As baseball season nears, eDraft sports gets you ready for the start of another wonderful fantasy baseball season. After an exciting 2017 season, we're back again for 2018 with lots of exciting and in-depth content to come. Stay tuned for a series of fantasy baseball articles, rankings , sleeper lists and more to help prepare you for your 2018 fantasy season.
First, we'll start off with our fantasy catcher rankings for the 2018 season. A position where the cream at the top is highly valued and things can get a little murkier outside of the top-five catchers. While some fantasy owners experience some disappointment when they don't land an elite catcher, we'll show you some names in the mid-to-late rounds who you could get excited about.
If you'd like to practice your own mock drafts, check out Fantasy Pros' Draft Wizard that allows you to customize your settings and participate in unlimited mock drafts to your specific league settings. Now, let's get started.
Tier 1 - Platinum
1. ) Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
At a spot where All Star-esque numbers can be difficult to come by, Sanchez leaves everyone at the catcher position in the proverbial dust. The 25-year-old enters his second full season in the majors and could take things to another level this season. We all know the upside is tremendous, 175-plus runs produced, 40-plus home runs and a .270-plus batting average, but even Sanchez's floor makes him the platinum name at this position. He may strike out 15 percent more than he walks, but Sanchez's steady batting average at the position paired with 30 home runs and 150-plus runs produced make him a star at the position.
Tier 2 - Gold
2.) Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Posey gains the edge over Contreras only due to the probability he receives 50-plus more plate appearances than Contreras and his triple-slash line stats should finish ahead of the young catcher. While Posey may no longer reign as the best fantasy catcher in the game, he remains in the elite tier as a constant source of production who can give fantasy owners a .290-plus batting average, 12-plus home runs and offers the potential for 170-plus runs produced. The additions of Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria, along with a healthier Brandon Belt, should help propel this San Francisco lineup past its 2017 woes.
3.) Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
The 25-year-old saw a major bump in playing time last season and quickly emerged as another young, promising member of the Cubs' core. Contreras improved his fly-ball rate to 29.3 percent last season and increased his hard-hit contact rate beyond 35 percent. Now he'll look to build off a 2017 season when he hit 21 home runs, drove in 70 runs and posted a .274/.342/.519 slash line before a hamstring strain caused him to miss nearly a month of action. His .317 BABIP is fairly sustainable and if he can maintain a 10-plus percent walk rate, another 20-plus home run, .270/.340/.470 season is achievable.
Tier 3 - Silver
4.) J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
If Miami held onto its top bats this offseason, Realmuto could have very well made it into the gold tier. Instead he finds himself in a lineup headlined by Cameron Maybin, Starlin Castro and Justin Bour. While he continues to seek a trade out of Miami, a move that would boost his fantasy stock into the second tier of catchers, the Marlins seem intent on keeping him right now. Even in a bad situation, Realmuto is one of the rare catchers who could finish with double-digit steals and home runs, all topped off with a respectable batting average. Don't count on him for runs or RBIs, but he can help you in the three other hit categories.
5.) Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Perez finds himself in a bit of a similar situation to Realmuto. After playing in a lineup with Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City watched all of them walk out the door in free agency. Perez is consistent with his power and will deliver fantasy owners with another 20-plus home run season, though it may be tougher this season for him to crack 75-plus RBIs. Keep in mind he is a first half player who seems to always break down in the second half and become a liability in several categories.
6.) Welington Castillo, Chicago White Sox
While Castillo may not have received as much attention this offseason, the early free agent signee found a situation he liked and fantasy owners should like with the White Sox. Remaining in a favorable stadium for half of his games, paired with some poor A.L. Central pitching and quality talent around him in the lineup all make for factors in his favor from a fantasy perspective. He should deliver 20-plus home runs this season and if he can contribute 110-plus runs produced and a .260-plus batting average, it will lock him in as one of the better catchers in fantasy baseball and he'll come at a good draft day price.
7.) Mike Zunino, Seattle Mariners
Yes, Zunino's .355 BABIP is completely unsustainable and when it drops his .251 batting average will come tumbling down with it, but we want production from our back-end catchers and someone who can hit 25-plus home runs and contribute 110-plus runs produced is a fantasy starter at the position. He's in a better situation than Wilson Ramos, offers more upside than Yadier Molina and isn't in a rapid decline like Jonathan Lucroy. He is harder to trust in roto leagues, but a strong play in points leagues.
Tier 4 - Bronze
8.) Evan Gattis, Houston Astros
Gattis finds himself in a good situation to produce offensively, impressions of his 2017 season are just clouded by trips to the disabled list. But if healthy, he should see 450-plus plate appearances this season and if his HR/FB rate from last season (11 percent) can return closer to his career rate (17.4 percent) and he maintains a 32-plus percent hard-hit rate, Gattis could well be in line for 25-plus home runs and 120-plus runs produced.
9.) Jonathan Lucroy, Free Agent
Lucroy, like many others this offseason, is a victim of an ugly free agent market with many teams cutting down the payroll and focusing on future seasons. It also didn't help the veteran that he turned in some of the worst numbers in his career last season, both offensively and behind the plate. Lucroy's 13 percent drop in hard-contact rate and 10 percent drop in fly ball percentage present significant concerns, but the state of the catcher position is in a state where he's worth taking a gamble on.
10.) Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay Rays
Ramos missed half of the season recovering from a torn ACL then returned to the field and showed some of the negative impacts you'd expect in the first action back from it. His 11 home runs and 20.8 percent HR/FB rate show a catcher who with 400-plus plate appearances might crack 20 home runs. Unfortunately, Ramos will likely find himself in another season with a sub-.300 OBP and with his upside capped at 60-ish RBIs on a depleted lineup, he comes in towards the bottom of the catcher rankings.
11.) Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
Based off this ranking, it's clear where I fall on the side of when Molina's decline comes. He hit 18 home runs last season and stole nine bases, an incredible achievement given his age. Perhaps Molina can maintain the career-highs he set in his hard-hit rate, fly ball percentage and second-best HR/FB percentage. Given he is now 36 though, I'll side with father time and believe the decline is coming with 10 home runs, five stolen bases and fewer than 110 runs produced.
12.) Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers
If not for a catcher-by-committee in Los Angeles, Grandal or Barnes easily lands inside the top-10 catchers and potentially as high as sixth on the list. Instead, Grandal finds his way back into the gig he lost to Barnes during the postseason and the pair will now split games depending on who the Dodgers face that day. Where Barnes lacks in power, Grandal more than makes up for and showed it with consecutive 22-plus home run seasons. A three-outcome player who is great behind the plate, Grandal is headed for 400-ish plate appearances this season and fantasy owners will need to pair him with another backstop, which limits some of the fantasy value.
13.) Brian McCann, Houston Astros
Age catches up to us all and it's even more apparent with athletes as we see their skill and numbers decline. Once a fantasy stud at the position, McCann's days of 20-plus home runs and a .260-plus batting average are a thing of the past. Now 34, McCann will find himself sharing time with Gattis and we're seeing signs of decline in his power with his hard-hit rate under 30 percent for the first time in his career last season. You'll get 15 home runs and 50-plus RBIs out of Gattis, but the off days and hits in other categories push him outside the top 12.
14.) Austin Barnes, Los Angeles Dodgers
If you can combine the two in daily lineup leagues, than you've set yourself up for strong production at catcher. Barnes, who also carries second base eligibility, walks at a high clip, can hit ,.280-plus, steal double-digit bases if given a larger role and is a solid run producer. On his own, he would be a great fantasy option after the top-five options, but the Dodgers are stacked and being sat in favor of Grandal versus righties hurts his fantasy upside. He still cracks the top-15 just given what he can deliver for owners with the time to plug-and-pull him on a daily basis.
15.) Austin Hedges, San Diego Padres
Hedges climbs into the top-15 catchers thanks to the addition of Eric Hosmer and projected improvements from Manuel Margot at the plate. Hedges is a fantasy platoon catcher who will give you 15-plus home runs and could offer 60-plus RBIs, though he'll be a significant liability in OBP and batting average. You'll start him in NL-only leagues and two-catcher leagues, but he'll be a depth piece elsewhere.
Tier 5 - Consolation Tier
16.) Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds
17.) Chris Iannetta, Colorado Rockies
18.) Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
19.) Travis d'Arnaud, New York Mets
20.) Robinson Chirinos, Texas Rangers