We have reached November. The baseball season ended less than a week ago. That means it is time for some too early fantasy baseball rankings. To get things started, we will begin with the lovely catcher position. After the Top 30 rankings, there will be a breakdown of a few of the catchers to target. Those that take things too seriously may want to check into some updated rankings closer to January as a lot will change with the positional rankings this offseason. Many players are looking for new homes this offseason, and they may not sign with their new teams for quite some time. 

The catcher’s position is a lonely place when looking for fantasy goodness. The top fantasy catcher is the one and only J.T. Realmuto, one of those free agents looking for a new home. There are a handful of other quality players, but the position drops off quickly. For the most part, the catching position can be waited until later in drafts unless you are in a two catcher league, and you don’t want to punt the position.

Once the positional rankings are released, I will post a google sheet with all positions on one page (like last year). Make sure to keep a lookout for all updates as the rankings will be more fluid than usual this season; if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@bdentrek). 

Catcher
1- J.T. Realmuto
2- Salvador Perez
3- Willson Contreras
4- Will Smith
5- Travis d’Arnaud
6- Austin Nola
7- Christian Vazquez
8- Yasmani Grandal
9- Sean Murphy
10- Daulton Varsho
11- Mitch Garver
12- Buster Posey
13- Wilson Ramos
14- Jorge Alfaro
15- Yadier Molina
16- Gary Sanchez
17- Carson Kelly
18- Kurt Suzuki
19- James McCann
20- Omar Narvaez
21- Jacob Stallings
22- Kyle Higashioka
23- Pedro Severino
24- Alejandro Kirk
25- Danny Jansen
26- Victor Caratini
27- Joey Bart
28- Tyler Stephenson
29- Tucker Barnhart
30- Jacob Nottingham

The catcher’s position is the fantasy wasteland we have become accustomed to year after year. Realmuto leads the way as the go-to catcher, regardless of where he lands for the 2021 season. He is one of the few catching options that will give you power and speed. After Realmuto, there are maybe ten other strong candidates for fantasy catchers, depending on what stats you are looking for and if you are in a one or two catcher league. Here are some thoughts on a few of the catchers heading into 2021.

Speed

When looking for steals, there are a few targets, but the main target will be Diamondbacks prospect Daulton Varsho. Varsho struggled in his late-season action in 2020, even seeing most of his playing time in the outfield (which is a nice perk for getting extra at-bats for catchers). While in the minors, he showcased a solid batting average and extreme power and speed combo. It is hard to find catchers that can potentially 15+ bases, and Varsho could be that guy in 2021. 

Can they do it again?

Travis d’Arnaud continued to hit in 2020 after many thought 2019 was just a fluke. His BABIP rose to a crazy .411, strikeout rate rose over 6% to 27.2%, and his fly-ball rate dropped to 14.7%, while his line drive rate rose to 39.7%. There are even more question marks when it comes to d’Arnaud, but we will stick to those for starters. 

Austin Nola is another candidate that many will have high on their catcher rankings, and there are many questions to follow. He will be entering his age 31 season while coming off a career year. He hit .273 with seven home runs while playing for the Mariners and Padres. There were some definite positive signs for Nola that could lead one to believe in a productive 2021. He saw his barrel rate rise to 7.8%, and his hard-hit rate rose to 43.4%. He also saw his strikeout rate drop to a very respectable 18.5% while again pulling the ball more and hitting more line drives. He will be hitting in the powerful Padres lineup and should be in store for another strong season. 

Bounceback Candidates

Mitch Garver was quite the hot topic entering 2020, and he did not come close to living up the expectations. After hitting .273 with 31 home runs in 2019, he hit only .167 with two home runs in an injury-riddled 23 games. He struck out an insane 45.7% of the time while producing a 41 wRC+. It was a lousy season for Garver, but it should not have been as bad for Garver. His injuries should be a significant reason for his lack of offensive production. When looking at his statcast page, his barrel rate dropped to 8.3% (still respectable), while his hard-hit rate stayed at 50%, just like 2019. His overall contact dropped tremendously with his zone, and chase contact plus whiff percentages all took some significant plunges. There is a lot to like in Garver’s overall numbers that show a chance at a bounceback in 2021, not a full bounceback to 31 home runs in 2019, but still a vital power source at catcher for a reasonable draft-day price. 

Buster Posey took the 2020 season off due to COVID concerns and should be back for 2021. His power numbers have continued to drop year after year, and 2019 as a whole was quite the drop-off. A year off could do Posey a ton of good, which may lead to a little more power, a return to a healthy batting average, and an overall productive fantasy catcher. Posey was always a vital source of batting average at the catcher’s position, and if he can return to that, he makes for a strong C2 in two catcher leagues. Lastly, his ability to play first base and potentially DH will lead to more at-bats than most catchers.

Conclusion

As usual, the catching position is not the strength of the fantasy baseball world. There’s the philosophy of going early for Realmuto or one of the other top targets. There’s a different strategy that many use and just punt the position. Many intriguing options make punting an option, but strong arguments have been discussed to get some strong catchers. As the months go on and we get closer to the 2021 season, there will be changes to the rankings and podcasts (Benched with Bubba) and other written work for the catching position.