Fantasy managers will be reaching for hot commodities like JT Realmuto and Daulton Varsho. They may even target other catchers early such as Salvador Perez and Adley Rutschman based on the hype they receive. For fantasy managers not looking to spend an early pick on catcher, here are a 5 catcher sleepers for 2023 fantasy baseball. Included in this article are Fantrax and NFBC ADPs, as well as Fantrax staff catcher rankings.
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 Sleepers for 2023 Fantasy Baseball
ATL C Sean Murphy Fantrax ADP 158, NFBC ADP 129
The seventh catcher off the board in Fantrax leagues, and the 10th off the board in NFBC leagues, Sean Murphy is a great draft choice in fantasy baseball this season.
Murphy landed as the eighth-ranked catcher according to the Fantrax staff consensus rankings, while I ranked him 10th.
The Bat X projects Murphy for the sixth-most home runs, fifth-most runs, fourth-most RBI, seventh-highest wRC+, and sixth-highest wOBA among catchers.
Bat X projects Murphy for more home runs, runs, and RBI than Adley Rutschman, MJ Melendez, and Alejandro Kirk. These three catchers each have a higher ADP than Murphy in both NFBC and Fantrax leagues. Kirk’s batting average projects to be 20 points higher than Murphy’s, but Rutschman’s projects to be just two points higher.
In 2022, Murphy hit 18 home runs with an 11.5% HR/FB rate, which was 3.2% lower than his career average. He had the best batting average of his career at .250 with a .255 xBA.
Fantasy managers may point to a .290 2021 BABIP versus a .277 career BABIP as a reason for his career-high AVG. However, he also had a 20.3% LD rate and 45% pull rate, both of which were career bests.
Other reasons to buy into the new Braves’ catcher include a 10.5% barrel rate and a 41.1% hard-hit rate. This data supports his 22 projected home runs (which would be a career-high).
Murphy also has positive trends in plate discipline including improved contact, first pitch strike, swinging strike, and CSW rates. He chased more often last season but made more contact on pitches outside of the zone than ever before.
Though he is on a team with seemingly another starting catcher, the Braves will give him a chance to produce like he never had on the A’s, even if he hits toward the back of the order. Murphy is a great mid-round target and is one of the 5 best catcher sleepers for 2023 fantasy baseball drafts.
SEA C Cal Raleigh Fantrax ADP 193, NFBC ADP 154
If fantasy managers want to wait a little longer on drafting a catcher, Raleigh is another excellent mid-round sleeper option. He is the 10th catcher off the board in Fantrax leagues and 12th in NFBC leagues. He ranked 13th in the Fantrax staff consensus rankings. I ranked him highest at 11.
The Bat X projects Raleigh for the fourth most homers and sixth most RBI, along with being top 15 in runs and wRC+.
The biggest knocks against Raleigh are a projected .212 AVG and a high K% (it was 29.4% in 2022). However, he projects for 24 home runs in 510 PAs, with 30 home run upside.
In 2022, Raleigh mashed 27 home runs in 415 PAs with a .211 AVG on a .226 BABIP. He finished the season with a 121 wRC+.
His 15.4% barrel rate would have been sixth in baseball had he qualified last year. That would have put him behind only Aaron Judge, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Schwarber, Shohei Ohtani, and Austin Riley. Of those five players, Ohtani had the lowest home run total at 34. Raleigh also had an impressive 43.4% hardhit rate.
Raleigh does have worrying plate discipline metrics like a 36% chase rate. His 70% contact rate would have been eighth worst in baseball last year had he qualified. On a positive note, Pete Alonso and Starling Marte each had a 36% contact rate, and Teoscar Hernandez’s contact rate was worse than Raleigh’s.
Despite the danger of falling below the Mendoza Line, fantasy managers looking to wait on a catcher should feel comfortable drafting Raleigh, especially since he will hit in a talented Seattle lineup. This makes him one of the 5 best options for catcher sleepers in 2023 fantasy baseball leagues.
TOR C Danny Jansen Fantrax ADP 254, NFBC ADP 190
With Gabriel Moreno traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Alejandro Kirk likely to spend time at designated hitter, the door is open for Danny Jansen to get plenty of at-bats in Toronto.
On average, Jansen is the 12th catcher selected in Fantrax leagues and the 14th in NFBC. His consensus ranking among the Fantrax staff is 11th. His current ADP is excellent value in both Fantrax and NFBC.
The Bat X projects Jansen for the fifth most homers, eighth most runs, sixth most RBI, sixth highest wRC+, and seventh highest wOBA among catchers.
Jansen projects to do better than MJ Melendez in all five aforementioned stats, and projects to do better than William Contreras in four of them. Jansen is being selected after both players in both Fantra and NFBC leagues.
In 2022, Jansen spent two months on the injured list for an oblique issue and a broken finger, so he only played 72 games.
Despite that, he did have some impressive numbers while he was healthy. In 248 PAs last season, Jansen hit 15 home runs with a .260 average. His .255 BABIP was higher than his .236 career average BABIP, suggesting a .260 average is likely unsustainable, but his power upside is real.
He had a 13.1% barrel rate and a 46% hard-hit rate, both of which are career bests. He had a 16.9% HR/FB rate, which was just 2.3% higher than his career average.
It is a small sample for Jansen, but in his limited time, he improved in a number of plate discipline metrics including walk, strikeout, chase, contact, first pitch strike, and swinging strike rates from his 2021 numbers.
Jansen is trending in the right direction in important fantasy baseball-related categories. Plus, he will hit in an excellent lineup and in several hitter-friendly parks in his own division. He presents great value as a sleeper at the catcher position.
COL C Elias Diaz Fantrax ADP 408, NFBC ADP 358
For Fantasy managers playing in deep leagues or two-catcher leagues, Elias Diaz is a great sleeper candidate in later rounds.
The Rockies’ catcher is currently the 25th catcher off the boards in Fantrax leagues and is 27th in NFBC. His Fantrax staff consensus ranking is 25.
The Bat X projects Diaz for more home runs, runs, RBI, and a better average than Nick Fortes, Joey Bart (same amount of home runs), Bo Naylor, Yasmani Grandal, Logan O’Hoppe, and Christian Vazquez (same average). All of those players are being drafted ahead of Diaz in both Fantrax and NFBC leagues.
Of catchers projected for at least 250 plate appearances, Diaz has the 12th-best K% projection, and the 10th-best BB% projection among catchers projected for 300 PAs.
What may make fantasy managers wary of drafting Diaz is a subpar 2022 season after he was excellent in 2021.
In 371 PAs in 2021, Diaz hit 18 home runs, 52 runs, and 44 RBI, with a .246 AVG on a .249 BABIP. In 381 PAs in 2022, he was 9/29/51/.228/.270. What happened?
A few things trended in the wrong direction for Diaz including his K%, launch angle, barrel rate, ground ball rate, and HR/FB rate (he lost 7% on this).
But a few things trended in the right way including contact, swinging strike, and first-pitch strike rates. He also made more contact on pitches outside of the zone.
Issues like his launch angle and approach can be adjusted to fix some of the issues he dealt with last season. This makes Diaz a prime candidate for a big bounceback in 2023. Plus, he plays in hitter-friendly Coors Field. All of this makes him one of the 5 best catcher sleepers for 2023 fantasy baseball leagues.
OAK C Shea Langeliers Fantrax ADP 332, NFBC ADP 482
Oakland catcher Shea Langeliers may be the best deep sleeper option at catcher this season. He is the 17th catcher selected in Fantrax leagues and the 31st selected in NFCB leagues so far this offseason. Langeliers went unranked among the 30 catchers in the Fantrax staff rankings.
Why should fantasy managers consider Langeliers in 2023? His main competition for playing time is Manny Pina, who has played more than 81 games in a season twice since 2011.
The major knock against Langeliers is a .220 projected AVG by The Bat X. Aside from that, he looks like a great option to produce fantasy stats.
As far as his 2022 stats, his 34.6% strikeout rate is scary high, as is his 39.7% chase rate. What fantasy managers should remember is that it was his first opportunity at consistent playing time in the majors. Additionally, it was only a 153 PA sample size.
There are many things to like about Langeliers from last season. He had a 56% pull rate and a 22% line drive rate (pulled line drives are the best type of balls to hit). He also had a 9.9% barrel rate and a 38.5% hard-hit rate in his debut season.
In spite of a high K% in the majors, he had a 10% walk rate and 21.9% strikeout rate in AAA. This suggests he may just need more time to adjust.
For fantasy managers looking for deep sleepers, Langeliers is the one to target and is one of the 5 best catcher sleepers for 2023 fantasy baseball leagues.