|from Yahoo! Sports|
So, I wanted to start a series ranking all position players by position. And what better way to start than with the first fielding position besides the pitcher, the catcher. Unfortunately for catchers, their position is by far the weakest at batting, but requires strength at fielding. There were only 27 players that would qualify at catcher in your fantasy league with at least 300 Plate Appearances, and I'm going to be ranking all of them, almost. Not included on the list is Rangers' Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who made just 23 starts at catcher, and is mostly used as an infielder. Since it's 300 Plate Appearances as the limit, no 2018 World Series champions are on the list, among some other teams. You'll see an advanced stat called DEF a lot in the article. Here's what it means: [Fangraphs]. And credit to Fangraphs for the stats in the article. So, here we go, starting off with the one and only tie on the list.
T25: Nick Hundley, Giants, Manny Pina, Brewers
Starting off with two catchers that don't have anything too special. At 31, Pina hit nine homers in 337 Plate Appearances, and had an OBP of .307. His DEF of 8.4 saves him. For Hundley, he hit 10 home runs in 305 Plate Appearances, backing up Buster Posey, then starting after his injuries. He isn't a great defender, and had an OBP of .298 in 2018. Nothing special displayed at the bottom of the list.
24: James McCann, Detroit Tigers
McCann's stock fell more than any catcher in 2018. He was terrible at the plate, with an OBP of .267. He had a DEF of 11.1, and his ability to hit more for power before than Hundley and Pina puts him slightly above them.
23: John Hicks, Detroit Tigers
While McCann hurt his stock, his teammate, Hicks, helped his. An OBP of .312 and a slugging % of .403 isn't the greatest, but compared to the catchers below him, it's pretty good for someone just qualifying, with just 312 Plate Appearances. He tied McCann with nine home runs, and showed that he could be better than their starter. What hurts him is his terrible DEF of -5.7
22: Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
Martin has always been an above average catcher in power, and an above average defender. But, it all fell apart for Martin in 2018. Despite a .338 OBP, Martin batted .194, with his lowest home run total (10) since 2010.His DEF dropped way down to 2.7, and he had an OBP better than his slugging, with a terrible .325 showing in the latter. Martin hit rock bottom in 2018, and his past is keeping him at 22.
21: Jon Lucroy, free agent
Formerly a top catcher in the game, Lucroy signed a one year deal with the A's in Spring Training, then flopped at the plate. Like Martin, Lucroy had a .325 slugging %, and a weak .291 OBP. He still had a 11.0 DEF, which will have him staying at 21.
20: Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins
I think an argument for Garver to be lower on the list could be valid, as he had an OPS of .749, which is above league average, and pretty decent. Taking the Twins job from Jason Castro, Garver hit seven home runs in 2018, and his AAA numbers show that he could hit more in a full season. Someone to look out for in 2019.
19: Austin Hedges, San Diego Padres
Hedges has power for a catcher, no doubt. He's hit 33 homers in the last two seasons, with 14 in 2018. His weak .282 OBP hurts him, and he had a DEF of just 5.1, which is good, but ninth worst out of catchers on the list. He did have a decent slugging % of .429. He has 20 home run power, and might hit it in more Plate Appearances in 2019.
18: Martin Maldonado, free agent
After a post 2016 trade to the Angels, Maldonado has gotten way more Plate Appearances, with over 400 in the past two years. He's combined for 23 homers since the trade. Traded mid 2018 to the Astros, Maldonado goes into free agency with a good chance of a multiyear deal. His DEF of 11.3 in 2018 and a combined DEF of 23.7 in the last two years will a selling point for him.
17: Jorge Alfaro, Philadelphia Phillies
Alfaro was one of the top catching prospects leading up to his rookie 2018 season. He wasn't so great, though. The Phillies had to trade for a player you'll see if you scroll down. He hit 10 home runs, and had an OPS of .731. But, he's young and had a DEF of 9.5. His K rate of 36.6% needs to go down.
16: Chris Iannetta, Colorado Rockies
In his first year back in Colorado, Iannetta hit 11 home runs after posting up 17 in his one year in the desert. He had a good .345 OBP, but what really brings him down is his .385 slugging and 3.4 DEF (compared to other catchers). He had a really good OPS of .865 in 2017 with the D-Backs, and that is what helps him place at number 16.
15: Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians
There could be a chance Gomes isn't on the Indians by Opening Day 2019. He has combined for 30 home runs the last two seasons, and is coming off a year with a .449 slugging percentage and a .762 OPS. 2018 was Gomes' best season since 2014, and it ranks him and number 15.
14: Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays
The newest member of the Rays hit 20 homers and won Wilson's Defensive Catcher of the Year Award. He's also combined for 45 homers the last two seasons. So why isn't he top ten?. He has a very high strikeout rate of 37%. He also had a terribly awful OBP of .259 with a .201 batting average. He has power and a good glove, but nothing else.
13: Robinson Chirinos, free agent
The Rangers could regret not exercising Chirinos' option. He isn't the best defensive catcher, but he has 20 home run power, something not many catchers have, hitting 17 and 18 bombs the past two years. The 18 in 2018 was sixth among catchers. He had an OPS of .757 in 2018, and quietly is one of baseball's most underrated catchers. He should get more money than people think he will in free agency.
12: Omar Narvaez, Chicago White Sox
Narvaez has never been a home run hitter. He had never hit more than two in any season, major league or minor, before. But, with Welington Castillo suspended, Narvaez hit nine, and had a batting average of .275. He doesn't strikeout much, with a 20.2% rate, which also happened to be a career high for him. He had an OPS of .795, despite his slugging rating being a little lower than players with an OPS of around .800, due to his lack of home runs. He's a good, young catcher.
11: Kurt Suzuki, Washington Nationals
Suzuki just signed a two year, $10 million deal with Washington. In his two seasons in Atlanta, Suzuki combined for 31 home runs, with 12 of them coming in 2018. Suzuki has a very low strikeout rate of 11.1%, and an OPS of .776. He's a player managers like. Gets on base, doesn't strike out, and can hit some homers.
10: Buster Posey, San Fransisco Giants
The main reason Posey is so high on the list is the countless amount of injuries. He might miss the beginning of 2019. The former #1 catcher in baseball is still really good, and in his prime (he's 31). He did have 448 Plate Appearances in 2018, more than most the catchers higher than him, and hit five homers, less than all catchers besides Lucroy. A .741 OPS is lower than the player 10 spots ahead of him, Garver, so his past really helps him sneak into the top-10.
9: Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds
Barnhart is one of the best fielders in baseball, and has a career DEF of 40.6, since 2014, when he debuted. He may not have the gold gloves to prove it, just one, but Barnhart is one of the most underrated fielders in all of baseball.
8: Wilson Ramos, free agentRamos is the player mentioned earlier that the Phillies needed to trade for because of Alfaro's struggles. It makes sense. Ramos was the best rental available, and finished with 15 home runs, and a .845 OPS. That makes him the second best free agent catcher, and a player that will really help his new team.
7: Fransisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh Pirates
Another catcher that doesn't strike out (12.6% K rate), but doesn't have great power (career high 12 homers in 2018), Cervelli led all catcher in OBP in 2018 with a .378 number. He had a .809 OPS, and had a 9.3 DEF. One of the better all-around catchers in baseball.
6: Yasmani Grandal, free agent
The top catching free agent available, Grandal hit 24 home runs in 2018, and has hit 67 over the past three seasons. He's had a slugging percentage over .450 each year, and had an OPS of .815 in 2018. Plus, a 9.0 While I don't think he's worth $70+ million, a number that experts think he'll get, I think he's a very valuable catcher.
5: Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
Injuries really hurt Sanchez in 2018. His batting average was at .184, his OBP was under .300 (.291), and his K rate raised to 25.1. A .697 OPS was pretty bad as well. But, Sanchez still slugged out 18, after hitting 33 while healthy in 2017. He has an exceptional arm but the passed balls are a problem. He is still young and has really good power, and is still a top-5 catcher.
4: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
It seems weird, but with 20 home runs, Molina hit the 20 homer mark for just the second time in his career. His DEF dropped to 7.3, but that's still really good. A .750 OPS isn't bad either. He may be aging, but "Yadi" is still a really good catcher.
3: Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
In more Plate Appearances in 2018, Contreras matched his 2017 RBI total, 50, and hit 11 less home runs, with 10. But, he is still a great defender, with a DEF of over 12.5 for the second straight season. Contreras is also young, and if he can get back to the 20 homer mark, he'll be a top-3 catcher again, no doubt.
2: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Perez hit 20 home runs for the 4th straight season, the most by any current catcher. In 2018, he tied his career high, with 27, which led all catchers. His .439 slugging percentage was really good, and 10.7 DEF was also exceptional.
1: JT Realmuto, Miami Marlins
Another player that likely won't be on their team by opening day, Realmuto is by far the most all-around catcher. He hit 20 home runs for the first time ever with 21. His 74 runs led catchers, and his 74 RBIs was tied with Molina for second. An OBP of .340 and an slugging percentage of .484 combined for an .824 OPS.
That's my list. If you disagree comment down below, or tweet me (@carterhudblog).