We rolled out our final update of 2017 rankings this past weekend. While there haven’t been seismic shifts, some players have naturally seen their stocks rise or fall since our initial valuations were made in December. All week long, we’re looking at the biggest movers and shakers at each position. we’ll present our updated catcher rankings, tiers and auction values.
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2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Catchers (March Updates)
Catchers Rankings Analysis (March Updates)
If you like to lock up production from the catcher position, here’s where to look. Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy have been staples at the top of this position for years now, and should continue to produce in four of the five main categories. Gary Sanchez’ off-the-charts power gives him the potential to join the elite backstops in 2017. Unfortunately, Schwarber has lost catcher eligibility in many leagues, but the Cubs’ new leadoff hitter is right with these guys where he is eligible.
Personally, I don’t ever pay up for a catcher, but there is certainly appeal to ensuring stability at the weakest position in fantasy baseball.
Speaking of stability, these Tier 2 guys aren’t likely to be difference makers, but each one should help a fantasy team. The ranking that stands out here is Willson Contreras, whom Bill has at 89. Contreras’ obvious value lies in his situation — a spot in the Cubs’ lineup essentially guarantees opportunities to knock in and score runs — but he also posted a solid .363 wOBA in roughly three months of MLB action in 2016.
I don’t think his power/average combination — his 27.7 percent fly ball rate was the sixth-lowest among catchers with at least 200 at-bats last year — translates to enough upside for him to crack the top 100, but NFBC also has his ADP at 89, so there’s certainly something to be said about spending a high pick on Chicago’s backstop. My aversion to drafting catchers early absolutely affected my ranking.
A big riser on my list was Evan Gattis, who is expected to find decent at-bats at various spots in the Astros’ lineup. Gattis has smacked at least 20 homers in each of his four big league seasons, and has proven himself capable of putting up big power numbers without a full workload.
Tier 3/Tier 4
I’m grouping these two tiers together because this is where I recommend looking for a catcher late in mixed-league drafts. Since our last set of rankings, Matt Wieters has found a home in the nation’s capital, but none of our rankers gave him much of a boost— Nick’s ranking of 248 is the closest to Wieters’ NFBC ADP of 190, which certainly seems steep for a guy who followed up two injury-plagued with a .240 average and 17 homers last year.
Stephen Vogt was vaulted into the third tier by a massive boost in Bill’s rankings from 391 to 180! Vogt slashed .251/.305/.406 with 14 homers and 56 RBI last season, and was particularly sluggish in the second half— .222/.287/.365 with seven long balls.
Wieters, Vogt, Cameron Rupp, Travis d’Arnaud and Welington Castillo make up the group I like to target in the last couple of rounds in mixed leagues, although some of them are being drafted in the late 100s. Whomever from this group falls is the player I’d recommend drafting. All five should hit somewhere in the 12-15 homer range with mediocre rate stats, doing just enough not to hurt you.
Wilson Ramos, who will start the season on the DL but could return as early as May, is a strong late-round candidate, especially in two-catcher leagues. His upside — 22 HR, 20 RBI, .307/.354/.496 slash line in 2016 — is far greater than that of anybody else in these tiers.
Austin Hedges is another high-upside late-round flier. The 24-year-old will have first crack at San Diego’s catcher role, and is coming off a season in which he hit .326/.353/.597 with 21 homers in Triple-A. Tom Murphy, who smashed 19 homers of his own to go along with a .327/.361/.647 line in Triple-A, would be in the same boat if he hadn’t fractured his forearm. As a result of the injury, Murphy is best left for deep NL-only and dynasty leagues.
These backstops should not be on mixed-league radars, but could make somewhat of an impact in deeper formats. Sandy Leon is coming off a nice season in which he hit over .300 with seven bombs in just 252 at-bats, and even with some regression and losing playing time to Blake Swihart, he could still produce enough to finish as a top-12 AL catcher. Keeping with the Red Sox, Swihart should accumulate at-bats both behind the plate and in the outfield. The soon-to-be 25-year-old hasn’t panned out quite yet, but he still possesses talent and could produce in deep leagues if given a real opportunity.
Bruce Maxwell is an interesting guy here— Brad has him ranked at 363, but three of our rankers (including me) have left him out of our top 500 altogether. Maxwell is already 26 with just 101 career plate appearances and no guaranteed playing time. Finally, if Derek Norris were to get picked up by a team that can offer him regular playing time, he could jump back up these rankings.
For two-catcher leagues or split NL/AL formats, this is where you can find some cheap options. Nick Hundley could actually see decent at-bats as Posey’s backup. Tucker Barnhart hit four homers with a .323 OBP last year, and is still just behind the oft-injured Devin Mesoraco on the depth chart. Omar Narvaez could win the starting job in Chicago, and Tony Wolters — one of the biggest risers at the position — will get the chance to start the year as the Rockies’ everyday backstop. Nothing exciting here, but the position is deep enough that you can wait on one of these guys and find some value in the deepest of fantasy formats.