...not only is Brian McCann the best catcher in baseball now, but he has been the best for the past five years.
When my love of fantasy baseball was developing, I had one player who I wanted to get on my team every year; Placido Polanco. He was a great defender for the Tigers, he hit for average, he scored runs, it was awesome. But after a while, I realized how purely marginal a phenomenal batting average is when a player doesn’t contribute anywhere else. It’s the same reason you could argue Tony Gwynn was such an overrated fantasy player outside of his prime because he hit for a good average and did nothing else.
But just as Gwynn received so much hype during his career, I think Joe Mauer is the same, if not worse. The top three catchers in the past five or six years have been Mauer, Victor Martinez, and McCann. In looking back at the numbers, Martinez and McCann are a cut above, fantasy-wise.
Many fantasy baseball owners are like I was when I was younger (not to belittle fantasy baseball owners by comparing them with my childhood stupidity). We are fascinated with batting average. We can see a .320+ AVG and totally neglect the other holes in a player’s game, and this is the year where we notice the entirety of Mauer’s flaws, especially since McCann is having such a phenomenal year.
The McCann-Mauer comparison isn’t even close in my eyes, and that’s even taking into account 2009, when Mauer had his MVP year. When we evaluate players year-to-year in fantasy, we want to see consistency and consistent contributions. Mauer’s 2009 has set the table for a profoundly disappointing 2010 and, so far, 2011. The reason I think this is worthy of noting and worthy of writing this is because of the position they play. Unless you over-invest, fantasy owners don’t expect phenomenal production from their catchers. But the reason McCann has been better, is better now, and will be better than Mauer is because he contributes more consistently in more categories from a position you don’t expect much out of.
My opinion: From now on, stay the heck away from Mauer and players like him. There will always be someone in your league who thinks his batting average potential is worth way more than it actually is.
Thoughts from the past week that was:
- Hanley Ramirez is back! He had a few great games last week and he’s still a complete defensive liability, but a trip to the launch-pad known as Rangers Ballpark may have cured his woes. The Marlins may not have their lives together, but I am a believer that Hanley will right the ship and this team will play better baseball from here on out.
- Somebody get Aramis Ramirez a juice box. He hit six homers last week! SIX! That’s unbelievable. If you read my NL All-Star predictions, you’ll know that I thought third base in the NL was a vast wasteland. As much as people love to rip on Aramis, he is on pace for around 20/80 with around a .300 average to end the season. It’s amazing, but that may be the best stat line a third baseman in the NL posts this year, and it’s not even close. I’m buying this hot streak.
- If somebody’s going to get A-Ram a juice box, somebody get Dee Gordon a Triple Thick Milkshake. I admire the fight in this kid, but I just don’t know if he is big enough to be successful in the big leagues. I want him to succeed, I really do, but I question if he is capable of generating the bat speed necessary to get past first base even though his speed is uber-vuluptuous.
- After homering off both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, I’m fully ready to say Jose Bautista is back. I said a few weeks ago to sell on him. A large part of me would still sell unless you’re playing him at third base. This is not to say he can’t hit 20 homers in the second half, but I feel like he’s becoming one of those guys whose name recognition is growing among fantasy owners. I think there’s a correlation to the fact that he received the most all-star votes of all-time. People may just overpay a bunch for him. If you can fill holes in your team by getting rid of Bautista, I would do it.
- I’m going to say this now and I know it’s going to sound crazy. If there’s any feedback on this comment, I will write a separate article on it next week or a special article later this week. If the Pittsburgh Pirates make the playoffs (HUGE IF), then I think there is a case to be made for Joel Hanrahan to be the NL MVP. The Pirates run differential this season is +2. If they don’t have Hanrahan, the best closer in the game this season, then there is absolutely ZERO reason for optimism on this team going forward. I never thought I’d be one to advocate for a closer to be an MVP, but a 1.37 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 25-for-25 in save chances is hard to refute on a team with a AAA offense.
Joke of the week: What did the snail say when he was riding the turtle? WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! (Thanks Matt Lauer)