2018 Preseason Rankings: Top 15 Catchers: A New #1 Emerges (And How Far Does The Old #1 Fall)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The days of Buster Posey being the elite catcher have clearly come and gone.  He was once viewed as being significantly ahead of the field, and while he’s still among the better options he’s been passed by (you could argue that he belong at #2).  Who has taken the top spot?  What other surprises are there?  Let’s start to get a feel for the landscape and try to determine who the bargains are and who to avoid:

1) Gary Sanchez – New York Yankees
2) J.T. Realmuto – Miami Marlins
3) Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants
4) Evan Gattis – Houston Astros
5) Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals
6) Brian McCann – Houston Astros
7) Willson Contreras – Chicago Cubs
8) Jonathan Lucroy – Free Agent
9) Welington Castillo – Chicago White Sox
10) Tyler Flowers – Atlanta Braves
11) Wilson Ramos – Tampa Bay Rays
12) Yadier Molina – St. Louis Cardinals
13) Russell Martin – Toronto Blue Jays
14) Stephen Vogt – Milwaukee Brewers
15) Mike Zunino – Seattle Mariners

Thoughts:

  • Consider the ranking for Jonathan Lucroy to be extremely tentative, as we await to find out where he’ll sign. Once we have a better idea of where he’s going to play, and his playing time outlook, we’ll be able to get a better feel for his spot on these rankings.
  • Evan Gattis in the Top 5? There’s no questioning the power and he’s going to benefit from being the Astros’ regular DH.  A power catcher spending most of his time out from behind the plate, meaning he can accumulate more AB?  That’s something we will always try to target.
  • Many people are going to believe in Willson Contreras, especially due to the power he’s shown in the Majors. However he benefited from a 37.0% HR/FB in the second half of ’17, which does skew the numbers, and strikeouts are going to become a growing concern.  We will dive deeper into him in the coming weeks, but a drop in power and the risk of a poor average will likely cause him to be over-drafted heading into ’18 (that doesn’t mean he won’t have any value).
  • Another player who people may be surprised to find lower than expected is Mike Zunino. Sure he launched 25 HR in ’17 and posted a solid .251 AVG, but don’t make the mistake of paying for that production.  The power may be real, but he benefited from a .355 BABIP and continued to strikeout far too much (36.8%).  He has regression written all over him.
  • Tyler Flowers may be someone that’s pointed to as being ranked too highly, but he significantly cut his strikeouts (30.5% for his career, 22.2% in ’17). The improvement didn’t come out of nowhere, as he’s been reducing his SwStr% (14.2% for his career, 11.6% in ’16, 10.4% in ’17) and the underlying performance supports the improvement.  He’s always shown some power, and with Kurt Suzuki the only thing standing in his way of full-time AB there’s obvious upside.

Source – Fangraphs

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catchers01/02/1802/02/18
First Basemen01/08/1802/09/18
Second Basemen01/15/18--
Shortstops01/22/18--
Third Basemen01/29/18--
Outfielders1-20: 02/05/18

21-40: 02/07/18
--
Starting Pitchers----
Relief Pitchers----

7 comments

  1. Alex says:

    I’m impressed at the Gattis ranking, especially after a sub-standard at bat level in 2017, but given how crummy the position is it’d be nice to bank on 25+ HR from anyone who doesn’t hit too close to .200. It’s tragic that it might only be for one year, but Gattis at catcher is a good way to go given that line up and hopefully improved health.

    Regarding a catcher outside the top 15, what are your thoughts on Tom Murphy? He stunk it up last year, but he’s still pretty young and the minor league record is hopeful. Could he go the way of Flowers and overcome the presence of Iannetta?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Murphy is going to have some sleeper appeal, but I’m not sure he’s going to get the AB. He would really need to hit a lot at Triple-A to force the issue. Not impossible, but I’d put the liklihood as low

  2. Tony says:

    Really surprised by the aggressive ranking of Realmuto given what’s happened to the Marlins lineup. The average and SB will be there, and the double-digit HR look legit, but R/RBI opportunities look like they’re headed for a steep decline. If he was getting traded to a better situation I’d be fine ranking him in the top 3, but as things are now I’m really worried as a dynasty owner.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I can understand that, but the Marlins are still going to score runs with Bour/Yelich and if Realmuto is hitting atop the order (which is quite possible) the R should still be there. He also should be a 15/10 type catcher with a strong AVG, which differentiates him from the .230/20 types that generally populate the spot.

  3. Jack says:

    Surprised no love for Austin Barnes

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      He was in consideration and at the end of the rankings they are pretty interchangeable. Stil! he lacks the upside of the others at this point

  4. Cory says:

    Is Gattis going to get enough ABs to rank in the top 5? Right now, Rotochamp and RosterResource have Marwin Gonzalez as the starting DH. Granted, that’s with Marisnick starting in the OF, and we know that Marwin is going to play all over the field like usual. I’ve purchased your guide and am waiting for it in my email, so I should get the answer to this soon…but how many ABs do you anticipate for Gattis?

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