
Scott – UNDER. Too many holes in the swing; this is someone I don't want. Oh, you'll get 15-20 homers, I suppose, but maybe a .219 average. And there's also a chance he loses the job entirely.
Dalton – OVER. It will almost certainly come with a poor batting average but slated to see regular at bats this season, Gattis should beat this mark in the HR department.
Wilson Ramos, who came on strong last year, home runs this summer 19.5.
Scott – OVER. He only needs to stay healthy. Ramos is a perfect target for those who approach catcher on a budget.
Dalton – OVER. He hit 16 bombs in just 287 at bats last year, and while his 27.6 HR/FB% will likely come down in 2014, if Ramos can stay healthy, the 26-year-old should be in store for a career season.
Andy – UNDER, barely. Last year, no everyday catcher hit more than 22 home runs. This ain't as easy as it sounds.
Wilin Rosario, the Rockies’ ‘Baby Bull,’ long-balls in the thin air of Coors Field 28.5
Scott – OVER. The Rockies are finally realizing what they have in Rosario, and they'll give him some first-base time when he needs a break from catching. Rosario's power isn't entirely a product of Coors; he batted .290 and slugged .473 on the road last year.
Brandon – UNDER. I'm a Rosario fan, but playing catcher in the NL (no DH) makes it very hard to reach 500 ABs (Rosario has fallen short each of past two years.) If that's again the case, I think we'll see Rosario fall just shy of this mark (say, 25-27).
Andy – UNDER. Again, because he's a catcher. He obviously has the pop needed to reach this total, but this is a roster position where hitting stats are mostly meh. If he hits 25 or 26, he has an excellent shot at leading the position.
Brandon – MCCANN. McCann's swing is made for the new Yankee Stadium, and with the DH an option now, he could very well get 550-600 at bats. I think this could be McCann's best fantasy season yet, and he's logged some evry good ones in the past.
Scott – MOLINA. Batting average, the silent weapon. Molina's at .319, .315 and .305 the last three years, while McCann checks in at .256, .230 and .270. McCann is a safer power bet, but Molina's been crushing him in the run-production stats, too.
Dalton – MOLINA. It’s hard not to get excited about the lefty McCann playing in Yankee Stadium, but I give Molina the slight edge here, mainly due to batting average. Molina has quietly developed into an elite hitter over the past three years.
Breakout vs. Bust. What catcher coming from different 2013 directions is most attractive: Yan Gomes vs. Jesus Montero?
Dalton – GOMES. Gomes looks like a nice sleeper as he transitions to become Cleveland’s everyday catcher, whereas Montero, who showed up to spring training overweight and out of shape, may not even get another chance in the bigs any time soon. I’m not optimistic about Montero bouncing back at all.
Andy – GOMES, by a mile. Easy. Montero is all anti-buzz at this point.
Scott – GOMES is one of my favorite targets for the second part of your draft. Thank the catching gods we no longer have to watch Carlos Santana's circus act behind the plate.
Carlos Santana, who sold for $20 in last weekend’s AL-Only LABR auction, appropriate price in a 12-team mixed league auction $17.5.
Brad – UNDER. Unlike with Mauer, Santana's position move shouldn't spike production. He's logged at least 500 at-bats three-straight seasons. Add that to his batting average downside and he's simply not worth the extra coin. Stated and restated in this space, position scarcity is GREATLY exaggerated in fantasy baseball.
Scott – UNDER for me. Don't talk yourself into some extra Santana production from the move out from behind the plate; durability hasn't been the issue with him. You're not getting a volume kickback.
Dalton – UNDER. I like Santana quite a bit, especially if he sees everyday at bats at third base, but catcher looks deep enough to wait on the position (or in this case, pay less) in shallow mixed formats, especially if you only have to start one of them.
Former top prospect tussle. Who has the best chance to break out in Year 2: Mike Zunino or Travis d’Arnaud?
Dalton – d’ARNAUD. He enters as the bigger health risk but with a much higher batting average floor. Both are decent prospects, but catcher is the position that often takes the longest for hitters to develop.
Andy – I'll take d'ARNAUD, but this is very close, in every category. Whoever hits .250 or better wins.
Brandon – d'ARNAUD. I expect d'Arnaud to win out when it comes to an ability to make contact, which gives him a better batting average ceiling, though that clearly won't be a positive for either of these guys. Citi Field was also a much better park for home runs than Safeco Field last season, which also gives d'Arnaud the advantage.
Late-round lottery ticket. What backstop would you go the extra buck on: Josmil Pinto, J.P. Arencibia, Welington Castillo, Devin Mesoraco, Yasmil Grandal?
Andy – Gimme MESORACO, who I think can deliver useful counting stats, with something like 16 homers. That will certainly play in deep leagues.
Brandon – CASTILLO. I like Castillo. Last season, he finished 11th among catchers with at least 400 plate appearances in OPS (.746). And he's lauded for his defensive abilities, so he looking like an anchor for the Cubs behind the dish. From my perspective, he's the best blend of talent and opportunity among this group.
Scott – MESORACO finally gets a break, with Ryan Hanigan and Dusty Baker out of town. The timing is right for a step forward.