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Early 2017 Fantasy Baseball Catcher Rankings

The 2016 fantasy baseball season may be over, but it’d be laughable to act like the fiending ever stops. Sure, we’re all able to watch some of our favorite players still make swoon with playoff drama, but there’s business to be had.

While players will find new homes during free agency, and can still get hurt doing mundane, offseason things – looking at you Sammy Sosa, with your violent sneezes from hell – it’s safe to say that we can look forward to the 2017 season with a general idea of how to rank these players.

Let’s descend into madness, and look my thoughts on the top players at each position. Assume a standard 5x5 redraft league with the rankings. First on the docket is catchers.

Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.


Early 2017 Rankings: Top-10 Catchers

1. Jonathan Lucroy, TEX – His team option is going to be picked up by Texas, meaning he’ll get to hit in the middle of a solid Rangers lineup. He hit 11 homers with 31 RBIs (.276) in his 47 games (168 PAs) as a Ranger last season, so he should be A-OK here. While Miller Park ranked higher for home runs in 2016 according to ESPN Park Factors, Globe Life Park in Arlington wasn't that far behind and actually ranked better overall for runs. That's far from a foolproof metric, but in case anyone was on the fence about Lucroy's hitting prospects in Texas long-term, r-e-l-a-x.

2. Buster Posey, SF – San Francisco’s franchise catcher saw his stats slip in 2016, as he totaled his lowest homer total (14) for a season outside of 2011. That includes when he hit 18 homers in only 108 games in 2010. His career-low 9.8% HR/FB is weird to see alongside a career-high 36.1% hard-hit rate, so I expect he’ll bounce back. While AT&T Park is bad for hitting homers, it isn't like Posey was just traded to SF. He's done just fine as a Giant in years past, and that should continue in 2017.

3. Gary Sanchez, NYY – I wouldn’t be surprised if the name “Gary” spikes in popularity for babies born in the fall of 2016, as the Yankees top prospect smacked 20 taters in only 53 games (229 PAs). His ludicrous 40% HR/FB rate will drop, but this is a powerful man in a small stadium. Don't expect 40 homers, but that said, it's not outside of his range of outcomes either.

4. Salvador Perez, KC – His power gains from 2015 stuck around, which led to a career-high 22 homers in his age-26 season. His strikeout rate jumping from 14.8% to 21.8% is alarming, but he plays nearly everyday when healthy (his durability record is pretty darn solid) and hits bombs – which goes a long way for a catcher. A durable and powerful catcher makes for a good asset.

5. J.T. Realmuto, MIA – He was one of four regular catchers to end the season with a batting average over .300, and his 12 steals paced the field. His double-digit homers and steals joined his .303 average to give him solid value, and his batted-ball skills are good enough to replicate this in 2017.

6. Yasmani Grandal, LAD – The Dodgers’ backstop launched 27 homers despite hitting only seven in the first three months of the season. He also only batted .179 in those first three months, but then from July 1 on he hit .267 with 20 homers. In 2015, Grandal hit .282 with 14 homers in the first half, only to struggle with a .162 average and two homers from the All-Star game on thanks to a balky shoulder. He has it in him to be great, he just needs the consistency to get there.

7. Russell Martin, TOR – After a horribly cold start to the season (zero homers, .150 average in April), Martin salvaged his season thanks to a three-month stretch from June through August where he hit 281 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs. Toronto is still going to be a mighty fine place to hit in 2017, and Martin is unlikely to replicate his slow start.

8. Evan Gattis, HOU - He started at catcher in 49 games so C-eligibility should be there in all formats, and his 32 homers easily led all backstops, though he only got 72 RBIs for his efforts. His power makes him a strong play from the C-slot everywhere, and even if he only hits 25 in 2017, that should be enough to make him a top-10 play considering Houston's willingness to slot him in at DH in his quest for ABs.

9. Tom Murphy, COL – Nick Hundley’s contract is up and Murphy is ready to become Colorado’s primary catcher. It’s not set in stone, but there’s no reason to bring Hundley back. Murphy is a top prospect who hit 19 homers in only 80 Triple-A games last season before being promoted in September, when he hit five dingers in 21 games for the big-league club. He has power at a scarce position and gets to hit at Coors Field. What more do you need? I'm all aboard with this new generation of the Blake Street Bombers.

10. Brian McCann, NYY – This is a guy who is on the wrong side of 30 who runs slower than a pet rock, but he still hit 20 homers in 492 PAs and should be able to DH a lot on a young 2017 Yankees roster. He’ll still have C-eligibility in 2017, and as long as he gets to hit in that stadium then he’s a decent play at catcher.


Catchers #11-20

11. Wilson Ramos, WAS - That whole recovering from a torn ACL thing is a major drag.

12. Willson Contreras, CHC - Great talent, but growing pains are there and frequency of playing time in 2017 will be crucial.

13. Matt Wieters, BAL - You know what you're getting by now. 15-20 HRs, .250-.260 average.

14. Yadier Molina, STL - High average, low power. Rinse and repeat.

15. Stephen Vogt, OAK - He'll chip in modest stats across the board, but you'll never be happy starting him.

16. Travis d'Arnaud, NYM - Would love to see what he could do with a clean bill of health.

17. Cameron Rupp, PHI - Some sneaky pop, but unlikely to exceed 20 HRs along with .250 average.

18. Nick Hundley, FA - Mostly a product of Coors Field, but if Colorado does bring him back then he retains some value.

19. Derek Norris, SD - 14 HRs and 9 SBs in only 125 games was nice, but the .186 average hurt. 30.3% K-rate. Figure it out Derek.

20. Welington Castillo, ARI - Platoon guys aren't ideal, but it's #20 and he's still got some nice pop.


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