Kansas City Royals' Salvador Pere
Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez during a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)


Mike Shara

This is a position where almost no one separates themselves from the pack. There’s one clear Alpha Dog – hitting 48 home runs in 2021 will do that for you; but then things even out really quickly. There are a few guys who are above average, but even the slightest injury or productivity downturn would immediately bring them right back to the pack, and that pack is pretty…unremarkable. The question with catchers is – how soon are you willing to leap in and draft a player who’s only marginally better than the dregs at the bottom of this list? Truthfully there’s not much concrete difference between any player in the bottom half of this position’s listings. There are a few teams where the playing time distribution plan still remains unclear (Minnesota, Toronto, the Cubs) so I’ve discounted the players involved there a bit, but things could change dramatically by the time the owners and players agree to start playing the regular season some time in late November.

(Even though there are guys who qualify at other spots, you don’t want any of these guys as your starting first baseman or outfielder. Everyone on this list is a catcher except maybe numero uno, who you could draft as your DH.)

1.  SALVADOR PEREZ | Kansas City
-you’re not going to get .273/48/121 again, but you’ll still have to bid (too) early to get him.

2.  J.T. REALMUTO | Philadelphia | other positions: 1B
– his steals (13 last year) sweeten the deal, but some of his elite skills don’t play up in fantasy.

3.  WILL SMITH | LA Dodgers
– Young guys make me nervous, but if you’re going to bet on a kid…30 HR is possible.

– the arrival of the universal DH should give him more at-bats, boosting his counting numbers.

5.  YASMANI GRANDAL | Chicago (AL) | other positions: 1B
– if your league counts OBP (.420) instead of BA (.240) he moves up to third on this list.

6.  TYLER STEPHENSON | Cincinnati | other positions: 1B
– another young guy (he’ll be 25) but one of the few left who doesn’t kill your BA/OBP.

 DAULTON VARSHO | Arizona | other positions: CF, RF, LF
– his versatility means he’ll see more AB than most – a bit of speed is a bonus, too

– has huge power (33 HR in ‘21), kills your BA (.216). You have to decide if it’s worth it.

– Future HOFer’s final season could have some magic. You know he’ll play almost every day.

10 MITCH GARVER | Minnesota
– injuries ruined his 2021 season but his ratios remained very good. Might play some 1B in ‘22

11 GARY SANCHEZ | NY Yankees
– perhaps the hardest guy to predict on this list. Despite struggles he still hit 23 HR in 2021.

12 SEAN MURPHY | Oakland
– he’s close to becoming a less powerful Mike Zunino. Oakland’s pitchers love him, though.

13  ADLEY RUTSCHMAN | Baltimore
– hasn’t played an MLB game yet. Matt Wieters was supposed to be a God in Baltimore, too.

– had a dreadful 2021 at age 30. Was that the beginning of the end or a blip on the screen?

15 OMAR NARVAEZ | Milwaukee
– not sexy but he doesn’t kill you in any category- he could get some extra ABs as a DH, too.

– he’s going to hit, but Jansen & Moreno will eat into his PT. If he gets traded, he moves up.

17 KELBERT RUIZ | Washington
– he was the prize of the Max Scherzer deal so he’s going to get every chance to succeed.

– was acquired from Cincinnati to help Tigers take the next step. Likely to start most days.

19 AUSTIN NOLA | San Diego
– was everyone’s ‘sleeper’ last year but he’s already 32 and never had >250 AB in a season

20 ELIAS DIAZ | Colorado
– career high 18 HR last year, Rockies don’t have many options. (Honestly, though? Just no.)

There are a few guys out there who could end up getting the lion’s share of playing time – Yan Gomes is now with the Cubs and could really increase his value if Contreras gets traded. Danny Jansen had a terrific second half with the bat – if Toronto caves and trades Kirk for infield help, he would make this list at least until Gabriel Moreno gets called up. If you end up with anyone else that isn’t mentioned here you’re either in a league where you have to draft 3 catchers for some reason or you’re losing on purpose so you can get the first overall pick next year.

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