A ranking of the 10 best catchers to target in fantasy baseball drafts for the 2017 MLB season.
1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Posey's well-roundedness easily makes him the top catcher on the market. Though it was a bit of a down year by his standards -- his .288 average, 14 home runs and 80 RBIs were his worst in each category since 2011 when he missed most of the season after sustaining multiple injuries in an infamous home plate collision -- Posey led all catchers with 82 runs and a .362 OBP. Posey, who will turn 30 before the season, has been extremely durable, playing in at least 146 games the last five seasons. In some formats, he lost first base eligibility after playing just 15 games there last season, but he averaged about 32 games per season there from 2012 to 2015, so he could earn it back at some point during the season.
2. Jonathan Lucroy, Texas Rangers
Lucroy finished in the top five among catchers in all five major offensive categories (.292 BA, 24 HRs, 81 RBIs, 62 Rs, 5 SBs). The veteran sacrificed contact for power to some degree, dipping below an 80 percent contact rate for the first time since 2011 and striking out 100 times for the first time in his career. The move from Milwaukee to Texas at last year's trade deadline will give Lucroy more chances to DH, which should help him stay in the lineup as he enters his age 30 season.
3. Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
What a start. The Yankees recalled Sanchez from the minors on Aug. 3 after releasing Alex Rodriguez, and the kid far exceeded expectations. In 53 games, he slashed .299/.376/.657 with 20 home runs, 42 RBIs and 34 runs. It's a small sample size, and his 24.9 percent strikeout rate is something to be wary of, but the 24-year-old seems to have the makings of the next great Yankee.
4. Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
After getting called up in mid-June, Contreras hit .282 with 12 home runs, 35 RBIs and 33 runs in 76 games to earn the starting catching job from veteran Miguel Montero. But Cubs manager Joe Maddon has praised Montero during spring training and said he could be more than a once-a-week catcher. Fortunately, Contreras, 24, has the versatility to play leftfield and first base, which will help him stay in the lineup.
5. J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
Realmuto's a rare breed: a catcher who can run. He led all catchers with 12 steals and was the only one with both double-digit steals and home runs (11). Realmuto's average contact rate and poor walk rate leave a lot to be desired, but his proficiency on the basepaths is enough to make him a top-five catcher.
6. Evan Gattis, Houston Astros
Gattis got a big boost to his fantasy value last season as he regained catcher eligibility with 55 games. Playing time will be a big question mark for Gattis, though, as the Astros' additions of Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran will take away time at catcher and DH. Gattis, 30, led all catchers with 32 home runs last season and has hit at least 20 in each of the past four seasons, despite only exceeding 500 at-bats once. He's proven he can put up big home runs numbers in limited playing time.
7. Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers
Grandal's display of power and patience make him one of the best, if not underrated, catchers in the game. He hit a career-high 27 home runs last season, and while his career average is .238, his OBP has been at least 100 points higher than his average in each of the past three seasons. Grandal has been bothered by injuries the past two seasons, but from last July on he looked as healthy as ever. He slashed .267/.376/.581 with 20 home runs in his last 69 games of the season. Coming off a hot finish and entering the year healthy, Grandal should be in for a big season.
8. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Known as a free-swinger, Perez had a career-worst 21.8 strikeout percentage in 2016 and continued to have a dreadful walk rate. Perez's trend of sacrificing average for power continued as he hit a career-worst .247 with a career-high 22 home runs. Perez has played in at least 139 games and recorded at least 514 at-bats in each of the last three seasons, and despite suffering left knee and elbow injuries in a home plate collision during the World Baseball Classic, he's expected to be ready for Opening Day.
9. Russell Martin, Toronto Blue Jays
Martin was hampered by neck stiffness early in the season that seemed to affect him at the plate. The veteran got off to a rocky start, hitting just .197 with three home runs through the first two months before turning it around and hitting .247, closer to his .254 career average, with 17 home runs from June on. He also had a career-worst 27.7 strikeout percentage compared with his 17.4 percent career average. Despite the high strikeout rate, Martin continued to walk at a high clip as he has throughout his career. Martin, 34, had at least 20 home runs in each of his two seasons at the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, and after undergoing minor offseason surgery on his left knee, he appears healthy.
10. Brian McCann, Houston Astros
McCann hit at least 20 home runs in 10 of his last 11 seasons, but he had the benefit of the short porch in rightfield at Yankee Stadium for the last three. Minute Maid Park is more of a neutral park for lefthanded hitters, but with Tal's Hill gone and dead center dropping from 435 to 409 feet, it should become more homer-friendly. McCann's struggles against lefthanders became more evident last season, and with a power-hitting righthander in Evan Gattis behind him on the depth chart, he'll need to rectify that to stay in the lineup.