Top 15 Catchers (2019): A Wide Open Position Starts To Take Shape (Sleepers & More)

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When we look at the Top 15 catchers it is easy to be higher on anyone with the potential to hit for an elevated average or chip in a few stolen bases.  Generally it has become a position where it’s acceptable to hit .250ish or worse, as long as you are going to add 15-20 HR.  However there are a slew of options with similar value, so they are nearly interchangeable.  It’s the guy who can hit .270 with 12-15 HR that brings a potential advantage over the field.

With that being said, here are a few things to remember as you review the rankings (and if you want to see even deeper rankings, make sure to order our 2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide that includes a Top 30, by clicking here):

  • A player being ranked #3 doesn’t mean you should draft him in that spot. In most cases you shouldn’t have to, it just shows the potential value that he holds.
  • These rankings are based on our projections and expected production for 2019.

Without further ado, let’s get to the rankings:

  1. J.T. Realmuto – Miami Marlins
  2. Gary Sanchez – New York Yankees
  3. Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals
  4. Yasmani Grandal – Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Yadier Molina – St. Louis Cardinals
  6. Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants
  7. Danny Jansen – Toronto Blue Jays
  8. Welington Castillo – Chicago White Sox
  9. Willson Contreras – Chicago Cubs
  10. Tucker Barnhart – Cincinnati Reds
  11. Carson Kelly – Arizona Diamondbacks
  12. Wilson Ramos – New York Mets
  13. Mike Zunino – Tampa Bay Rays
  14. Robinson Chirinos – Houston Astros
  15. Francisco Cervelli – Pittsburgh Pirates

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Thoughts:

  • We will spend more time on Contreras and why he’s ranked this low, but let’s not forget that he’s coming off a year where he hit .249 with 10 HR in 544 PA.  The fact is there was always questions about his power (53.0% career groundball rate) and if he can’t adjust against breaking balls (he saw them 32.84% of the time in ’18) he also carries risk that his average won’t rebound (.220 against curveballs, for instance).  Maybe he’s able to develop, but that is hardly a guarantee.
  • Not that Russell Martin should have been an impediment to playing time, the fact that he’s gone further clears the path for Jansen (though Reese McGuire will also be in the mix).  Jansen is showing the potential for a power surge, hitting 15 HR over 379 total at bats last season, and with an ability to make consistent contact a .270/15 HR season could be in his future.  He’s going to get a lot of attention, which removed that “sleeper” appeal, but he’s a name that needs to be on your radar.
  • We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for the Cardinals to give Carson Kelly an opportunity, and they finally did (via trade).  As part of the Paul Goldschmidt deal, Kelly lands in Arizona where he should finally get his chance to play every day.  He may be a 12-15 HR hitter, which doesn’t separate him from the field, but with a strong approach (105 K vs. 92 BB over 651 AB at Triple-A) he should pair that with a strong average giving him an advantage.
  • Remember the days when Buster Posey was considered the elite player at the position?  Forget them, especially as he works his way back from hip surgery that could conceivably cost him time in the field.
  • We finally have clarity to where the top free agent catchers landed, so now we may also get a conclusion to the J.T. Realmuto trade rumors.  While where he gets dealt (if he does get traded) could slightly change his projection, he’s going to be the elite option regardless.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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6 COMMENTS

    • I have concerns about his power, especially moving to CitiField, and he needed a .353 BABIP to post his AVG last season. There’s also a lot of risk in his strikeout rate (11.8% SwStr% and 38.5% O-Swing%) further clouding the picture for me.

  1. Willians Astudillo came on at the end of the year. Does he get a chance to start for the twins (at any position) or will he be viewed more as a utility player?

    • I tend to think that he’s going to be more of a utility player, given the depth at catcher (Mitch Garver & Jason Castro) and it’s hard to envision him playing full-time at another spot.

  2. I purchased your draft guide, and it is a total bargain (you should up the price). I am in a 10 team roto keeper league and can keep 4 out of the following: deGrom, Machado, Bregman, Realmuto and Soto. Any advice?

    • First off thanks for the support!

      Unless it’s a 2 C league, Realmuto is the easy bottom option (and even if it is 2 C, he’s likely the odd man out)

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