THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2022 TOP 40 DYNASTY LEAGUE CATCHERS, #21-40
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The rankings continue today with Catchers #21-40, and yes, if you’re wondering, portions of this landscape are as bleak as they sound. But to reiterate our fearless leader, Keaton O. DeRocher, fear not! We poured our heart and souls and all of our grumpy, dorky energy into these writeups in order to make them as informational (and fun!) as possible. Happy reading!
21. Mike Zunino, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 70)
2021 was a banner year for Mike Zunino, as he set career-highs in homers (33) and wRC+ (134) with an absolutely dominant 24.3% barrel rate for the first-place Rays. And after a .182/.247/.368 slash with 33 homers from 2018-2020 combined, I’m happy to file his season away into the “Things I Love To See” folder.
But I do have my doubts, particularly about the overall sustainability of this kind of fantasy output. The trouble I see is that, while he mashes the ball when he hits it, his contact rate both in 2021 (63.7%) and over his career (65.3%) are significantly lower than league average. There’s very little margin for error for a career .202 hitter, especially one whose production largely depends on homers and counting stat accumulation.
So do not be deceived! Instead, think about what Gandalf would do if he played dynasty baseball, as I’m sure he did. The wise wizard would confront the Deceiver, whack him softly in the dome with his proverbial “Trade Block” stick, and trade him far, far away while he still could. (Taylor Case)
22. Omar Narváez, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 33)
Omar Narvaez pulled off a nice Gandalf-esque rebound season in 2021 after an abysmal 2020, and I’m sad to report I rostered him in exactly zero leagues. Kudos if you were in the know and were counting on said rebound because I very quickly saw that gloomy 59 wRC+ and 31.0% strikeout rate and said, peace!
What can I say, catchers scare me. The whole lot of them.
In any case, while I’m not necessarily “in” on Narvaez moving forward (I had him ranked at #30 as opposed to #22 in the consensus), I’ve definitely reconsidered taking him as a late-round flyer for my 2022 leagues. The platoon risk is a real (.152 batting average against LHP in 2021 and .205 in his career), but heck, how many plate appearances are you expecting from your backup catcher anyway? Here’s hoping he shows up in his white robes in 2022 instead of those gloomy greys. (Taylor Case)
23. Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 20)
The second year in a row I have to write up Mitch Garver! C’mon! At least he had a better year than he did in 2020…which is coincidentally something I’m wishing for everyone…but I digress!
Heading into last season, I pondered many a thing when it came to Mitch Garver, much like Boromir pondered stealing the One Ring from a small child-like figure on his way to Mordor. Was it safe to draft him despite his abysmal contact rate? Could he stay healthy? Was 2019, a season where he posted 31 dingers and a .365 OBP just a figment of my imagination, a ring to gaze upon within arm’s reach but never truly be Gondor’s for the taking?
Well, yes, perhaps it was. While Garver upped his contact rate a bit closer to his career numbers and league average, I still worry that he doesn’t hit the ball enough to demand everyday playing time. That being said, if he can maintain his health, he appears to have a nice floor to contribute across four categories, with a ceiling much higher than a 23rd ranked catcher would suggest. (Taylor Case)
24. Austin Wells, New York Yankees (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 22)
You know who didn’t get enough love in the LOTR series? Eowyn. What an absolutely awesome woman. You know who didn’t enough love in our consensus catcher rankings this year?? Austin Frickin’ Wells! Now, I know what you’re thinking. Austin Wells didn’t disguise himself as a soldier of Rohan and ride off to war and eventually defeat the Witch-King of Angmar at the Battle of Pelennor Fields, now DID HE!? They have nothing in common!
You’d probably be right. I see that now. Regardless, Wells did put up a 16-homer, 16-steal season while slashing .264/.390/.476 across two levels of A-ball last season, which is…well…it’s nowhere close to what Eowyn accomplished. But for dynasty purposes, that kind of profile is extremely enticing in a landscape starved for stolen bases, especially for a catcher. I’m a little higher on his potential as I ranked him as my #18 catcher, and expect him to jump levels quickly next season as well. (Taylor Case)
25. Harry Ford, Seattle Mariners (Age: 18, Previous Rank: Unranked)
With a minimum ranking of #10 and a maximum ranking of, well, unranked, we TDG writers were all over the map on the newly drafted Mariners backstop. By most accounts, and from watching some film myself, the Georgia native has magnificent bat speed, something I’m always drawn to (see Nick Gonzales). Now, we didn’t get much of a sample size to go off of for Ford from the last year, but a .982 OPS with a handful of steals in the ACL last season is definitely intriguing. With most estimates for his MLB ETA set for 2024 or beyond, he’s still a long way off from contributing to any dynasty teams. And as is the case with most young catching prospects, I find I don’t have the patience to wait out their contributions. Will he be a Galadriel though, hidden away in a forest of deep dynasty leagues, a powerful force hardly anyone knows exists until the time is nigh?
Only time will tell. (Taylor Case)
26. Travis D’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 13)
Man. I thought Travis D’Arnaud had a chance to be Théoden reborn, released from Saruman’s sway and ready to be my late-round, sneaky top-10 catcher in 2021. Nope. Turns out he’s more like Denethor: falling into despair, stats propped up by a ridiculously unsustainable BABIP in 2020, playing time threatened by upstarts and injuries. At least he got his World Series
If I’m being honest, I don’t think I’ll roster D’Arnaud on a single team next season. I know STEAMER has him projected for a decent 17-homer, .734 OPS season with 115 runs and RBI, but I just don’t believe it anymore. Maybe you take a shot on him in a deep two-catcher league, but otherwise, it’s a hard pass for me. (Taylor Case)
27. Diego Cartaya, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 30)
Diego Cartaya is a good hitter. And if that hard-hitting #analysis doesn’t sway you on its own, let me explain.
A sturdily-built catcher (6’-3”, 219 pounds) with decent tools all around except for his speed, Cartaya raked last season for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in Low-A as he finished off the year with a strong 1.023 OPS and 0.49 BB/K, albeit in only 114 at-bats. Still, after a year away from hitting in a professional setting, he showed up ready to swing that axe all Gimli-style. I am a bit concerned that his strikeout rate jumped to 27%, but luckily his walks jumped as well, so I’ll take what I can get.
You want my secret opinion? If Will Smith wasn’t so dang good, and Keibert Ruiz now playing in D.C., we might be talking about this 20-year old backstop as a potential top-15 dynasty catcher in the next few years. Alas! We’ll just have to wait and see.
28. Ryan Jeffers, Minnesota Twins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 26)
How is it that Ryan Jeffers hit 14 home runs last year? Seriously, did you know that before you started reading this blurb? I think he might be the most under-the-radar catcher I’ve ever heard of. In any case, his batting average kinda stunk in 2021 and like some other players we’ve spoken about in the last few years, suffered from a serious case of high k-rate. There are positives (solid barrel rates, long history of good OBP’s) and negatives (platoon risk, strikeouts, big jump O-swing%), but at this point, I personally don’t have a lot of faith in his bat, despite my co-host Joe being the Chairman of the BFFJ Fan Club. That’s Best Friends For Jeffers, for those of you who don’t follow Joe on MySpace. Note: I’ll have to check with him on the state of his fandom – it may have waned post-2021.
Consider me out on Jeffers for 2022. He’ll just always be the little brother Faramir, looking up to big bro Boromir out there at #23. (Taylor Case)
29. Francisco Mejia, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 28)
I still really like Francisco Mejia. I’ve liked him ever since he became a Padre in 2018. The dude had it all: solid prospect pedigree, a great eye at the plate (at least in the minor leagues), and a little pop in his bat. Those skills haven’t popped off since he made it up into the majors full time, but we did still see a slight improvement in OBP, strikeout rate, and contact in the zone compared to 2020 and his career numbers during the 2021 season. I’m not saying he’s a serious breakout contender for next season, especially on a team who loves to platoon their players, but I consider him to be my “Legolas” for 2022. That late-round dart throw catcher who, if everything breaks just right, may just hit the bulls-eye. (Taylor Case)
30. Christian Vázquez, Boston Red Sox (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 12)
Once again, Christian Vazquez was not easy to rank this offseason. What are you supposed to do with a catcher who only hits a handful of homers, has middling quality-of-contact numbers but also stole the second most bases for a catcher in 2021 while contributing 100 runs and RBI across almost 500 plate appearances? Apparently, according to the cast and crew here at TDG, you simply ding him 18 spots in the consensus rankings! And while I had him ranked a smidge higher at #26 (and higher than Travis D’Arnaud, mind you), I still don’t really know what to do with him. I guess that comes with the territory when you get this far down the list.
All kidding aside, Vazquez still appears to be the man to beat in Boston, so we likely are not giving him his due – those plate appearances are not easy to find, and stat accumulation through playing time volume, at least when it comes to catchers, is nothing to sneeze at. A repeat of 2021 seems within reason, with maybe even a few more homers if you’re feeling lucky
All kidding included, this is why never liked Frodo. Is he a protagonist in the trilogy, or is he the singular villain holding the entire fellowship back? Who knows!? (Taylor Case)
31. Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays, (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 27)
Well, here we are, way down in the “mucky muck” for catchers. If you’re desperate enough to be reading these comments, I feel for you. Jansen who has been rather unspectacular in his tenure behind the plate has some upside. The plate skills have always intrigued, but he’s failed to have the same offensive breakout in the Majors as he had in the minors. That being said, he can likely be counted for a decent OBP and double-digit pop. That’s not worthless, but it’s not worth a whole lot either. Most people will be fawning over the potential of Kirk rather than the limited upside of Jansen. I’d advise you to do the same. (Patrick Magnus)
32. Austin Nola, San Diego Padres, (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 16)
Here we have Austin Nola and his sub .200 ISO. Out of the 156 batted balls for Nola in 2021, he managed to barrel only one, which is funny considering he has two homers. While Nola doesn’t provide pop, he isn’t a bad hitter. His three seasons in the bigs have seen him hover around a .270 batting average with a .340 OBP. There’s safety here in ratios, which you can’t count on for Jansen. However, Luis Campusano has seen some Major League ABs the past two seasons, and he really doesn’t have much to prove in the minors. I’d guess that Nola’s number of at-bats continues to shrink, as Campusano starts to eat into his playing time. Safer than some, but not all that much upside here. (Patrick Magnus)
33. Shea Langeliers, Atlanta Braves, (Age: 24,Previous Rank: 71)
Langeliers is a catching prospect I’m keeping an eye on. Scouting reports indicate that his glove is ready for the bigs, but there are concerns about the development of his bat. He had a big year in 2021, launching 22 bombs in 370 plate appearances. His sexy .240 ISO and 9.7% walk rate are balanced by his ugly 26.6% strikeout rate. A three-outcome bat isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a catcher. Personally, I put more stock in the patient slugging catchers than the lite-hitting Ruizes of the world. That being said, a big whiffing catcher isn’t exactly the safest of bets in dynasty baseball either. He’s restorable but don’t count on the second coming of Will Smith here. (Patrick Magnus)
34. Cal Raleigh, Seattle Mariners, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 31)
Can I interest you in a 25-year-old catcher who whiffed 35% in 148 PAs last year? Raleigh didn’t exactly hit the ground running, but he should get some more playtime in 2022 with the Mariners. He’s worked diligently at becoming a solid defender and has hit well at a couple of different stops in the minors. I’d expect the growing pains to continue for Raleigh, but he might be worth a roster spot in 24-30 teams rebuilding teams. The floor here is a quad A player, and the ceiling is a slightly above average offensive catcher. I suppose there are worse options. (Patrick Magnus)
35. Sam Huff, Texas Rangers, (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 19)
Sam Huff can smash. Light-tower-power here in this Texas bat, for a team who is building a more viable core. Huff has some name value, and some analysts are quite excited about his offensive potential. However, Huff whiffs just as hard as he swings. He has consistently whiffed at 30% or higher throughout his development. The dude has also failed to put up a double-digit walk rate since Rookie ball. I don’t mind a big whiffing slugger, but if you’re not going to walk then I have an issue. The power can be helpful though if you have your ratios covered elsewhere, but I wouldn’t expect much more than .300 OBP from the slugger. (Patrick Magnus)
36. Max Stassi, Los Angeles Angels, (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 55)
Like your catchers bad? Look no further. A slapdick hitting catcher who has put up double-digit homers once in his 9 professional seasons. If you’d like to channel your inner Angels and put together a roster of studs and scrubs, let me introduce you to your scrub catcher. Hey though, in 2020 (a perfectly normal season) he hit .270! Which was the first time he’s ever hit above .226 with more than 250 plate appearances. Don’t get stuck dreaming of how bad Stassi can be for your team, and draft him now before nobody else does. (Patrick Magnus)
37. James McCann, New York Mets, (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 25)
Allow me to introduce your starting catcher for your New York Mets, James McCann! Owning a career slash line of .246/.299/.387, he’s like Max Stassi but with more plate appearances. Also, throughout the entirety of his career, he has had some decent seasons, which Stassi has not. Why might you want McCann on your dynasty team? Perhaps you’re a masochistic met fan who simply can’t get enough of misery. Maybe you find beauty in sadness? If you’re a Mets fan, then you’re no stranger to bad. Go scoop up McCann and live that baseball disaster in fake baseball as well. (Patrick Magnus)
38. Ivan Herrera, St. Louis Cardinals, (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 29)
Wait, is there a catcher with the potential to hit all the way down here in this list? The Cardinals backstop has a solid approach at the plate. Throughout his time in the minors, he has done a great job at keeping his chase rates low, as well as being patient at the plate. His minor league exit velocites are nothing to write home about, but he makes enough contact that he should still provide value in ratios. Herrera could see himself much higher on this list next year. If there’s a catcher worth rostering in this section of our list, this is your dude. (Patrick Magnus)
39. Elias Díaz, Colorado Rockies, (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 77)
Looking for an older version of Danny Jansen? Look no further. Diaz should provide double-digit pop with a low, but not terrine OBP. He’s not a bad bet in average leagues either, as he can hit around .260. At the moment he seems all but locked in to receive the majority of the playing time behind the plate for the Rockies. The 31-year-old isn’t a terrible late flier for teams who forgot to actually care about the catching position. More viable in deep redrafts but not useless for those of you in the depths of 26-30 team leagues. (Patrick Magnus)
40. Jacob Stallings, Pittsburgh Pirates, (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 86)
If you’ve been stalling and haven’t taken a catcher until the very last round of your dynasty draft then maybe Jacob Stallings is the guy for you. He’s sort of like Diaz and Jansen in the ratio department, but will likely hit for even less pop than those guys. His 8 homers in 2021 was a career-high for the 31-year-old. Listen, if you’re drafting Stallings, you might want to rethink your life. Maybe dynasty baseball isn’t your thing after all? There are plenty of other things to do, and I’m sure you’re good at something else. Go outside and touch some grass. (Patrick Magnus)