Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees, Game 3

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.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.