Fantasy Baseball Rankings Tiers: Catcher Updates

Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds

Catchers are like the tight ends of fantasy baseball. You probably need just one, but that doesn’t mean we don’t take the position seriously.

This is how I would rank the catcher pool if I were entering a fantasy baseball draft today. What’s happened to this point is merely an audition. Assume a 5×5 scoring system, as always.

The salaries are tied to data and observation but unscientific in nature. This isn’t a formulaic exercise. The goal is to show where the pockets of value cluster. Players with the same salary are considered even.

Respectful disagreements? That’s good. That’s why we play. Catch me on Twitter/X: @scott_pianowski.

And away we go.

Volume is a major part of holding value for a fantasy catcher. You’ll note that every backstop with 200 or more at-bats is ranked among the top 14 catchers — essentially a starter in most leagues. There’s some survivor bias baked into that, but you definitely want a catcher who handles a heavy workload, and possibly sticks in the lineup even when he’s not catching.

Contreras checks all the boxes. The .308/.374/.471 slash speaks for itself, but also note that he’s missed just one game all year (about a week ago he talked his way out of a day off). The No. 2 spot in the order agrees with him — Contreras leads the National League in runs. Johnny Bench is the only catcher who’s led his league in that category before — Bench was also run into the ground by Sparky Anderson back in the 70s, but that’s a story for another day. If only the NL had the DH back during Bench’s time.

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Rutschman is another catcher parked in the No. 2 shot, and he’s bumped his power and average up in his third season. His walk and strikeout rates were better last year and he’s also chased more this season, but given the bump in his hard-hit rate, there’s no reason to worry. This is an MVP Award waiting to happen.

Bailey passes the eye test and he also passes the metric test, having earned a .300 average and .433 slugging per the Statcast data. He’s also an excellent fielder, which marks his territory in the lineup. The Giants have him hitting between second and fourth over the last three weeks; he’s become a key part of the offense.

Over the last four weeks, Stevenson has been a fantasy godsend, slashing .317/.353/.468 and offering solid run production in the Cincinnati lineup. He enjoys one of the best hitting environments in baseball, and maybe the timing is right for a career year — it’s his age-27 season.

Wong has been a pleasant surprise for the Red Sox, but he’s also the luckiest catcher on the board, with a batting average that’s 74 points higher than Statcast expectation and a slugging percentage that’s floated 60 points. Wong was a below-average hitter last year; this year, his OPS+ has sailed to 136. He’s surely over his skis at the moment, and I’d assume he’s closer to a league-average stick the rest of the way. That’s still worth rostering, but don’t be swayed by the current line.

Garver was in the midst of a lost season before perking up last week, hitting two homers and walking twice. He also knocked in eight runs. The Mariners still catch him occasionally and let him DH more often than not. If he was dropped in two-catcher leagues, maybe he’s worth a kick of the tires.

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