Is Joe Mauer the most valuable player in fantasy?by Eriq Gardner
September 01, 2009
Two weeks ago, I posted a 2010 fantasy baseball mock draft here. Obviously, it’s a little early to be talking about next season, but one thing that stood out to me is that Joe Mauer went in the third round.
I feel this is much too low for the Twins backstop. In fact, I believe he deserves serious consideration as the top pick overall. After all, he might be this season’s fantasy MVP.
Whether you find this statement ridiculous or not may depend on your view of weighting value according to position. Over the years, positional weights have been measured in various ways (VORP, WARP, Win Shares, etc.) but in terms of fantasy, here’s how I’d describe it: If your catcher outproduces your competitor’s catcher by 10 HR, your competitor has to field a lineup that outproduces your lineup by 10 HRs at the other positions just to stay even.
As of Sunday, here’s Joe Mauer’s line on the season: 25 HR, 79 RBI, 77 R, 3 SB, and a .367 AVG
How extraordinary is this?
Well, let’s compare Joe Mauer to the 11 other most-owned catchers in CBS Sports fantasy leagues: Victor Martinez, AJ Pierzynski, Mike Napoli, Kurt Suzuki, Jorge Posada, Brandon Inge, Miguel Montero, Bengie Molina, Russell Martin, Matt Wieters, and Ryan Doumit.
These 11 players averaged these totals as of last Sunday: 13 HR, 52 RBI, 47 R, 2 SB, and a .271 AVG
Joe Mauer has outproduced the average catcher in a 12-team league by 12 HR, 27 RBI, 30 R, 1 SB, and 96 points in batting average.
Ask most people who is the fantasy MVP in 2009 and undoubtedly the answer is Albert Pujols.
I also compared Pujols’ numbers to these 11 first baseman: Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Justin Morneau, Adrian Gonzalez, Derrek Lee, Joey Votto, Carlos Pena, and Lance Berkman.
Pujols outproduced his peers on average by 12 HR, 22 RBI, 28 R, 11 SB, and 32 points in batting average.
Close, but Mauer has got a very slight edge.
Consider the fact too that all of Pujols’ peers were owned from day one this season. In contrast, many fantasy teams didn’t get the best from Brandon Inge, Miguel Montero, and Kurt Suzuki. Instead, they suffered through disappointing returns from Geovany Soto, Chris Iannetta, and Ramon Hernandez. Mauer’s edge over the average catcher in a fantasy league grows.
Even more extraordinary is the fact that Mauer didn’t play his first game of the season until May 1. But owners of Joe Mauer probably were playing someone else, and even if that temp produced a modest line in April like 2 HR, 9 R, 9 RBI, these are stats that can be counted towards Mauer’s owner’s ledger.
Many people involved in fantasy baseball tend to dismiss catchers the way that people involved in fantasy football dismiss kickers. But to see a player outperform his positional peers to this degree demands notice.
Joe Mauer may be the most valuable player in baseball this year, and so it raises the forthcoming question—why wouldn’t you take this player entering his Age 27 season with one of the first few picks?
Eriq Gardner is a New York-based writer and founder of Fantasy Ball Junkie, a website for advanced fantasy baseball enthusiasts.
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