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Fantasy Catchers Debate: Devin Mesoraco or Yadier Molina?

When I was asked to participate in this debate series, I was immediately drawn to the Fantasy catchers comparison. Would you rather draft Devin Mesoraco or Yadier Molina for your Fantasy Baseball team?

In reality, either of those players are pretty darn good, am I right?

That’s like asking, “What do you like better — a hot blonde or a sexy blonde?” It’s like asking, “Would you want a hot fudge sundae smothered in caramel or a sexy blonde?”

So let’s take a closer look at these two Fantasy catchers to see what makes one better than the other?

Devin Mesoraco or Yadier Molina?

First, let’s talk about the good things that both players bring to the table.

They both get on base about one-third of the time they come up to the plate, and are expected to be among the leaders in on-base percentage among catchers once again.

Both catchers hit in the middle of their team’s lineups, with Mesoraco batting cleanup and Molina likely hitting fifth.

Both catchers should be considered top-10 Fantasy catchers worthy of selection in the middle rounds. Currently, Doug Anderson has them ranked ninth (Mesoraco) and 10th (Molina), and the FantasyPros.com consensus rankings have Mesoraco much higher (third), with Molina seventh.

Again, both are starting catchers in all Fantasy formats, and both are expected to offer solid production in 2015.

Which Ways are They Different?

Obviously, Molina is on the backside of his career, but since he started so early (age 21 in 2004), you’d think he was much older than just 32 years old. But squatting behind the plate for over 1,300 major league games does take its toll – no matter your age.

Mesoraco, on the other hand, is 26 years old, which is the gateway to the prime years of his career. He did spend a couple years being mentored by Ryan Hanigan, which allowed him to not have any bad years at the plate, like most young catchers have to start their careers. It’s like a cute chick with a hot older sister – she understands how to treat guys better once she blossoms into a full-blown hottie. OK, that’s not true at all, but still.

Both players are on NL Central teams that are headed in different directions, as the Reds look like the only team without division title chances.

Molina is usually a base-hit machine, and last season, Mesoraco was an “extra” base-hit machine.

Molina suffered a torn ligament in his thumb last summer, and that has usually been the death knell for any hitter’s power for the rest of the season – right up there with a bum wrist. But what’s interesting to note for Molina is that he wasn’t hitting that well before the injury either. He had just 23 extra-base hits (.409 slugging percentage) in the 83 games before the injury.

Mesoraco, meanwhile, led all catchers with 25 home runs last season, and he was second in RBI with 80. His contact rate dipped and his flyball rate increased, which means he was swinging with more of a purpose at the plate. His .260 ISO, which measures power essentially, was more than 30 points better than any other catcher (Evan Gattis, .230). There aren’t many indicators portending a dropoff from Mesoraco if he can stay healthy – which was a bit of an issue last season. Steamer projects a modest batting line for Molina of .284, 10 HR, 51 RBI and 47 runs, with Mesoraco’s line a much healthier HR projection (18), but a dirtier batting average (.246), with similar RBI and runs scored.

Where Should You Draft Them?

In the SiriusXM FSTA Mock Draft held in mid-January, Molina went in Round 7 of the 13-team mixed league draft, and Mesoraco went two rounds earlier.

Personally, I’d push both of them back a couple rounds, and wait for Mesoraco in Round 9, with Molina going in Round 11. If they’re not available there, then you’re taking advantage of value at other positions, and you’ll double up on lesser catchers with potential to break out, like Travis d’Arnaud and Yasmani Grandal. This position is chock full of possibilities among those ranked from 11th to 20th or so.

But if I’m choosing between Devin Mesoraco or Yadier Molina – I’m going with Mesoraco, and I’d like to officially nickname him, “Little Red Devin.”

Follow the Rest of the “Who Would You Rather Have” Series:

Devin Mesoraco Photo Credit: Barbara Moore | Yadier Molina Photo Credit: Shawna Pairan

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David Gonos

David Gonos has been writing about Fantasy Sports online since 2000 – and playing Fantasy Sports since 1989. He has drafted both Curt Warner and Kurt Warner, along with Big Unit and Big Papi. A veteran of hundreds of drafts in the past 15 years alone, Gonos is closely acquainted with sleepers, breakouts and busts – as he has drafted many of all three. He was a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBSSports.com for five years, and he has been columnist on SI.com and FanDuel.com, while also getting published on MLB.com, NFL.com, FoxSports.com and USAToday.com.
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