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When you're putting your rankings for the 2021 Fantasy baseball season together, you should always wait until the very end to do catcher. Because, while positional scarcity isn't really a big factor in Fantasy these days -- the explosion in home run rates and team's willingness to use lesser defenders at tougher positions thanks to the shift means you have guys like Mike Moustakas playing second base -- catcher is still by far and away the worst position in the game.

In 2020, there were only four catchers who finished among the top 100 hitters in Roto scoring, and none were inside of the top 40. Compare that to a historically weaker position like second base, where seven players finshed in the top 100; shortstop had 13 players in the top 100, including more in the top 20 (five) than there were catchers in the top 100. 

In my rankings for the 2021 season, I'm taking it even further: J.T. Realmuto is my only top-100 catcher, while Will Smith, Willson Contreras, Salvador Perez, and Yasmani Grandal are the only ones inside the top 200 overall. If positions didn't matter and you just had to start 13 batters in a Roto league, Realmuto might be the only one I even considered a starter; Smith, Contreras, and a few others have the potential to be that good, but Realmuto is the only one I'm confident will be that kind of difference maker.

This means, I'm either paying up for Realmuto or I'm waiting a long time to take a catcher. There are a few available in the late rounds who could give you similar production from the likes of Perez or Contreras, so I'm OK waiting for that. 

  • Position Previews: C | 1B | 2BSS | 3B
2021 Draft Prep
Catcher Preview
Consensus Rankings
PHI Philadelphia • #10 • Age: 29
2020 Stats
AVG
0.266
HR
11
R
33
RBI
32
SB
4
SO
48
Realmuto may not have taken the big step forward we were hoping for in his first two seasons with the Phillies, but he's still the class of the position thanks to his rare true five-category skill set.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #40 • Age: 28
2020 Stats
AVG
0.243
HR
7
R
37
RBI
26
SB
1
SO
57
Contreras has hit below .250 with a slugging percentage below .410 in two of his last three seasons, with his star turn in 2019 looking like the outlier. However, his batted-ball profile looked more like 2019, suggesting less skills erosion than the overall numbers might make you think.
KC Kansas City • #13 • Age: 30
2020 Stats
AVG
0.333
HR
11
R
22
RBI
32
SB
1
SO
36
Perez returned from a year off and was an elite hitter, with a .333/.353/.633 line over 37 games. Of course, that came with a career-high strikeout rate and BABIP, so there's plenty of reasons to be skeptical. If you expect him to be a good source of power with an average around .260, you won't be disappointed.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #16 • Age: 25
2020 Stats
AVG
0.289
HR
8
R
23
RBI
25
SB
0
SO
22
If you're looking to the one potential exception to rule at the position besides Realmuto, Smith is your upside play. In 91 MLB games, he's hit 23 homers with 53 runs and 67 RBI, with a manageable 22.2% strikeout rate. If he does that over 120 games, he's going to challenge Realmuto for the top spot at the position.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #24 • Age: 32
2020 Stats
AVG
0.23
HR
8
R
27
RBI
27
SB
0
SO
58
Playing in the AL for the first time, Grandal struggled, with his strikeout rate spiking to a career-worst 29.9%. His underlying numbers mostly held steady, however, so a bounceback seems likely. He's a steady source of power, with a volume edge on most catchers, but he won't help you much in batting average.
ATL Atlanta • #16 • Age: 32
2020 Stats
AVG
0.321
HR
9
R
19
RBI
34
SB
1
SO
50
Trading contact for power was an approach that worked extremely well for d'Arnaud, who sported a whopping 57.8% hard-hit rate that makes his 2020 breakout look a bit easier to buy into. Skepticism is warranted, but he has 25 homers, 69 runs, 101 RBI and a .282 average in 136 games since leaving the Mets in 2019. Maybe the former top prospect has figured something out.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #24 • Age: 28
2020 Stats
AVG
0.147
HR
10
R
19
RBI
24
SB
0
SO
64
There still isn't another player at the position who can match Sanchez's power potential, but his approach remains a problem. He has 44 homers in 155 games over the last two seasons, but he also struck out 36% of the time in 2020 and consistently ranks among the worst in the game in infield fly ball rate. It's a lot cheaper to draft Sanchez compared to seasons past, but his all-or-nothing approach means it may not be a discount.
SD San Diego • #26 • Age: 31
2020 Stats
AVG
0.273
HR
7
R
24
RBI
28
SB
0
SO
34
Nola is a late bloomer who has emerged as a pretty useful catcher for Fantasy, hitting .271 with 17 homers, 61 runs and 59 RBI in 127 career games. He figures to bat toward the bottom of the Padres lineup, and with Francisco Mejia traded away this offseason, Nola should play four out of every five games or so.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #33 • Age: 30
2020 Stats
AVG
0.289
HR
7
R
20
RBI
15
SB
1
SO
30
McCann got to the White Sox in 2019 and found another gear, clubbing 25 homers in 149 games, with batted-ball skills to back it up. The Mets made McCann a priority this offseason, and he should get a ton of playing time in what figures to be one of the best lineups in baseball.
BOS Boston • #7 • Age: 30
2020 Stats
AVG
0.283
HR
7
R
22
RBI
23
SB
4
SO
43
Vazquez isn't the contact hitter he used to be, but he's maintained his strenght in batting average by hitting a lot more balls over the fence. That breakout started in 2019 and he backed it up in the short season, so it seems safe to expect another season with an average around .280 and 15-20 homers.
OAK Oakland • #12 • Age: 26
2020 Stats
AVG
0.233
HR
7
R
21
RBI
14
SB
0
SO
37
Murphy hasn't quite taken the league by storm, but there's a lot to like about his approach -- a 15.0% walk rate with 11 homers in 63 games chief among them. There's room to improve on the .237 batting average, and if he does, there's still plenty of breakout potential.
MIN Minnesota • #8 • Age: 30
2020 Stats
AVG
0.167
HR
2
R
8
RBI
5
SB
0
SO
37
As good as Garver's 2019, was, that's how bad his 2020 was. He followed up his 31-homers-in-93-games campaign with just two in 23 games, with a horrifying 45.7% strikeout rate. Expecting something like his overall career numbers -- .256/.337/.487 with 20 homers, 60 runs, and 60 RBI per 120 games -- seems like a good idea.
Sleeper
Projections powered by Sportsline
SF San Francisco • #21 • Age: 24
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
NR
Roto
NR
Roto (C)
27
H2H
NR
H2H (C)
24
2020 Stats
AVG
0.233
HR
0
R
15
RBI
7
SB
0
SO
41
Bart's first taste of the majors couldn't have gone much worse: He struck out 41 times with just 24 hits. And, with Posey back after opting out from 2020, Bart may not even have a spot on the Opening Day roster -- the fate of the NL DH may seal his. However, he's still just a year removed from being one of the top prospects in baseball, with a .284/.343/.532 line with 29 homers in 130 career games in the minors. He wouldn't be the first catcher to struggle in his first chance in the majors before figuring it out, and you've got an opportunity to buy an elite talent at a steep discount. Snag him with a bench pick and see if you can stash him for the first month or so.
SF San Francisco • #28 • Age: 33
Given that the last time we saw the soon-to-be 34-year-old Posey he hit .257/.320/.368 in 2019, it's fair to wonder if he's at the end of the road. But Posey was playing through a hip injury that ultimately required surgery, so the year off in 2020 could have been a blessing. He's still an elite contact hitter, and if all he does is hit .280 with 10 homers, he'll be a top-12 catcher in a surprisingly tough Giants lineup.
ARI Arizona • #12 • Age: 24
2020 Stats
AVG
0.188
HR
3
R
16
RBI
9
SB
3
SO
33
Varsho's primary position in CBS Fantasy leagues is actually outfield, with most of his innings coming at center field, so that shows how unique he is. He didn't do much in his first taste of the majors -- .188/.287/.366 in 37 games -- but the 24-year-old had 18 homers and 21 steals in Double-A in 2019 and could be a rare contributor of speed at a position where it hardly exists.
TOR Toronto • #85 • Age: 22
2020 Stats
AVG
0.375
HR
1
R
4
RBI
3
SB
0
SO
4
Kirk tore through the minors, making his MLB debut at 21 with just 151 games under his belt, and there's a lot to like in that small sample. Kirk hit .315/.418/.500 with 60 strikeouts to 89 walks in the minors, elite plate disicpline. If his control of the strike zone translates to the majors, Kirk could become one of the best at the position.
2021 Draft Prep
Catcher Sleeper, Breakout, & Bust
Sleeper
Projections powered by Sportsline
SF San Francisco • #21 • Age: 24
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
NR
Roto
NR
Roto (C)
27
H2H
NR
H2H (C)
24
2020 Stats
AVG
0.233
HR
0
R
15
RBI
7
SB
0
SO
41
Bart's first taste of the majors couldn't have gone much worse: He struck out 41 times with just 24 hits. And, with Posey back after opting out from 2020, Bart may not even have a spot on the Opening Day roster -- the fate of the NL DH may seal his. However, he's still just a year removed from being one of the top prospects in baseball, with a .284/.343/.532 line with 29 homers in 130 career games in the minors. He wouldn't be the first catcher to struggle in his first chance in the majors before figuring it out, and you've got an opportunity to buy an elite talent at a steep discount. Snag him with a bench pick and see if you can stash him for the first month or so.
Breakout
Projections powered by Sportsline
ARI Arizona • #12 • Age: 24
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
NR
Roto
244
Roto (OF)
64
H2H
292
H2H (OF)
77
2020 Stats
AVG
0.188
HR
3
R
16
RBI
9
SB
3
SO
33
Varsho gave us a taste of his unique skill set in 2020, swiping three bases with three homers in 37 games. He struck out too much to really make an impact, but he had a higher average sprint speed than Realmuto, the best runner at the position. There's legitimate 20-20 potential here, especially if Varsho plays regularly in center field. With little competition for that spot -- Tim Locastro is the only real roadblock to playing time, and he isn't much of one -- Varsho could provide rare skills and rare volume for a catcher. If he hits his potential and plays 140 games, Varsho could be a top-three catcher.
Bust
Projections powered by Sportsline
KC Kansas City • #13 • Age: 30
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
NR
Roto
114
Roto (C)
3
H2H
130
H2H (C)
3
2020 Stats
AVG
0.333
HR
11
R
22
RBI
32
SB
1
SO
36
Perez isn't likely to be a total bust, but this is an obvious fade situation for me. Perez has been a solid Fantasy catcher for a long time, hitting at least 22 homers from 2015 through 2018, but he never had a batting average higher than .268 in that span. He's a free swinger who makes a lot of contact, but he just doesn't have the skill set to support a high average. Last year's 25.6% home run to flyball rate and .375 BABIP won't be repeated, and when he comes back down to earth, he won't look that much different than James McCann, going 10-plus rounds later.
2020 Draft Prep
Catcher Top Prospects

1. Adley Rutschman, Orioles

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2019: Rookie, short-season Class A, low Class A
2019 minors: .254 BA (130 AB), 4 HR, 8 2B, .774 OPS, 20 BB, 27 K 
While the threshold for becoming an impact catcher in Fantasy baseball is high, the top pick in the 2019 draft is the rare sort of generational talent you can bet on meeting it. His defense won't be an impediment to his playing time, and his bat could be MVP-caliber, getting compared to some of the all-time greats at the position.
Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful  

2. Joey BartGiants

Age (on opening day): 24
Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A
2019 minors: .278 BA (313 AB), 16 HR, .824 OPS, 21 BB, 71 K
2020 majors: .233 BA (103 AB), 2 3B, 5 2B, .609 OPS, 3 BB, 41 K  
Given how little minor-league experience Bart had at a position that requires more than most, it's not surprising he didn't rise to the occasion after Buster Posey chose to opt out. He'll go back down for some more development time this year and still profiles as a big bat at a position mostly devoid of them.
Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful  

3. Luis Campusano, Padres

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2019: high Class A
2019 minors: .325 BA (422 AB), 15 HR, 31 2B, .906 OPS, 52 BB, 57 K
2020 majors: 1 for 3, HR, 0 BB, 2 K  
Campusano's one appearance at DH in 2020 actually cost him catcher eligibility, but it will be short-lived now that Francisco Mejia's departure makes him the heir apparent at the position. Few catchers are capable of winning a batting title, as Campusano did in 2019, and few hitters of any kind are capable of swinging a 40-ounce bat, which he has been known to do on occasion.
Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful  

4. Francisco Alvarez, Mets

Age (on opening day): 19
Where he played in 2019: Rookie
2019 minors: .312 (157 AB), 7 HR, 10 2B, .916 OPS, 21 BB, 37 K  
Catchers are notoriously difficult to project, especially so far out from the majors, but in becoming the youngest player in the Appalachian League in 2019, Alvarez put himself on the short list of those worth the price of admission. He barrels up balls with impressive regularity and just needs for his glove to keep up with his bat as he climbs the ladder.
Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: don't count on it  

5. Sam Huff, Rangers

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2019: low Class A, high Class A
2019 minors: .278 BA (475 AB), 28 HR, 22 2B, .845 OPS, 33 BB, 154 K
2020 majors: .355 BA (31 AB), 3 HR, 3 2B, 1.136 OPS, 2 BB, 11 K  
Huff looks ready to step in as the Rangers' regular catcher, his power playing up as expected in his first big-league look. Striking out one-third of the time of course presents a thin margin for error, especially at a position where he's liable to split time, but he does produce the sort of elite exit velocities that would allow him to excel anyway.
Scott's 2021 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring huge breakout last season, and find out.