Skeptics Say: Are you joking? Have you seen this kid play? Raise your hand if you don't want a catcher on your team that will hit at least 25 HR, get in the neighborhood of 85-90 RBI and get more AB's than 90% of the catchers in baseball. I thought so. The .239 average is nothing to be concerned about as that was dragged down by a below average BABIP of .263 (2nd lowest at any level he has played at). He was clearly unlucky in that department last year.
Peer Comparison: For the longest time you wouldn't find catchers in the top 100 players lists at the end of a season. In fact there have only been three catchers that have finished in Yahoo!'s top 100 since '07 (Mauer four times, V-Mart three times and Mike Napoli just last year). I'm going to go out on a limb, and say that Santana would have been there to had it not been for his poor batting average. So taking that group of 4 players, where does that leave us with them in regards to this year?
Mauer - Health problems last year robbed him of playing time and the home park doesn't do him any favors. The 28 home run season in 2009 was a fluke. Despite that, he can and will be a great source for a high average when healthy.
Martinez - Torn ACL has ended his season before it started.
We're left with Mike Napoli and Carlos. Both are players that hit for power. Both are extremely valuable in leagues that use OBP and both will give us bonus AB's while resting at 1B or DH. But what about the averages? Dating back to 2006 Napoli has never hit above .300 (with last year being the exception). Santana has hit over .300 four times (in the minors). Napoli's 2011 average of .320 was supported by an amazing .344 BABIP. Santana's miserable .239 was bogged down by a low .263 BABIP. Napoli's 30 HR's were buffed by a ridiculously high 25.4% HR/FB ratio. Santana hit 25 HR's with a much more realistic (and easily maintained) 16% HR/FB. Just making this comparison I think we can trust that Santana will be better or just as good this season, while Napoli, who is a great hitting catcher, has too many inflated numbers working against him for him to easily repeat last season.
Team Outlook: Cleveland certainly isn't a team devoid of names and ability. It's just full of questions. Can Choo and Sizemore play like they did before injuries? Can Cabrera maintain his out of nowhere emergence from last season? Will Kipnis and Chisenhall live up to the hype that acompanies top prospects? All these questions answered, and more, in the Indians 2012 season...
What They're Saying: CBS Sportsline - #1 in Top 40 Catchers; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com - #2 in the Top 25 Catchers & #51 in the Top 250 Players; RotoChamp - #24 in the Top 300 Players; Mock Draft Central - #1 Catcher and #35 Overall
Projection: There is a reason that Carlos is ranked so high by the people and places above. Despite the increasing offensive production and influx of talented young players at the position, Santana is clearly something special. Draft with confidence that he will be improving on his numbers from last year.
.270 AVG, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 70 Runs, 5 Steals, .360 OBP and .830 OPS in 550 AB's
I don't understand why all the gushing for a player ranked #80. You argue that this is the top catcher this year and do not even include anything to be "skeptical" about.
Still, the #80 overall ranking wouldn't get this player before the 6th or 7th round in a draft. Given that you cite him being taken in the 2nd/3rd round, he would never fall to #80. You don't even have him ranked even as highly as most of the comparative rankers such as ESPN or RotoChamp.
Can you clarify, is this a player worth drafting that highly? I feel like it's analogous to saying "Miguel Cabrera is going to be a stud, we have him ranked as a R3 pick!"
Mathew. I understand where you are coming from. I feel Santana is great player and in my opinion, I do think that he is the top offensive catcher out there currently. Napoli is great, but like i said, i think there will be regression coming his way. V-mart is out this year, so we can't look at him. McCann is about as consistent as he can get, and there is nothing wrong with the numbers he has put up year after year. Santana just has a higher ceiling.
Now how I feel about him as far as a draft goes, I don't know if I would be taking him as high as his average mock position has him being selected. I've never been a fan of drafting a catcher that high given the offensive capabilities of other players on the board at that time (position scarcity be damned). Your league setup (and knowing the habbits of the other managers in your league) may very well justify you "reaching" for him early in the 2nd or 3rd round, especially if you are using a two catcher format.
As to him being ranked 80th here and my seemingly over the top gushing on him. The Fantasy Baseball Hotstove ranks here at FB365 are early, and meant as more of a breakdown of players individually for a more indepth look at the top players. The list and the order we present them in is made in October, and things can change. The whole FB365 crew will be putting out our staff ranks that show how we each feel a player ranks along with an average rank that shows where we feel he goes.
Thanks for the read and the comment
@mattmcmillen365 Thanks for clarifying. Would you care to expand on what positions are scarcer than Catcher? I can only think of SS, and for a premium SS you need to use a R1 pick. Once R3 or R4 rolls around, what position would you value over Catcher?
@Mathew I agree 100% on the difference between premium and waiver fodder in catchers and outfielders, but on draft day I prefer to look at value. Getting Carlos Santana in the 2nd or could be a great pickup, but do you want to get him over a Fielder, Pedroia, Stanton or McCutchen who are all going in the 2nd round too? I don't want position scarcity to detract me from getting a player at another position who can put up better numbers or provide me greater diversity in categories while matching Santana in others, while other catchers like Weiters, Miguel Montero or Avila are available 7 or 8 rounds later.
@mattmcmillen365 I'd like to expand that (for me) the difference between having a waiver wire C vs Santana is a world of difference more than a Matt Holiday vs waiver pickup OF.