Once a baron wasteland, the catcher position has transformed into a majestic offensive wonderland filled with young, rising talent. Okay, that might’ve been a bit much, but the last part of that first sentence is 100% true. All the exciting young talent has this position firmly on the rise, and that’s very apparent in my top-50 dynasty catcher rankings below. A whopping 60% of the top-20 debuted in 2020, 2021, or has yet to take their first swing in a Major League game. Get ready, because the next catcher wave is about to break down the door without knocking.
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Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Catcher Rankings
1. Will Smith, LAD: It’s basically a tossup for me right now between Will Smith and Adley Rutschman. But for now, I’ll give the edge to the catcher that has already produced at a high level in the Majors. Smith has shown high OBP skills and the power to hit 30 over a full season, which might happen in 2022 as he’ll be able to DH as well and stay in the lineup a bit more. Add in the LOADED lineup around him and you have a potential 90/30/90 catcher that can hit around .260 with a .370+ OBP. Smith is still only 26 too.
Will Smith of Los Angeles has homered. pic.twitter.com/x7T8PGmxUK
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 17, 2021
2. Adley Rutschman, BAL: If you want to put Adley Rutschman #1 here, I wouldn’t argue with you. This is the best catching prospect we’ve seen since Buster Posey well over a decade ago with the ability to quickly ascend to the elite ranks of fantasy catchers. Rutschman’s plus hit tool, plus power, and advanced approach led to a .285/.397/.502 slash line last season with 23 homers in 123 games. Rutschman has the highest offensive potential of any catching prospect in the game and could settle in as an annual .280+/25+ threat with a great home ballpark.
3. Salvador Perez, KCR: It’s not often that a catcher leads the league in home runs or RBI. Sal Perez led in BOTH last season with 48 and 121 respectively. He was an annual top-5 caliver backstop before the knee injury and now he’s the #1 catcher off the board in 2022 redraft leagues. However, he’s going to be 32 early on in the season and is nearly five years older than Smith, which keeps him behind the top two for me. Even with some regression, 30/100 is once again in play for Perez, and playing DH should allow him to maintain elite production for the next few seasons.
4. JT Realmuto, PHI: The former gold standard at this position actually feels a bit undervalued at the moment. Sure, Realmuto’s best days are likely behind him, but he’s still only 31 and is coming off a 17-homer, 13-steal season with the best hard-hit rate of his career at 44.3%. Expecting another 13-steal season is risky, but Realmuto’s 20-homer, 8+ steal profile keeps him near the top of these dynasty catcher rankings for now. He’ll also be hitting in the middle of a loaded Phillies lineup that can really mash.
5. Daulton Varsho, ARI: Varsho sneaks into this tier thanks to his exciting power/speed blend and the fact that he will be playing most of his time in the outfield for Arizona this season. In the minors, Varsho slashed a stellar .302/.372/.527 with 46 homers and 49 steals in 259 games and posted a .290/10/5 line in just 219 PA in the 2nd half of last season. How long he’ll retain catcher eligibility is the big question here but Varsho’s .270+/20/10+ upside makes him one of the most exciting catchers to roster in dynasty leagues right now.
6. Yasmani Grandal, CHW: Valuing Yasmani Grandal comes down to whether you play in a league that used AVG or OBP. If it’s OBP, he’s absolutely in the tier above as Grandal has a career .355 OBP and posted a .420 OBP last season thanks to a second-half surge. On top of that, Grandal has 22 homers or more in each of the last five full Major League seasons. He’s starting to get up there in age at 33 but he’s shown no signs of slowing down yet and will be in the middle of a potent White Sox lineup again this season.
7. Keibert Ruiz, WAS: The hit tool and approach have always been prominent, and Ruiz finally saw his in-game power production tick up in 2021 with 21 homers, a .616 SLG, and a .306 ISO in 316 Triple-A PA. Ruiz’s combination of hit, power, and approach gives him a chance to settle in as a top-5 fantasy catcher long-term.
First Major League at-bat, first homer for Keibert Ruiz. 💥 pic.twitter.com/TOrD55YNC7
— MLB (@MLB) August 16, 2020
8. Willson Contreras, CHC: Out of this top-10, Willson Contreras might be the most boring name of the bunch. That doesn’t mean he’s not a productive fantasy backstop and locked-in top-10 option for the time being though. Contreras has seen his AVG dip below .250 in each of the last two seasons but he eclipsed 20-homers for the second straight full season and finished 2021 with a solid 11.1% barrel rate, 91.8 mph AVG EV, and a 48.4% hard-hit rate.
9. Alejandro Kirk, TOR: Surprised to see Alejandro Kirk this high? Well, you shouldn’t be. Kirk can flat out rake and that’s evident in his career .318/.416/.503 minor league slash line. He’s yet to find his footing in the Majors, mostly due to lack of consistent playing time, but the 5’9 Kirk posted an 11% barrel rate, .288 xBA, and a 46.9% hard-hit rate in sporadic playing time last season. Kirk has the profile to be an asset in AVG/OBP along with 15-20 homers annually. All he needs is the playing time.
10. Gabriel Moreno, TOR: As someone that saw Gabriel Moreno live a few times last season, I’m all-in on this future all-star. Moreno is one of the best pure hitters in the minors with a plus hit tool and above-average to plus power as well. This led to a ridiculous .367 average in 37 games during an injury-shortened season. We might see Moreno later on in 2023, and his hit/power combination give him top-5 potential at this position longterm.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) May 6, 2021
11. Joey Bart, SFG: Unfortunately, the contact skills and approach that we saw from Bart at Georgia Tech hasn’t translated to the Majors, but that raw power is still impressive and could lead to 25 homers annually with a .250 batting average or so. He’s likely going to take over this season in San Francisco as well and is a bit undervalued for both redraft and dynasty right now. There’s no reason why he can’t stick as a back-end C1 for fantasy purposes.
12. Tyler Soderstrom, OAK: There’s a good chance that Tyler Soderstrom moves to first base long-term, but for now I’ll include him here. Soderstrom was one of the top bats in the 2020 class and showed that in his professional debut, slashing .306/.390/.568 with 12 homers, a .262 ISO, and a 10.6% walk rate in 254 PA. We could be looking at a plus hitter with plus power, and that will look really nice at any position.
13. Francisco Alvarez, NYM: You know the catcher prospect talent is high when Francisco Alvarez is the 5th prospect on the list before the end of tier two. Kirk and Ruiz were prospects not too long ago also. Alvarez flashed his plus power in 2021, cranking 24 homers with a .282 ISO in 400 plate appearances. He’s not quite as good of a pure hitter as Rutschman or Moreno, but Alvarez profiles as a 50-hit, 60-power backstop with .260+/25 potential that should stick behind the plate longterm.
14. Henry Davis, PIT: The 2021 #1 overall pick could easily be in the tier above, but I had to cap it somewhere. Davis was one of the most advanced bats in the 2021 class with an above-average hit tool and above-average or better power. Pittsburgh has nobody in his way and we could see Davis blossom into a starting-caliber fantasy catcher within the next few years.
15. Austin Wells, NYY: Austin Wells doesn’t get nearly as much love as he should in dynasty and prospect circles. The 2020 first-round pick is an above-average hitter with above-average or better left-handed power that will have the luxury of taking aim at the short right-field porch in Yankee Stadium down the road. Sure, there’s a solid chance he moves out from behind the plate, but this offensive profile will fit well at first base or as a corner outfielder as well. Wells finished the 2021 season with a .264/.390/.476 slash line, 16 homers, 16 steals (don’t get too excited), and a 15.2% walk rate between Lo-A Tampa and Hi-A Hudson Valley.
16. MJ Melendez, KCR: After an atrocious 2019 season (.163, 39.4 K%, 419 PA), Melendez roared back to lead the minor leagues with 41 homers last season to go along with a .288/.386/.625 slash line and an impressive .337 ISO. The power is legit with 30-homer aspirations in the Majors, but where will he play? Melendez has been given some time at the hot corner as well, which shows that the Royals are trying to get his bat into their lineup sooner rather than later.
17. Mitch Garver, TEX: For a win-now team, Garver would be in the tier above. Garver is coming off a season where he belted 13 homers in 243 PA along with a stellar 17.4% barrel rate, 92.3 mph AVG EV, .546 xSLG, and a 53.6% hard-hit rate. The durability and strikeouts are the downfalls in his profile, but with 500 PA, Garver could flirt with 30-homers with plenty of RBi batting behind Marcus Semien and Corey Seager.
Mitch Garver is one of my favorite catcher targets in 2022.
In 2021, Garver had a higher wOBA & wRC+ than Sal Perez, & was close to him in ISO/SLG.
1 of 5 C w/ .230+ ISO & .350+ wOBA (Perez, Smith, Grandal, Zunino)
ADP: Fantrax 298.1 | NFBC 205.1 (2C format)#FantasyBaseball
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) January 22, 2022
18. Harry Ford, SEA: While he might not stick at catcher long-term, Ford is a dynamic offensive talent that EVERYONE should be targeting in dynasty leagues right now. You thought you loved Daulton Varsho? Well, Ford has Varsho potential and then some with a possible 60-hit, 60-power, 60-speed profile as a potential outcome. Ford has one of the most exciting offensive profiles in the minor leagues and will likely find himself much higher on this list next year.
19. Tyler Stephenson, CIN: There’s plenty of buzz surrounding Tyler Stephenson right now following Cincinnati trading Tucker Barnhart to Detroit. This now leaves Stephenson as the starting catcher for the Red, but I’m not exactly sure he’s going to establish himself as a long-term top-10 fantasy catcher. He’s shown the contact skills to hit .270+ annually, but the power is more in the 13-16 homer range with middle-of-the-road power metrics. That’s still a solid catcher, but don’t go overboard trying to acquire him in dynasty leagues.
20. Sean Murphy, OAK: Murphy is an outstanding defensive catcher with decent power, but he’s struggled to hit for AVG in the last two seasons. However, his contact, whiff, and chase rates hint at the potential for a better average moving forward, maybe in the .240-.250 range. He just gets limited by Oakland’s spacious park and the lackluster (putting it nicely) lineup around him.,
21. Gary Sanchez, MIN: Oh, how the mighty have fallen and then fallen some more. If Minnesota uses Sanchez primarily as a DH, you could see Sanchez flirt with back-end C1 status once again due to his immense raw power. However, all the red flags in his profile aren’t magically going to disappear with a move from New York to Minnesota.
22. Diego Cartaya, LAD: By this time next year, Diego Cartaya could realistically play his way into tier 2. He’s that good. As a 19-year-old in 2021, Cartaya slashed .298/.409/.614 with 10 homers in 137 Lo-A PA. The power and on-base skills are tantalizing and Cartaya could hit .260+ as well. He’s just thoroughly blocked by Will Smith in Hollywood. Luckily, the added DH role helps a bit.
23. Christian Vazquez, BOS: Vazquez is a better real-life player, but he’s shown the ability to hit for a solid AVG (.259 career), and has added at least four steals in five straight seasons. Just don’t expect him to ever come close to those 23 homers he cranked back in 2019.
24. Mike Zunino, TBR: The power is nice, but the average stinks. It’s hard to describe Mike Zunino in any other way. He’ll remain a solid C2 for the time being until some of the top catching prospects debut.
25. Danny Jansen, TOR: His strong defensive skills have given Jansen a longer leash to prove himself offensively, and that finally paid off in 2021. Well, kind of. Jansen finished the season strong, but still hit only .223 overall. He’s going to need to continue those late-season gains in 2022 as he has Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno breathing down his neck.
Remainder of the Top-50
Media Credit: David Dennis/Icon Sportswire, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB.
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