Top 40 Catchers in 2001

Fantasy Baseball Player Ratings
By CBS SportsLine Fantasy Staff

1. Ivan Rodriguez, Texas ($35) - He does it all so well, Rodriguez even surpasses Mike Piazza in terms of Rotisserie value. A broken thumb ended his season in late July, but "I-Rod" still managed to become the first catcher in major league history to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in a season. The usually-durable Rodriguez was bothered by various ailments all year long. Still, he came close to hitting 30 homers and driving in 100 runs. His speed and outstanding numbers in every important category make him the ultimate prize at the thinnest position in Fantasy Baseball.

2. Mike Piazza, N.Y. Mets ($34) - A late-season swoon prevented him from hitting 40 homers for the third time in his career, but he still finished with awesome numbers again. The ultimate model of consistent excellency, Piazza has now driven in more than 100 runs in five consecutive seasons, and has hit over .300 in every one of his major league seasons except his abbreviated 21-game stint as a newcomer in 1992. Piazza seemed to have a chokehold on the NL MVP Award until August. His overall numbers made him a Rotisserie MVP in many leagues. His body is still somewhat sound at age 32, and you can bet that the sour taste of losing the World Series will push him to high levels again in 2001.

3. Javy Lopez, Atlanta ($26) - Returned to health and his usual form after an injury-marred 1999 season. Lopez is the quiet muscle man among Atlanta's luminaries. He simply posts great power numbers year after year. The fact that he doesn't play enough to get 500 at-bats every year makes his numbers even more eye-popping. Lopez may frustrate you if you play in a head-to-head format, but he will certainly satisfy the needs of most Roto owners.

4. Jorge Posada, N.Y. Yankees ($25) - Had his breakthrough campaign last year and should be a frontline catcher for many years to come. Posada is capable of reaching greater heights than his 28 homers and 86 RBI of 2000. He has a lethal, quick swing that can produce a ton of home runs. Posada is part of an excellent lineup that will give him plenty of RBI opportunities, yet he will also work a pitcher well enough to earn a lot on his own. Only two catchers in the majors hit more homers than Posada last year, and the Yankee backstop led all American League catchers with 92 runs scored.

5. Jason Kendall, Pittsburgh ($22) - He has never had great power numbers, but Kendall is still a super all-around catcher, and he rarely sits. He stole more than 20 bases for the third consecutive season in 2001 and scored 112 runs, a career standard. His 185 hits were also a career high. Kendall is just 26- years old and we may have not seen his best baseball yet. Other catchers may have more pop, but few are as reliable as Kendall, who makes up for his mediocre power with impressive numbers in many other categories.

6. Charles Johnson, Florida ($17) - Enjoyed career highs in several categories last season, including batting average (.304) and homers (31). A move back to Florida, however, might doom Johnson in 2001, after he got solid protection in the White Sox lineup during the last two months of the year. He'll play more of a central role in the weak Marlins order, and won't see the same pitches he fattened up on in the American League last year. While it's arguable that Johnson might be ready for full-fledged stardom after seemingly losing the hole in his swing, a return to South Florida might bring lukewarm results. Will he spend the rest of his career trying to match last season's totals?

7. Mike Lieberthal, Philadelphia ($15) - Was plagued all year long with an assortment of ailments. He seemed destined for Fantasy fame after a 31-homer season in 1999. Lieberthal has the potential to be one of the top catchers available. He hits for average and rarely wastes an RBI opportunity. If his body doesn't betray him, Lieberthal should rebound from a disappointing year. At his best, he is a power-hitting standout who plays regularly. Take a chance on a possible return to his '99 form after September elbow surgery.

8. Darrin Fletcher, Toronto ($13) - Injuries limited his overall production last year, as he made his way back from knee surgery in the spring and went down with a shoulder problem in the summer. He still hit over .300 for the first time in his career (.320), and also finished with a personal best of 20 homers. Considering he also had a career-high 133 hits, his 58 RBI seem unusually low. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers he can put up if he stays healthy.

9. Todd Hundley, Chicago Cubs ($12) - Thumb and rib problems limited his overall production, yet Hundley showed that he still has impressive power. In only 299 at-bats, Hundley finished with 20 homers and 74 RBI. When he is healthy, Hundley can still be a solid run producer, and his .284 average was his highest since 1995. Hundley isn't done yet, but he is a big injury risk and will frustrate you with periods of inactivity all year long. He should take advantage of his new surroundings in Wrigley Field, though.

10. Ben Petrick, Colorado ($10) - Will this be the year he busts out? There has been much speculation in the Fantasy world regarding this prospect who seems destined for fame in the ultimate hitter's park. The Rockies seem ready to give him the job and he will draw a lot of interest this season, especially in NL-only leagues. He showed off good power in limited time in the majors last year. Petrick may not hit 30 homers, but he will definitely out-hit many more established backstops if he proves he is indeed ready for the majors.

11. Damian Miller, Arizona ($9) - The Diamondbacks have cleared the way for him to be their main guy, and it will be interesting to see how he responds. Miller has demonstrated good power as a part-timer during the last two seasons. He has proven he can hit for average, and even if he doesn't play as well as expected, Miller should be good for 15-plus homers. Not much of a risk here if you can get him at a good price.

12. Jason Varitek, Boston ($8) - Injuries cut into his production last year. It was a disappointing year for Varitek owners, who had watched him burst onto the scene in 1999. It is tough to tell which Varitek we will see this year, but if he is healthy, 20 homers might be a good bet again. Varitek is an important part of a contending team, and he could be a bargain if other owners in your league pass him by.

13. Mitch Meluskey, Detroit ($7) - In his first full season in the majors, Meluskey showed some signs of promise. He has left the hitter's paradise known as Enron Field, though, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to a switch in leagues. Meluskey isn't known for his defense, and that weakness might hurt his overall outlook. He will play regularly, though, and he can drive in runs.

14. Brad Ausmus, Houston ($5) - Easily the most overrated catcher available. Ausmus' defense dictates that he play regularly, yet he is near-useless statistically. He does hit for a decent average and steals a few bases, but Ausmus has almost no pop in his bat. In fact, there are many part-timers who will give you better offensive numbers than this light-hitting veteran. Many owners pay too much for his mediocre numbers every year.

15. Brook Fordyce, Baltimore ($5) - Don't bid too high here. Fordyce looked good with the White Sox last year, but who wouldn't? Believe it or not, he may have actually had a career season last year, and that's not good when you consider he didn't drive in 50 runs. Injuries did hurt his numbers somewhat, but don't make the mistake of projecting him for good full-time numbers. Fordyce is a journeyman in the making.

16. Bobby Estalella, San Francisco ($4) - Is he ready to blossom? Estalella is an interesting pick. There is no doubt he has fine power potential, and he could be a prominent player in San Francisco if he has a breakout year. Estalella isn't the most selective hitter, but he can do a lot of damage when he makes contact. His 14 homers in just 299 at-bats last year indicate his promise. If he becomes more patient at the plate, Estalella could be headed for greater heights.

17. Bengie Molina, Anaheim ($4) - He was a virtual unknown before last season and to many, he still is. You can't ignore his final totals, though. He lacked consistency and definitely has more value in Roto leagues than in other scoring formats. Molina is young, though, and his value will skyrocket with another solid season. Most owners won't bid too high on him, so spend a few bucks and hope he can come close to his 2000 numbers.

18. Ramon Hernandez, Oakland ($3) - Oakland may have started using him a bit earlier than they would have liked, yet he quickly showed he can handle the majors well enough to be a starter. While he still has a lot to learn, Hernandez showed he can still produce while learning. His 14 homers and 62 RBI were impressive for a still-maturing 24-year old. You may be able to get him at a low bid or in a late round. His inexperience, however, makes him a risk.

19. John Flaherty, Tampa Bay ($3) - If you're still looking for a catcher late in the draft, you'll probably settle for Flaherty. His numbers always elicit a major yawn, and often make you want to trade for something better. Flaherty does get regular at-bats and does have some power. He usually hits for a respectable average, yet he must drive in much more than the 39 runs he did last year to truly satisfy his owners.

20. Sandy Alomar Jr., Chicago White Sox ($2) - He is moving to another good lineup and will produce respectable numbers. Still, Alomar has long been a poster boy for injuries. There is no doubting his ability to drive in runs. There is always serious doubt, however, about whether he can stay healthy. And he hasn't reached double figures in home runs since 1997.

Best of the Rest

21. Michael Barrett, Montreal ($2)

22. Brent Mayne, Colorado ($2)

23. Dan Wilson, Seattle ($2)

24. Einar Diaz, Cleveland ($1)

25. Jason LaRue, Cincinnati ($1)

26. A.J. Pierzynski, Minnesota ($1)

27. Chad Kreuter, Los Angeles ($0)

28. Wiki Gonzalez, San Diego ($0)

29. Carlos A. Hernandez, St. Louis ($0)

30. Henry Blanco, Milwaukee ($0)

31. Ben Davis, San Diego ($0)

32. Mike Matheny, St. Louis ($0)

33. Chris Widger, Seattle ($0)

34. Doug Mirabelli, San Francisco ($0)

35. Mike DiFelice, Tampa Bay ($0)

36. Scott Hatteberg, Boston ($0)

37. Josh Paul, Chicago White Sox ($0)

38. Matt Walbeck, Cincinnati ($0)

39. Matthew LeCroy, Minnesota ($0)

40. Paul LoDuca, Los Angeles ($0)

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