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Updated Fantasy Baseball Catcher Rankings - 5x5 Mixed Roto Leagues

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Welcome back RotoBallers to some more preseason fantasy baseball rankings! RotoBaller is constantly working to try and bring fantasy baseball managers the best advice, especially during draft season. A big part of that includes regular updates to our tiered rankings for all formats.

Our MLB rankers, -- JB Branson, Pierre Camus, Ariel Cohen, Nicklaus Gaut, and Nick Mariano -- have recently updated our 2022 Mixed League rankings to help you prepare for draft day. Today we dig into the catcher rankings for fantasy baseball.

You can also find our other draft rankings for all sorts of league formats, continually updated throughout the preseason, right here in our main fantasy baseball Rankings Wizard tool. Also, make use of all our premium resources with our MLB Draft Kit.

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Updated 2022 Catcher Rankings

The staff rankings are for roto leagues, and standard 5x5 categories. They are always updated on our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. Nick Mariano was named the #1 overall most accurate industry expert ranker for the 2018 season, and Ariel Cohen was the top ranker in 2019. Both are included in these rankings.

Catcher
Ranking
Catcher
Tier
Player Position Overall
Ranking
Overall
Tier
1 1 Salvador Perez C 34 3
2 2 J.T. Realmuto C 55 4
3 2 Will Smith C 63 4
4 3 Daulton Varsho C/OF 112 6
5 3 Yasmani Grandal C/1B 130 8
6 3 Willson Contreras C 131 8
7 4 Tyler Stephenson C/1B 188 10
8 4 Keibert Ruiz C 219 11
9 4 Mitch Garver C 227 12
10 4 Christian Vazquez C 253 13
11 4 Adley Rutschman C 257 13
12 4 Travis d'Arnaud C 263 13
13 5 Gary Sanchez C 275 13
14 5 Mike Zunino C 299 14
15 5 Sean Murphy C 300 14
16 5 Elias Diaz C 308 14
17 5 Omar Narvaez C 316 14
18 5 Yadier Molina C 320 15
19 5 Carson Kelly C 324 15
20 6 Danny Jansen C 346 16
21 6 Max Stassi C 372 16
22 6 James McCann C 375 16
23 6 Joey Bart C 381 17
24 6 Alejandro Kirk C 383 17
25 6 Eric Haase C/OF 395 17
26 6 Austin Nola C 401 17
27 6 Jacob Stallings C 402 17
28 6 Austin Hedges C 448 19
29 7 Tucker Barnhart C 454 19
30 7 Jorge Alfaro C/OF 481 20
31 7 Ryan Jeffers C 489 20
32 7 Kyle Higashioka C 520 20
33 7 Yan Gomes C 527 20
34 7 Roberto Perez C 553 21
35 7 MJ Melendez C 565 21
36 7 Francisco Mejia C 574 21
37 8 Tom Murphy C 585 21
38 8 Ben Rortvedt C 589 21
39 8 Luis Torrens C 593 22
40 8 Pedro Severino C 603 22
41 8 Gabriel Moreno C 638 23
42 8 Martin Maldonado C 654 23
43 8 Dom Nunez C 678 23
44 8 Austin Barnes C 693 23
45 8 Manny Pina C 695 23
46 8 Curt Casali C 708 23
47 8 Zack Collins C 712 23
48 9 Jonah Heim C 715 23
49 9 Luis Campusano C 717 23
50 9 Cal Raleigh C 724 23
51 9 Victor Caratini C 727 23
52 9 Jason Castro C 730 23
53 9 Kevin Plawecki C 747 23
54 9 William Contreras C 769 23
55 9 Sam Huff C 781 24
56 9 Jose Trevino C 791 24
57 9 Kurt Suzuki C 795 24

 

Tier One

A couple of years ago, it was J.T. Realmuto and the field. Now, it's Salvador Perez who stands alone. Realmuto never jacked 48 HR in a season, but then again, neither did any other catcher ever. He was a league winner for many in 2021 and belongs in a tier to himself. But does that make him worth the exorbitant draft price of 29th overall according to consensus ADP?

For some, taking a catcher that early is a non-starter, just on principle. You'll hear the word regression thrown out a lot in regard to his power outburst too. My thoughts: It's OK to expect regression, declare that Perez won't even approach 48 homers, and worry that he might get more time off as the team works MJ Melendez into the lineup. All that could be true and he could still end up as the top catcher in fantasy! The next closest to Perez in homers last year was Mike Zunino, not exactly an up-and-coming star, with 33 HR. The next closest catcher to Perez's 121 RBI was Will Smith with 76.

If you prefer to go in a different direction early in your draft, that's perfectly fine. Just don't pass on Sal based solely on the fact he's a catcher or act as if he's suddenly going to become a bust after experiencing the best season of his career.

 

Tier Two

Will Smith jokes fresh off the Oscars are too obvious, so I'll refrain. Instead, I'll explain why he is going to be one of my most-targeted players in highly-competitive roto leagues and practically a must-draft in two-catcher leagues such as NFBC.

Playing time is a crucial component for roto success and that's the case at catcher more than any other position. Only three catchers tallied 500 or more plate appearances last year and Smith was one of them (Perez and Realmuto were the others, naturally). Now that the NL has a DH, he'll have chances to give his legs a break while staying in the lineup as KC does with Perez. The fact that L.A. traded away top prospect Keibert Ruiz means the position is all his this year and for the foreseeable future, at least until Diego Cartaya is ready to make an impact.

Smith didn't have quite the same level of superior plate discipline in 2021 as he did the previous year because he swung a little more and whiffed a little more. That led his expected batting average to drop from .293 to .250. Nothing to worry about though, as his low Chase rate was exceptional (90th percentile) and his Whiff rate was three points below league average. If Smith keeps swinging for the fences, we should be glad as fantasy managers. We don't come to the catcher position for batting average anyway.

 

Tier Three

Most catchers don't offer 15-steal upside with a sprint speed in the 84th percentile. Most catchers don't play center field either. That's the case for Daulton Varsho, who we can only hope gets behind the plate a handful of times to keep his eligibility here heading into next season. Aside from the sneaky source of speed, Varsho offers enough power to hit at least 20 homers. Through the second half of 2021, he posted a .530 SLG, consistent with his minor-league track record.

He's been batting leadoff against RHP throughout spring training, which bolsters his counting stat potential. There aren't many true five-category contributors at this position (there are exactly two), and Varsho comes at a cheaper draft price than Realmuto.


Willson Contreras didn't end up being traded at last year's deadline despite persistent rumors as the Cubs held a long-overdue fire sale. The lineup around him doesn't inspire much confidence but it might be better than people expect. That said, as much as I've been a fan of his in recent years, there's not much reason to spend a mid-round pick on him. Contreras is a career .259 hitter who has seen his average drop the last two seasons down to .237 last year with a .240 xBA backing it up.

Contreras still has pop, evidenced by his still-elite max exit velocity, but while he has 20-HR upside, it's also his ceiling. Contreras' best power output was 24 HR, back in 2019. Most catchers are given days off but Contreras has only topped 500 PA once in his career we could see more of that from the Cubs this year as they have a capable veteran backup in Yan Gomes. I don't hate the idea of having him as my starting catcher because at least there's a solid floor but I need more upside from a player going around his ADP. That's why I'm the lowest of our rankers on him, putting Contreras at 171 overall.

 

Tier Four

I may not be high enough on Tyler Stephenson rankings-wise, seeing as how he has top-five upside at this position. He could overtake guys like Grandal and Contreras now that he's the primary backstop in Cincinnati. Stephenson managed to accumulate 402 plate appearances last year despite Tucker Barnhart also garnering 388 PA. That's not funky math, it's Stephenson starting 17 games at first base to fit his bat into the lineup while Joey Votto was out.

Stephenson is a former first-round pick who hasn't fully developed his in-game power yet, although he may be ready to break out. He is already hitting for average, however, with a .286 mark last season and he boasts an excellent 8.2% K-BB%. If the plate discipline is already there, a boost in playing time could make him this year's Will Smith (again, not the slappy happy one).

Keibert Ruiz is being handed the keys to the car, which in this case resembles a Pontiac Aztec. While Washington's lineup still features MVP candidate Juan Soto and Nelson Cruz gives them a solid presence at the cleanup spot, they no longer have Trea Turner to set the table and the bottom of the order resembles a taxi squad. The good news is that it may give Ruiz a chance to hit fifth, as projected by RosterResource. That means plentiful RBI opps for the former top prospect. There's risk as with any young player but he showed a tremendous eye in his stint with the Nats late last season and possesses a plus hit tool. He's a high-reward fallback option if you aren't one of the first to snag a catcher.

Mitch Garver moving to Texas might help him secure more regular at-bats but it doesn't inspire me much otherwise. There isn't a benefit in terms of park factor, lineup support, or divisional schedule. We all remember his 31-HR season but he's really not done much otherwise. I'm OK with him as my second backstop but not holding down the position alone in a single-catcher league.

 

Tier Five

The Sanchize has moved to the Twin Cities. Will he feel less pressure now that he's out of the spotlight in New York? Time will tell but no matter what, you have to be prepared for the batting average sink if you draft him. He's finished in the bottom 15th percentile in XBA three of the last four seasons.

Speaking of three true outcomes, Mike Zunino. He powered his way to 33 longballs last year but we have to look deeper at the splits to get the true story. Luckily, Dan Palyo (another of our FSWA award winners!) broke it all down in his Hitter Split Stats DFS Primer.

TL;DR: Zunino eats left-handed pitching for breakfast, which is better than the alternative. He still hit 17 HR against right-handers but his averages sink precipitously and he's a riskier play. Zunino is better platooned in leagues with daily lineups than as a set-and-forget lineup staple.

Don't think that Carson Kelly isn't draftable just because there's already an Arizona catcher at the top of this list. As mentioned earlier, Varsho is manning the outfield most days while Kelly is behind the plate. He appeared on his way to a full-blown breakout season in April when injury dashed those hopes. Kelly is in his prime and has enough pop to serve as a high-end second catcher.

 

Tier Six and Lower

Perhaps Joey Bart isn't the second coming of Buster Posey. He'll have his chance to prove otherwise this season as the former MVP has hung up his cleats. He's struggled mightily in his first taste of the majors, striking out almost 37% of the time with a grand total of three walks in his first 117 at-bats. He was never expected to provide a high hit tool but if the power doesn't start showing up to compensate, he'll quickly become a liability on the Giants' offense and a non-factor in fantasy.

So many catchers in Toronto, only one plate. Unless the team does move one of Alejandro Kirk, Gabriel Moreno, or Danny Jansen, then it's hard to trust any of them. Kirk has shown pronounced splits so far, Jansen has shown limited power, and Moreno may require more seasoning. Stash in dynasty, but pass in redraft.

With Gary Sanchez gone, it's the Higashioka show for the Yanks. Be amazed by Ben Rortvedt's physique (there is no other option) but don't pay up on draft day for the guns.

Maybe one day Ben Rortvedt will have a chance to assault baseballs on the regular but he's starting the season with an oblique injury while Higashioka is off to a hot spring with seven hits in his first 15 AB, including four homers. This may turn out to be less of a position battle than expected as Higashioka keeps the seat warm while Austin Wells prepares to take over eventually.



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RANKINGS

QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
RANKINGS
C
1B
2B
3B
SS
OF
SP
RP