Top 50 Catchers in 2000

Fantasy Baseball Player Ratings
By CBS SportsLine Fantasy Staff

1. Ivan Rodriguez - The best thing about Pudge is, his home runs and average have gone up three straight seasons. Last season he became the first 20/20 catcher in history. This season, he'll take a small step back.

2. Mike Piazza - His value will go down when he moves to first base, but that's not going to happen this year. Piazza charts as the runaway leader in RBI for a catcher, and only Javy Lopez comes close in homers.

3. Jason Kendall - In 1998, Kendall had the eighth best Fantasy season by a catcher in the '90s. Last year, he suffered a brutal ankle injury in July. It will be interesting to see how well, and how often, he runs after the injury.

4. Mike Lieberthal - One of the few sure things on the catcher board. After spending time on the DL in '98, Lieberthal became the first Phillie since Mike Schmidt to hit .300 with 30 homers last year. He plays daily.

5. Javy Lopez - Our No. 2-ranked catcher going into last season went down with a knee injury in July and didn't return, and he's likely to get a lot of rest in the first half this season. He hit .336 with Runners In Scoring Position in 1998.

6. Todd Hundley - He has hit .196 in his last 500 at-bats and his defense is always going to be problematic after elbow surgery in '97. Still, not many catchers can hit 30 homers, and Hundley has a chance.

7. Jason Varitek - It's doubtful Varitek can maintain the .299 average he posted after the All-Star break last year, but his power is legit (he had 39 doubles to go with his 20 homers) and he's getting better.

8. Darrin Fletcher - Rather quietly, and despite missing time because of an eye injury,
Darrin Fletcher
Darrin Fletcher emerged as a reliable Roto player last year. (Allsport)
Fletcher had a career year last season. And with Kevin L. Brown languishing in the minors, he'll play nearly every day.

9. Jorge Posada - Put an up arrow next to his name. He may be a walking passed ball, but Posado hit .285 after the All-Star break last season (.210 before), and he'll get more at-bats with Joe Girardi gone.

10. Eddie Taubensee - Yes, he's got a noodle arm, but Taubensee was remarkably consistent with the bat last year, hitting .310 before the break, .313 after and .333 with RISP. He figures to backtrack, but only slightly.

11. Charles Johnson - He's hit 16-19 homers and driven in 54-63 runs the past three seasons, so you know what you're going to get. Unfortunately, he's a career .238 hitter and, like most catchers, he doesn't steal bases.

12. Chris Widger - The big knock is that Widger can't seem to stay healthy. His production is at least adequate, with 20-homer potential if he gets 400 at-bats. His career batting average is .242.

13. Brad Ausmus - Ausmus runs well for a catcher and he'll drive in 50 runs, but he's not going to hit nine homers in the Tigers' new park, and he might lose some at-bats to prospect Robert Fick.

14. John Flaherty - Flaherty was beyond bad in 1998, but last year he increased his average 71 points, the biggest turnaround in the American League. He's got decent power, but he hasn't stolen a base in three years.

15. Dan Wilson - The Mariners veteran has regressed to the point where his power is to the warning track now; his slugging average dipped for the third straight year last season (.382). Expect a maximum of 400 at-bats.

16. Ben Petrick - Petrick will be the wild card in many drafts. He hit better than .300 at each of his three stops last season, with a combined 27 homers, 98 RBIs and 13 steals. And don't discount the Coors factor.

17. Ben Davis - Let's call him a mystery pick. Davis has a long swing and hasn't generated much power, but scouts still like him. The Padres may prefer Carlos Hernandez for now.

18. Sandy Alomar - He had 21 homers and 83 RBI in 1997 but has been losing ground to Einar Diaz ever since. Alomar missed four months because of a knee injury last year; 100 games might be his limit now.

19. Kelly Stinnett - Stinnett's line-drive bat plays well in the desert; he's hit 25 homers the past two seasons after hitting only six in his first 408 major league at-bats. He'll share the job with Damian Miller.

20. Eli Marrero - He's taken the long road back from thyroid cancer surgery and last year was a struggle, but Marrero figures to start for the Cardinals. He stole 11 bases despite a miserable .236 on-base average.

21. Joe Girardi - Girardi will get a heck of a lot more playing time with the Cubs than he got with the Yankees, and his career average (.270) is a better reflection of his ability than the .239 he hit last year.

22. Brook Fordyce - He was steady but not spectacular last season, showing a 44-point gain on his batting average. The progress of 24-year-old Mark Johnson could impact his playing time.

23. Bobby Estalella - He was steady but not spectacular last season, showing a 44-point gain on his batting average. The progress of 24-year-old Mark Johnson could impact his playing time.

24. Brent Mayne - The lefty hitting Mayne mustered 39 RBI last season. The problem is, those 39 were his career high and he's played 10 seasons. He's got no power, but the move from 3Com to Coors will help.

25. Ramon Hernandez - After going .261-13-55 in a half season at Triple-A, Hernandez started 39 games for the A's in the second half last year. There's a good chance he'll get more at-bats than A.J. Hinch this season.

26. A.J. Hinch - His '98 season could be excused because he was a rookie, but Hinch took a step backward last season. He has a .225 average and 31 extra-base hits in two seasons with the Athletics.

27. Scott Hatteberg - A forgotten man in Boston after suffering an elbow injury early last season, Hatteberg was expected to have a new home before spring training, but he's still with the Red Sox. The lefty swinger could hit .275 with 12 homers in a platoon role.

28. Damian Miller - Some say he's the stronger half of a Diamondbacks platoon with Kelly Stinnett, but Stinnett has a little more power and a slightly higher fantasy ceiling. It's hard to get too excited about either one.

29. Carlos A. Hernandez - He missed last season after suffering an Achilles injury. A career .252 hitter with a lowly .291 on-base percentage, he'll be hard-pressed to hold off 23-year-old Ben Davis.

30. Tom Lampkin - Lampkin made surprisingly hard contact last season, hitting more homers than teammate Dan Wilson in half the at-bats. He'll get a few more chances this year, but the M's are committed to Wilson.

31. Einar Diaz - Diaz was force-fed last year when Sandy Alomar went down. His offense is a mixed bag, with steals and average offset by a lack of power. But he could be the Indians' No. 1 catcher eventually.

32. Tony Eusebio - Eusebio re-signed with the Astros after splitting time with Paul Bako last year. His career average (.277) isn't bad, but he has only 18 homers in seven seasons. Bako and Mitch Meluskey will challenge.

33. Mitch Meluskey - There was a lot of steam about this Astros prospect last spring, until he went down with a shoulder injury. Meluskey hit .353 with 58 extra-base hits at Triple-A in '98, but his defense is questionable.

34. Brian Johnson - Here's a dark horse for the late rounds. Johnson hit 13 homers in both '97 and '98, but spent seven weeks on the DL last season. Now with K.C., he has to beat out only Sal Fasano to play regularly.

35. Sal Fasano - Fasano has been up and down the past four seasons, hitting 21 homers at Triple-A last year. The Royals like the way he handles pitchers, but the career .219 hitter is not going to help offensively.

36. Doug Mirabelli - Maybe he's a late bloomer, or maybe he's just a Quadruple-A guy. It's still uncertain whether Mirabelli can hit big league pitching, but he figures to get a chance unless the Giants find a reliable veteran.

37. Bengie Molina - It's a dire situation behind the plate in Anaheim, where Molina appears to have an edge over Matt Walbeck going to spring training. Molina lacks power and speed, and what could be worse than that?

38. Matt Walbeck - Let's say his projections represent a best-case scenario. Walbeck had a brutal year for the Angels last season, with only 22 RBI in 107 games. His average with RISP (.215) explains the shortfall.

39. Ramon Castro - Castro flashed some power last season, hitting 15 homers at Triple-A and two in a month with the Marlins. They want him to win the starting job, but he's valued more for his defense right now.

40. Mike Redmond - Though he has hit better than .300 both seasons in the majors, Redmond is pretty much a singles hitter and the Marlins are hoping youngster Ramon Castro is good enough to win the starting job.

41. Jason LaRue - The Reds liked what they saw of LaRue in 36 games last season. He hit .315 at Class A and .365 at Double-A and is a better defensive player than the incumbent, Eddie Taubensee.

42. Henry Blanco - After some offseason shuffling, he goes to camp as the Brewers' tentative starter. He's strong defensively, but Blanco hit .232 with Colorado last season, only .173 on the road.

43. Mike DiFelice - After hitting .238 and .230 in his first two seasons, DiFelice surged to .307 last year in a Tampa Bay job-share with John Flaherty. But Flaherty still figures to get most of the at-bats.

44. Eddie Perez - Talk about erratic: Perez has hit .256, .215, .336 and .249 the past four seasons. And you can forget about him getting 300 at-bats again - Javy Lopez is back after undergoing knee surgery.

45. Chad Kreuter - He found a job with the Dodgers, but the career .236 hitter has never been a useful Fantasy player. Outside of a 15-homer spike in 1993, he's never hit more than five bombs in a season.

46. Robert Fick - He missed most of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery, but in '98, Fick hit .318 with 18 homers and 114 RBI at Double-A. The Tigers see him as their catcher of the future.

47. Matt LeCroy - He's got superb power potential, last season hitting 30 home runs, most in the Twins organization. His playing time hinges on whether he can handle the job defensively.

48. Jim Leyritz - He's still good for an occasional long ball, but his playing time will be limited.

49. Jeff Reed - The lefthanded-hitting 37-year-old will back up Joe Girardi.

50. Scott Servais - It all depends on rookie Ben Petrick. If Petrick pans out, Servais won't play.

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