Fantasy draft tiers: Catchers
Steep dropoff in talent following first few levels
Most drafts follow a similar ebb and flow. After the true blue-chippers are off the board, there's always one owner who breaks the ice and takes a catcher.
What usually ensues is a run on backstops that can sometimes go overboard, as some owner ends up forcing the issue by overpaying for a B-rated guy.
Because there is no position with fewer top-notch performers than catcher, owners will want to know and pay particular attention to where the talent drops off.
Tier 1: Joe Mauer
Mauer is the undisputed No. 1 catcher and accordingly will be the first off the board in every draft. The real question is where he should be taken overall. After making a serious run at .400 last year, he may be going into 2010 slightly overvalued. As talented as he is, it's tough to commit anything higher than a mid-first-round pick to a backstop who's never had more than 536 at-bats in a season.
Mauer will be gone quickly in every draft, which will leave this trio as the remaining cream of the crop. Of the three, Wieters offers the most upside, while V-Mart is the safest play. No matter what, owners can expect to see all three go in near succession, as there is a significant talent dropoff after them at the position.
Owners who miss out on the run of Tier 1 and 2 catchers should not force the issue. Suzuki and Montero are solid options, but it isn't worth breaking the bank for them simply because the premier guys have been scooped up.
Soto burned a lot of owners who spent big bucks on him last season, as did Doumit, albeit to a lesser degree. Those who are optimistic enough to believe Soto merely fell victim to the sophomore slump could be rewarded, but none of these guys are worth more than a mid-round selection.
Owners in standard mixed leagues who abstain from drafting a catcher for the bulk of their drafts will likely have their choice from this group of guys, all of whom have some pop. Martin's stock has dropped significantly after a forgetful '09 campaign and questions remain as to whether he can bounce back to stardom, especially as he is expected to miss the first couple weeks of the season with a groin injury. Pierzynski has been the steadiest performer over the last few years, though he's getting up there in age. Ruiz could be in store for a breakout campaign after a superb '09 postseason in which he batted .341 with six extra-base hits and nine RBIs.
Outside of deeper mixed leagues, these catchers figure to begin the season on the waiver wire.
Matt Chaprales is a fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.