It’s backstop day at the RG, as we debuted our rankings and then profiled the top five targets and some deep sleepers. Now it’s time to look at the middle of the rankings, identify some guys that are falling in this year’s drafts, and decide if they merit more love.
Once projected to be a superstar in his rookie season, the shine has seemingly come off of Wieters, and he’s all the way down to near-double digits in our rankings. Here’s a thing I discovered while researching this piece about Carlos Santana, however: it does seem that catchers take a little longer to develop their offense. Whether it’s because they focus on defense and game calling first, or because they are one of the worst offensive positions overall, it takes a few years. Switch-hitting catchers from Victor Martinez to Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada all took until 25 or later to bust out. Wieters is 24 and that, as well as his minor league record, is probably the best statistic in his favor. With incremental improvements in his walk rate, strikeout rate, swinging strike rate, and ISO, there are other statistics that back up the idea that perhaps Wieters shouldn’t be sliding this far. Consider taking him slightly ahead of his ADPs (130.04 at MDC, 111.2 at Yahoo) in order to snag his upside.
If age is the reason to be up-beat about Matt Wieters, then it’s the reason that Jorge Posada is falling in drafts and rankings this year. And of course we have to temper any expectations that we might have for him because of his age. The record for at-bats for a catcher over 39 is Carlton Fisk with 454 (second is Fisk at 452, third is Bob Boone at 405, and those are the only seasons over 400). Fisk is also the only person to ever hit more than double-digit home runs after 39, as he hit 23 at 39, 19 at 40, 13 at 41 and 18 at 42. So, if you’re taking Posada, you’re basically hoping he’ll be the best or second- best old catcher ever. Of course, that’s possible, because Posada’s 22 home runs in 2009 were the third-best number ever by a catcher over 37. He’s done it before. Oh, and he’s going to DH this year, which will have to be counted as a positive even if he hasn’t done so well in that role before. It should, at the very least, help him get more ABs.
Montero is young-ish (27), and once hit .294 with 16 home runs, and yet he’s falling in drafts this year (125.6 ADP in MDC, 158.2 in Yahoo). The ADPs might be reasonable, but is he worth picking after the tenth round is completed? Maybe (hah). A full, healthy season from Montero could produce a home run total in the mid-teens and a decent batting average for a catcher, judging from his career .267 number in the category. Can he stay healthy? He’s only officially hit the DL twice in his carer – for right knee surgery in 2010 (62 days missed) and for a fractured finger in 2008 (31 days missed) – and yet he’s averaged only 313 PAs since 2007. It looks like Montero is best drafted as part of a quantity, not quality approach late in your drafts. Pick him and Posada late in the game and you’ll probably have a decent catcher this year, one way or the other.
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.