Previewing 2018 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Gary Sanchez overtakes Buster Posey at catcher
Buster Posey has been a fixture atop the catcher rankings since breaking into the league in 2010, but Scott White says a changing of the guard is in order.
Don't get too excited now.
Catcher is as defensive-minded of a position as you'll find in 2017, with pitching-framing all the rage and preservation taking higher priority. The best bats don't necessarily get the jobs, and they don't play as often when they do.
It's especially noticeable in the homer-happy environment we've seen the last couple years. While most positions offer more than enough hitters to go around, catcher has a handful who can make an honest-to-goodness difference, at least from a mixed-league perspective.
And that doesn't figure to change in 2018.
Note: These rankings are intended to be just a first glimpse and aren't tailored for any specific format. In cases where the format would make a big difference, that difference is noted.
Gary Sanchez New York Yankees C
|Yes, a changing of the guard. In terms of per-game production, it wasn't even close between Gary Sanchez and Buster Posey in 2017, and naturally, Sanchez won't be missing a month with a strained biceps every year. Even if Sanchez proves to be too much of a liability behind the plate, there's always DH to fall back on.|
Buster Posey San Francisco Giants C
|Posey is still a standout at a weak position, but he used to have the advantage of playing more often than most catchers, spending his "off" days at first base. Now in his 30s, though, he's needing to rest more, and his power production has begun to slip a bit as well.|
Willson Contreras Chicago Cubs C
|It was an uneven sophomore season for Willson Contreras , but he managed to build off his impressive rookie showing and is now firmly entrenched as the Cubs ' long-term catcher. His offensive potential is high enough to make him one of the three elite options at the position.|
Salvador Perez Kansas City Royals C
|We know what to expect from Salvador Perez by now: He'll play a lot, hit a few homers and wear down in the second half. There are times you'll swear he's elite, but in the long run, he's more of a nice luxury than a game-changer. Didn't take us long to get there at catcher.|
J.T. Realmuto Miami Marlins C
|J.T. Realmuto's power production has improved each year in the majors, making him genuinely a plus hitter and not just someone who places high because he plays a lot. Playing time is still the main differentiator for him, but with continued improvement, you could see him becoming what Jonathan Lucroy used to be.|
Yadier Molina St. Louis Cardinals C
|Though he appeared to be on the decline, the Cardinals gave Yadier Molina a sizable extension early in 2017, and he responded with one of the biggest home run totals of his career. He always places higher than anyone expects, so given the lack of talent at this miserable position, let's just expect it this time, OK?|
Brian McCann Houston Astros C
|Playing time has also become an issue for Brian McCann , who was forced to split starts with Evan Gattis during his first year in Houston. His 20-homer power is more than most catchers will provide, though, and even though his career is beginning to wind down, he still stands out for his reliability.|
Jonathan Lucroy Colorado Rockies C
|A move to Colorado wasn't enough to restore Jonathan Lucroy's Fantasy value, but he still made a ton of contact in 2017 and has a good enough reputation as a receiver to land a starting job in 2018. His track record makes him something of an upside pick at a position devoid of upside, so here's hoping something clicks for him this offseason.|
Yasmani Grandal Los Angeles Dodgers C
|If we were ranking catchers strictly by ISO, Yasmani Grandal would rank higher than this, and he normally walks a fair amount, too. The way the Dodgers use him, though -- as more of a platoon catcher than a full-time starter -- keeps him fairly replaceable in mixed leagues.|
Evan Gattis Houston Astros C
|Evan Gattis remains one of the best pure power hitters at the position even if it didn't show as much in part-time duty. If Carlos Beltran's departure re-opens full-time DH duty for him, Gattis will move up the list, but the Astros have no shortage of up-and-coming bats.|
Wilson Ramos Tampa Bay Rays C
|You can throw out Wilson Ramos ' 2017, which was highlighted by a hasty return from a torn ACL -- an especially difficult task for a catcher. He was studly in 2016, though, and even though that season was an outlier for the 30-year-old, hope is something to embrace at this position on Draft Day.|
Welington Castillo Baltimore Orioles C
|Having completed his one year in Baltimore, Welington Castillo has become the league's preeminent catcher mercenary. On one hand that means he has something attractive to offer -- i.e., power hitting -- but on the other hand means you can't be too sure what role he'll be asked to fill. A surefire starting job could move him up a spot or two.|
James McCann Detroit Tigers C
|James McCann's development got sidetracked early by an unexpectedly resurgent Alex Avila , but once Avila departed for greener pastures at the trade deadline, McCann reassumed everyday duty and produced some impressive batted-ball data, not to mention improved power.|
Mike Zunino Seattle Mariners C
|Power has never been in short supply for Mike Zunino , but his embarrassing strikeout rate isn't getting any better. Provided it doesn't cost him his job, the complete package is respectable enough at a mess of a position, but you're fooling yourself if you expect anything in the way of batting average.|
Russell Martin Toronto Blue Jays C
|Russell Martin couldn't stay healthy in 2017 and is entering his age-35 season, so even though the skills that have made him consistently a top-10 Fantasy catcher haven't eroded, you can't trust him to play regularly enough to make good on them. The upside is only so high anyway.|
Matt Wieters Washington Nationals C
|The 2017 season was supposed to be Matt Wieters ' prove-it campaign after signing a one-year deal with the Nationals , but instead his offense continued to slip in his second full year back from Tommy John surgery. He ranks this high because regular playing time counts for something at this position, but he may not get it given his reputation as a poor pitch-framer.|
Alex Avila Chicago Cubs C
|Alex Avila's impressive line-drive and hard-contact rates had him putting up numbers like we hadn't seen since his All-Star 2011 season. But then he was traded to the Cubs, and even when he got more regular at-bats with Willson Contreras' injury, his strikeout rate held him back. He'll be interesting if he lands a full-time gig this offseason, but that's a big "if."|
Tyler Flowers Atlanta Braves C
|You have to think the Braves will exercise their option to bring back Tyler Flowers , a pitch-framer extraordinaire who also offered something with the bat in 2017. But with Kurt Suzuki re-signed and expected to spell Flowers regularly, the upside here is limited.|
Kurt Suzuki Atlanta Braves C
|Suzuki is a great Fantasy option in theory, having always made contact at a high rate and recently rediscovered the power stroke that made him a decent play during his early years with the Athletics. But with Flowers expected back in the mix for the Braves, Suzuki will probably get the lesser share of those at-bats again.|
Jorge Alfaro Philadelphia Phillies C
|Of the several young catchers who could surprise next year, Jorge Alfaro probably has the best opportunity. His minor-league numbers never really impressed me, but he was long regarded as one of the better power-hitting prospects at the position and will be out of options in 2018, giving him the inside track on a starting job.|
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Scott White is an award-winning Fantasy baseball analyst
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