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Catcher

March 20, 2006
March 20, 2006

Table of Contents
March 20, 2006

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Catcher

Most of the top players are in the AL, but the NL has up-and-comers

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

This is an article from the March 20, 2006 issue Original Layout

   Avg.HRRBIRunsSB 
1.ALVictor Martinez, Indians.3052080730Switch-hitter batted a major-league-high .380 in thesecond half last season and finished with 167 hits--a team record for acatcher.
2.ALJason Varitek, Red Sox.2812270702 
3.ALJoe Mauer, Twins.2949556113 
4.NLMichael Barrett, Cubs.2761661480 
5.ALJorge Posada, Yankees.2621971671 
6.NLMike Piazza, Padres.2511962410 
7.ALBengie Molina, Blue Jays.2951569450 
8.ALRod Barajas, Rangers.2542160530 
9.ALRamon Hernandez, Orioles.2901258361After hitting 21 home runs for the A's in '03, hislast full AL season, he'll take full advantage of Camden Yards' inviting poweralleys.
10.ALIvan Rodriguez, Tigers.2761450717 
11.ALKenji Johjima, Mariners (Japanese stats).3092457703 
12.NLJason LaRue, Reds.2601460380 
13.ALA.J. Pierzynski, White Sox.2571856610 
14.NLJosh Willingham, Marlins (Triple A stats).3241954565Versatile player might wind up starting in leftfieldand could see time at first base and third; fantasy value is greatest behindthe plate.
15.NLMike Lieberthal, Phillies.2631247480 
16.NLRyan Doumit, Pirates.255635252 
17.NLBrian McCann, Braves.278523201 
18.ALToby Hall, Devil Rays.287548280 
19.NLMike Matheny, Giants.2421359420 
20.ALJeff Mathis, Angels (Triple A stats).2762173784Long touted as the franchise's catcher of the future,he'll share time with defensive specialist Jose Molina.
21.NLPaul Lo Duca, Mets.283657454 
22.ALJohn Buck, Royals.2421247402 
23.NLDamian Miller, Brewers.273943500 
24.NLBrian Schneider, Nationals.2681044381 
25.ALJason Kendall, A's.271053708 
26.NLDanny Ardoin, Rockies.229622281 
27.NLYadier Molina, Cardinals.252849362 
28.NLYorvit Torrealba, Rockies.234315321 
29.NLJohnny Estrada, Diamondbacks.261439310A defensive liability with a sore back, he could bepushed by solid backups Chris Snyder and Robby Hammock.
30.NLDioner Navarro, Dodgers.273314210 

SPOTLIGHT

Bengie Molina

Wondering howmotivated Molina is to improve on his career year in '05? Consider hisoff-season: At 31 the Gold Glove catcher was discarded by the Angels and thenlargely ignored as a free agent because he misjudged the market. Finally, aweek before pitchers and catchers were to report in February, the Blue Jayssigned him to a one-year, $4.5 million deal. "It's behind me," Molinasays of his winter. "This is a new challenge for me, and I'm going to givemy heart." While his durability is a concern (2002 was the last season heplayed in more than 120 games), Molina has quietly emerged as one of the AL'smost reliable run-producing catchers and is particularly dangerous againstlefties (1.078 OPS in '05). Entering another walk year, Molina will be tryingto top his .295 average, 15 homers and .336 OBP of last year.

DEEP SLEEPERS

MATT LECROY,Nationals The former Twins DH, who had 17 homers last season, is part of abackup platoon behind Brian Schneider and will be Washington's top righthandedpinch hitter.

RUSSELL MARTIN,Dodgers The best-hitting catcher developed by L.A. since Mike Piazza is soliddefensively too. He'll be the starter in 2007, if not sooner.

JARRODSALTALAMACCHIA, Braves A 20-year-old switch-hitter with power (19 home runs anda .519 slugging percentage in Class A last year), he may have too potent a batto keep in the minors.

TWO PHOTOSTOM DIPACE (MOLINA); AL TIELEMANS (SALTALAMACCHIA)