Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto

Eric Hartline - USA TODAY Sports

With the MLB season inching closer, we are taking a look at each position around the diamond and ranking the best fantasy options at each position.

Catcher might not be the most glamorous position, but there are still plenty of valuable players out there that could be the difference between winning and losing a title. Last year provided a little more flexibility for catchers, as with the universal designated hitter, managers had more options on how to manage the toughest position to play in baseball. Managers won't have the same luxury this year, since Major League Baseball is going back to the designated hitter being used in the AL-only.

The FindBet positional rankings were a compilation of the rankings from myself, Matt Hanson, and Tyler Austin. For catchers, we will dive into our top-20 catchers in the game right now.

1) J.T. Realmuto - Philadelphia Phillies

After becoming a full-time starter with the Miami Marlins in 2015, Realmuto has gotten better in each year since. After earning a spot in the All-Star Game in 2018 Realmuto was traded to Philadelphia in the off-season. In 2019, Realmuto blasted a career-high 25 home runs, and also won a Gold Glove award.

Last year, Realmuto's average dipped below .270 for the first time since 2015, but it's hard to put much stock in 2020 since it was such a strange year for everyone. Realmuto still hit 11 home runs last year in just 47 games, and with fellow Phillies like Bryce Harper and Rhys Hopkins with him in the lineup, it leaves opposing managers and pitchers with a big decision to make on how to pitch to the stacked lineup.

The biggest reason to expect a strong year from Realmuto is re-signed with Philadelphia in the offseason, so now he doesn't have to worry about free agency for a while. With a big payday secured, now we'll likely see Realmuto show that he was worth all the coin that the Phillies put in his pocket.

2) Will Smith - Los Angeles Dodgers

While J.T. Realmuto has established himself as the best catcher in the game, it wouldn't be a shock to see Will Smith pass him for that honor in a few years. The Louisville product entered the majors in 2019, hitting 15 homers for the Dodgers. Even though Smith and Austin Barnes split time for Los Angeles in 2020, it became obvious that Smith is the future behind the plate for the World Series champs.

After hitting .253 for the Dodgers in 2019, Smith raised his average to .289 in 37 games last year. Even though it's not often that we see a catcher hit over .300, it's possible to see Smith hit that mark. With the protection he'll have in the Dodgers lineup, many teams will likely look at Smith as someone they need to pitch to so they can avoid Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, and others. Smith will make them regret that decision. Expect Smith to put up numbers that mirror what Realmuto puts up in Philadelphia, and the average and RBI total might even be better.

3) Yasmani Grandal - Chicago White Sox

Yasmani Grandal has bounced around a little, with Chicago being his fourth team in nine years in the majors. Grandal isn't going to wow you with his average, but his power numbers are great for a catcher. Prior to last year, where he played 46 games, Grandal hit at least 20 home runs in four straight seasons.

Much like the first two catchers on this list, Grandal is a key cog in a lineup that is loaded with talent. Being able to hit along with Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, and Luis Robert will allow Grandal to continue to put up big home run and RBI numbers. Also, getting to go against some of the suspect pitching of the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers so many times definitely won't hurt Grandal's numbers in 2021.

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador PerezCharlie Riedel - AP Photo

4) Salvador Perez - Kansas City Royals

One of the most respected catchers in the game right now is Kansas City's Salvador Perez. After missing the 2019 season, Perez burst back onto the scene last year, hitting .333 and bashing 11 homers. Perez has earned Silver Slugger honors in three of the last four years, and it's hard to not see him being in the mix to add to his collection this year.

5) Willson Contreras - Chicago Cubs

Yasmani Grandal isn't the only catcher in Chicago with some pop. As the core of the Cubs continues to age, Contreras is even more important to Chicago's playoff hopes. While you'll likely have to deal with plenty of strikeouts from the 28-year old catcher, he'll make up for the whiffs with some big flies at Wrigley Field, and around the rest of the NL Central stadiums that he'll frequent throughout the season.

The rest of the top-10

6) Travis d'Arnaud - Atlanta Braves

7) Gary Sanchez - New York Yankees

8) Austin Nola - San Diego Padres

9) Christian Vazquez - Boston Red Sox

10) James McCann - New York Mets

New York Yankees Catcher Gary Sanz New York Yankees catcher Gary SanchezJim McIssac - Getty Images

New York Yankees Catcher Gary Sanz

After struggling to find a home in his first few years in the majors, Travis d'Arnaud really looked comfortable in Atlanta, hitting .321 for the Braves. Meanwhile in the Bronx, Gary Sanchez hit just .147 for the Yankees in 2020. A reason to be optimistic about Sanchez in 2021 is when he hit under .200 in 2018, he rebounded with 34 home runs in 2019.

Austin Nola has limited time in the majors so far in his career. He's not quite at the level of Will Smith, but you could see him have an impact similar to Smith and some of the others at the top fo the rankings who are part of lineups that are loaded with quality hitters. Even though Christian Vazquez is less than a year younger than Nola, he has seen a lot more playing time in his career, as the Red Sox have been rebuilding over the last few years. The two catchers are on different coasts but should put up similar numbers.

Rounding of the top-10 is James McCann, who signed with the New York Mets in the offseason. After a breakout season in 2019, McCann had a hard time finding a rhythm in 2020. Now that he won't have to share time with Grandal, McCann will now set his sights on passing Realmuto and d'Arnaud in the conversation as the best catcher in the NL East.

Closing out the top-20 catchers

11) Sean Murphy - Oakland Athletics

12) Mitch Garver - Minnesota Twins

13) Buster Posey - San Francisco Giants

14) Carson Kelly - Arizona Diamondbacks

15) Jorge Alfaro - Miami Marlins

16) Yadier Molina - St. Louis Cardinals

17) Wilson Ramos - Detroit Tigers

18) Max Stassi - Los Angeles Angels

19) Yan Gomes - Washington Nationals

20) Danny Jansen - Toronto Blue Jays

The Lakers looked lost in the Valley

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.

After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.

LeBron James LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.

The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.

Keep reading... Show less

Julio Jones is trying to force his way out of Atlanta

Kevin Cox/Getty Images

The NFL's all-time leader in receiving yardage per game is looking for a new home.

Five time all-pro, Julio Jones, stated on FS1's Undisputed earlier this week that he was "out" of Atlanta and that his only focus on where he wants to play next year includes winning. This corroborates with reports back in April as Ian Rapoport indicated the Falcons were receiving calls for their star receiver prior to the NFL Draft.

It's no surprise that Jones wants out considering the Falcons have only made the playoffs once since their Super Bowl appearance in 2016. Jones is 32 now and coming off a season where nagging injuries kept him off the field for all but nine games in 2020. In those games Jones caught 51 balls for 771 yards while adding three touchdowns. Having only reached double-digit touchdowns once in his career in 2012, the volume and yardage have always been Julio's strengths. A lack of availability would certainly hurt his chances to be a major contributor for any title-contender.

According to SportsLine, the teams with the best odds to land Jones are as follows as of May 28, 2021.

  • Patriots +200
  • 49ers +300
  • Titans +400
  • Raiders +600
  • Ravens +700
  • Chargers +900
  • Colts +1000
  • Packers +1200
  • Dolphins +1400
  • Jaguars +1500
  • Cowboys +2000

Keep reading... Show less

The Nets big 3 are set for a finals run.

Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The play-ins have been a short, but wild rollercoaster and the playoffs are getting ready to set off.

The seeds are finally set, and the first-round matchups are 76ers(1) vs Wizards(8), Nets(2) vs Celtics(7), Bucks(3) vs Heat(6), and Knicks(4) vs Hawks(5).

76ers vs Wizards:

The Russell Westbrook-Joel Embiid rivalry will continue during this year's playoffs and fans cannot wait. The Wizards finished the season with a 16-6 record, and after a lackluster start this season, they have made themselves a dangerous 8th seed. While the 76ers didn't finish the season hot, I'm sure with a team-full of veterans, rest was more of a priority. The 76ers beat the Wizards three times during the season, but two of those games were very close and came early in the season.

The Wizards can definitely make this series a challenging one for the 76ers. The Wizards have shooters all around with Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans. But the 76ers have a much deeper team with guys like Danny Green, Seth Curry, and Dwight Howard providing good veteran leadership. The Wizards are riding on the health of Bradley Beal, who has dealt with hamstring tightness in the past two weeks.

Nets vs Celtics:

The Nets finally seem to be healthy just in time for the playoffs, which is dangerous for Boston. Although the Nets big three only played eight games together, the Nets still finished with a 48-24. The Nets also have a great mix of reliable veterans like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jeff Green, and Joe Harris. These two teams meet three times during the regular season with Brooklyn taking all three games.

The Celtics have not lived up to expectations this year. After making a conference finals last year, it was expected to carry through the regular season, but they never found their stride. Jaylen Brown will continue to be sidelined with a broken wrist, so most of the load will be carried by Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. I see this series being an easy one for the Nets.

Bucks vs Heat:

A rematch of the heated second-round matchup last year, where the Heat upset Milwaukee, who had Giannis dealing with injuries. Interestingly enough, both of these come to the playoffs on the right side with an 8-2 record in their last 10 regular-season games. Giannis is back with more weapons on his sides like Jrue Holiday, PJ Tucker, and Jeff Teague, while also keeping their core from last year. Giannis had had another MVP-type season averaging 28 points and 11 rebounds.

The Miami Heat started the season off slow, probably because of the NBA finals hangover, but got hot after the all-star break. Miami also acquired many new weapons like Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon. The Jimmy Butler-Giannis Antetokounmpo matchup will be the most important aspect of this series.

Knicks vs Hawks

After what seems like a lifetime drought, the Knicks are finally back in the playoffs! We can all agree that when the Knicks are good, the league is in better spirits. Tom Thibodeau has turned this team around, and you can't forget about how Julius Randle has been playing this season. Possibly the most improved player, Julius Randle has proved all his doubters wrong and has taken the keys to this Knicks franchise. The Knicks have great veteran leadership with guys like Derrick Rose, and Taj Gibson who are familiar with Thibodeau. They also have great young talent with guys like RJ Barret, and Obi Toppin.

The Hawks on the other hand have turned it around since firing Lloyd Pierce and having Nate McMillan made this team do a complete 180. Trae Young and John Collins are one of the best duos in the league. With guys like Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, and Bogdan Bogdanovic who can get hot at any point of the game. This series can definitely go to 7 games, with last-second shots determining the outcome.