2017 Outlook: Though he might fall short in his quest to lead his position in any one category, Posey's consistency, as well as his hit-for-average/hit-for-power combination, makes him the most stable, and wisest, investment among catchers. Consider his average annual stat line in the past four seasons: .303 batting average, 18 home runs, 84 RBIs, 72 runs scored, plus 148 games played, a remarkable measure of durability. As volume carries much influence upon points-based scoring at the catcher position, Posey is potentially a top-40 overall pick there, whereas in Rotisserie leagues it's debatable whether he's that valuable or closer to a top-60 pick. Whether your league uses one or two catchers or is greater than 10 or 12 teams influences, as the larger the league, the greater his value relative to replacement level.
2017 Outlook: All aboard the hype train! Recalled from the minors upon Alex Rodriguez's release last Aug. 3, Sanchez went on a massive power tear, his 20 home runs in his first 51 big-league games matching Wally Berger's all-time record for quickest to that career threshold. As a result, Sanchez's perceived fantasy appeal is sky-high, often hailed the first pick at his position (and a top-50 overall selection at that). The small-sample caveat does apply, however, and Sanchez's .225 batting average and 29.7 percent strikeout rate from Sept. 1 forward do show some holes in his overall game. There's no denying his power is legit, and his position-leading 225 plate appearances after his recall grant him maximum counting-number potential, but it's a dangerous thing to assume instant stardom with no adjustment period from a player like this. Sanchez's draft stock, too, is highly variable dependent upon league type -- is it a 10-team or larger league, and do you start one catcher or two -- and as our rankings are based upon the 10-team, one-catcher standard, he's ranked as many as four to five rounds lower than he might be in a 12-team, two-catcher league. He's also potentially less valuable in points-based scoring, where his power-and-K's approach casts greater risk.
2017 Outlook: Make no mistake: Lucroy the Ranger, fantasy-wise, is not more valuable than Lucroy the Brewer. A heart-of-the-order, high-average/contact-oriented hitter while with the latter, the veteran catcher generally slotted sixth in the former's lineup following his July trade, diminishing the volume advantage he once had, and he traded some contact for more pop. This manifested more in points-based scoring, where his value shifted closer to that of Rotisserie: A contender for the No. 1 draft pick at his position, but probably wiser ranked second or third. Lucroy surely has more years like this to offer, but don't let the Rangers uniform fool you into paying a hefty premium.
2017 Outlook: If you keep in mind the lengthier-than-usual learning curve young catchers face (partly the result of the position's defensive demands), Contreras' 2016 debut was outstanding. He flashed ability to hit for both average and power, though his 55.4 percent ground-ball rate and history of high contact rates in the minors suggested the former is his more stable category in the short term. Two major questions remain: How will the Cubs divvy up the catcher starts between him and Miguel Montero, and will there be enough at-bats at first base, the corner outfield spots and/or DH (in the team's 10 games at American League parks) to inflate Contreras' counting numbers? As the team's future at the position, he should get a healthy amount of playing time, making him a top-five pick. Montero's experience, though, could earn him a surprisingly large share of the catching time, which makes Contreras a riskier pick within that group in points leagues.
2017 Outlook: Hey everybody: It's a catcher who can steal a base! Realmuto's double-digit ability in the stolen-base department is a rarity at his position, that small contribution buoying his fantasy value and thrusting him into the top 10 most valuable backstops. Unfortunately, there's not a lot to love otherwise, as Realmuto's ground-ball leaning, so-so quality of contact and poor walk rate suggest his 2016 hitting numbers might be his baseline (if not somewhat generous), holding him back from a legitimate run at the upper tiers at the position. He's a high-floor, but low-ceiling pick worth targeting in the middle rounds, and in points leagues, he's at much greater risk of being overpriced.
2017 Outlook: One of the more underrated catchers in the game, Grandal possesses a trio of attractive traits to any big-league team: Power, patience and pitch framing. He set a career high with 27 home runs in 2016, 15 of them hit after the All-Star break, and he has enjoyed an on-base percentage more than 100 points higher than his batting average in each of the past three seasons, making him an especially appealing -- and arguably top-five capable a this position -- pick in points-based leagues. The Dodgers intend to make Grandal their workhorse backstop in 2016, and considering the dearth of talent behind the plate, that could make him one of the wiser mid-round investments if you pass on the brand-name catchers.
2017 Outlook: The key stat from Gattis' 2016 was his games played at catcher: 55. His return to a part-time role there was a huge boon to his value, as his immense power is considerably more valuable compared to his catcher brethren than limited only to DH. Whether Gattis can repeat his 128 games played and 499 plate appearances, however, is the one lingering doubt about his 2017 fantasy potential, as the Astros brought in Brian McCann as their starting catcher during the winter. Expect Gattis to serve as a lesser-used backup backstop and perhaps the Astros' leader in starts at DH, and if he can reach those playing-time benchmarks, he'll stand an excellent chance at repeating his 2016 stat line. He has embraced a pull-happy, fly-ball approach, one that could make him slightly riskier in points leagues than Rotisserie, but in either format he's a top-five catcher candidate simply because 30 homers is so rare at the position.
2017 Outlook: A notoriously free-swinging hitter, Perez swung a major league-leading 42 percent of the time at non-strikes in 2016, resulting in a massive boost to his strikeout rate (career-high 21.8 percent). Part of that was his seemingly deliberately shifting his launch angle, sacrificing batting average for more power, but it came at the expense of dropping his value by a few spots at his position in points leagues. As one of the game's best defensive catchers, Perez should continue to challenge for the games-played and plate-appearance leads at the position, plenty to assure him a top-10 fantasy finish there, but he's probably not a player destined for more growth in 2017.
2017 Outlook: Martin set a career high with his 27.7 percent strikeout rate and regressed significantly in performance against fastballs -- previously an elite skill of his -- but neck stiffness that fueled an awful start to his season might well have contributed. He batted .252/.367/.447 in his final 98 games, much closer to his traditional rates, ones that make him a top-10 Rotisserie catcher but one with a shot at top-five status in points-based leagues due to his penchant for walks. Martin should provide more of the same in 2017, thanks to Rogers Centre's favorable hitting confines.
2017 Outlook: Rendered expendable by the Yankees' youth movement, McCann was traded to Houston this winter, where he'll return to his familiar catcher role after finishing 2016 as a pinstriped DH. The move carries some risk: He sported career-worsts in strikeout (20.1 percent) and contact rates (76.9 percent) in 2016, and had become an extreme pull hitter, perhaps influenced by Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch. McCann will need to address those skills weaknesses in order to fully rebound, and his declining performance against left-handed pitchers is another indicator of the aging curve, but he still provides enough pop to be a top-10 fantasy option at his position.
2017 Outlook: Molina's thumb issues of 2014-15 suddenly became a thing of the past last season, as he easily led the league in innings caught (1,218 1/3) and concluded what was a significant bounce-back year with astonishing .365/.398/.539 triple-slash rates in 65 second-half contests. Restored were his elite contact and line drive rates, traits that bode well for his ability to approach and possibly repeat the effort, as well as provide him one of the highest statistical floors of any catcher. Molina is again a borderline top-10 Rotisserie catcher and absolutely a member of that group in points-based leagues.
2017 Outlook: He hasn't yet become the future superstar scouts predicted, but Wieters has settled in as a serviceable big-league regular, and a borderline top-10 fantasy option at the thin position of catcher. Now with the Nationals, Wieters no longer has the benefit of a homer-friendly home ballpark, so much of his underlying power metrics probably shouldn't be overrated. If he stays healthy -- something that has been an issue in recent years -- he could provide a .270 batting average and 20-plus home runs, but he's the type of catcher who might be more name than true value.
2017 Outlook: Castillo is a serviceable catcher, both in the real and fantasy games, but mind his trends: He's improving incrementally as a defensive backstop, with better framing and throwing metrics than the man he replaced in Baltimore, Matt Wieters, but is also becoming less of a fly-ball and more of a line-drive hitter, which adversely impacts his power. Once again he'll call a hitting-friendly environment his home, but his base line might be closer to a .250 batting average and 15-20 home runs than something more. That makes him a fringe standard-league catcher, and more of a No. 2 mixed-league option.
2017 Outlook: After a surprisingly good 2015, Vogt's numbers regressed to the mean last season; these were more representative of his true skill. Thanks to his penchant for walks, he's a much better choice in points-based leagues, where he's a top-10 catcher option, than Rotisserie, where he'd be a clear No. 2 option in two-catcher leagues. Vogt struggles against lefties, casting him an ideal platoon partner, and he has a two-year history of cooling as the season progresses, making him a player you might want to shop around mid-year.
2017 Outlook: After three disappointing years to begin his big-league career, Zunino returned to Triple-A Tacoma to begin 2016, where he was tasked with working on his approach and discipline at the plate. A .286/.376/.521 triple-slash line in 79 games there earned him a recall in July, after which point he indeed exhibited improvements, most notably his 10.7 percent walk rate and .262 isolated power. Zunino remained a high-strikeout, all-or-nothing type even during this time, but he at least appeared to be a catcher with a fighting chance, and one now much more appealing in points-based scoring. Among the No. 2 catcher tier, he's one of the higher-upside picks, though he's one with a steep downside if your league counts batting average as a category.