(This article was recently updated based on current ADP trends)
The “thing” I like most about Carlos Santana is the fact that he is a “catcher.” You see, (wink wink), he is a top-tier fantasy baseball "catcher," even though he will most likely play at least a third of his games at 1B or DH. The beautiful thing is that you can still keep him and his stats rostered securely in the catcher position, and this essentially buys you another 50-100 ABs from a pretty darn good player over a replacement catcher in the same slot. Santana will bring you that very special joy you get from seeing catcher stats accumulate on a Sunday afternoon when other catchers are riding the pine-- I'm sure you won't miss worrying about having wasted a roster spot on a guy who is sitting every fifth day.
Santana's power / RBI potential is good for 20 HR / 80 RBI, with upside pushing 25 HR and 90 RBI. The Cleveland Indians lineup is not half bad, either. Under-the-radar contributors like Nick Swisher, Asdrubal Cabrera and J-Kipnis, combined with guys who certainly can be good (think Drew Stubbs, Lonnie Chisenhall, Michael Brantley... Michael Bourn), should provide solid run-scoring and run-producing opportunities for Santana. He won’t do much for your average or in the SB category, but really, not many catchers will. Look instead to Santana for solid power and run-production.
Looking forward to 2013, there's as lot to be excited about. Among the stats that bode well is Santana's 2012 BABIP of .278, about twenty points below the league average of .297. If he can improve that a bit, you should see him reach into that higher range of stat potential across the board, but especially in the BA department. Furthermore, his 2010-2012 OBP was .363, nearly forty points higher than league-average over the same period: Santana knows how to get on base, and he should be among the league leaders in runs scored among catchers.
RotoBaller’s 2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleeper Score: 7.5
(scores are from 1 – 10, with 10 being the biggest sleeper potential based on current ADPs)
RotoBaller’s 2013 Fantasy Baseball Projection: .268/29/85/71/0
RotoBaller’s Target Draft Rounds: 5-6
Draft Santana as your Catcher and you can let that position run on auto-pilot. The Indians will find a way to keep him in the lineup almost every day, which sets him apart from other top catchers (like Matt Weiters) who get more days off. Santana is about a 5th to 6th-round draft-day value, with upside for a lot more. But at the same time his current ADP of #47 is a little expensive. Because he's getting drafted in the earlier rounds we can't recommend him as a full blown sleeper. But we do like his outlook for 2013, and if he slips to rounds 5-6 in mixed leagues pounce on him immediately.
Be sure to check out RotoBaller's full Fantasy Baseball Catcher Rankings for 2013.