2017 Fantasy Baseball: Post Deadline Position Rankings– Catchers
Position rankings are something that usually gets saved for the offseason and we will certainly revisit it then, but the non-waiver deadline means different things depending on whether you are talking real baseball or fantasy baseball. In players playing in head to head leagues, you are looking at the last three weeks of the regular season. Sadly, most people have had their fates decided by now one way or another. So, we will begin the process of disecting the season position by position. We will take a look at the top twenty performers at each position.
Welington Castill0— Baltimore Orioles
5 Category: 13
6 Category: 14
Coming into the season, Castillo could charitably be called a borderline fantasy regular. In 14 team leagues you could do worse and he has been steady but not spectacular. If we view the season as two-thirds through then we could see him hit 15 home runs and come close to 50 RBI. Caleb Joseph has been coming on and has been eating into his playing time some. That bears watching the last seven weeks.
Jason Castro— Minnesota Twins
5 Category: 20
6 Category: 17
Occasionally, you see two catcher leagues. I think I played in one of those one year, but you don’t see them very often. Castro is good for one of those because he plays regularly. He is one of the best pitch framers in the business, so teams (Houston or Minnesota) love to have him in the lineup whether he hits or not. If you are in a total points or OBP league then he is almost tolerable. Almost.
Francisco Cervelli— Pittsburgh Pirates
5 Category: 21
6 Category: 19
Unlike Castro, Cervelli won’t kill you with his batting average, so he could be a slightly more valuable fantasy piece even though the rankings say otherwise. Castro has a little more extra base power and that is probaby the only difference between the two.
Willson Contreras— Chicago Cubs
5 Category: 2
6 Category: 1
There is always a lag time with these things, and Conteras has been so hot lately that the numbers above will be obsolete in a day. The Cubs have not been as good as last year almost to a man, but Contreras has been the exception. He has quietly claimed the top spot at the position.
Travis d’Arnaud— New York Mets
5 Category: 16
6 Category: 16
Getting through a season relatively healthy will be a victory for d’Arnaud, but he seemed like he would be so much more when they got him as a part of the R.A. Dickey trade. Then again, with Noah Syndergaard also as part of that trade he can quietly take a backseat.
Tyler Flowers— Atlanta Braves
5 Category: 10
6 Category: 11
Some day it might be interesting to take a catching duo in fantasy baseball like fantasy players take defenses in fantasy football. The Braves backstops have combined to hit 21 home runs and drive in 70 runs. It’s hard to justify playing either one exclusively as they both have performed so well. Unfortunately, splitting time has rendered neither as an efficient fantasy regular.
Evan Gattis— Houston Astros
5 Category: 8
6 Category: 10
Very rarely do you ever see a backup catcher in the top ten. Gattis and McCann have combined for 24 home runs and 93 RBI through the weekend. Obviously, some of those have come as a designated hitter. He will miss the week or so with a concussion, but he has been one of the Astros unsung heroes off the bench.
Yasmani Grandal— Los Angeles Dodgers
5 Category: 9
6 Category: 9
Grandal has not walked nearly as often as he has in seasons past, but otherwise is right where he has always been. Every 100 win team needs unsung heroes that just produce good numbers without a lot of fanfare. That has been Grandal this season.
Austin Hedges— San Diego Padres
5 Category: 14
6 Category: 15
It’s hard to take anyone with a .260 OBP seriously. However, he has added considerable power and he has a strong defensive reputation. More importantly, the Padres aren’t going anywhere as a team, so they can keep throwing him out there and hope he developes some patience.
Russell Martin— Toronto Blue Jays
5 Category: 12
6 Category: 8
Martin represents one of the widest separations between five and six category leagues. The batting average and RBI totals aren’t much to write home about, but he is still an effective offensive player because of those walks. Even in five category leagues they help translate to runs.
Brian McCann— Houston Astros
5 Category: 7
6 Category: 7
McCann hasn’t put up sexy numbers this year, but he has skated right along and so far shown the kind of gentle decline you would hope for from a catcher nearing his mid thirties. If he hustles, he can get to 20 home runs for the tenth consecutive season and 11 out of the last 12. However, that will take some doing at this point.
Yadier Molina— St. Louis Cardinals
5 Category: 6
6 Category: 6
The Cardinals signed Molina to an extension through 2020. The deal seems like a bad idea, but those of us in the fantasy world have made a career of counting out Molina. He’s added some power back this year and he’s also exploded for seven steals. He is probably ranked too high here, but he has produced the counting numbers.
Salvador Perez— Kansas City Royals
5 Category: 1
6 Category: 5
Cooperstown could present a problem for Perez should he somehow make it there someday. One wonders how he will get to the podium because he sure won’t get there by walking. You always assume he will fall off a cliff eventually because of his lack of plate discipline, but he hasn’t done it yet. The recent injury dampens his season prospects some, but rankings reflect what they have done to date.
Buster Posey— San Francisco Giants
5 Category: 5
6 Category: 2
No player exemplifies the difference between real baseball and fantasy baseball more than Posey. There is no catcher you would rather have. Even take the defense out of the question and you would still pick him first on the playground every time. Unfortunately, the Giants’ struggles have killed him in terms of runs and RBI. So, he doesn’t claim the top spot in fantasy terms.
J.T. Realmuto— Miami Marlins
5 Category: 4
6 Category: 3
Realmuto has gotten better each year he has been in the big leagues. If you told Marlins fans that Justin Bour, Marcell Ozuna, and Realmuto had made the progress they did and that Giancarlo Stanton would stay healthy you would think they’d be in wild card contention. Sadly, that hasn’t happened, but they have a bonafide all-star catcher on their hands.
Cameron Rupp— Philadelphia Phillies
5 Category: 19
6 Category: 18
The Phillies are patiently waiting for Jorge Alfaro to be ready to take over. Unfortunately, he’s struggled at AAA this year. Every organization has the tale of the place-holder that managed to hold the job for several seasons or more. Rupp might turn into that guy, but you should probably avoid him unless you are in a two catcher league.
Gary Sanchez— New York Yankees
5 Category: 3
6 Category: 4
This isn’t to say that Sanchez has had a disappointing season. In reality, he probably slid back to who he really is as a player. When the dust settles, that will be between 20 and 25 home runs with close to 80 runs and RBI. I’ll take that from my catcher every day of the week.
Kurt Suzuki— Atlanta Braves
5 Category: 17
6 Category: 21
It’s rare to have a backup catcher in the top 20. It’s even more rare to have two. Suzuki has enjoyed a long and somewhat distinguished career and is ironically enjoying his best offensive season now that he only plays a couple of days a week.
Matt Wieters— Washington Nationals
5 Category: 15
6 Category: 13
Ah, the difference between real baseball and fantasy baseball. Most platforms have Wieters as replacement level or worse and yet he is rated as good enough to be a fantasy backup in five and six category formats. I suppose volume wins the day.
Mike Zunino— Seattle Mariners
5 Category: 11
6 Category: 12
Zunino will likely never be the offensive force the Mariners envisioned when they drafted him, but he has found a niche in the lower part of the order. He won’t ever hit for average or make consistent contact, but he hits for enough power to be useful as a lower end fantasy regular catcher.