2012 projections: top 10 catchers

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I’ll save the fantasy projections for the Rotoworld Draft Guide, but here are my top catchers for 2012 going by OPS:

.878 – Buster Posey – Giants – 486 AB – .756 in 2011
.868 – Mike Napoli – Rangers – 413 AB – 1.046 in 2011
.867 – Carlos Santana – Indians – 524 AB – .808 in 2011
.855 – Matt Wieters – Orioles – 497 AB – .778 in 2011
.852 – Joe Mauer – Twins – 473 AB – .729 in 2011
.819 – Brian McCann – Braves – 461 AB – .817 in 2011
.816 – Alex Avila – Tigers – 468 AB – .895 in 2011
.799 – Geovany Soto – Cubs – 422 AB – .721 in 2011
.790 – Miguel Montero – Diamondbacks – 473 AB – .820 in 2011
.767 – Ramon Hernandez – Rockies – 338 AB – .788 in 2011

– I have six catchers projected to hit 20 or more homers: Napoli, Santana, Wieters, McCann, Posey and J.P. Arencibia. Arencibia is the lone holdout from the list above; he’s projected for a .290 OBP.

– White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers is another very capable of hitting 20 homers, though it’ll either take an A.J. Pierzynski trade or another Adam Dunn implosion to get him the at-bats. I have him projected to hit .224/.323/.438, giving him a .761 OPS that puts him just below Hernandez here.

– Jesus Montero also misses out, though I’m not sure I would have considered him a catcher for these purposes anyway. I had him projected for an .832 OPS initially, but the trade that sent him from the Yankees to the Mariners pushed him all of the way down to .760.

– As for the bottom of the list, Rod Barajas has the low OPS for anyone projected with at least 300 at-bats (.684). Jose Molina is the low man with 200+ at-bats (.602), and Drew Butera is at the bottom of the 100+ AB guys (.529).

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.