2011 Projection Review: Catchers

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What follows is a review of some of my 2011 projections for Rotoworld.com. I’m highlighting my preseason top five for each position and them some other notables, starting today with the catchers.

Catchers

Preseason Top 5

Joe Mauer – Twins – $28 – #1
Projection: .323/.411/.483, 14 HR, 91 R, 82 RBI, 3 SB in 520 AB
2011 stats: .287/.360/.368, 3 HR, 38 R, 30 RBI, 0 SB in 296 AB

It was essentially a lost season for the 2009 AL MVP, but Mauer did hit a solid .314/.393/.416 in 185 second-half at-bats before getting shut down with pneumonia. I’ll project him to hit .310-.320 next year, but the slugging percentage will come down. He has one homer in 396 at-bats at Target Field since the ballpark opened last year.

Buster Posey – Giants – $28 – #2
Projection: .312/.388/.507, 21 HR, 76 R, 85 RBI, 2 SB in 507 AB
2011 stats: .284/.368/.389, 4 HR, 17 R, 21 RBI, 3 SB in 162 AB

Victor Martinez – Tigers – $24 – #3
Projection: .297/.367/.463, 19 HR, 73 R, 95 RBI, 0 SB in 559 AB
2011 stats: .330/.380/.470, 12 HR, 76 R, 103 RBI, 1 SB in 540 AB

Martinez’s 2011 was even more of an outlier than his 2006. That season, he finished with a .316 average and 16 homers. In his other five full seasons, he has never hit better than .305 or finished with fewer than 20 homers.

Carlos Santana – Indians – $20 – #4
Projection: .271/.384/.475, 20 HR, 77 R, 76 RBI, 4 SB in 480 AB
2011 stats: .239/.351/.457, 27 HR, 84 R, 79 RBI, 5 SB in 552 AB

I still believe that Santana is going to hit for decent averages in the majors, but even at .240, he was one of the game’s best offensive catchers this season.

Brian McCann – Braves – $21 – #5
Projection: .274/.352/.472, 21 HR, 62 R, 80 RBI, 3 SB in 468 AB
2011 stats: .270/.351/.466, 24 HR, 51 R, 71 RBI, 3 SB in 466 AB

It’s pretty incredible that McCann hit third and fourth and still got driven in just 27 times all year. After McCann came off the DL in mid-August, he had a 21-game stretch in which the only runs he scored came on his five homers. 21 games!

Others

J.P. Arencibia – Blue Jays – $5 – #27
Projection: .228/.280/.417, 15 HR, 41 R, 47 RBI, 0 SB in 355 AB
2011 stats: .219/.282/.438, 23 HR, 47 R, 78 RBI, 1 SB in 443 AB

Arencibia proved to be quite a bit more valuable in fantasy leagues than expected, but my slash line was awfully close to reality. As a subpar defensive catcher with a .275 OBP after 478 major league at-bats, his future as a regular should be in serious doubt.

Alex Avila – Tigers – $5 – #23
Projection: .257/.338/.405, 11 HR, 41 R, 43 RBI, 2 SB in 358 AB
2011 stats: .295/.389/.506, 19 HR, 63 R, 82 RBI, 3 SB in 464 AB

2011’s breakout catcher. I projected Avila to add about 90 points of OPS from his disappointing .228/.316/.340 season in 2010, but I never believed he had this kind of upside.

Chris Iannetta – Rockies – $11 – #12
Projection: .243/.358/.444, 17 HR, 52 R, 61 RBI, 1 SB in 374 AB
2011 stats: .238/.370/.414, 14 HR, 51 R, 55 RBI, 6 SB in 345 AB

I think the Rockies would be foolish to move on from Iannetta. I’d really like to see what he could do if he weren’t stuck hitting ahead of the pitcher 90 percent of the time.

Russell Martin – Yankees – $9 – #13
Projection: .266/.360/.376, 9 HR, 53 R, 46 RBI, 7 SB in 391 AB
2011 stats: .237/.324/.408, 18 HR, 57 R, 65 RBI, 8 SB in 417 AB

Miguel Montero – Diamondbacks – $13 – #11
Projection: .260/.329/.443, 17 HR, 54 R, 62 RBI, 1 SB in 431 AB
2011 stats: .282/.351/.469, 18 HR, 65 R, 86 RBI, 1 SB in 493 AB

Maybe Iannetta could even put together a season something like Montero just did. Consider that Montero is a lifetime .256 hitter with 35 RBI in 91 games hitting eighth. He’s hit .274 with 211 RBI in 422 games the rest of the time.

Mike Napoli – Rangers – $12 – #10
Projection: .251/.338/.475, 20 HR, 54 R, 57 RBI, 3 SB in 362 AB
2011 stats: .320/.414/.631, 30 HR, 72 R, 75 RBI, 4 SB in 369 AB

Matt Wieters – Orioles – $13 – #8
Projection: .272/.348/.449, 18 HR, 56 R, 62 RBI, 1 SB in 448 AB
2011 stats: .262/.328/.450, 22 HR, 72 R, 68 RBI, 1 SB in 500 AB

Wieters didn’t reach superstardom in year No. 3, but considering that he’s developed into a Gold Glove-caliber catcher, he does appear on his way to becoming one of the AL’s better players. A .280-25 HR season is in reach for 2012. He fanned a modest 84 times in 500 at-bats this season, so there’s no reason he can’t hit for a significantly better average soon.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.