It’s that time of year. Fantasy Baseball preparation for the 2022 season is in full gear, which means my first set of rankings is ready for release. I usually release these in November but kept tweaking them as more and more moves took place with the wild hot stove action. 

I will do a release like this for all positions this year but have added tiers. I’ll briefly discuss each tier in this article and more written work and podcasts throughout the preseason. Also, as I do every year, I will release my full Google sheets rankings with tiers later this preseason to help with your drafts.

For the first set of rankings this season, we start at catcher. Yes, the catcher position is not always the most fun position. It has some elite options and then starts to dry up quickly. But, after the first, let’s be nice, ten catchers, it gets fascinating. There are plenty of options for “ok” options in two-catcher leagues, but as a whole, there are not too many fantastic fantasy producers. 

In recent years, playing time has made the elite options of Salvy and JTR separate themselves from the pack. That happened again in 2021, but more may be moving up the playing time ladder. If the NL adopts the DH, which we all expect to happen, then some catchers could move up the ladder when it comes to fantasy appeal. 

There are solid arguments for taking some of the upper-end options when drafting catchers, especially in two-catchers leagues. Of course, some will disagree with that argument, to each their own, but I do like to draft at least one upper-end talent at the catcher position if I can get in drafts. 

As we go through the rankings and if you listen to some of my Benched with Bubba episodes, you will know much more about my strategies on the catching position. Here is the first installment of the 2022 Fantasy Baseball catcher rankings. 

2022 Catcher Rankings

Catcher
1- J.T Realmuto
2- Salvador Perez
3- Will Smith
4- Yasmani Grandal
5- Willson Contreras
6- Daulton Varsho
7- Keibert Ruiz
8- Tyler Stephenson
9- Alejandro Kirk
10- Travis d’Arnaud
11- Christian Vazquez
12- Elias Diaz
13- Mike Zunino
14- Mitch Garver
15- Sean Murphy
16- Omar Narvaez
17- Carson Kelly
18- Max Stassi
19- Adley Rutschman
20- Joey Bart
21- Austin Nola
22- Eric Haase
23- Gary Sanchez
24- Yadier Molina
25- Luis Torrens
26- James McCann
27- Jacob Stallings
28- Yan Gomes
29- Tucker Barnhart
30- Danny Jansen

Tier 1

TIER 1
1- J.T Realmuto
2- Salvador Perez

The elite of the elite when it comes to catchers. Salvy is coming off a monstrous season where he set the home run record for catchers with 48 home runs. The home runs are great, but we would be naive if we thought he would do it again. The Steamer projections have Salvy projected for 37, which would still be impressive. Salvy will continue to play nearly every day, racking up plate appearances and collecting quality fantasy stats. 

Salvy was great, but JTR is my top catcher once again. Sure he had what some may consider a down season for JTR standards, but a lot of that was due to injuries. He still finished with 17 home runs and 13 stolen bases which many would love from a catcher. The downside last year was the draft price for the return. However, the catching position always brings extra injury risk, so a season like this is always possible for JTR. Heading into 2022, he is healthy for now, and that puts him back at the top. Also, the addition of the NL DH would help JTR tremendously, leading to increased plate appearances and even more fantasy stats.

Tier 2

TIER 2
3- Will Smith
4- Yasmani Grandal
5- Willson Contreras

If you miss out or decide not to draft an early catcher, then this group of three is excellent. Smith put up a great fantasy season with 25 home runs and even threw in three stolen bases. In addition, Smith hits for a decent average with excellent plate discipline, leading to a very lovely OBP player. The addition of the NL DH could even add to some more at-bats for Smith, which means more fantasy goodness. 

Grandal is one of my favorite catchers to target in early drafts, especially if not taking JTR or Salvy. Grandal is a consistent fantasy producer, which can be nice, especially at the catcher position. Grandal has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the last five full MLB seasons (not including 2020), with a .240+ average over the previous four full seasons, as well ass 60+ runs and RBI over the last three full seasons. Grandal has been a perennial top-end fantasy catcher, which should not stop in 2022. 

Contreras had a quiet season to me, but he had another productive fantasy season when looking back. Contreras hit 21 home runs, giving him 20+ home runs in three of the last four full seasons. Contreras continues to produce in all fantasy categories, including five stolen bases. Contreras is not elite, but very good. There are concerns that the Cubs lineup is dreadful, which could hurt Contreras. These concerns are valid but not worth passing on Contreras if looking for a top-five catcher. Also, Contreras could be traded, which could lead to some nice fantasy goodness on a contending team. 

Tier 3

TIER 3
6- Daulton Varsho
7- Keibert Ruiz
8- Tyler Stephenson
9- Alejandro Kirk

Varsho is the unicorn of the catcher position this season. Varsho plays catcher and a lot of outfield, which allows for catcher eligibility, and racks up many plate appearances. The part that attracts fantasy players to Varsho is that he runs and runs a lot. Throughout the minors, he stole 40 bases between 2018-19 while also combining on 29 home runs. Last season between AAA and the DBacks, he hit 20 home runs while stealing eight bases. Varsho also hits for a decent average which makes him a potential fantasy stud if everything clicks. However, his draft price is high. If you believe he can potentially go 20/20 or thereabout, then Varsho should potentially be drafted earlier. However, there is definite room for drop-off, so understand the risk while knowing the insane upside Varsho brings to the table.

Ruiz looks to get his first full season as an everyday MLB catcher. Now Nats ‘ backstop, the former Dodgers’ prospect, is a hitting machine. His contact skills which lead to a sub 10% strikeout rate ais elite for any hitter but stand out even more for a player of Ruiz’s age. Ruiz has not showcased much power yet, but maybe that will come. Drafting Ruiz early brings a great batting average asset which can be rare at the catcher position. 

Stephenson is ready to take over the everyday catching job for the Reds with Tucker Barnhart traded to the Tigers. Last season, Stephenson showcased some solid power with a very nice batting average. In addition, he showcased excellent plate discipline and contact skills, leaving many optimistic that Stephenson could take an even more significant step forward in 2022. You will have to pay the high draft price and hope Stephenson takes the next step, but he does have the road map to some significant success. 

I may be much more excited about Kirk in fantasy rankings, but I believe he is just that good. Kirk has continually produced grand batting averages and some power throughout his minor league and major league days. Playing time has been the concern, and it could be again in 2022. He should get the lead catching duty over Danny Jansen, but how much is the concern. If Kirk can play at least ⅔ of the games, he could have some mega-fantasy returns. 

Tier 4

TIER 4
10- Travis d’Arnaud
11- Christian Vazquez
12- Elias Diaz
13- Mike Zunino
14- Mitch Garver
15- Sean Murphy
16- Omar Narvaez
17- Carson Kelly

As we drop into Tier 4, we still have some quality options, but options you can wait on in drafts. I will say in two-catcher leagues, I want at least one of these guys if I did not take a catcher early, and in a perfect world, I want all my catchers on my roster from this set and above. 

Vazquez may be your best bet for playing time, while he also brings ok power and a bit of speed which is harder to come by as the draft goes on. 

Diaz is one of my top targets as I believe in what he did last season and being the everyday catcher for the Rockies. They paid him so that he would play, and that should bode very well for his batting average and potential power numbers. 

Zunino and Garver are always risky based on playing time and average, but what they do produce is a ton of power. Even in limited playing time, they can mash 30+ home runs. The two bring a lot of risks, but the reward can be a fantasy-winning team—risky yet solid catcher two options.

Murphy is coming off a down year where he split time with Yan Gomes to finish the season. However, Murphy’s contact quality means he should be much more productive. He is leading to a potential bounce-back candidate in 2022. 

Narvaez and Kelly bring a solid and consistent floor to your fantasy team. You can plug them into your lineups and not worry too much. They have a potential ceiling if all goes well, but at worse, their floors will not destroy your fantasy teams. Excellent options if not going aggressively at the catching position.

Tier 5

TIER 5
18- Max Stassi
19- Adley Rutschman
20- Joey Bart
21- Austin Nola
22- Eric Haase
23- Gary Sanchez
24- Yadier Molina
25- Luis Torrens
26- James McCann
27- Jacob Stallings
28- Yan Gomes
29- Tucker Barnhart
30- Danny Jansen

The best of the rest comes in at Tier 5. Again, there are some intriguing options in this range but some severe risks.

Stassi has shown some serious upside, and he just can’t stay healthy. However, he could quickly jump into Tier 4 with a healthy, full season. 

Rutschman and Bart are both top-catching prospects. If more news comes out that they are starting for their teams, they likely jump up to Tier 3 or higher. I am currently cautious with the rankings, but they could be a steal in your drafts right now. 

Haase and Sanchez bring great power, but batting average and playing time are significant concerns. If everything clicks, then they are steals, but I will likely avoid the risks for now. 

Torrens put together an excellent 15 home runs season in only 108 games. He has solid offensive potential and plays for the Mariners, who have multiple catching options on the roster. He is worth a late-round target for now, and if he plays in 120+ games, he could return excellent fantasy value. 

Stallings may be one of the better options in this range if you like dull, boring, but a great floor. He should play most of the games for the Marlins and not kill your fantasy team, but he likely does not propel you to greatness either. 

The rest are decent and can run hot occasionally but are better left for waiver wires or super deep leagues for now. Well, before more news comes out, that could change things.

Conclusion

The catcher position is always one that gains no love when it comes to fantasy draft season. It is always a position that brings the argument of not paying up for the elite options vs. paying for the elite. There are many ways to build your fantasy team, and taking an early catcher has slowly become more appealing for me. At worse, I want at least two catchers from the top four tiers in two-catcher leagues and one in the top four tiers in one-catcher leagues. 

Once again, feel free to listen to episodes of Benched with Bubba, where the catcher position and other draft strategies are discussed. Also, more written content and ranking updates are to come if you have any further questions, please ask me on Twitter.