Byline: Josh Bousquet
COLUMN: FANTASY SPORTS
The majestic truck left Boston Tuesday morning, arrived in Fort Myers, Fla., Friday morning, and pitchers and catchers finish reporting today. Although the lack of green and prevalence of white outside my window apparently object, it seems that spring has arrived.
The timing is perfect as well, seeing as Aaron Rodgers capped the NFL season with the obligatory car ride with Mickey Mouse last week. So, to further embrace this springtime illusion, I begin my position-by-position preview of the upcoming fantasy baseball season with catchers.
The guy you want: Joe Mauer
Apparently, I got ahead of myself last year when I thought that Mauer was positioned to make a claim as the top player in all of fantasy baseball. Looking back, I can't fault myself because he was coming off a 2009 season in which he batted .365, hit 28 homers and drove in 96 runs.
I can, however, blame Target Field. The Twins made a big deal last season about finally playing outside again, but Mauer must have an inexplicable love of roofs. In the outdoor park's inaugural season, Mauer had a better batting average (.339 to .314), more home runs (8 to 1) and more RBIs (46 to 29) on the road than at home.
It still added up to a solid season and Mauer is still easily the best catcher in fantasy baseball. But now, he's probably more of a late second-, early third-round pick than a first-round selection.
Better than you think: Miguel Montero
The Arizona catcher begins the season at just 27 years old, but has been through a lot in the past couple seasons. In his first season as a starter in 2009, Montero batted .294, enough alone to make a catcher valuable, and added a nice bonus of 16 homers.
A knee injury cut down Montero early last season, though, causing him to miss most of the first half of the year and get into only 85 games. He hit nine homers in that time, though, which would project out to another one of those nice bonuses. He only ended up batting .266, though, which greatly decreases his value.
This doesn't look like a giant red flag to me, but more like someone who just tired and needed more rest after surgery. Montero started well in his return, but hit only one home from Aug. 15 until the end of the season, and his final batting average dropped a rapid 15 points after being at .281 on the morning of Sept. 15.
With the offseason to rest and come back at full strength, Montero looks like a good value after the top catchers are...