Don’t get me wrong, yearly re-draft leagues are fun and all, but dynasty/keeper leagues are where things can get really interesting. The season is never over in a dynasty league. If you fall out of the playoff hunt, you start preparing for next season. Making trades, stockpiling draft picks, whatever it takes to get your team back into contention.
We start these dynasty rankings with the hardest position to find longterm production. The catcher position might not be what it used to be in the Pudge and Piazza days, but there is still a nice group of strong options at the top.
The Top Dog – Gary Sanchez
How do 53 home runs and 132 RBI over 674 at-bats sound? Freaking awesome, right? That’s what Gary Sanchez has done over the last season and a half in the Major Leagues. No big deal or anything. Correction: very big deal. He’s already supplanted Buster Posey as the best catcher in any format, and the sky is the limit both in 2018 and beyond. No catcher on the planet can come close to matching Sanchez’s massive fantasy upside. Don’t expect him to relinquish this top spot anytime soon.
On the Rise
Austin Barnes, Los Angeles Dodgers
After being a non-factor for his entire career, Barnes busted out in a big way to close out the 2017 season. In 218 at-bats, Barnes slashed .289/.408/.486/.895 with eight homers and four stolen bases. He even pushed Yasmani Grandal to the bench during the Dodgers run to the World Series.
That .408 OBP is the most impressive number there and shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Barnes pairs a plus hit tool with a veteran-like approach at the plate and turns it into high batting averages and even higher OBP. Over his six-year minor league career, Barnes hit .299 with a .388 OBP and walked (295) almost as much as he struck out (302). That carried over into the majors in 2017 as Barnes posted a 39/43 BB/K ratio.
At the very least, Barnes will be an AVG/OBP asset and has top-10 dynasty catcher upside if he can ever get a full-time starting role.
Francisco Mejia, Cleveland Indians
Catchers that can hit for both power and a high average are a rare commodity these days. That notion remains true throughout the minor leagues, with one exception: Francisco Mejia. The unanimous top catching prospect made it all the way from Double-A Akron to the Major League last season at the age of 21. In 347 minor league at-bats, he hit .297/.346/.490/.835 with 14 home runs and seven steals and is a career .293 hitter across five minor league seasons.
The hit tool outweighs the power upside here, but Mejia is beginning to show more raw power and should have some 20 homer seasons in his future, to go along with a batting average likely north of .280.
On the Decline
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
It was one heck of a run, Buster. After wearing the crown basically since he entered the league, Posey has given way to Gary Sanchez at the top and is ever so slowly working his way down the rankings. Granted, it’s an incredibly slow descent, but Posey is now on the wrong side of 30 and isn’t much of a power threat anymore. Listen, I’m not saying to get rid of him in dynasty formats or anything. Posey is likely to be a top-five option for the next few years. Just don’t expect a return to 2012 type numbers.
A position change could be in the cards, too, as Posey gets further into his 30s. He’s already been playing roughly a quarter of his games at first base over the last few seasons. Posey without the catcher eligibility is still valuable, but to a lesser extent.
Matt Wieters, Washington Nationals
Is there any hope left for Matt Wieters? Sure doesn’t look like it. The once top catching prospect is coming off a career-worst season where he hit a mere .225 with 10 home runs in 422 at-bats. For the hype and expectations that surrounded him when he was younger, Wieters has been a disappointment in his career. The lone bright spot was a three-year stretch from 2011-2013 when he averaged 22 home runs and 77 RBI a season. Outside of that, it’s been a lot of crap.
If you take his best numbers from all the seasons where he recorded 400+ at-bats and combine them into one stat line, you’d come up with a .262 average, 23 HR, 83 RBI, and 72 runs. Unfortunately, every one of those numbers was from six or seven years ago. Over the last two seasons, Wieters has averaged 14 home runs, 59 RBI, and 46 runs, while hitting .243 and .225. Now on the wrong side of 30, it’s pretty damn close to being time to forget about him in dynasty leagues altogether. That All-Star upside is long gone.
Don’t Forget About…
Tom Murphy, Colorado Rockies
Okay, maybe I was a tad early on the Murphy Express last season. However, I stand firm on his fantasy upside. Murphy has plus power and eventually will get to put that on display at Coors Field. It’s an incredibly small sample size, but Murphy has slugged eight home runs in 103 Major League at-bats across parts of three seasons. Just ignore the .214 batting average for a second. That average will likely never be higher than .250-.260, but if given 500+ at-bats, Murphy could easily crank 30 homers.
Top-30 Dynasty Catcher Rankings
Thank you for reading another edition of Dynasty Dugout here on Fantrax. I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question that I didn’t cover here? Follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.