Fantasy Baseball: Catcher Rankings (Roto)

(Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)

While some of my colleagues (cough, Ben, cough) would probably prefer to eliminate the position altogether, catcher rankings are one of my favorite pieces to write each year. I mean how can you not revel in the challenge of finding fantasy production among a pool of players who generally bat low in the order and routinely get days off. And this season I’m going deeper than usual with my ranks so the information here will be applicable to even those playing in AL/NL only formats.

Another change in my rankings series this season is that I will no longer be doing individual write-ups for each tier. Instead my observations will be broken down into two sections; positional strategy and player notes. The first will outline how I approach the position in the draft while the latter will have some of my thoughts on specific guys.

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So without further here are my early 2017 catcher rankings for traditional 5×5 roto:

Note: I’m using Yahoo positional eligibility which tends to be more lenient than most other sites so there’s a chance some players you see here may not actually be catcher eligible in your league.

C | 1B | 2B| 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

PlayerRankLeagueTeam
Buster Posey1NLGiants
Kyle Schwarber2NLCubs
Jonathan Lucroy3ALRangers
Gary Sanchez4ALYankees
Wilson Contreras5NLCubs
Sal Perez6ALRoyals
Yasmani Grandal7NLDodgers
J.T. Realmuto8NLMarlins
Evan Gattis9ALAstros
Russell Martin10ALBlue Jays
Stephen Vogt11ALA's
Matt Wieters12NLNationals
Brian McCann13ALAstros
Welington Castillo14NLOrioles
Cameron Rupp15NLPhillies
Yadier Molina16NLCardinals
Mike Zunnino17ALMariners
Travis d'Arnaud18NLMets
Derek Norris19NLNationals
Austin Hedges20NLPadres
Francisco Cervelli21NLPirates
Tom Murphy22NLRockies
Sandy Leon23ALRed Sox
Jeff Bandy24NLBrewers
Yan Gomes25ALIndians
Devin Mesoraco26NLReds
Tony Walters27NLRockies
Wilson Ramos28ALRays
Jason Castro29ALTwins
Tyler Flowers30NLBraves
James McCann31ALTigers
Martin Maldonado32ALAngels
Andrew Susac33NLBrewers
Nick Hundley34NLGiants
Tucker Barnhart35NLReds
Curt Casali36ALRays
Josh Phegley37ALA's
Jorge Alfaro38NLPhillies
Chris Iannetta39NLD'backs
Chris Hermann40NLD'backs

Positional Strategy

  • If I’m in a 2-catcher league I’m making it a priority to grab one of the top 3, (4 including Schwarber) guys. There’s so much uncertainty in the middle to lower tiers that having one reliable option gives you the ability to take some risks with that second spot.
  • Once you get beyond Wellington Castillo at #14 there is so much volatility that I wouldn’t reach for any one player. I’d much rather take a chance on sleepers or boom/bust options at other positions and take whichever number two catcher falls to me at the end of the draft.
  • Aside from the few who will also see time at other positions (1B, OF, DH), catchers rarely get enough volume to make a major impact on your overall team stats. Because of this, I often value situation and context over pure playing time projections.
    • For example, although Stephen Vogt is likely to sit against lefties, hitting atop an AL lineup is enough of an advantage for me that I’d much rather have him then several others who may get more AB’s but are going to bat 7th or 8th on weak NL teams.
  • For the same reasons, power upside is usually the biggest value a catcher can provide. The benefit of 25+ homers from a player such as Grandal or Zunino is completely worth it even if they hit .220 because that average won’t do as much damage as it would coming from an everyday player at another position.
    • Remember with catchers counting stats are always more important than ratios.

Player Notes

  • Between the reports of increased rest and serious questions about the strength of the SF lineup, I’m starting to worry about Buster Posey. While I still have him atop my rankings, he no longer provides the dominant positional advantage he has in years past.
    • There’s no way I’m taking him anywhere in the first 3 rounds and at their current ADP I’d argue that Lucroy is a much better value.
  • The news of Wieters signing with the Nationals actually broke as I was editing this piece so the ranking for both he Norris is very fluid at the moment. A platoon doesn’t make much sense so it wouldn’t surprise me if Washington tried to make a trade here. If Norris were to get moved I could see sliding Wieters up a couple more spots.
  • I’m almost certain I won’t have any shares of Yadier Molina or Francisco Cervelli this year. I understand that their volume and relative safety is enough to make them startable options in most leagues, but I have no interest in catchers with single digit homer projections.
  • Tom Murphy is someone I love targeting late in drafts. While there’s a good chance he spends most of the season on the wrong side of a platoon, he also has considerably more upside than any of the other catchers in this range.
    • Between the lineup, Coors and his minor league power numbers, if he were to get even 65% of the starts behind the plate I’d have him in my top 12.
  • The injury news on Wilson Ramos has been conflicting to say the least so his ranking is likely to change significantly between now and Opening Day.
    • If he’s ready to play DH as early as May like was initially reported then I would slide him up all the way to #20. Conversely, a late June/early July return would push him outside the top 30.

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