Before the 2017 season begins, we will rank our top 15 fantasy players at each position for you. We might provide a projection. We might not. But take some notes, and if you’re lucky this will have you ready for the exam on draft day 2017. Today we examine fantasy baseball’s necessary evil: Catchers.
1. Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
There’s a new sheriff in town. The monster in the Bronx hit 20 home runs in just 201 at-bats. He had two at-bats prior to 2016 at the big league level. Even if he regresses, he’s still proved he can hit as well as anyone at this position and he should just get better. If I am a Sanchez owner, I’m hoping he finds a way to get out from behind the plate to preserve his bat for a longer number of years.
2. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Who has forgotten that this is the 2012 MVP? A career .307 hitter, but you wonder when all the innings behind the dish start to take their toll. The cornerstone of the Bay Area Giants franchise will be 30 years old. OPS has dipped over the last two seasons. Watch him closely, but for now he still deserves to be the second catcher off the board. Any thought of him being selected in the first couple rounds is long gone though.
3. Jonathan Lucroy, Texas Rangers
Handled the American League just fine after being dealt to Texas at the deadline. Guy can flat out hit and isn’t likely to just fall off a cliff at age-31. Now he’ll have the ability to DH and the benefit of hitting at Arlington; not that Milwaukee is a bad place to play half his games. Something to pay attention to is the dog days of summer. When it heats up in Arlington, much was always made of the toll it took on Pudge Rodriguez or whoever was at this position. He’s still tier-one.
4. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Career-low .247 batting average last season allows him to fall outside the top tier of backstops. Still managed a career-high in home runs (22), and just gets a wealth of playing time. You have to give him credit for the numbers he’s amassed in that morgue of a park that just hampers numbers.
5. Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers
Arrow is pointing way up on this late bloomer. In his age-27 season, he did age-27 season things. Homered a career-high 27 times and showed the base on balls skills are real for the second straight season. Batting average was an anchor for the teams who owned him; but he’s a lot better hitter than that .234 and .228 the last two years would lead you to believe. We’ll take the over on both of those, and make the bold prediction he leads Los Angeles in home runs. He will be a tier-one catcher by 2018. The time is now to own Grandal.
6. J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
A smart-shopper’s best kept secret, really. For owners who streamed the hot hand at the position – never a bad strategy – you were rewarded and probably ended up finding your full season solution in Realmuto. His 11 homers, 12 steals, and sparkling .303 average were definitely assets. His manager has the faith to hit him in a nice spot in the order. He’s an accomplished hitter, which can’t be said for many at this position. He’s one of the few guys left who catches almost every day.
7. Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
He probably deserves to be higher than this, it’s just a matter of earning our whole trust. You never know what you’re getting in a sophomore campaign in the game of baseball. With Contreras, you’ll get the added benefit of him playing games in the outfield. Joe Maddon will use him like he uses all multi-position tinker-toys. That .845 OPS is an eye-raiser, just wish it was in 120 games played so we knew for sure what we had. Arrow is pointing up without a doubt.
8. Wellington Castillo, Baltimore Orioles
Can’t find a permanent home or more playing time because he’s an awful defensive catcher – one of the game’s worst. He suffers from Wilin Rosario syndrome. But the guy can really hit. And the great thing about going to Baltimore is they seem to de-value defense of any type and just seem satisfied to hit as many homers as possible. It was a great landing spot for him at Camden. He should eclipse 20 home runs for the first time in his career this season, and should be available nice and late in drafts.
9. Evan Gattis, Houston Astros
Hit a quiet 32 home runs last season and if he was on your team, you were probably fitting him into outfield slots and forgetting that he caught those 55 games to maintain his position eligibility easily. He will have many peaks and valleys, but last season was a career year and he’s a fun guy to own. His body may age fast, and he’s now 30. The fall will be swift when it comes but that time is not yet. Should be a lock for over 25 home runs in Houston’s pinball lineup.
10. Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
He’s been doing this for a long time now. Eleven years in, and he’s still that guy who is just out there on the waiver wire, ready at a call’s notice. Career high 148 strikeouts are a concern that he is beginning to lose his skills, but the power will be the last thing to die. He’s a career .755 OPS catcher, and that will play.
11. Stephen Vogt, Oakland A’s
There’s just nothing really sexy about the guy, he’s somehow been an All-Star the last two seasons which is an indictment on Oakland’s roster and the system that selects players to that game. He’s going to be 32, we say arrow is pointing downward, and there’s not far he can fall to be off this list. If he starts slowly, move forward with someone else quickly.
12. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
Solid as the day is long. Hit .307 last year and it went largely unnoticed, even in the fantasy community. Only eight home runs but the 38 doubles and 164 hits were very nice. Showed he has quite a bit left in the tank. He’ll be 34 but St. Louis players just seem to be ageless, let’s face it.
13. Cameron Rupp, Philadelphia Phillies
Another one of those .250 hitting backstops whom if you are utilizing a two-catcher strategy, is a fine guy to own. Not really worth drafting unless it’s one of your final picks. Pair him with one of the guys at Coors, say. And you’ve got yourself a nice 150 games if you parlay it the right way. Entering age 28 season without a ton of mileage, so that’s a plus.
14. Travis d’Arnaud, New York Mets
It’s really time to show-up and show-out for d’Arnaud. Injury-riddled and forgotten about the last two seasons. He’s on this list because he’s shown there’s a little lightning in his bat when he’s on the field. Nothing exciting about him, but wouldn’t be totally insane to see him post his best season for what should be a contending team.
15. Brian McCann, Houston Astros
His batting average has sort of fallen off a cliff. He is a .235 hitter the past three seasons. He gets taken too highly in drafts based on name recognition, so we ranked him lower here so you won’t overpay for McCann. The move to Houston is nice, but really a lateral move in terms of ballpark. Has hit 20 or more home runs in every season since 2008, and that should continue for this season. Could post more RBI’s than expected with what will be in front of him in the Astros lineup. Not the on-base guy he was in his mid-20’s.