Top 10 Catchers for 2018

Top 10 Catchers for 2018

This is the second of an eight part series of position previews for the 2018 fantasy baseball season.

Catcher is the bane of existence for fantasy baseball players, as the player pool is extremely thin for what would be considered merely average production anywhere else on the diamond.

Here’s who I project to be the top ten overall catcher eligible players (standard roto and points) for the 2018 season:

Rank Rotisserie Points
10 Jason Castro (Twins) Wilson Ramos (Rays)
9 J.T. Realmuto (Marlins) Jason Castro (Twins)
8 Mike Zunino (Mariners) Robinson Chirinos (Rangers)
7 Yadier Molina (Cardinals) J.T. Realmuto (Marlins)
6 Robinson Chirinos (Rangers) Salvador Perez (Royals)
5 Salvador Perez (Royals) Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
4 Buster Posey (Giants) Willson Contreras (Cubs)
3 Willson Contreras (Cubs) Buster Posey (Giants)
2 Gary Sanchez (Yankees) Gary Sanchez (Yankees)
1 Evan Gattis (Astros) Evan Gattis (Astros)

 

This position warrants an approach that most closely mimics a key dynamic of fantasy football, which is monitoring team news and overall usage on a weekly basis. I expect this list to change wildly during Spring Training as we learn more about how managers plan to use their catchers in 2018.

Obviously, there is a huge surprise at my top slot with Astros catcher Evan Gattis. Why? Well, it was reported after the World Series that Houston plans to use the power hitter primarily at the designated hitter position in 2018. If this holds true, Gattis is in line for a larger workload than most of his catcher-eligible peers, who receive more rest than players at other positions due to the defensive grind the position dictates. The latest projection models have Gattis at 138 games played, significantly more than the rest of the top five.

The market either doesn’t believe this will hold true, or doesn’t trust Gattis to perform well, as his fourteenth round ADP is truly eye-popping at the moment. I expect this to move up significantly if Gattis is hitting well in Spring Training and more fantasy players recognize the value.

Personally, I feel no value at catcher is safe outside of the Gattis, Sanchez, Contreras, Posey, Perez grouping. Anything below this tier of players is going to be extremely volatile. Many teams utilize a true platoon at the position, which makes forecasting production extremely difficult across the board. (The Cardinals’ Yadier Molina may very well play his way back into the above group; for now I think it’s fair to consider him the top player in the second tier of catchers as the 35 year old enters his 15th major league season behind the plate.)

Deliberately targeting any one of these players in drafts is going have a high opportunity cost. Their ADP as a whole places them in ranges where selecting them requires passing on a significantly better overall player. Deciding what you are comfortable with is going to dramatically alter your optimal draft strategy; successful roster construction will be wildly different when grabbing Gary Sanchez compared to settling for the likes of Jason Castro. You must decide early on whether you want to prioritize or punt at the position.