Shuffle Up: Special “Pick Your Montero” edition

Catchers are important. Without them, you're looking at a ridiculous amount of passed balls.

The ranks to follow illustrate how I'd attack the attack the catcher position if I entered a fresh draft today. To be clear, "attack" is probably the wrong word: I normally go cheap at this spot, especially in one-catcher league. But there are 1,000 ways to get to where we want to go.

Normal rules and disclaimers apply. Assume a 5x5 scoring rotisserie system. Anyone on the DL is ineligible for this list: the value of injured players varies greatly from format to format. I reserve the right to tweak this list as the day goes along. Bring your smartest debate to the comments; win the discussion, win the rank.

$21 Mike Napoli
$20 Carlos Santana
$20 Matt Wieters
$17 Buster Posey
$17 Brian McCann
$17 Yadier Molina
$16 Jesus Montero

I don't think anyone expected Mike Napoli to keep last year's surprising batting average, but he's tied to the best offense in the majors (by far) and he hasn't hit an Arlington spike yet (his OPS is 138 points higher on the road). A very safe place to park your money . . . The "on pace" game tends to be a waste of time more often than not, but just for grins, I'll mention that Yadier Molina is on pace for new career highs in all the counting stats (runs, homers, RBIs, steals). And even when the dog days of summer kick in, you can still figure on him playing six times a week, no matter what. When you add in his elite defense, he might be the most underrated player in baseball . . . It's far too early in Jesus Montero's career to make strong assumptions on anything, but let's note that he's posted a .373/.400/.686 line when catching this year (14 games), as opposed to a .183/.203/.239 washout when he's asked to DH. Let's also note that he hasn't been a defensive disaster behind the plate, as some were expecting. Montero was a better hitter against righties in his minor-league days, but thus far he's crushing lefties just fine, thank you. … Remember when Uncle Buck slotted Matt Wieters in the No. 8 position for most of the opening quarter last year? Good times. Wieters is locked into the No. 5 slot this year (and even that is probably too low; I'd bat him third or fourth). Wieters is also picking up DH at-bats this year when he's not playing; he's collected four starts at that position thus far in 2012, after three all of last year. In other words, pump up the volume — and get ready for some juicy counting stats.

$14 Joe Mauer
$13 Ryan Doumit
$12 Miguel Montero
$11 Carlos Ruiz
$11 Alex Avila
$10 Jarrod Saltalamacchia
$9 A.J. Pierzynski
$8 Jonathan Lucroy

Time for the monthly argument with the Joe Mauer Sympathizers. Batting average, check. Zesty OBP, check (but remember, these are 5x5 ranks, not hybrid ranks). Winning smile and great hair, always. But Mauer's power remains on back order (one piddly homer, .387 slugging), and the Twins have the worst offense in the American League (116 runs) . . . Ryan Doumit's best moments thus far, interestingly enough, have come at DH (and his numbers fall through the floor when he's asked to catch). I know, the samples are all small, but just have a look.

As for Miguel Montero, where did this strikeout problem come from? His K-rate is through the roof, and his swinging-strike number is a ridiculous 14 percent. Maybe it's time for the Snakes to admit Montero needs a dedicated platoon caddy: left-handed pitching has owned him since the 2010 season.

$7 J.P. Arencibia
$6 Schroeder
$5 A.J. Ellis
$4 Nick Hundley
$3 Ramon Hernandez
$3 Kurt Suzuki
$3 Russell Martin
$2 Jesus Flores

While A.J. Ellis's walk total clearly gets a boost from hitting eighth in the NL (he's been passed intentionally five times, and probably pitched around here and there), he still deserves credit for his discerning eye. A .462 OBP is impressive anywhere you can get it, and we also should note that Ellis has drawn 16 walks in 55 career at-bats out of the No. 7 slot. Ellis also has a .384 career OBP with the bases empty, which might be the best measure of his on-base skills. I suspect a more modern manager like Joe Maddon would consider Ellis for the top of the order (remember what Maddon did with John Jaso a few years ago), but Don Mattingly doesn't strike me as a progressive thinker, so we're stuck with the Dee Gordon Out Parade in the leadoff spot . . . Jesus Flores might pop a few homers for the Nats (he has 17 homers in 699 career at-bats), but otherwise he doesn't bring much to the table (.231/.273/.256). Washington is going to miss Wilson Ramos dearly . . . Schroeder gets kicked up an extra buck or two because he has to deal with Lucy Van Pelt all the time.

$1 Ryan Hanigan
$1 John Buck
$1 Geovany Soto
$1 Wilin Rosario
$1 Josh Thole
$1 Devin Mesoraco
$1 Hector Sanchez
$0 Yorvit Torrealba
$0 George Kottaras
$0 John Jaso
$0 Jason Castro
$0 Rod Barajas
$0 Jose Molina

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