Way Too Early 2017 Rankings: Catchers by Brad Johnson October 19, 2016 Now that we’ve evaluated how catchers performed in 2016, it’s time for some way too early 2017 rankings. These represent my first reactions rather than a truly rigorous approach. I’ve used an absolutely objective technique called mental math to compile the lists. I’m assuming a standard 5×5 format. The purpose of this exercise is two-fold: to get an early start on 2017 rankings and to crowdsource missing or misranked players. That’s where you come in. Let your thoughts and feelings be known in the comments. Anyway, enough jibberjabber. Let’s talk about catchers. I’m going to split the catcher pool into thirds starting with the top 15. The Top 15 Catchers Player Rank Jonathan Lucroy 1 Buster Posey 2 Gary Sanchez 3 Yasmani Grandal 4 Willson Contreras 5 Russell Martin 6 Evan Gattis 7 J.T. Realmuto 8 Brian McCann 9 Salvador Perez 10 Cameron Rupp 11 Stephen Vogt 12 Matt Wieters 13 Welington Castillo 14 Yadier Molina 15 Controversy at the top! Lucroy was the best fantasy catcher in 2016, and he has a good situation to produce power while playing on a near full time basis. Between catcher, first base, and designated hitter, his bat will rarely be out of the lineup. Posey is the more consistent player, but you’re going to have to accept fewer than 20 home runs. Sanchez smoked them both in his first third of a season. I worry about pitchers finding an exploitable flaw in his approach. If they don’t, he’ll be the top catcher in 2017. You’ll notice Kyle Schwarber is conspicuously absent. I don’t expect him to begin the year with catcher eligibility on most platforms. Because he immediately hit the disabled list, it’s possible some sites will grandfather his eligibilities. There’s a decent chance the Cubs will use Schwarber as a part time catcher. I’d rank him fourth. The next four offer comparable value with very different risk exposures. If Schwarber is catching more, it means Contreras probably won’t reach 400 plate appearances. For now, I’m betting on a mostly full season for Contreras. He’s a high risk, high reward pick. The Cubs’ lineup offers extra opportunities for run production. Realmuto is a fun selection because he actually steals bases. He’s the only catcher with legs. I’m not exactly betting on a rebound from Wieters. He was the 12th best catcher this season despite mind-numbing mediocrity. I expect him to play a lot while doing just enough to justify a spot on fantasy rosters. Next! The 16th to 34th Catchers Player Rank Wilson Ramos 16 Blake Swihart 17 Francisco Cervelli 18 Mike Zunino 19 James McCann 20 Yan Gomes 21 Devin Mesoraco 22 Tom Murphy 23 Travis d’Arnaud 24 Nick Hundley 25 Austin Hedges 26 Derek Norris 27 Sandy Leon 28 Chris Herrmann 29 Tyler Flowers 30 Jett Bandy 31 Andrew Susac 32 Omar Narvaez 33 Tucker Barnhart 34 I ranked a total of 34 catchers. Ramos was originally a consideration for the top five, but he’ll miss a big chunk of the 2017 season. Personally, I’m not inclined to use a DL slot on a catcher stash. I’m sure somebody in your league will think it’s a good idea. Prospects often take time to adjust to the majors. Last offseason, Swihart was called the next Posey. Now it’s hard to figure out where he’ll even be playing. His defensive chops are…eh. The outfield is crowded now that Andrew Benintendi has debuted. Swihart has his warts – an issue shared by all the catchers in this section of the rankings. McCann is a useful platoon bat. Stream him. Rebound candidates include Gomes, Mesoraco, d’Arnaud, and Norris. All four have top 12 potential if they can get back on track. One of them may be the Ramos of 2017. Murphy could be a fantasy hero at Coors Field – if the Rockies play him enough. The bottom end of this list is gag inducing. It’s mostly backups who could play enough to be a second catcher. The Leftovers Alex Avila Austin Barnes Carlos Perez Carlos Ruiz Chris Iannetta Christian Bethancourt Christian Vazquez Dioner Navarro Dustin Garneau Geovany Soto Jarrod Saltalamacchia Jason Castro Jorge Alfaro Jose Lobaton Josh Phegley Kevin Plawecki Kurt Suzuki Miguel Montero Rene Rivera Roberto Perez Robinson Chirinos Tony Wolters Trevor Brown Here are the leftovers in no particular order. Would it shock me if any of these 22 players produced more fantasy value than the guys ranked 20 to 32? No. But that’s not a reason to intentionally roster them.