Cullen: Molina, Posey best in class of catchers

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Scott Cullen
3/19/2014 2:01:00 PM
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There is a two-man race for the best fantasy catcher heading into the 2014 season; the battle being waged between the St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina and the San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey.

You can make an argument for Posey, who has more power and likely has a higher offensive ceiling, but he's also coming off a bit of a down season, during which he hit 15 home runs in 595 plate appearances. While Molina doesn't have the same power ceiling, only hitting more than 15 homers once in his career, he's hit over .300 in three straight seasons and can run a little bit, swiping 36 bases over the last five seasons. So, base-stealing provides an edge for a Molina. Who would have guessed?

If you can't land one of the premier catchers, there are still some solid candidates on the next tier.

Colorado's Wilin Rosario has mashed 49 homers over the past two seasons, more than any other catcher, and he's just turned 25, so there's room for him to get better.

Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy has raised his offensive game in the past couple seasons, slugging 30 home runs and hitting .295 despite missing some time in 2012.

There are a couple of wildcards at the position due for position switches. Minnesota's Joe Mauer is headed to first base while Cleveland's Carlos Santana, whose 147 runs scored leads all catchers over the past two seasons, is looking at either designated hitter or even third base.

While that might offer better longevity, it's not as though Santana is going to play dramatically more even with a position switch. He was a half-time catcher last season on his way to 642 plate appearances, so it's not like he's due for an extra 100 plate appearances, but anything to reduce wear-and-tear behind the plate offers improved potential value and especially so in the case of Mauer, who has played fewer than 115 games in two of the past three seasons.

Some other notables include Baltimore's Matt Wieters, who hasn't lived up to the hype, but does have 67 home runs over the past three seasons; Kansas City's 23-year-old rising star Salvador Perez and the Yankees' Brian McCann, a left-handed power hitter, who has slugged at least 20 home runs in six straight seasons and moves to a home park that caters to left-handed power.

Should you be late to the catcher party and seek out value, Houston's Jason Castro and Washington's Wilson Ramos are a couple in their mid-20s and on their way up offensively, while A.J. Pierzynski is coming off two of his most productive seasons.

In two catcher leagues, consider the potential upside from young backstops who aren't yet established. Replacing Mauer behind the plate in Minnesota, Josmil Pinto hit .342 in his first 83 major-league at-bats and San Diego's Yasmani Grandal has shown some pop when not sitting out a PED suspension. The Mets' Travis d'Arnaud and Seattle's Mike Zunino struggled in their first MLB seasons, but both entered the league with an impressive pedigree.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Yadier Molina (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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