Spin Doctors: Buster Posey vs. Victor Martinez

Any baseball club needs a solid catcher – you're risking an awful lot of passed balls if you don't align someone back there. And while there aren't too many offensively-skilled backstops in today's game, there are a few elite options who justify an early round pick. Today Brandon Funston and Scott Pianowski don the tools of ignorance (fill in your own joke here) and try to sort out Buster Posey(notes) against Victor Martinez(notes), the kid versus the veteran. Add your own slant in the comments, and don't forget to vote. The doctors are in …

B-Fun opens: If all goes right for Victor Martinez, he'll hit right at .300 with 20 HRs – in the best of times, he's never hit more than 25 – and somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 RBI and 80 Runs. Of course, there's his age (an old 32 because of an assembly line of injuries throughout his career – check out the injury section on this page) and there's his move from Fenway Park, where he enjoyed a career .900 OPS, to Comerica Park, where he's posted a meager .671 OPS in 47 games. So predicting a best-case scenario is a white-knuckle exercise.

Buster Posey's upside is admittedly in the same ballpark as V-Mart. He's a .300 hitter, there's no doubt. He hit .398 at Florida St. and more than .330 in 600-plus minor league at bats. Simply put, he's a strong-contact machine. He's also a good bet to at least replicate his 18 HRs of '10, even if you think his power was a bit fluky last season. Figure his expected extra 100-plus at bats and the year of growth and experience will make-up for a likely regression in his HR/FB rate. And, hitting cleanup for the Giants, there's mid-80s RBI and Runs to be had, even if he only plays 135-140 games, as manger Bruce Bochy has stated to be the likely scenario.

So what this argument boils down to for me is this: who is most likely to encounter the least pitfalls and reach the most of their potential? Frankly, the biggest advantage that either of these players can bring to the table is Posey's vitality. And, for me, that's the deciding factor.

Pianow closes: My argument today is mostly in theory. I'm probably not going to make an early pick on a fantasy catcher, at least in the standard one-catcher format that rules the Y! kingdom. But when you put this in front of me as an either-or proposition, I have a couple of rules that push me to Martinez.

First and foremost, I love getting a faux catcher for the make-believe team; a backstop in name only. The Tigers plan on using Martinez mostly as a DH in 2011, which frees him from the wear-and-wear that comes from donning the tools of ignorance (and will allow him to play more often). Martinez also gets the advantage of the American League (the hitter's league, where lineups cycle through more often) and the benefit of Detroit's deep order (he'll open the year hitting behind on-base studs Magglio Ordonez(notes) and Miguel Cabrera(notes)). The Tigers outscored the Giants by 54 runs last year, and that was obviously without V-Mart.

And with all due respect to Posey's elite skills and upside, there's nothing that makes me nervous in roto quite like a buzzy young player; generally it's hard to make a profit on this type of profile. And will his roomy home park take a tax? Posey's OPS by the bay was a modest .723 last year.

Yahoo! drafters are happily chasing Posey's sophomore season; he's currently flying off the board at 33.7 in Y! leagues, while Martinez can be had with the 42nd pick on average. Taking the proven and established veteran isn't the sexy way to go, but it's generally the road I prefer to travel. Enjoy your new masher, Motown. I'm on board.


Images courtesy Associated Press