The catching position has long been a thorn in the side of fantasy players. Year in and year out it is the thinnest position in the fantasy world and it has a very low number of players that will actually be beneficial to your roster. How do you go about drafting the position? There are many factors to consider when looking at the worst position in fantasy baseball. What kind of value do the top catchers provide? What strategy goes into drafting the position? Do your own league settings play a factor into the value of catchers? Let’s dive in!


The difference between the number one-ranked catcher (J.T. Realmuto ) and the number 12-ranked catcher (Roberto Pérez ) in 2019 was massive. Realmuto only hit one more home run, but he had 20 more RBI, scored 46(!) more runs, and had nine more steals. With the catcher position, unlike many of the other positions, the further you go down the list the gap widens at a much faster pace. With other positions there will normally be at least 12 players that you will feel comfortable drafting and starting on your roster. Also with many of the other positions, you can go deep into the 200’s of the draft and still find solid fantasy assets. At catcher, on a normal basis, there may not be more than a handful of guys that you actually want to roster. Of course you have to own one and in many leagues two, so it can be a difficult spot to fill. This is where the value of drafting a top-tier catcher can pay dividends. Not having to worry about that position being a disaster all season is a great feeling. Top catchers can be difference makers and crush their competition at the position.

Roster Configuration and League Size

These variables can change the value of catchers drastically. In two-catcher formats the value of top-tier catchers rises immensely. No one wants to get stuck with two catchers who will provide next-to-nothing for them in fantasy. Top-tier catchers play on a regular basis and will help you instead of hurting you. In two-catcher formats it is wise to bump catchers up your ranks; but how much? This is where league size comes into play. Both in two-catcher and one-catcher leagues, league size is a factor into how important and valuable chasing an elite catcher is. The more league owners the more important grabbing a steady trustable catcher is. In a 12-team, two-catcher league format, there are 24 catchers that are a part of the starting lineups. There are not 24 catchers who you want to start, there may not even be half that. Locking down an elite catcher at least allows you to only have one dud at the position. If you pair one of them with a lower-end catcher you are still getting solid productivity from the position. On the flip side of things, if you are a person who plays in a one-catcher eight-or-ten-team league, you can also bump the elite options up your rankings. With leagues that shallow, you will be able to find plenty of good talent late in the draft at other positions, making grabbing an elite catcher a strong option.

Playing Time

Playing time is another huge factor when drafting catchers. Unlike other positions where every day players will play often, there are very few catchers who actually see the lion’s share of starts. Outside of the top guys, many of the ‘starting’ catchers will be in platoons or just see regular days off frequently. Last year, 135 players had 450+ at bats, only four of those were catchers (J.T. Realmuto , Yasmani Grandal , Christian Vázquez , and Wilson Ramos ). All four of those players finished in the top-ten of fantasy catcher ranks at the end of the season. All four are currently being drafted in the top-ten of catchers heading into the 2019 season. Playing time equates to fantasy success. The more a player plays the more chances he has to put up counting numbers. The top catchers will play more and will have a much greater impact on your team than the lower-tier catchers will.

Who To Target?

The game’s best and a trio of 25-year olds:

J.T. Realmuto (47.2) – I will keep this one brief, Realmuto is always the best spend-up at the position. He is reliable (over 475 at-bats in each of the past four seasons), he is consistent (he has been a top-five fantasy player at the position in each of the past four seasons), and he helps you in all categories.

Will Smith (149.5) – Smith is probably the most interesting catcher on the board this year. He is currently the sixth catcher off the board in drafts (according to ADP), and that’s a pretty big risk to take on a kid who has just 170 career at-bats to his name. With that being said, if you like to play it safe this is not your guy. However, as a rookie last year he swatted 15 home runs and drove in 42 runs with a .252 batting average in that small sample size of at-bats. It is also important to keep in mind that he was a first-round pick and top-100 prospect before his call-up, so it’s not like he was just some random rookie. It is also worth noting that he hit .270 with 20 home runs and 54 RBI across 224 at-bats at the Triple-A level prior to his call-up as well; the power is not a fluke. Among catchers with at least 170 plate appearances, Smith ranked first in fly ball percentage (53.7-percent) and eighth in hard contact percentage (44.6-percent). It also doesn’t hurt his fantasy value that he gets to hit in a stacked lineup, which will allow for increased RBI and run scoring opportunities. There is the potential for Smith to be a top-three player at the position and he could be a risk that pays off. Take the risk and hope you end up with a cheaper version of Gary Sánchez .

Carson Kelly (195.9) – Kelly is my “sleeper” breakout catcher that no one is really talking about. Last season was his first real season as a starter and as a 24-year old he hit .245 with 18 home runs and 47 RBI across 314 at-bats. That’s a pretty strong home run total considering that lower-end amount of at-bats that he had. It wasn’t a fluke either, as he ranked sixth in fly ball percentage (41.1-perent) and FIRST in hard contact percentage (48.7-percent) among catchers with at least 300 plate appearances. The .245 batting average isn’t ideal, but keep in mind that he had a measly .271 BABIP, which ranked 21st at position. He’s even better in OBP leagues though, as his 13.2-percent walk rate was the second-best mark at the position (trailing only Grandal). There is so much to like here with Kelly and he could CRUSH his ADP. Also, keep in mind the fact that he was a top-100 prospect in 2017 and 2018 and he is just starting to hit his prime years. The Diamondbacks should allow him to accrue 400 at-bats minimum this year and that will just help his counting numbers further.

Sean Murphy (211.1) – Murphy is another young catcher going a bit later in drafts, but he has more chatter surrounding him than Kelly does. He only logged 53 at-bats as a rookie last season, hitting .245 with four home runs and eight RBI. Not a whole lot to love there, but it’s a small sample. He was much stronger at the Triple-A level last season, where he hit .308 with ten home runs and 30 RBI across 120 at-bats. He is just 25 years old and he was a top-100 prospect last season, so there is a lot of reason to have high hopes for him moving forward. He is expected to be the A’s starting catcher as we head into 2020 and there is enough upside to take a chance on him, considering his low ADP. Streamer projects him hitting .250 with 14 home runs across 322 at-bats, both of which are solid marks and nearly identical to Mitch Garver ’s projections, who is going 100 picks earlier in drafts. He is not a sure-thing, but with an ADP in the 200’s, you don’t really need him to be a sure-thing. The upside is there and he is easily a pick worth making, especially being an AL catcher who will hardly ever have a pitcher batting behind him.

Fun with Numbers

The above chart shows the top-20 ranked catchers from 2019 (in ranked order – could vary slightly based on where you look). Below them are a few catchers who did not crack the top-20 last season, but are currently among the top-20 at the position in ADP this season. Categories highlighted in blue would be positive contributions, while categories highlighted in red would be negative. Categories that are not highlighted would be neutral (not helping or hurting your fantasy team). These highlights are in comparison to other catchers and not every position (example: four steals for a catcher is good; of course that is not good when compared to other positions). Also keep in mind the number of at-bats that each player had. The below figures are a quick snippet of who provided the best numbers in some of the main areas last season.

Catchers who hit at least 20 Home Runs in 2019:

  1. Gary Sánchez – 34
  2. Mitch Garver – 31
  3. Yasmani Grandal – 28
  4. J.T. Realmuto – 25
  5. Willson Contreras – 24
  6. Roberto Pérez – 24
  7. Christian Vázquez – 23
  8. Omar Narváez – 22

Catchers who had at least 4 Steals in 2019:

  1. J.T. Realmuto – 9
  2. Yasmani Grandal – 5
  3. Yadier Molina – 5
  4. Christian Vázquez – 4
  5. James McCann – 4
  6. Jorge Alfaro – 4
  7. Kyle Farmer – 4

Catchers who hit at least .275 in 2019 *minimum 300 At Bats:

  1. Wilson Ramos – .288
  2. Omar Narváez – .278
  3. Christian Vázquez – .276
  4. James McCann – .276
  5. J.T. Realmuto – .275

The more positive attributes that a player brings to the table the better. Doing your homework on what each player can do will always be beneficial. Draft night you may miss out on some of the top guys and need options later in the draft, you can then make your decision on who to target based on your current team. Feel good about your projected home runs? Maybe targeting a guy late like Francisco Mejía , who can provide a solid batting average and maybe some steals, is your best route. The flow of your draft and who you have drafted so far should always come into play on whom you should target next.