Shuffle Up: Don’t mess with Yadier Molina

Scott Pianowski

Let's get to work with the tools and hopefully duck on the ignorance; today we rank all the fantasy catchers going forward. Assume a 5x5 scoring system, non-keeper rotisserie format. Anyone on the DL or in the minors is ineligible for this exercise, though I've allowed a one-time exception to Salvador Perez (I've been getting a lot of questions on him). Players listed at the same prices are considered even, and remember the dollar values are only used for comparison tools: they mean nothing in a vacuum.

I'll let these prices settle while I seek out a good burrito. Later tonight, I'll return, add commentary, listen to some of your comments. And I reserve the right to tweak this list as the night goes along. Win the debate, win the rank.

All I ask is that you have a line of reasoning as you disagree. Respect the room. Bring facts to the table, stats, observations. Further the conversation, amigos. We're in this together.

And remember the golden rule of roto: the players you roster don't accrue 15 percent of extra value just because they're under your umbrella. They can't hear you yelling at the TV and computer. They succeed (or fail) independent of you, not because of you.

Dollar values are yours after the jump, and comments are fresh out of the oven.

$19 Yadier Molina
$19 Buster Posey
$18 Mike Napoli
$18 Carlos Santana
$17 Matt Wieters
$17 Brian McCann
$16 Joe Mauer

You guys asked for more definition and I don't blame you: while ties are certainly fine, too many people were at $18. At the end of the day, we have to throw the flag down somewhere, at least some of the time. Thus, behold the new world order.

Yadier Molina has long been one of the most underrated stars in baseball. Everyone knows he's good (and miles ahead of every catcher defensively), but it's time to appreciate his bat, his consistency, and his significant roto value. He plays a crazy amount of games, a workload that hasn't run him down yet. He was a Top 7 backstop last year, when he hit .305 with a power bump, and he's been even better this year. Get out the anointing oil. (Metaphorically speaking, that is. Don't make a mess in here.)

The catcher leaderboard is Molina's crowning moment. Batting average, he's second at the position (among those with the qualifying at-bats), and it's fully-supported by a zesty 26.7 percent line-drive rate. Runs scored, he's sixth. Homers, tied for seventh, and just three from the top. RBIs, tied for fourth. Steals, first (and yes, six is enough to move the needle). What else do you need to see? Consistency matters, volume matters. And this is not some two-month fluke, Molina's been a reliable star for a while now. Enjoy the ride.

(Two random and numerically-insignificant things I like about Molina: he somehow pulls off the neck tattoo without looking like a total creep, and he's good friends with Adam Wainwright. So there you go.)

It might be a good time to kick the tires on Brian McCann in trade. Despite a higher line-drive rate this year and a slight gain in his ground-ball rate, his BABIP has come crashing down to .238. And the .243 batting average is also a puzzler, given that McCann has cut his strikeouts by over five percent. One caveat: I am a little nervous with respect to McCann's vision — he's had a score of eye-related news updates through his career, more than anyone I can remember. I'm no optometrist, but I wish that problem would get solved once and for all.

$15 Carlos Ruiz
$15 Jarrod Saltalamacchia
$14 Jesus Montero
$13 A.J. Pierzynski
$13 Miguel Montero
$12 J.P. Arencibia
$12 A.J. Ellis
$10 Salvador Perez

Like Molina, the Carlos Ruiz batting average gets some validation from the line-drive rate (23.3 percent). And while it's never clear to me what first half/second half splits really mean (often times they seem like random noise), it doesn't bother me to see that Ruiz's second-half OPS is 72 points higher for his career. You want your backstop to hold up through the physical demands of the position and the dog days of the summer, and Chooch has been able to do that. The pop can't be this good all year, but the rest of the numbers will be fine — especially since Charlie Manuel is using Ruiz in better batting slots this year.

Most of Jarrod Saltalamacchia's breakthrough has come at home and against right-handed pitching; he's 5-for-26 against lefties, and carries a meager .200/.260/.471 slash on the road (at least the power is still traveling). The good side of his splits still push him into the Circle of Trust, but he clearly doesn't belong in the first tier. … Don Mattingly still uses A.J. Ellis at the bottom of the lineup way too often, which makes me want to run into traffic. Getting on base is a wonderful thing, Donnie Baseball. And most of your offense isn't so hot at it. … Should Miguel Montero be a platoon player? His career slash against lefties is anemic (.233/.296/.348). I'd put him in the overrated file, even considering his plus defense.

$8 Russell Martin
$7 Ryan Doumit
$6 Rod Barajas
$5 Wilin Rosario
$3 Ryan Hanigan
$2 John Jaso
$2 Kurt Suzuki
$2 Jason Castro
$2 Jesus Flores
$2 Yorvit Torrealba
$2 Martin Maldonado
$2 Kelly Shoppach

Wilin Rosario probably went from underrated to overrated in about a week, and I'll take my share of the blame on that. The pop is real (and it's to all fields), but until he starts hitting right-handed pitching (look at that horrendous slash line), he can't be seen as a full-time player when everyone is healthy. Then again, you never know what crazy ideas Jim Tracy might be thinking about. A lot of things are backwards in Colorado. … Russell Martin has perked the bat up in June after two rough months, and the run production numbers aren't that bad here (that's the womb of the New York offense talking). His stardom days have been over for a while, but this is another backstop I'd be tempted to buy low on, if it's still available to you (perhaps the recent homers have closed the window).

$1 Gerald Laird
$1 Devin Mesoraco
$1 Lou Marson
$1 Josh Thole
$1 Hector Sanchez
$0 Miguel Olivo
$0 Tyler Flowers
$0 Brian Schneider
$0 Nick Hundley
$0 Brayan Pena
$0 Humberto Quintero
$0 John Baker
$0 Welington Castillo
$0 Jose Lobaton