Mike Napoli Sizzles While Fantasy Owners Get Burned

by Moonlight Graham

Think back to last year’s Fantasy Baseball Draft when you sat at the table clicking your heels, hoping for Geovany Soto to get through to the round in which you had him slotted.  Coming off a season so stellar that he garnered the Rookie of the Year award, Soto was even more enticing to Fantasy Baseball owners because his 23 HR and 86 RBI came from behind the plate; traditionally the weakest Fantasy spot.  But like many before him, (remember Rick Wilkins?), Soto failed to build on his initial success.  Instead of the 30-100 season many expected, his was an injury riddled exercise in disappointment.

Unfortunately, offensive inconsistency behind the dish is an annual pitfall for Fantasy Baseball players.  Two years ago, Jorge Posada was a Moonlight selection primarily because, as I said at the time, “the guy plays every day.”  Almost as soon as I said that, Posada suffered the first major injury of his career and was lost for the season.  However, the undrafted Kelly Shoppach came from nowhere to post 21 HR and help my march to a title.  In the same season, many owners saw their chances go up in flames as Victor Martinez struggled while Chris Snyder supplied 16 HR from the waiver wire.  Even last year, Miguel Montero’s breakthrough campaign threw a lifeline to a number of Soto’s victims.  Starting to recognize a pattern?  Try not to get sucked in by the next “great” catcher and, instead, identify a few consistent producers who’ll come cheap but won’t blow up your season.

Chief among these candidates is the Angels’ Mike Napoli, an annual member of Moonlight’s Master Batters in the Hausier’s Krowedum Rotisserie Baseball League.  Despite semi-splitting time in the Angels’ lineup with the offensively challenged Jeff Mathis, Napoli has posted back to back 20 HR seasons.  He’s a .270 hitter with a catcher-friendly .350 OBP whose name will rarely be called before the 15th round of any mixed draft.  He’ll even throw in 4 or 5 SB for good measure.  His stats may not be as sexy as Martinez, Martin or McCann, but he’ll deliver what you expect at about a third of the price.

2010 Catcher Ratings

Stud- Joe Mauer’s ridiculous MVP season was so good, it eliminates anyone else for consideration in this category.

Stars- Look for Matt Wieters to build on his scorching September, Victor Martinez is more attractive because of his First Base eligibility and Brian McCann is Atlanta’s best hitter.

Sleepers- Kurt Suzuki had a terrific season that went largely unnoticed while Miguel Montero looks for an even bigger season now that the D’Backs job is his alone.

Slippers- Chris Iannetta and Miguel Olivo will vie for the starting job in Colorado; a competition that will cost each of them AB.

Stiffs- Rod Barajas’ 19 HR were overshadowed by an abysmal .258 OBP.  His HR will disappear at CitiField.

Moonlight Graham’s Top Ten

Joe Mauer
Victor Martinez
Matt Wieters
Brian McCann
Kurt Suzuki
Miguel Montero
Mike Napoli
Jorge Posada
Russell Martin
Bengie Molina

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