2018 Dynasty Baseball RankingsDynasty Baseball

The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Catchers, #21-50

It’s been a slow off-season. Like, a really slow off-season. With the hot stove frigid, fantasy baseball players haven’t had many ways to quench their thirst, unless they’ve thrown themselves head-first into football, basketball, or hockey. January and February can be some of the darkest months of the year (figuratively and literally), but fear not, restless readers. The Dynasty Guru is here to the rescue.

While you were celebrating the holidays and ushering in the New Year, our brave group of writers has been ranking, debating, re-ranking, re-debating, and re-re-ranking over 600 players for dynasty leagues. The fruits of our efforts will be filling January, February, and even some of March with the deepest, most thoroughly and painstakingly selected dynasty baseball rankings on the internet. We have top-50s, top-125s, top-200s, top-500s (of course!), and even ultra-deep prospect rankings.

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With that, we’ll continue our look at baseball’s backstops (#1-20 here), beginning with a player who’s either good and hurt, or bad and healthy. The complete list of consensus dynasty baseball rankings can be found here


21) Travis d’Arnaud. New York Mets (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 15)

d’Arnaud has never quite lived up to the hype, but there were some positive signs in 2017 that he might finally get there. He set a career high in games played and home runs, all while having a career low BABIP. In September, d’Arnaud hit .297/.343/.656. The Mets signed Jose Lobaton to back him up along with Kevin Plawecki, so d’Arnaud is heading into 2018 with the starting job in hand. Health willing, 2018 could finally be the year. (Kyler Jesanis)

22) Tyler Flowers, Atlanta Braves (Age: 32, Previous Rank: NR)

Flowers followed a strong 2016 with a career year in 2017, backed largely by a career-low k%. Flowers is one of the best pitch framers in baseball, and combine that with his offensive progress he is likely to be the primary catcher over veteran Kurt Suzuki. Flowers will continue to be the Honda to Kurt’s Suzuki, and be a solid, if unspectacular, option in 2018. (Kyler Jesanis)

23) Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 49)

Barnhart has gotten better each and every year he has been in the majors. He won the NL Gold Glove in 2017 and will be the starting catcher for the Reds for the future after signing an extension in September. Barnhart will never be a coveted fantasy option, but his playing time, contributions in average, and continued improvements at the plate will continue to give him value. As he enters his physical prime, look for him to continue to improve offensively and put up his best fantasy season to date in 2018. (Kyler Jesanis)

24) Carson Kelly, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 33)

Yadier Molina refusing to capitulate to father time keeps pushing Kelly’s timeline further and further away, but Kelly continues to be a good investment for the future. He had his highest ISO ever in AAA this year, his plate discipline continues to be strong, and his great defensive potential continues to assure him of future playing time. He has arguably the highest floor of any minor league catcher, even if his path to the majors is notably blocked. (Kyler Jesanis)

25) Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 12)

Russell Martin had a down 2017, but the main difference in his fantasy production was that he only played 91 games. Martin had a few stints on the DL but largely has been the same hitter he has been these past few years. He has a good chance of returning to his 2015-2016 production this year. Danny Jansen looms as a playing time threat, but with health, Martin is a good bet to bounce back and be a viable fantasy catcher in 2018. (Kyler Jesanis)

26) Chris Iannetta, Colorado Rockies (Age: 35, Previous Rank: NR)

Iannetta had a productive 2017 in Arizona, finishing the year with 17 home runs and a career-high ISO in part-time play. He signed this off-season with the Rockies. New-found power, and getting to play in Coors? Sounds like a great recipe for fantasy success. Iannetta isn’t likely to play more than 90 or so games, but when he’s out there he will be productive. (Kyler Jesanis)

27) Christian Vazquez, Boston Red Sox (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)

Vazquez finished 2017 as the 11th best fantasy catcher according to ESPN’s player rater, mostly due to average and stolen bases. He’s a heady and instinctive runner, and five stolen bases a year isn’t an unreasonable projection. He hits line drives to all over the field, and his fly balls should increase with the Sox’ hiring Tim Hyers. A catcher who hits for average, who plays a lot because of his defense, can chip in a couple of steals, and might get to 8-10 home runs with a few more fly balls is a viable, if unspectacular, catcher in most leagues. (Kyler Jesanis)

28) Keibert Ruiz, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)

Keibert has hit over .300 three years in a row, made it to high A in his age-18 season, and plays in one of the best player development organizations in baseball. He has the potential to be an above-average defensive catcher, and be an elite hitter, so he’s likely to shoot up this list next year. If you’re rebuilding and can wait a couple of seasons, Ruiz is probably the best minor league catcher investment outside of Francisco Mejia. (Kyler Jesanis)

29) Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)

Jansen broke onto the scene in a big way in 2017, due in no small part to some corrective eyewear. After hitting about .220 in 2015 and 2016, he hit over .300 on his way from high A to AAA while walking more than he struck out. Assuming his 20/20 vision was indeed a sustaining cause of his improvements at the plate, he is likely to make his big league debut in 2018. His fantasy ceiling seems to be a more powerful Christian Vazquez/Tucker Barnhart — someone who hits for a high average, might chip in some steals, and can get to double-digit home runs. Due to his proximity and plate discipline, he’s a high-floor catching prospect. (Kyler Jesanis)

30) Kurt Suzuki, Atlanta Braves (Age: 34, Previous Rank: NR)

Suzuki had an interesting year, as he hit his career high in home runs and also had the fewest at-bats since 2007. The power is more legitimate than you might think- he kept his contact rate, boosted his pull and fly ball rates, and made the best hard contact of his career. He’s still backing up Tyler Flowers, but if Flowers went down Suzuki would make for a really good option for his average and power. He might not be a Lamborghini, but he’s better than what you think of a Suzuki. (Kyler Jesanis)

31) James McCann, Detroit Tigers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 38)

McCann is heading into year 4 as the starter for Detroit, and has made some improvements each year. 2017 marked career highs in isolated power, hard contact percentage, and walk rate. Heading into 2018, he will have a better spot in the batting order than most catchers in this tier on a rebuilding Tigers club. He seems likely to get 400 or more at-bats and hit .250 with 12-15 home runs, and 90+ total runs & RBI. He won’t be a flashy catcher, but he can be viable. (Kyler Jesanis)

32) Matt Wieters, Washington Nationals (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 24)

Hope springs eternal? Wieters had an absolutely brutal 2017, and he’ll be remembered for his particularly awful playoff performance. The Nationals have talked about limiting Wieters’ at-bats, but he’s still the most talented catcher on the Nationals and will be the primary backstop. A repeat of his 2016 isn’t outrageous, where he hit .240 with 17 home runs and good run production. There is plenty of risk here, but Wieters is only 31, and a rebound is still possible. (Kyler Jesanis)

33) Alex Avila, Free Agent (Age: 31, Previous Rank: NR)

Avila had an incredible 2017. He is probably the second most-surprising hitter that finished in the top 20 in exit velocity (behind Efren Navarro). Avila has become a really good hitter due to his strength of contact and walk rate, but his fantasy outlook for 2018 and beyond all depends on where he signs this off-season. He doesn’t hit enough fly balls or hit for a high enough average to be a top-tier catcher, but if he is able to land a prominent role he will be a usable fantasy option. (Kyler Jesanis)

34) Stephen Vogt, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 22)

Vogt was a strong fantasy option in 2015 and 2016, but was horrendous in 2017. He started the year as Athletic, before finishing the year as a Brewer after being designated for assignment. Vogt seems primed to enter 2018 as the strong side of a platoon with Manny Pina. Given his playing time, home park, and track record of success don’t be surprised if Vogt returns to 2015-2016 levels in 2018. (Kyler Jesanis)

35) Manny Pina, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 30, Previous Rank: NR)

“Pineapple” pleasantly surprised last year, slashing .279/.327/.424. With less than 100 career MLB plate appearances, Pina seized a share of the starting job with Jett Bandy. Even after the Brewers acquired Stephen Vogt, Pina remained the starter until successive injuries in September ended his season. Despite a stellar 2017 campaign, Pina likely operates as the weak-side of the Brewers’ catching platoon with Stephen Vogt this year. With a 40-man roster loaded with catchers, including Bandy, Andrew Susac, and even Jacob Nottingham, the Brewers’ catching situation is extremely murky. (Jesse Roche)

36) Bruce Maxwell, Oakland Athletics (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)

Maxwell’s status to begin the season is uncertain due to an October 29th arrest for assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Prison time is a real possibility (trial is scheduled for April 10), and a suspension is almost guaranteed either way. That being said, he’s still the starting catcher for the A’s as of this writing. At the plate, Maxwell displays good patience, but provides very little power with a groundball-heavy approach. The lefty bat is historically poor against left-handed pitching and likely will form a platoon with Josh Phegley. (Jesse Roche)

37) Blake Swihart, Boston Red Sox (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 13)

Universally regarded as a top-20 prospect before the 2015 season, Swihart struggled through injuries the past two seasons. Swihart continued to battle debilitating ankle injuries that sent him to the disabled list throughout last season, contributing to an atrocious .190/.246/.292 AAA slash line. As such, Swihart’s luster faded in the eyes of many. Still only 25 years old, Swihart is now out of minor-league options and likely will land a bench spot as a utility player. Should Swihart recover from his injuries and return to form, he sprays line drives to all fields with modest power. Do not forget about Blake! (Jesse Roche)

38) Tom Murphy, Colorado Rockies (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 18)

Tom Murphy was a fantasy darling entering last season as the presumptive starting catcher at Coors. Coming off a year in which he slugged an incredible .648 with 24 home runs between Triple-A and the majors, Murphy understandably carried a lot of hype. Unfortunately, his season was limited to 50 games due to a fractured forearm in Spring Training. Now that Chris Iannetta is under contract for two years, Murphy likely will spend at least another year at Triple-A. Murphy’s value would jump if he could grab hold of the starting job for the Rockies, but that is looking less and less likely. (Jesse Roche)

39) Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 17)

Mesoraco ranked 4th on this list as recently as 2015, after blasting 25 home runs in a breakout season. Over the next three years, hip and shoulder injuries limited Mesoraco’s totals to 26, 16, and 71 games. As an impending free agent after this season, Mesoraco has a lot to play for in 2018: he’s got significant power, he’s an impending free agent, and the Reds signed Tucker Barnhardt to a four-year extension. Whether he can ever stay healthy again is an open question. (Jesse Roche)

40) Victor Caratini, Chicago Cubs (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)

The presence of the 2nd-ranked Willson Contreras diminishes the value of Caratini. But as the only other catcher on the Cubs’ 40-man roster, Caratini likely will spend the entire year in the majors behind the plate and at first base. In the event of another injury to Contreras, Caratini is a starting-caliber catcher in most fantasy leagues. He can hit for average and reach base with enough thump to produce good numbers, even if his approach will limit his power. (Jesse Roche)

41) Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 27)

Like Devin Mesoraco, Gomes ranked high in 2015 (3rd), and has had injury-limited seasons since then. Further, Gomes’ aggressive approach caught up to him and his batting average plummeted. Gomes improved his numbers across the board last year by walking more and returning to a more reasonable BABIP. However, Gomes made less contact and retains much of the same offensive profile. Gomes is nearing the end of his fantasy usefulness as he’s set to again share catching duties with Roberto Perez, and has Francisco Mejia breathing down his neck. (Jesse Roche)

42) Cameron Rupp, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 29)

Rupp used his above-average power to knock 30 home runs over the past two seasons. He also struck out at an alarming 30% pace during that same period, including 34% last year. Now, with the arrival of Jorge Alfaro, the Phillies relegated Rupp to backup duties. Alfaro is a similarly strikeout-prone hitter and is likely to experience growing pains, thereby re-opening the door for Rupp to regain his starting job. With more playing time, Rupp represents a cheap source of potential power. (Jesse Roche)

43) Andrew Knizner, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)

Although Carson Kelly receives far more attention, Knizner arguably has more offensive potential. Knizner is a high-contact, all-fields hitter with solid power and a career .308/.376/.478 in the minors. Jumping from Low-A all the way to Double-A last year, Knizner was the top performing catcher in the Texas League. Knizner continued to impress in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .358/.403/.537. However, Yadier Molina blocks Knizner (and Kelly) for the immediate future. Knizner will continue to develop in the upper minors and represents an intriguing trade candidate. (Jesse Roche)

44) Alex Jackson, Atlanta Braves (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)

After acquiring Jackson from the Mariners last season for Max Povse and Rob Whalen, the Braves promptly moved the former 6th overall pick back to his high school position of catcher. Jackson responded by bashing 24 home runs between High-A, Double-A, and the Arizona Fall League. Of course, Jackson continues to struggle with contact and is a work-in-progress behind the plate. Jackson possesses rare raw power for a catcher, and could develop into a top fantasy performer. He’s the type of high risk, high reward player to target. (Jesse Roche)

45) Martin Maldonado, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 31, Previous Rank: NR)

Maldonado finally earned a starting job last year and, gosh darn it, he was going to go down swinging. Literally. Coming into the season, Maldonado had a 9% career walk rate, but he swung at 9% more pitches leading to just 15 walks (3.2%) in 471 plate appearances. Maldonado has a similar offensive and defensive profile to Yan Gomes, with slightly less power and more assured playing time. (Jesse Roche)

46) Caleb Joseph, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 31, Previous Rank: NR)

The Chance Sisco era has begun in Baltimore. Surprisingly, Sisco’s presence may open the door for more predictable opportunities for Joseph, as the Orioles will almost certainly limit Sisco’s starts against left-handed pitching and Joseph is coming off a season in which he hit .258/.303/.484 against lefties. An intriguing plug-and-play option, Joseph packs some punch and should be the unquestioned starter should Sisco struggle or suffer injury. (Jesse Roche)

47) Meibrys Viloria, Kansas City Royals (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 40)

In November, the Royals added Viloria to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Viloria could debut at some point this year, despite only reaching Low-A last year- he performed admirably in the Midwest League as a 20-year-old. Viloria makes hard, gap-to-gap contact at present, but drives too many balls into the ground to capitalize on his natural power. A strong-armed catcher, but below-average fielder, Viloria is still years away from holding down a starting job. (Jesse Roche)

48) Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 34)

Injuries have plagued Stephenson’s brief professional career. Since being selected 11th overall in the 2015 Amateur Draft, Stephenson suffered a concussion, a wrist injury that required preseason surgery, and a thumb injury. Serious wrist injuries notoriously impact power and complete recovery often takes a full year. Nevertheless, Stephenson showed excellent plate discipline and solid power in Low-A until the thumb injury derailed his season. Likely to begin the season at High-A, Stephenson can move quickly if he stays healthy and builds upon his success last year. (Jesse Roche)

49) Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)

The son of former major leaguer Gary Varsho, Daulton was one of several intriguing bats at catcher in the 2017 Amateur Draft. What sets Varsho apart from others in his draft class is his athleticism. Varsho possesses plus speed, which provides several fallback options if catcher does not work out. At the plate, Varsho has plus bat speed, generating solid, all-fields contact with some pop. Varsho is a rare fantasy catcher that could produce a 15/15 season down the line. (Jesse Roche)

50) Francisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 28)

A litany of injuries, including a concussion, wrist inflammation, and a quad injury, derailed Cervelli’s season. Before the injuries truly took their toll in August, Cervelli was enjoying the best power production of his career (.134 ISO), much like the rest of the league. With a career 9.9% walk rate, Cervelli is a boon in on-base percentage leagues. Add modest power to his on-base ability and Cervelli becomes relevant in most formats. (Jesse Roche)

The Author

Ben Diamond

Ben Diamond

Ben is an annoyingly enthusiastic fantasy baseball player and Yankees fan, and he writes about those passions at Baseball Prospectus and The Dynasty Guru. There's a 95% chance he's ranting about Michael Pineda right now.

4 Comments

  1. Allen Sarvinas
    January 23, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Is it possible to get an eye on Varsho to see if he’s a comp to Realmuto? I always owned Realmuto bc of the athleticism and although this pitch framing can’t be graded worst by statcorner his pop times are remarkable. Def throwing s flier

  2. […] 2018 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: TheDynastyGuru.com completes their rankings of the top 50 catchers for keeper/dynasty leagues with #21-50. […]

  3. Jeff
    February 11, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Jason Castro? I assume that’s an oversight. Where would he rank?

    • February 12, 2018 at 10:03 am

      The exclusion of Jason Castro was not an oversight. The consensus list initially included Castro at 48, but he was ultimately excluded in favor of higher upside prospects. Note, the process includes writers ranking at least 40 catchers, then the rankings are averaged and debated. Personally, I ranked 43 catchers and excluded Castro. For me, he even falls outside the top 50. Of course, his value is higher in deeper leagues or 2-catcher leagues.

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