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Waiver Wire Fliers: Replacing Red Sox Catcher Victor Martinez

Tue, Jun 29, 2010

WW Fliers

Victor Martinez was hit with two foul tipped balls on Sunday, the first off of Pablo Sandoval’s bat in the second inning, then off the bat of Andres Torres in the third, which broke a bone in the tip of V-Mart’s left thumb.

The Red Sox initially hoped Martinez could avoid a DL stint, but after re-evaluating the injury on Monday, they decided to shelf the three-time All-Star until after the All-Star Break.

During a season in which catchers have been widely ineffective (only three rank in Yahoo’s top 200), Victor Martinez has been one of the few standouts, batting .289 with nine homers and 38 RBI.

In fact, V-Mart has been one of the top producers at the catcher position since his first full season six years ago. Since 2004, Martinez is the only catcher to drive in 100 runs in a season, and he’s done it three times.

While Martinez’s bat is irreplaceable, there are a few waiver wire fliers worth exploring. Assuming your fellow managers have already scooped up Buster Posey and Carlos Santana, here are three backstops worthy of an add in V-Mart’s stead:

Marlins‘ catcher Ronny Paulino has thrived in John Baker’s absence, batting .309 with three homers and 28 RBI in 194 at-bats this season. The 29-year-old backstop has also recorded a hit in 18 of 23 games this month.

Though his BABIP is an unrealistic .350, there’s no reason to believe he can’t maintain his career .281 batting average for the rest of the season. The 6-foot-3, 210 pounder makes above-average contact and tends to lay off pitches outside of the strike zone.

Unlike most catchers, Paulino’s double-digit HR potential won’t come with a sub-.250 batting average. Surprisingly, the Marlins’ backstop is still available in 84 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He should be your first option to replace the injured Martinez.

• Like everyone else in Toronto this season, John Buck has been hitting homers at a ridiculous rate. In six seasons prior to 2010, Buck’s career high was 18, a mark he set in 2007 with the Royals.

Through just 217 at-bats this year, however, the 29-year-old backstop has 13 long balls and 40 runs driven in. Perhaps even more surprising is his .270 batting average, considering his career mark of .239.

Buck’s contact rate is extremely low and his plate discipline has been even worse. While it’s hard to argue with his recent production (.295 BA, five HR, 14 RBI in June), there’s reason to believe his numbers will drop off in the near future. He’s owned in just under half of Yahoo! leagues.

Tigers‘ backstop Alex Avila is available in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and is a solid catching option in Martinez’s absence. The 23-year-old left-handed batter has gotten the majority of the starts behind the plate in recent weeks, making the most of his opportunity.

In 45 at-bats (16 games) this month, Avila is batting .333 (15-for-45) with a homer and nine RBI, including four multi-hit games and a five-game RBI streak. Though this sample size is obviously limited, there are many signs (10.4 walk rate, 20.0 line drive rate, 80.2 contact rate) which point to future success. For now, he’s a safe add in deep leagues.

Image courtesy of: Serena A. Thaw

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