2021 Fantasy Baseball Rankings (NL)
Expert Consensus Ranking (55 of 55 Experts) -
|Rank||Player (Team, Position)||Overall||Notes|
|1||J.T. Realmuto (PHI - C)||30||29.0||-1.0||
Realmuto fractured the thumb on his throwing hand in mid-February, and is iffy for Opening Day. He is in a tier to himself among catchers when healthy, putting up consistently excellent numbers in what is the thinnest of positions. He had the highest barrel rate and hard hit percentage of his career in 2020, and also walked at a career-best pace. Realmuto is in his age-30 season, so that's getting near the point where catchers begin to decline. But given that he's shown no real slippage in his skills to this point, his numbers shouldn't fall off much in 2021, assuming he has no setbacks and returns on or around Opening Day. Back with Philadelphia now and for several years after signing a five-year contract, Realmuto is the only catcher worth drafting before the sixth or seventh round.
|2||Willson Contreras (CHC - C,DH)||77||65.0||-12.0||
Contreras has established a pretty decent baseline for what fantasy managers can expect over the course of a full season. He'll likely give you a floor of 15 home runs and 110 combined runs and RBI, with upside for more. Those numbers don't sound impressive, but they're enough to make Contreras a top-five catcher easily. Given his safety, there's an argument to be made to take him as high as second overall at the position. But, even so, there's no need to select him before the eighth round or so, as there's not an appreciable difference in the production of the next seven or eight catchers beyond J.T. Realmuto.
|3||Will Smith (LAD - C)||78||54.0||-24.0||
Smith had an outstanding 2020 season, walking a ton, striking out little, and getting on base at higher than a .400 clip. The power he showed in his 54-game stretch in 2019 remained, and he ranked in the top 10% of the league in wOBA, expected wOBA, and expected slugging percentage. Given how the Dodgers play the entire season with an eye toward the playoffs, as well as the presence of Keibert Ruiz, it's possible that Smith may get more rest than other catchers this year. But that's a minor point against someone who should be one of the top options at his position. He's no worse than a top-five catcher, and there's a good argument that he should be the second player selected at his position.
|4||Travis d'Arnaud (ATL - C,1B)||87||79.0||-8.0||
It took a long time but d'Arnaud has finally developed into one of the best hitting catchers in the game, as he was projected to be. It's difficult to quite buy what we saw last year, considering d'Arnaud's batting average (.321) and slugging percentage (.533) were miles ahead of his career marks, and even the numbers that he had put up in recent seasons. With that said, he'll bat in the middle of a strong Braves lineup and be presented with plenty of RBI opportunities, so 15 home runs with 55 RBI should be considered the floor for a healthy d'Arnaud. Those numbers aren't just passable, they're extremely strong for a catcher in fantasy, and he should be drafted as a relatively strong first catcher in mixed leagues.
|5||James McCann (NYM - C)||110||95.0||-15.0||
McCann will be the everyday catcher for the Mets after putting up his second consecutive successful season for the White Sox. After putting up a .789 OPS in 2019, he jumped up to an .896 mark in 2020, setting a career-high in walk rate. McCann was a part-timer last year, so his rate stats will likely dip as he takes over a heavy workload with the Mets (Wilson Ramos ranked fourth among catchers in plate appearances the last two seasons). But counting stats should be there in spades in a strong Mets lineup. He should be drafted as a starting catcher in 12-team formats.
|6||Austin Nola (SD - C,1B,2B) IL10||131||113.0||-18.0||
Nola has proven to be a quality bat for a catcher over the last two seasons, batting .271 with 17 home runs in 127 games over that span. He's in a great situation with the Padres, even if he will be batting at the bottom of the lineup, but a fractured finger will likely lead him to begin the season on the IL. Depending on how much time he'll miss, that could create a buying opportunity, as his ADP should drop a bit. As long he isn't projected to miss more than a couple of weeks, take the discount and enjoy premium production from the catcher position for the rest of the season.
|7||Buster Posey (SF - C,1B)||160||127.0||-33.0||
Posey sat out the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and concern for the health of his adopted daughters, but he returns this year for what is almost certainly his final season with the Giants and perhaps his career. Posey is in his age-34 season, ancient for a catcher, and he's coming off two seasons during which he totaled a .741 OPS and a .688 OPS in 2018 and 2019 respectively. But he's healthy and appears refreshed, and the changes to Oracle Park last year should work in his benefit now. He's outside the top-12 catchers, but you can get away with him in a one-catcher league in a pinch.
|8||Yadier Molina (STL - C)||158||125.0||-33.0||
The ageless wonder is back for another year in St. Louis as he enters his age-39 season. Molina isn't what he once was - the token stolen bases are gone and his runs scored continue to decline. But he has yet to fall off a cliff in either batting average of power, and his numbers there are still mildly enticing for a catcher. The run is going to end some day, perhaps this year, but the cost is that of a middling second catcher, and his track record suggests he'll again be worth that price.
|9||Carson Kelly (ARI - C)||162||146.0||-16.0||
After an impressive 2019 season during which he hit 18 home runs in just 111 games, Kelly had a down 2020, batting just .221 with five long balls. Kelly's walk rate regressed significantly to just 4.7%, and he showed little of the patience that brought him success in 2019. Daulton Varsho is a threat to his playing time, but it seems like Kelly will have the lead role behind the plate, with Varsho filling in and getting time at outfield. That should make Kelly a borderline startable catcher in most mixed leagues, assuming he can bounce back from his down 2020 campaign.
|10||Jorge Alfaro (MIA - C)||177||153.0||-24.0||
Alfaro batted just .226 in 2020, but he hit .262 from 2018-2019, along with 28 home runs in 238 games. He has been criticized for his defense, but he reportedly worked on it during the offseason and has received some praise this spring. After flirting with trade talk, the Marlins look like they'll stick with Alfaro, and his bat plays well enough to make him a high-end second catcher in mixed leagues. The stardom that some projected may never come, but he'll likely be fantasy-relevant in 2020.
|11||Daulton Varsho (ARI - C,LF,CF) MiLB||152||118.0||-34.0||
Varsho was optioned to Triple-A, which was mildly surprising, though not entirely unexpected. He saw plenty of action between catcher and the outfield last year for the Diamondbacks, and although he batted just .188, he hit three home runs and stole three bases. That may not sound like much but for a catcher-eligible player in 37 games, it's plenty. Varsho was optioned less because of his talent level and more because the Diamondbacks' roster is pretty full, especially with the signing of Asdrubal Cabrera,. There's a ton of potential for Varsho, given that he was a high-average hitter during his minor-league career, but fantasy managers will need to wait a bit longer for him to become someone to start in fantasy leagues.
|12||Yan Gomes (WSH - C)||220||184.0||-36.0|
|13||Omar Narvaez (MIL - C)||191||169.0||-22.0|
|14||Elias Diaz (COL - C)||219||214.0||-5.0|
|15||Jacob Stallings (PIT - C)||242||237.0||-5.0|
|16||Tucker Barnhart (CIN - C)||221||267.0||+46.0|
|17||Joey Bart (SF - C) MiLB||246||222.0||-24.0|
|18||Tyler Stephenson (CIN - C)||293||215.0||-78.0|
|19||Victor Caratini (SD - C,1B,DH)||265||252.0||-13.0|
|20||Andrew Knizner (STL - C)||310||312.0||+2.0|
|21||Austin Barnes (LAD - C)||287||218.0||-69.0|
|22||Chadwick Tromp (SF - C)|
|23||Austin Romine (CHC - C)||304||325.0||+21.0|
|24||Dom Nunez (COL - C)||228||338.0||+110.0|
|25||Alex Avila (WSH - C)||294||379.0||+85.0|
|26||Kyle Farmer (CIN - C,1B,2B,3B,SS)||452||354.0||-98.0|
|27||William Contreras (ATL - C) MiLB||297||227.0||-70.0|
|28||Stephen Vogt (ARI - C,LF)||300||363.0||+63.0|
|29||Keibert Ruiz (LAD - C) MiLB||455||348.0||-107.0|
|30||Curt Casali (SF - C)||320||340.0||+20.0|
|31||Andrew Knapp (PHI - C)||318||331.0||+13.0|
|32||Luis Campusano (SD - C)||309||301.0||-8.0|
|33||Manny Pina (MIL - C)||308||362.0||+54.0|
|34||Chad Wallach (MIA - C)||322||402.0||+80.0|
|35||Tomas Nido (NYM - C)||334||281.0||-53.0|
|36||Tony Wolters (CHC - C) MiLB||457||289.0||-168.0|
|37||Michael Perez (PIT - C)||347|
|38||Alex Jackson (ATL - C)||438|
|39||Jacob Nottingham (MIL - C) IL10||435||367.0||-68.0|
|40||Tyler Heineman (STL - C) MiLB|
|41||Sandy Leon (MIA - C) MiLB||469|
|42||Welington Castillo (WSH - C) MiLB||458|
|43||Jose Briceno (COL - C) MiLB||465|
|44||Beau Taylor (CIN - C) MiLB||466|