2020 Catcher Preview: Top 30 Ranks, Tiers and More!

January 17, 2020 By Mike Kurland
Mike Kurland breaks out his catcher preview for the 2020 fantasy baseball season. Who will breakout? Who's a bust? Come and see for yourself!

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 19: New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) in an MLB game between the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals on May 19, 2018 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO. The Yankees won 8-3. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire)

The 2020 fantasy baseball season is among us! Positional previews and breakdowns are as important as ever. I am here breaking down the most difficult position to get a grasp of annually for fantasy teams with this catcher preview.

These are catcher ranks and overall outlook on the position. I will break down my top 30 at the position, provide tiers and discuss all the names individually. With all that said, let’s dive into the early catcher preview.


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2020 Catcher Preview: Top 30 Ranks, Tiers and More!

Tier One: Elite

This Tier still feels obvious to me. Although there are up to five players that people may want to include here, I only have two.

J.T. Realmuto is an all category producer. He even stole nine bases last year. He offers a solid, high floor that is unmatched in my opinion. Not to mention a ceiling I feel has yet to be truly reached.

Gary Sanchez is slowly falling out of favor. I get it. His batting average struggles and his injury woes are a constant frustration to fantasy owners. However, not many catchers, or players in general, offer the level of upside he does in the power department. Not to mention he puts up these great numbers even while missing the time he does. I am not a Gary Sanchez guy myself but you cannot ignore the upside and potential.

Tier Two: The Next Best Thing

This tier is where I found myself drafting last year and it was a success. Next season I am targeting a lower tier, but this tier I would be happy to have a player from if the opportunity arose. This tier offers three names that provide a solid floor but also still provide a pretty high ceiling for the catcher position.

Yasmani Grandal is a fringe elite option. He is the next safest option at catcher but just slightly comes up short on the ceiling to put him in the elite tier. Any type of OBP or points league format, he may jump into that elite tier. I also love the chance of gaining at-bats as a DH on occasion as well.

Wilson Contreras is another player who offers that upside we all love but he is also another catcher who has issues staying healthy. The health concerns are the only thing keeping him from taking the leap but the upside alone warrants the high rank.

Mitch Garver is the name in this tier that has the most potential for bust. He flashed big things in 2019 and the breakout is backed by tangible change. A change in launch angle paired with an increase in pull rate suggests it was an effort made on his part to be able to hit for more power. This is where the risk/ reward for the position begins.

Salvador Perez is commonly being forgotten in these early drafts and may just be overlooked overall. He had a year off with TJ surgery but I anticipate Perez to bounce back and be who he always was. Perez is coming back to a better roster than many may realize and should slot right back into the middle of that lineup. He should have more opportunities for counting stats than most catchers.

Tier Three: The Breakouts

This is the tier I will be targeting when the 2020 draft season rolls around. I could easily see a handful of names here make the leap into one of the tiers above. This tier gets a bit deeper with names but they are all names worth drafting within the top 10.

Will Smith is just that solid upside type that flashed potential but also was streaky at times. A full off-season and familiarity with the team should be good for him.

Carson Kelly had the beginning of a breakout in 2019. There was a bit of slow stretch to end the season but I love the upside and cannot stress targeting upside enough at the catcher position.

Jorge Alfaro is one of my favorite targets here. That is mostly due to his price. I believe I am and will continue to be higher than most on him going into 2020.

He has a great hard-hit rate and the power is very real. If he can lift his swing just a tad, we could see a full on power breakout. Not to mention he has sprint speed in the 91st percentile so a handful of steals is possible. Alfaro’s biggest concern is the strikeouts. I think there is ultimately a lot of upside to be had here and the price is right.

Speaking of upside, again, Sean Murphy is at number 10 on my list. He is one of the top catching prospects in baseball and now the starter for the Oakland Athletics. I expect him to have the full time gig and hitting in a lineup that is always underrated. I think we see a big leap this year.

Even I can admit I am probably too low on Wilson Ramos here. But it goes to show I am a man of my word and practice what I preach when it comes to targeting upside.

Ramos is aging and lacks the upside of the names in the last tier. Not to mention he has a history of injury. I like him as a fall back option, but I know he will not be available this late and I will own little to no shares of Ramos in 2020.

Tier Four: Sleepers And The Vets

We start to creep into where the position thins out and where you begin to settle on players at the position. Upside can be found within this tier but most of this tier is filled out with the boring old vet type.

I find myself really having a hard a hard time ranking this area of the position. Omar Narvaez and Christian Vazquez seem interchangeable. Narvaez has an ugly profile. Outside of the batting average, the other category gains appear to be a bit unsustainable and could of been due to the juiced ball.

What could save Narvaez from a large drop off is the move to Milwaukee. The park should help sustain the production a bit. Not to mention there is currently no real threat to the playing time.

Christian Vasquez is just a floor play at the catcher position. We may have seen his best season in 2019. With that said, he is still a solid fallback option.

I am finally the high man on Francisco Mejia. The year where I expect everyone to give up and move on, I am going to take my chance. There is still upside to be had.

Mejia was once a top prospect and had a solid hit tool in the minors. We have yet to see the transition to the majors we had hoped for and I am not saying it will happen this year, but that team is improving around him and he should be given the opportunity to run with the starting job. At this point within the position, I want anyone with the “boom” potential, and no one left really offers a bigger boom than Mejia. Conversely, he could become waiver wire fodder rather quickly as well.

I am even lower 0n Yadier Molina. It’s obvious that his best offensive days are behind him. I feel he just offers less upside at this point in his career. He is essentially a safe number two catcher in two catcher formats or someone you settle for in deeper formats altogether.

Travis d’Arnaud really appeared to work on his swing in Tampa Bay and it paid dividends. Although there is an extensive injury history, the price is right on him. Atlanta is a great lineup to be a part of but I expect more of a part-time roll and that limits his ceiling.

Tom Murphy did very well in a back-up role last season. Now he will get the chance to prove it was not a fluke and enters the season as the starter for the Mariners. Let’s see if the production can be sustained.

Danny Jansen was a huge riser entering 2019 and he was a bust. He did share time with Reese McGuire down the stretch last season as well. This is a situation worth monitoring entering next season and until we get a better picture of what’s going on, I cannot rank him higher.

Tier 5: Deep League Dart Throws

This is just plain painful. There are some wild cards with little upside within this tier. I can tell you one thing for certain, I prefer this to not be the tier of catcher I’m banking on as my starter entering 2020. I have touched on every player up until this point. With this tier I will highlight only a few of the ten names listed.

Robinson Chirinos is home run or bust as a catcher. I typically avoid catchers like this due to the abundance of power late in drafts in recent years. He can be a negative to teams who are not built to absorb the batting average. If you are, however, his 20 home run potential can be useful if you miss on the power elsewhere late in drafts.

I feel like I am committing a crime having Buster Posey this low. This just feels so wrong but the production is what it is these days. Maybe he finally transitions to first base for his health and it can keep his bat in the lineup. If that transition does occur, Posey just may have some value left in the tank.

Roberto Perez is very similar to Chirinos. The batting average is a concern but there’s some power potential and a path to regular playing time. Playing time is huge for catchers as we get this late in the ranks.

Kurt Suzuki I find myself constantly moving around my ranks. He finds himself back in Washington where he splits time with Gomes. Although the opportunity is limited due to Gomes spelling him often, he’s still a steady producer.

Austin Romine is someone I am pretty high on now that he has signed the deal in Detroit. He will be the everyday catcher there and he would be higher if I had confidence in him being a starter for a full year. I expect the Tigers to try and trade him by the deadline but until then should provide solid production while he is a starter.

Jason Castro landed in a great situation with the Los Angeles Angels. There is a bit of power to be had in this bat but just like a few others in this tier, the batting average will be an issue.

Tucker Barnhart is far from exciting. He does get to hit in what should be an improved and overall good lineup. The home park also provides a boost to his production.

Tier 6: Two-Catcher Format and Only-League Relevant

Willians Astudillo will not be starting over Garver but there is a chance for him to be the regular backup at catcher as well as other positions. Even without injuries, there could be a way to get some semi-regular playing time.

Yan Gomes is in a platoon in Washington. You know the production is limited but at least you know there is going to be production. This late, that holds value.

Mike Zunino seems to be en route to the starting gig in Tampa Bay. The power is not a question but that batting average definitely is. You need to build a team to take the hit at batting average prior to putting Zunino on a roster.

Jacob Stallings is the opposite of Zunino. Instead of empty power, you’re likely getting empty batting average. The upside is surely capped but there is a clear and likely unimpeded path to full-time playing time.

Victor Caratini is in a similar position as Astudillo. No clear path to every day playing time as of now but can still be productive in the utility role he appears to be falling into.

Conclusion

This concludes my 2020 catcher preview. The position is not all that bad compared to past years it seems. Maybe I am blindly optimistic and once I start getting into the other positions I will be reminded of just how bad catcher is. Ultimately, I will remain optimistic and try to exploit the value within the position the best I can. Good luck everyone and stick around for future positional previews!


Like Mike’s 2020 catcher preview? Also, check out our early 2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP


For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2020 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!


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Mike Kurland :Mike Kurland is a fantasy baseball analyst who began with Fantrax in June of 2019 and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Mike is also the creator and host of the Bases Loaded Podcast and also co-hosts a second podcast called Draft Champions Podcast which discusses all things NFBC. Reach out to him on Twitter @Mike_Kurland with any of your fantasy baseball questions.