THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2022 TOP 40 DYNASTY LEAGUE CATCHERS, #1-10
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Without further ado, it’s time to begin our 2021 consensus rankings by looking at the league’s top-10 finest catchers in dynasty leagues. A few names reign supreme in the wasteland of fantasy catcher, but between a bunch of young studs emerging along with some stable vets, catcher is actually interesting and getting more and more so every year!
1. Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 2)
Smith claims the top spot in our catcher rankings after an outstanding 2021 season that saw him hit .258/.365/.485. He mashed a career-high 25 home runs and maintained his elite approach with a 20% K% and 12% BB%. He will be spending 2022 in the heart of the Dodgers’ lineup, which should be making fantasy owners drool. There are no holes in his game; he does everything well. This may be his only year as the top dynasty catcher with Adley Rutschman on the way, though Smith has the tools and skills to repeat. (Colin Coulahan)
2. Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 3)
There are not enough words to describe how good Adley Rutschman is. Everything about him is elite. Adley spent all of 2021 in the minors and demolished minor league pitching with a .899 OPS and 23 home runs. He has a next-level understanding of the strike zone, rarely swinging and missing. His 15% BB% was near the top of all minor league baseball. The combo of approach hit tool and power make Adley a future middle-of-the-order masher. He should be in Baltimore early in 2022 and could be the top catcher in next year’s rankings. (Colin Coulahan)
3. J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 1)
A shoulder injury plus the wear and tear of being a catcher hurt J.T. Realmuto’s 2021 season. His power numbers took a step backward, and the .782 OPS was his lowest in the last five years. His Whiff % was higher than you would like at 27%, and his barrel % fell to about league average. The bright point of his season was the career-high 13 stolen bases, but I wouldn’t count on those next year. An entire off-season of rest should help Realmuto bounce back in the power department, and he should be a top catcher for the next few years. (Colin Coulahan)
4. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 9)
Who saw this coming? Catchers in their 30’s are supposed to decline, not setting home run records. That’s precisely what Salvador Perez did; he broke the all-time home runs by a catcher record with 48. His exit velocity, barrel rate, and xwOBA were all elite. The only holes in his game are his mediocre approach (26 K% and 4% BB%), but he’s always been aggressive at the plate. Don’t let the age scare you off. Perez just rakes, and you should feel confident with him in your catcher spot heading into 2022. (Colin Coulahan)
5. Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 5)
Another 30-plus-year-old catcher who put up elite numbers, Yasmani Grandal saved his season in the second half. He hit .188/.388/.496 in the first half with a 26% K% and .189 BABIP. After getting surgery to repair a torn tendon in his knee and changing his batting stance, Grandal went nuclear in the second half. He slashed .337/.481/.673 with nine home runs. He set career bests in average exit velocity, hard-hit %, wOBA, and xwOBA (93 mph, 53%, .403, and .413). Now it’s safe to say Grandal won’t walk 23% of the time again, but a 15% BB%, 25 home runs, and a .800+ OPS are should be his floor in 2022. (Colin Coulahan)
6. Francisco Alvarez, New York Mets (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 14)
Francisco Alvarez started 2021 in Single-A and only needed two weeks to prove he was too advanced for the level, with a ludicrous .553 wOBA. He was promoted to High-A, where he hit 22 home runs in 84 games, with a .889 OPS. It almost feels silly to mention that his strikeout rate increased to 25%, especially when he walks 12% of the time. He has plus power, a strong arm and improved receiving skills. Alvarez is a future middle-of-the-order masher that should stick behind the plate for years to come. (Colin Coulahan)
7. Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 4)
Willson Contreras’ 2021 season had some ups and downs. His 11% BB% was a career-best, but his 29% K% was the highest it’s ever been. His .237 batting average was his worst, and his 35% whiff rate was also the highest of his career. It seems that he sacrificed contact for power, reaching new highs in Hard Hit % and max exit velocity (49% and 115 mph). He’s smack dab in the middle of his prime years so he should continue to hit for good power with solid on-base skills. (Colin Coulahan)
8. Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 10)
Here’s a fun fact – in 2021, Daulton Varsho started more games in the outfield than at catcher. That sentence highlights what his greatest weapon is, having catcher eligibility. After a rough start to the year, which resulted in a demotion to Triple-A, Varsho was recalled in late June and once made an everyday player hit .290/.349/.530 with ten home runs and five stolen bases in the 2nd half. He displayed a solid approach at the plate (21% K% and 10% BB%), has a high launch angle, and 80th percentile sprint speed. I wish he hit the ball harder; his 88 mph average exit velocity is below average. But he hits the ball in the air so much he doesn’t need to scald it. He has the potential to go 15-15, and getting that out of your catcher is a precious weapon. (Colin Coulahan)
9. Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 11)
Stop what you’re doing and turn your ears north. That’s that sound of the Alejandro Kirk train firing up. Despite the mediocre surface stats in 2021 (.242/.328/.436/.764), there’s a lot of reasons to be excited for Kirk. His K% and BB% are elite (12% and 10%). He doesn’t chase pitches outside of the zone. The 19% Whiff rate is absurdly low. The .378 xwOBA is near the top of the league. All of the batted ball data hints that he should have done better. While the catching situation in Toronto is murky at best with Danny Jansen, Reese McQuire, and top prospect Gabriel Moreno in the picture, Kirk cannot be kept off the field if he hits like this. (Colin Coulahan)
10. Tyler Soderstrom, Oakland Athletics (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 21)
Tyler Soderstrom started his pro career in High-A at only 19 years old and went off. In 57 games, he hit .306, with 12 home runs, and posted a .412 wOBA. The approach is advanced, and the hit tool is easily plus. There is a potential for 30 home runs from Soderstrom as he continues to mature and get stronger; he’s already hitting 108 mph exit velocities. Defense is currently Soderstrom’s biggest weakness. He’s struggled with blocking and receiving, but he’s garnered great reviews from the Oakland coaching staff on his athleticism and work ethic. Soderstrom could be the top-catching prospect a year from now. (Colin Coulahan)