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2023 Fantasy Baseball: AL-Only Catcher Rankings

Well, we’re not exactly going back to the days of Pudge and Piazza, but after sorting through my 2023 AL-Only catcher rankings, I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re in the middle of at least a moderate upswing in the depth of the catcher position. What’s more, with the exception of Salvador Perez, all of the top catchers in the American League are on the young side, and there’s a few more quality backstops waiting in the wings of triple-A.

Need more fuel for optimism? It’s purely conjecture, but what players will gain more on a comparative basis from the banning of the shift than these slow-footed catchers? There’s plenty of power at the position, so if the new rules can boost batting averages even a little bit, the catcher position may not be quite the black hole we’ve come to loath. Again, no one really knows how the rules changes will affect offense but I’m gonna go with the unicorns and rainbows side of things.

The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!

Catcher Tiers

Got a beef with the order of my top four catchers? Every other time I rank them so do I. Honestly, I could see any of that top four taking the top honors when it’s all said and done. I went with Varsho because of the stolen bases, but Salvador Perez is still capable of hitting 35-plus home runs, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Adley Rutschman really bust out. He really found himself in the second half of 2022 and another bump in power is likely at some point. I’m not quite as high on Kirk because his ground-ball tendencies are currently putting a cap on his power. Still a small adjustment and it’s easy to see 25-plus HRs from him.

Both catchers in tier 2 are fully capable of breaking into tier 1 in short order. Both are relatively young and their batting averages may benefit the most from the rule changes.

I’d be perfectly willing to roster any of the catchers in tiers 3 and 4 but you’re pressing your luck once you get down into tiers 5 and 6. Tier 7? I’m staying away.

Drafting the Catcher Position

In a perfect world, I’m drafting one of those top four catchers and then trying to pair them with either a young catcher like Logan O’Hoppe or potential bounce-backs like Yasmani Grandal or Mitch Garver. Grandal is definitely worth the gamble if you play in an OBP league. I think the key here is to get two catchers that contribute positively in a couple of categories without being too much of a batting average anchor.

AL-Only Catching Sleepers

In addition to taking a shot on Grandal returning to form, I love the offensive profile that O’Hoppe put up in the minor leagues. In 447 Double-A plate appearances, he walked 70 times and struck out just 74, all while popping 26 homers. I could easily be talked into rankings him another notch or two higher, as that type of offensive profile would seem to be resistant to total collapse.

Maybe more in the mold of a traditional sleeper is Eric Haase. He’s shown very real power and shouldn’t kill your batting average too much. And as it stands right now it looks like he’ll be in line for plenty of at-bats in Detroit.

2023 AL-Only Catcher Rankings

I’ll be updating these AL-only catcher rankings if any of the few remaining free agent catchers signs in the American League. For more rankings and analysis make sure to check out our 2023 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. It’s just getting started, but we’ll be adding content right up until Opening Day.

1Daulton Varsho, TOR1
2Salvador Perez, KC1
3Adley Rutschman, BAL1
4Alejandro Kirk, TOR1
5MJ Melendez, KC2
6Cal Raleigh, SEA2
7Danny Jansen, TOR3
8Christian Vazquez, MIN3
9Yasmani Grandal, CWS3
10Logan O'Hoppe, LAA4
11Eric Haase, DET4
12Mitch Garver, TEX4
13Shea Langeliers, OAK4
14Jonah Heim, TEX4
15Jose Trevino, NYY5
16Mike Zunino, CLE5
17Christian Bethancourt, TB6
18Francisco Mejia, TB6
19Ryan Jeffers, MIN6
20Max Stassi, LAA6
21Martin Maldonado, HOU6
22James McCann, BAL7
23Reese McGuire, BOS7
24Bo Naylor, CLE7
25Kyle Higashioka, NYY7
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