Who needs a backup Catcher? It’s the lowest scoring position in Fantasy Baseball. Why would you want Ronny Paulino (.266 AVG, 4 HR), when you can have Gaby Sanchez (.294, 12 HR). Sure, Catchers take a beating, and they seem to spend some time on the DL. But you can just fill that spot through free agency. If a Catcher makes it past the draft, he’ll probably be available later in the year. Free agent Catchers aren’t exactly in high demand.
While these are all valid points, they miss the big picture. You should never pick a backup player based on injury risk. Always pick your bench based on need.
You need your bench players to contribute to your team as much as possible. That’s why guys who play multiple positions are so valuable. Lance Berkman and Garrett Jones are 1st basemen who double as outfielders. You can stick them in the outfield on most days, but when a player has an off day at 1B or Corner Infield, you can continue to get production from those spots. Guys like Felipe Lopez who can play 2B, SS, and 3B, can be plugged in at each of those positions, as well as your middle and corner infield spots.
The need for a backup catcher stems from the fact that Catchers take a lot of games off. Even the absolute best of the best, Joe Mauer, only played 138 games in 2009. So, without a Backup Catcher, not only are you looking for a player to fill in when your starter’s team has an off-day, but you have an extra 25 or so days-of-rest to fill.
It’s a line of thought that most fantasy owners don’t subscribe to. They generally look at last year’s numbers. And when you compare two players’ full season numbers, the Catcher will lose out every time. But if you take into account the 10-20 extra times that a Catcher can break into your lineup, he should be able to win out, no matter who the backup competition is.
Some owners will want to use their starting Catcher’s real life backup as their fantasy backup. This way you can assure that your fantasy backup will be starting when your fantasy starter is benched. But really, if you have two starting catchers on your team, the odds of both of them being benched the same day are pretty small. And by keeping two Catchers from the same MLB team on your FLB team, you’re handcuffing yourself by not getting to use your backup when your starter’s team has an off day. Then you’re back to square one, and should just fill your bench with an outfielder or utility infielder.
Keep this in mind next April when you are drafting your 2011 team. When you’re trying to fill out your bench, remember the advantages of using 2 catchers. Take two starters from different teams. Try Russell Martin and Geovany Soto. How about Brian McCann and Matt Wieters?
By having constant, quality production from a position that most owners get inconsistent, mediocre stats from, you’ll be a big step ahead of the other teams in your fantasy league.