Dynasty baseball is all about building a sustainable roster that can compete long-term. Winning now is important but it’s best to build around a prime core that can lead you to multiple competitive years. A five-year projection is long compared to what most dynasty rankings look at. Unless your roster is currently in a complete reboot, there’s no sense in planning that far in advance either. However, these prime catchers can lead the way to fantasy success right now while still having room to get even better over the next half-decade.
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Predicting the Top Dynasty Catcher in 2028
The Favorite: Adley Rutschman
Long considered the weakest link in fantasy baseball, the catcher position appears to be going through a bit of a renaissance and it’s being spearheaded by Adley Rutschman. The top prospect debuted in late May last season and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. He slashed .254/.362/.445 with 13 homers and 35 doubles through 470 plate appearances in his first MLB campaign. Rutschman has already flashed another level of his power potential by hitting 23 home runs during his 2021 minor-league campaign.
Another encouraging sign is that Rutschman continued to improve throughout his rookie year. Over his final 69 games, his slash line jumped to .282/.401/.481 with 30 extra-base hits. During that span, he struck out 52 times while drawing 48 walks. Even with his strong hit tool, Rutschman will likely have more value in OBP leagues due to his plate approach. He also posted an .834 home OPS, though eight of his 13 homers came on the road.
The 25-year-old has great plate discipline and rarely whiffs or chases. Combining that with his elite walk rate gives him a higher floor than most other catchers, especially at his age. Despite being a switch-hitter, one of Rutschman’s few flaws is his performance against lefties. At the MLB level last season, he posted an .889 OPS against righties but that number cratered to .552 against left-handers. He started the 2023 campaign with a bang, going 5-for-5 with a home run, all against right-handed pitchers.
Rutschman’s team context is expected to improve during this timeframe as well. Baltimore has a deep prospect pool plus a few young MLB contributors, like Gunnar Henderson. Rutschman will continue hitting near the top of the order and see plenty of opportunities for runs and RBI. He’ll need to barrel the ball more often and make harder contact if he’s going to tap into his full power potential. However, even without that, he can be a doubles machine that posts a strong and consistent OPS with enough counting stats.
The Other Candidates
One of the most consistent catchers in baseball over the last few seasons, Will Smith always feels like a safe bet. He’s belted at least 24 homers with an .800 OPS in each of the last two seasons, which were also his first two full MLB campaigns. The 28-year-old slashed .260/.343/.465 with 53 extra-base hits and 155 runs + RBI. He has one of the safest floors among all catchers and hitting in the heart of the Dodgers’ order will keep that floor high. Smith may even find another level if his platoon and home splits can settle into a consistent groove.
|OPS vs R||.776||.878|
|OPS vs L||.908||.799|
While he’ll be 33 by the time 2028 rolls around, Smith’s underlying numbers suggest that he’ll age gracefully. He rarely whiffs or chases and he has a strong barrel rate. Speed isn’t a very big part of his game; he stole one base just season and has six in his career. His appeal is the high floor with great counting stats, even if he caps out around the 25-homer mark. However, should Smith make the jump to a 30-homer, 100-RBI catcher, he’d be the top name at the position for the next several years.
Like Smith, Sean Murphy’s value mostly comes from his pop. He hit 35 homers over the last two years, including 18 during the 2022 campaign. Those numbers were suppressed by him playing in a very pitcher-friendly home park in Oakland. He also totaled 60 doubles over those two years, with 37 in 2022. Murphy should get a boost in counting stats as Atlanta’s primary catcher, though his ceiling is limited as he’ll likely stay in the bottom half of the lineup. He barrels the ball regularly but his hard-hit and ground-ball rates have held back a major breakout.
Surprisingly, Murphy is actually slightly older than Smith, putting him at an immediate disadvantage based on their careers so far. Entering his age-28 season, Murphy has gradually lowered his strikeout rate over the last few years, and if he can get it under 20%, his lackluster batting average should see a decent boost. He’ll need to reach his ceiling just for a chance at earning the title of top dynasty catcher, but the possibility of a 30-homer peak puts him in the conversation.
Few catchers can even come close to replicating Alejandro Kirk’s plate discipline. In 2022, he drew 63 walks while punching out just 58 times across 541 plate appearances. He also slashed .285/.372/.415 with 14 homers, 19 doubles, and 122 runs + RBI. Like the others on this list, he plays in an elite lineup and will continue providing a safe floor for counting stats. However, somewhat surprisingly, Kirk is just beginning his age-24 campaign and is younger than the previously mentioned catchers, including Rutschman.
With a profile like Kirk’s, the floor should always remain fairly high. If his ground-ball rate stays around the 50% mark, the power probably won’t reach another meaningful level, but he makes up for it elsewhere. His barrel numbers leave a bit to be desired but it hasn’t hurt him in the hard-hit department, as he finished in the 78th percentile last season. Should Kirk adjust his launch angle and get some air under the ball, he could become a 20-homer catcher with an elite slash line. On top of that, he’ll be just 29 heading into the 2028 campaign. Kirk makes for an interesting buy candidate in dynasty formats right now before he finds that next level.
There are currently several catching prospects that could develop into stars, led by Endy Rodriguez and Francisco Alvarez. The switch-hitting Rodriguez flew through the Pirates’ system last season while slashing .323/.407/.590 with 68 extra-base hits and 187 runs + RBI across three levels. It’s unclear how long he’ll stay at the position with Henry Davis right behind him, but his bat looks like it will play all around the diamond. Alvarez is one of the top prospects in baseball and has hit 51 homers over the last two minor-league seasons. He’s already debuted and could take the MLB job later this year as a 21-year-old.