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Avid readers of Fantasy Fix may have noticed that I skipped ranking catchers earlier this spring in my pre-season fantasy baseball draft guide. Aside from RP, the big C is my least favorite fantasy position. After the top two or three or gone from the board, you might as well wait until the last few rounds to pick up a catcher.
After the season starts, you can also keep an eye on the waiver wire to see which catchers are starting the season strong, and if you're quick enough you might just be able to pick up the best fantasy performer at the position.
That's how the Mets' John Buck has become one of the hottest waiver wire pick-ups overall in the early going.
Buck had seven home runs and an NL-leading 22 RBI going into Tuesday. He probably was not drafted in even the deepest fantasy leagues, where guys like Buster Posey, Carlos Santana and Joe Mauer were predictably among the first catchers drafted.
Buck may not remain the top-ranked fantasy catcher for long after we're out of the first month of the season, but his success shows that the position can be full of surprises.
Now that the season is underway, here's how I would rank the catchers going forward:
1. Joe Mauer. Looking almost like he's back to MVP form, hitting .375 for a surging Twins team.
2. Carlos Santana. Highly overrated in recent years, Santana is hitting .350 with four HRs and looks ready to break out.
3. Buster Posey. 11 RBI is the only bright spot for the reigning NL MVP so far, but he should get in a groove soon.
4. Wilin Rosario. Trying to show he was not a fluke last year, with four HRs, 13 RBI and three stolen bases so far.
5. Mike Napoli. Having an even better season than Buck, and maybe an even bigger surprise, given his injury issues. Leading all of MLB with 25 RBI.
6. Yadier Molina. Often underrated offensively, he's hitting .319 like clockwork, and could use more teammates getting on base in front of him.
7. A.J. Pierzynski. Trying to make the White Sox look bad for putting him out to pasture, and succeeding, hitting .310 with four HRs and 10 RBI.
8. John Buck. Like I said, he'll fall back to Earth, but should at least be worth owning and starting in fantasy leagues all year.
9. J.P. Arencibia. Prolific HR slugger who could do nothing else seems to be hitting better for average so far, giving him a chance to break 30 HRs this year.
10.Francisco Cervelli. Tied for second among all catchers with 11 runs scored. For fantasy purposes, more of a back-up right now, but could increase in value as the Yankees get more lineup starters back from injury.
* Bleacher Report lists prospects to pick up in keeper leagues. (Yahoo! leagues also have started allowing an "NA" category, enabling you to stash a minor leaguer on your roster without using an active roster spot.)
* SI.com has fun with a mock draft from the future. Nice to see Starlin Castro rising up the ranks (I wonder if SI assumes a lengthy trip to the minors before 2015).
* Fantasy CPR examines possible pick-ups among starting pitchers.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.