2012 Catcher Keeper Rankings — Tier 4

As we make our way through these rankings, let me just add in one thing.  While relative value is something we have left for you to ultimately decide, there are certain players whom I consider keeper worthy and those that aren’t in spite of things like the Fantasy Value Above Replacement spreadsheet that we have been using.  Sure, Yadier Molina may have outproduced Wilson Ramos according to our 2011 retro value, but am I keeping a catcher who is moving into his ninth season and will turn 30 years old at the All Star break because suddenly, out of the blue, he doubled his home run production last year?  Probably not.  It’s very difficult for me to think that a player who put up near identical numbers for his first seven seasons, suddenly can double his ISO mark in his eighth year and maintain that as his future level of production.  I see it more as a statistical anomaly than anything else.  Therefore, like each and every year prior, I would not even consider keeping Molina and subsequently must leave him off these rankings.

So today, I’ll throw out a few names of players to continue what we’ve done and tomorrow will finish it off with a few honorable mentions.  There will be some players left off this list, but again, we’re calling them keeper rankings and not every player is worth keeping.

Wilson Ramos, WAS — With Ivan Rodriguez likely out of the picture next season, the 24 year old Ramos should be the primary backstop in Washington.  While his .267 average is nothing to write home about, his offensive production in 2011 was more than solid for a rookie.  His 15 home runs and 52 RBI in just 435 plate appearances gives hope for a promising career and it just comes down to whether or not you believe that he can build on these numbers.  As much as I do like Ramos for the future, I have some concerns.  For the sake of space here, I will just direct you to the comments section of Tier 3 where I spell them out.

Russell Martin, NYY — He’ll be 29 at the start of next season and the probability of a batting average improvement is pretty low, but you can’t ignore the power here.  I’m well aware of what I just said about Molina with relation to a sudden power surge, but prior to his last two underwhelming seasons with the Dodgers, Martin had already displayed this type of power.  Therefore, given his skill set, the stadium in which he calls home, and the opportunities afforded to him as a member of an always potent Yankees lineup, Martin stands a very good chance at duplicating his 2011 totals.  Sure, with a little help from the luck dragons he might see an increase in his BABIP which would help his average, but given the steady decline in K% and SwStr%, the chances might be a little slim.  Still, I’ll take that power at the expense of average for my catcher position.

Jonathan Lucroy, MIL — Though not considered a rookie by MLB standards, 2011 was his first full season in the majors.  He had almost 300 plate appearances the year before and was relatively unassuming walking into this past season.  But with a hot start, he jumped onto plenty of people’s radar and showed that there is undoubtedly some talent on which to build a decent career as the Brewers’ primary backstop.  In looking at his minor league numbers, he certainly has the ability to improve in a number of areas and for more, I will happily direct you to another piece I just recently did on him.

Miguel Olivo, SEA — This is probably where I draw the line at veteran keepers.  Olivo’s power production, in spite of some of the parks he’s called home, has been solid over the years, although there has been some every other year fluctuation recently.  Unfortunately, he strikes out too much, doesn’t walk enough and even with a decent BABIP, his average is still sub par.  But the 33 year old (34 at the All Star break) is again playing for a contract and if you’re looking for solid double digit home run totals and can afford to give up BA and strikeouts, then Olivo may be worth a look again.

Missed the first three tiers?  Well here are some links for you to follow:

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

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uh you said you’re a big fan of Mesoraco as I’d see later this week in the tier 3, but then rank Betancourt the catcher (Olivo) and his .279 career OBP ahead of him. If I’m just getting an average of 17 HRs (over last 5 years) from a guy for his “power production,” his ratios have to be better. That’s player is a liability. What is Olivo’s absolute upside (we have a bit of history to guide us)? I’d argue .250/.290/.500 with 25 HRs – with his 50 percentile estimate .240/.275/.420 with 17 HRs. Compared to Mesocaro’s estimated upside of .290/.350/.500 with 20 HRs and 50% percentile of .260/.320/.400 with 15 HRs. You’re telling me you don’t rather have Olivo than Mesoraco for next year? You’re paying an awful lot with your ratios for those marginal 2-10 HRs and I’d argue you’re nuts.