2021 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Top 15 Catchers

1J.T. RealmutoPHIAs close to five-tool at the catcher position as you’ll find.
2Will SmithLADSlugged 35 homers across two levels in 2019, basically had a 30-homer pace in 2020 (eight in 37 games). Platoon fears unfounded.
3Salvador PerezKC2020’s .333 BA was aided by a career-high .375 BABIP. He’s a career .269 hitter (career .287 BABIP). Bank on .250+ and 20+ homers.
4Yasmani GrandalCWSHis .230 BA was a bit on the low side, but everything else about 2020 was fine. He has power, on-base skills, and a great lineup to hit in.
5Willson ContrerasCHCHe’s posted xBA marks of .248 and .249 in 2019 and 2020, and he batted .243 in 2020. He’s a volume play–he had 30 more PA than Realmuto in 2020, for instance…tops in the league.
6Travis d’ArnaudATLHe had 65% of at-bats by Atlanta’s catchers, more than the 55/45 split we’ve seen in recent years. His .411 BABIP won’t repeat, but being top 10% of the league in every hitting metric was superb.
7Sean MurphyOAK91st percentile in hard hit rate and exit velo in 2020. That’s the top 10% of the league. Also, top 3% with a 17.1% walk rate. Oakland’s home park is a smokescreen–take the discount.
8Christian VazquezBOSHe’s a top five backstop in each of the last two seasons. He won’t wow you anywhere, but his defense keeps him in the lineup and he’s got sneaky steals ability. His 19 swipes since 2017 trails only Realmuto (24) among all backstops.
9Gary SanchezNYYHow the mighty have fallen. The 10 homers were nice, but the .147 BA (.190 xBA) was ghastly. Put differently, his hard hit and barrel rates are both inside the top 10% of the league, but his strikeout rate and xBA are inside the bottom 5%. It’s too much for me to stomach.
10Austin NolaSDA converted shortstop, Nola’s switch to backstop has been superb. He’s patient and makes good contact, and profiles as a plus in batting average. He got better in 2020. Will be a solid piece in 2021.
11Daulton VarshoARZBy my count he played 10 games at catcher in 2020. He also saw 14 games in center, five games in left, and five games at DH. He had 3 homers and 3 steals, but the .246 BABIP dragged down the batting average (.188). I’ll be buying into the double-digit walk rate and 86th percentile sprint speed for a guy who is catcher-eligible, though.
12James McCannCWSAt what point do we trust the high BABIPs, at least a little? McCann is at .359 and .339 over the last two years. His hard hit rate has dramatically improved during his time in Chicago…but hopefully he moves on. This ranking assumes he’s on a team that will play him.
13Mitch GarverMINLess fly balls, more line drives, still a 50.0% hard hit rate…so what went wrong? He’s still really passive at the plate, problem in 2020 was far less contact and a K% that ballooned to 45.7%. That, and only 23 games played to get his feet wet. He reads like a bounce-back candidate to me. You’re chasing homers at this point, after all.
14Danny JansenTORLots of fly balls contribute to some wild swings with his BABIP. Doesn’t strike out much, though–and increased his barrel rate in ’20.
15Carson KellyARZLots of fly balls contribute to some wild swings with his BABIP. If he can hit the ball a bit harder (like he did in 2019) we like the profile.

I considered Wilson Ramos, but as an offense-first catcher who didn’t hit in 2020–I think his days are numbered in New York and I need to see where he lands. Given his age, I could see him backing up a youngster somewhere. As for Joey Bart, the current plan is for San Francisco to roll out Buster Posey in April of 2021. I could see Bart beginning the year in Triple-A for more seasoning. He’ll probably still rank comfortably inside my top 20 given the dearth of talent at the position.

I removed Isiah Kiner-Falefa, as he lost eligibility in 2020. He spent his time at third base (46 games) and shortstop (15 games). That eligibility and that player would look a lot more enticing with catcher eligibility, but here we are.

I think Jorge Alfaro is a guy I’ll buy back into on some level after this top 15. Prior to 2020 he showed a legitimate ability to hit for high BABIPs despite his swing-and-miss tendencies. Any sort of reversion back to his normal and you’re looking at a .250 hitter with some speed. That’s tolerable in 5×5 formats as a second catcher.

What do we think, rankers? Who did I miss? Do you feel strongly about Sam Huff, Tom Murphy, Yadier Molina, or others? Let’s get a head start on 2020!

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