Midseason Rankings and Tiers: Catcher

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With the first half of the season in the books, it’s time for one last RotoBaller rankings update. As with our May edition, these rest-of-season rankings come from yours truly and my esteemed colleague Nick Mariano. We’ll tackle each position individually, with one column from each of us today through Sunday. First up, as tradition dictates, is catcher.

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2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Catchers (Midseason Update)

Ranking Tier Player Position Kyle Nick Composite
1 1 Gary Sanchez C 46 67 56.5
2 1 Buster Posey C 43 86 64.5
3 2 J.T. Realmuto C 77 97 87
4 2 Salvador Perez C 136 75 105.5
5 3 Evan Gattis C 133 117 125
6 3 Yasmani Grandal C 127 155 141
7 3 Brian McCann C 149 160 154.5
8 3 Wilson Ramos C 162 152 157
9 3 Willson Contreras C 153 176 164.5
10 4 Yadier Molina C 223 202 212.5
11 4 Kyle Schwarber C/OF 222 #N/A 222
12 4 Jonathan Lucroy C 233 251 242
13 5 Austin Hedges C 253 285 269
14 5 Russell Martin C 306 237 271.5
15 5 Welington Castillo C 321 233 277
16 6 Matt Wieters C 308 284 296
17 6 Travis d'Arnaud C #N/A 298 298
18 6 Mike Zunino C 320 #N/A 320
19 6 Tyler Flowers C 330 #N/A 330

 

Midseason Catcher Rankings Analysis

Tier 1

Unsurprisingly, Buster Posey and Gary Sanchez are well ahead of their behind-the-plate peers. Nick has Sanchez in front, and if we were talking long-term, I’d agree completely. But for the remainder of 2017, I’ll take the veteran. Posey has bounced back from the worst full season of his career with an excellent .324/.406/.498 line and exactly as many walks as strikeouts. He also leads all catchers in plate appearances – not an easy feat. You simply can’t beat the combination of volume and quality that Posey provides. Sanchez offers more power, but in today’s environment, it’s tough to put a price on a catcher who hits well above .300…

Tier 2

…Which is what makes J.T. Realmuto such a valuable piece despite counting stats that don’t jump off the page. Another high-volume backstop, Realmuto has improved as a hitter in each of his big-league seasons. He’s on pace for another .300 average plus career highs in home runs, runs scored, and RBI, and is tied with Yadier Molina (?!?!) for the most stolen bases at the position, with five. Again, in this tier, Nick and I had our rankings flipped. While Salvador Perez obviously had a terrific first half, we’ve seen him wilt under a heavy workload down the stretch in each of the last three seasons.

Tier 3 

Both Astros’ catchers make an appearance here, as Houston has enjoyed the luxury of rotating Evan Gattis in for roughly every third game behind the plate to spell Brian McCann. As a result, they don’t play quite as often as the guys above them. When they do, though, they produce. McCann is tracking toward his 10th consecutive 20 HR season, while Gattis has traded some of his pop for a drastic reduction in strikeout rate. Yasmani Grandal hasn’t been quite as good as he was in last year’s breakout campaign, but he’s managed to avoid being a batting average liability in 2017. Willson Contreras has posted a passable batting average along with good pop and run production. Wilson Ramos only returned from a knee injury recently, but has hit three homers in nine games and doesn’t look particularly rusty.

Tier 4

It bears repeating, because he turned 35 today and has caught nearly 1,700 games in the majors - Yadier Molina has five stolen bases this year. He’s also hit nine homers and totaled 70 R+RBI in 75 games. Not too shabby. It’s been a much more disappointing season for the other two guys in this tier. Expected to be among the best fantasy options at the position, both Kyle Schwarber and Jonathan Lucroy have instead been season-long headaches for their owners. Schwarber played poorly enough to earn a demotion to the minors, while Lucroy is having his worst season ever and could lose some at-bats to backup Robinson Chirinos.

Tier 5

Austin Hedges plays a lot and hits for power, but he also carried a .218 AVG and .259 OBP into the break. Russell Martin can still get on base with the best of ‘em and knock one out of the park every so often, but he’s batted above .240 just once this decade and doesn’t run anymore. Welington Castillo is just Hedges with less pop and volume and a more palatable batting average.

Tier 6

We’ve entered deep league (or, for the masochists out there, two-catcher league) territory. Matt Wieters is the clear weak link in the Nationals’ excellent lineup. Travis d’Arnaud hasn’t lived up to the promise he showed a couple years ago, probably in large part due to an inability to stay healthy. And while Tyler Flowers and Mike Zunino have had some success this year, neither Nick nor I are buying in given their respective histories.

 

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