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Catcher tiers for Draft Day 2013

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Remember when the catcher position consisted of Victor Martinez (whose eligibility at the position is up for debate entering 2013), Joe Mauer, Brian McCann and everybody else? It wasn't so long ago, really.

The Tiers Approach to Draft Day
Tiering is a method of doctoring positional rankings so that players of similar value are bundled into groups. A new group begins whenever the next player down in the rankings has a vastly different projected outcome from the player preceding him. Reducing a position to five or six tiers instead of 30 or more individuals gives you a blueprint to follow as your league's draft unfolds. Naturally, the position to target is the one whose active tier is closest to completion. -- Scott White

Tiers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

But when you compare the position now to the position then, it seems like ancient history.

For us longtime Fantasy owners, catcher is as deep as ever, and it was made only deeper last year with the emergence of Wilin Rosario, Salvador Perez and Jonathan Lucroy.

Of course, a deeper position has its drawbacks. The key to gaining an advantage at any position is to recognize when the biggest drop-off in talent occurs and to wait until just before that point to strike.

But the more bountiful the tiers, the more they tend to bleed together ...

The Elite: Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana

The Near Elite: Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Matt Wieters, Wilin Rosario

The Next Best Things: Brian McCann, Salvador Perez, Jonathan Lucroy, Mike Napoli, Jesus Montero

The Fallback Options: A.J. Pierzynski, Ryan Doumit, Carlos Ruiz, Alex Avila, Travis d'Arnaud, Yasmani Grandal

The Last Resorts: John Jaso, J.P. Arencibia, Russell Martin, Mike Zunino, Wilson Ramos, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, A.J. Ellis

The Leftovers: Chris Iannetta, Kurt Suzuki, Welington Castillo, Tyler Flowers, Erik Kratz, Rob Brantly

The potential for overlap begins with the first tier, which Posey could have conceivably filled all by himself. Then again, most positions have a clear top player. If each occupied his own tier, you'd have no idea which position to target first because each active tier would be on the verge of completion. When establishing your tiers, you don't want every jump in talent reflected, only the most significant. Creating a bunch of one-player tiers doesn't do anybody any good.

Sometimes, it's justified, like in the case of Miguel Cabrera at third base, but in this case, Mauer's and Santana's most-likely scenarios are close enough to Posey's that settling for one wouldn't be a huge downgrade at the position. Shoot, Mauer finished only 27 points behind Posey in Head-to-Head leagues last year, and that wasn't even the best he can do (as we saw in 2009).

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The blending of the tiers is even more evident among The Near Elite, with Rosario the main point of contention. Part of me says he has to be in the same tier as Perez and Lucroy, seeing as their narratives are so similar to this point, but putting Lucroy in the same tier as Molina certainly doesn't feel right. Ultimately, I decided Rosario's power potential, which is shaping up to be tops at the position, is enough to set him apart from the other two in Rotisserie leagues, though the effect his poor plate discipline figures to have on his Head-to-Head numbers might just convince me to drop him to The Next Best Things in those formats, leaving a second tier of Molina, Miguel Montero and Wieters.

So far in my early drafting, I've found that Lucroy is typically the last of The Next Best Things to go off the board, most often to me. I think he's half a step better than Napoli and Jesus Montero -- or at least safer than those two -- but if tiering them all together prevents me from reaching for the Brewers catcher, so be it. It's not like having to settle for Napoli or Montero would be some great tragedy.

Among The Fallback Options, you'll find your overachievers (Pierzynski), your underachievers (Avila) and the players who, for one reason or another, won't be available at the start of the season (Ruiz, d'Arnaud, Grandal). Yeah, you'll want to make contingency plans for that last group, but they're all worth stashing, at least to start out. If everything breaks their way, they'll perform at the level of The Next Best Things.

Many of The Last Resorts are legitimate candidates to be drafted in standard mixed leagues, and naturally, players like Jaso, Arencibia, Zunino and Ramos could end up paying big dividends. But unlike in past years, when waiting to gamble on a high-upside catcher in the late rounds was an advisable move, doing so now with all the high-end options available at the position puts you in an early hole.

In order for it to work out, you'll really need for your guy to pan out.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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