As usual, the dropoff from the top catchers in the game is pretty steep. If you can’t grab one of the top guys in your draft, you’re likely better off saving your draft pick on another position and picking up someone cheap from the pack. There’s no sense in panicking and overpaying for a league average guy like Grandal or McCann when most guys will give you a dozen homers with a .235 average.
One factor that affects the catching position more than any other is playing time, as many managers will rest their starters at least once a week. Pay attention to historical games played, especially if the player is with the same manager as in years past.
Taking all of that into account, here are my predictions for catcher rankings in 2018:
1. Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees (2017 Stats:.278/.345/.531, 4.1 WAR)
Even if he drops off from his 33 HR and 90 RBI season last year, Sanchez finds himself in the enviable position of batting right behind Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge and National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton in 2018. Still just 25, the right-handed catcher will likely improve on his already good batting eye and pump up his OBP above .350 in 2108. Though he won’t help in steals (very few backstops will), he’ll have 30+ homers and great counting stats in a loaded lineup. Prediction: .280 BA, 30 HR, 94 RBI, .353 OBP, 2 SB
2. Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs (2017 Stats:.276/.356/.499, 3.9 WAR)
Contreras strained his hamstring in August sitting at 21 homers and never really got his power stroke back when he returned in mid-September. Nevertheless, he showed that his promising 2016 debut wasn’t a fluke, nearly matching his .357 OBP and putting up similar ratios. Like Sanchez, Contreras benefits from hitting in the middle of an excellent lineup. A healthy Willson can sneak a stolen base now and again, too. Prediction: .280 BA, 25 HR, 84 RBI, .355 OBP, 5 SB
3. J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins? (2017 Stats:.278/.332/.451, 3.6 WAR)
Realmuto is the catching position’s version of a triple threat. He’s increased his power production each of his three full seasons in the major leagues, and has double-digit steal potential. He still doesn’t walk a ton, but won’t kill you in OBP leagues. A candidate for a big year in his age 27 season, especially if he’s dealt to a better team this spring. Prediction: .290 BA, 17 HR, 76 RBI, .335 OBP, 11 SB
4. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants (2017 Stats:.320/.400/.462, 4.0 WAR)
Still a very good player, but 31-year-old Posey may be on his way down the lists after this year. Buster’s great numbers came despite the third-lowest OPS+ of his career, and a fluke .347 BABIP. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll be a top guy behind the plate, but don’t expect numbers like last year even with McCutchen and Longoria in tow. Prediction: .286 BA, 16 HR, 62 RBI, .360 OBP, 5 SB
5. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (2017 Stats:.268/.297/.495, 2.5 WAR)
Perez missed nearly three weeks last summer with a strained intercostal, yet still managed to bang out 27 homers and drive in 80. Not one to take a walk, he’s a liability in OBP leagues but could redeem himself with counting stats. Prediction: .255 BA, 24 HR, 70 RBI, .291 OBP, 1 SB