Ranking MLB's Best Fantasy Baseball Catchers
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
New York Yankees catcher Gary SanchezJim McIssac - Getty Images
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.