2018 Outlook: Consider this: Sanchez has hit 53 home runs in 177 career big league games, the fourth most ever by any player through that many games. He's an incredible power source with the underlying metrics to support it, plus he plays in one of the most homer-friendly ballparks. In short, Sanchez is about as safe a bet for 30 homers as you'll find behind the plate, in an era when quality fantasy catchers are exceedingly scarce. In ESPN standard leagues, he's worthy of a top-50 overall pick, but in two-catcher leagues, he's even more desirable than that.
2018 Outlook: While Posey's annual numbers might seem solid though not spectacular, it's his consistency and high-volume role that's so appealing in fantasy. He has finished 49th, 47th, 131st and 130th on the Player Rater the past four years, but those also represent four of the seven such seasons with a finish of 131st or better by any catcher in those four years. Posey has also led all catcher-eligibles in plate appearances in two of those four years while averaging 602 across those four, something that's most advantageous in points-based leagues and Rotisserie formats that start two catchers or have 15-plus teams. While his power metrics are slowly declining and he's now 31 years old, he should again be one of the most trusted picks at his position, with the question being this: How important is it to you to get a reliable catcher? The case can be made he warrants a top-40 pick in leagues in which the replacement pool is thinnest, but in standard ESPN leagues, in which streaming catchers is a valid strategy, the case can be made he's not even one of the three best at his position or a top-100 pick.
2018 Outlook: Though a right hamstring strain cost him a month's time during it, Contreras' second half provided much room for optimism: He batted .305/.407/.586 with 10 home runs in 38 games. During it, he boosted his contact rate to 79.7 percent, much more in line with his minor league rates, and despite a disconcerting 54.9 percent ground-ball rate during that span he flashed decent power. Contreras needs to elevate the ball more to truly break out, but that might require one small tweak, meaning he's a player to watch during spring training. He's also one of the most exciting up-and-coming catchers in fantasy and firmly belongs in the top three at the position in all formats.
2018 Outlook: Presenting the result of a hitter selling out contact and batting average in the quest for home runs. Perez's home run total has risen in each of his seven big-league seasons, culminating in 2017's career-high 27, but in exchange he's now only a .250-.260 hitter rather than the .300 candidate he appeared to be at the time of his big-league debut. This hasn't changed his Rotisserie value, as his categorical assistance has merely shifted, but he's slightly less attractive in points-based leagues because of his low walk total and lack of discipline -- he has been the most apt player in baseball to chase a pitch out of the zone in each of the past two seasons. Perez's strong defense, however, makes him a top-five catcher regardless of format, as it drives his playing time and therefore counting numbers.
2018 Outlook: Word that Gattis will serve as the Astros' primary designated hitter in 2018 is a promising development for his fantasy value, as he'll be a catcher-eligible player who doesn't have to deal with the physical strain (and resulting limitation on his playing time) of regular behind-the-plate action. That said, the Astros do have many candidates for DH at-bats, so don't simply assume Gattis will be an every-single-day player capable of 600-plus trips to the plate. Gattis' power took a tumble in 2017, but in exchange he made more consistent contact, meaning his value enters the year somewhat in question. His skill set suggests he's the same middling-average, good-power bat he has always been, a .260-25 candidate whose playing time makes him a legitimate top-five catcher candidate in Rotisserie formats. Maintaining his contact-rate gains would make him a clear member of that group in points-based formats.
2018 Outlook: One of the few proven regulars remaining in Miami, Realmuto might not be long for the city. For as long as he remains there, though, he'll occupy a prime lineup spot while challenging for the most games played behind the plate, fueling his plate appearances and, therefore, his fantasy value. He's coming off a season having set personal bests in home runs (17), RBIs (65), slugging percentage (.451), isolated power (.173) and well-hit average (.181), and his 28 stolen bases during the past three years are 13 more than any other catcher. Realmuto is one of the rare five-category Rotisserie contributors behind the plate, making him a clear top-five positional option in all formats.
2018 Outlook: Stop us if you've heard this one before: Player elevates his launch angle, hits more homers in 2017 than he has in years. Molina's 18 homers last season wasn't a new career high, but it was one shy of his total in the previous three years combined. He accomplished it with a slight shift towards elevating, with more than five degrees added to his launch angle and his second-highest career fly-ball rate. He also pulled the ball -- his 43 percent rate was a career high -- and, while he traded some contact to do it, his career-low 85.2 percent contact rate was still 20th-best among batting title-eligibles. In short, Molina doesn't appear to have substantially changed his game, and at age 35 he's likely to regress closer to his previous batting average-driven performance than add more power. His elite defense continues to place him among the leaders in plate appearances as a catcher, fueling his counting numbers, so expect him to again be one of the safest top-10 picks at the position.
2018 Outlook: Zunino's power is immense, but his penchant for strikeouts leaves him wildly streaky and threatens to ruin a Rotisserie team's batting average. In 2017, for the third consecutive season, his struggles were significant enough that he suffered a demotion to Triple-A Tacoma, though following his recall he batted .270/.349/.571 with 25 home runs in 100 games, making him one of the more interesting picks on the fringe of the top-10 fantasy catchers. Zunino's bloated .373 BABIP during that time span is entirely unsustainable, but in Rotisserie leagues, if you can pad your team's batting average elsewhere, his viable chance at a 30-homer breakthrough is worth the gamble in the mid-to-late rounds.
2018 Outlook: An October 2016 ACL reconstruction cast a shadow on the breakout season that preceded it, and caused Ramos to spend much of 2017 working his way back up to full strength. Though his final numbers were forgettable, in large part because he made his way into only 64 games, he did show signs of recapturing his prior form in the waning weeks of the season, batting .293 with eight home runs in 41 games from Aug. 1 forward. In the process, Ramos showed similarly strong contact and hard-contact rates to his big 2016. Better health in 2018 could propel him into the top-10 fantasy catcher conversation. Considering how weak the position, it's worth taking that chance.
2018 Outlook: Despite splitting time with Caleb Joseph in the second half while battling lower-body injuries in 2017, Castillo set career highs in home runs (20), average (.282) and runs (44) in just 365 plate appearances, his fewest since 2012. Those numbers validated the notion that the 30-year-old is one of baseball's better offensive backstops, with hard-hit rates of 38 percent or higher each of the past three seasons supporting his homer production and elevated BABIPs. Although Castillo hasn't logged more than 113 games in any of his five full seasons, he's likely to earn a larger workload -- health permitting -- in 2018 after inking a two-year, $15 million deal with the White Sox over the winter. The departure from Baltimore comes with a downgrade in supporting cast, but an uptick in at-bats along with the likelihood that he assumes a more prominent lineup spot translates to a net improvement in Castillo's fantasy outlook.
2018 Outlook: Grandal is a dangerous fantasy pick entering 2018, partly because his Dodgers are likely to employ some degree of a time share between him and Austin Barnes, partly because Grandal appears to be trading plate discipline for a more fly-ball/power-oriented approach. The latter doesn't change his Rotisserie value much, since he has always been a batting-average liability, but the drop in walks/on-base percentage hurts him significantly in points-based leagues, where he's no longer a top-10 positional candidate either. Grandal's role is paramount, as he'd be a worthy No. 2 option in mixed leagues if he even splits the time evenly with Barnes, but be forewarned that the split might favor the latter.
2018 Outlook: Almost everything that could've gone wrong for Lucroy in 2017 did, and it's damning that he spent the entirety of the year in two of the most hitting-rich environments in all of baseball, first at Texas' Globe Life Park, then at Colorado's Coors Field following a mid-season trade. That could explain how he lingered on the free-agent market so deep into the offseason, and now he'll have to attempt a rebound in a pitching-friendly venue in the Oakland Coliseum. Lucroy's lone bright spots were his personal bests in terms of his swinging-strike (4.5 percent) and chase (22.9 percent) rates, so he shouldn't be written off as done -- yet. It's difficult to regard him a clear fantasy starter in Oakland, though, and he's better served as a speculative No. 2 backstop in a two-catcher mixed league.
2018 Outlook: The 34-year-old Iannetta had one of the better offensive seasons of his 12-year career, putting up a .254/.354/.511 line in 316 plate appearances. That slugging percentage represented a career high, while his 17 homers were his most since 2008. The veteran catcher left Arizona this offseason for one of the few better hitting environments in the league, returning to Colorado, where he spent the first six years of his career. Iannetta's batted-ball profile last season didn't look too different from his career marks, so expect some regression this season, even after the move to Coors Field. In particular, his 21.5 percent HR/FB rate looks primed for a drop and it would be a surprise for him to approach a similar home run total in 2018. Still, simply being in the starting lineup a fair amount in Colorado should be enough to give him value in two-catcher formats.
2018 Outlook: McCann was the same hitter in 2017 he was the past four seasons, but a concussion and a knee injury limited him to fewer than 100 games for the first time since his rookie season in 2005. That's a pretty impressive run for a catcher who will turn 34 before Opening Day, but it's only going to get harder to rely on McCann to take the field day in and day out. Expect the same kind of hitter when healthy: 20-homer power over a full season, a mediocre .230-.250 batting average, plus decent RBI opportunities in a strong Astros lineup. But power isn't quite as precious at catcher as it used to be -- six catchers hit 20 home runs in 2017, and 14 mustered at least 15 homers. There are other comparable options for power if the age and injuries scare you away.
2018 Outlook: Known for his stronger reputation with the glove than the bat, Hedges' found his offense in 2016 with Triple-A El Paso. He continued to display power last season with the Padres, though his spotty contact rate nosedived even further. Hedges said he spent the offseason improving upon his bat-to-ball skills, but hopefully any gains in that area come without sacrificing power. Hedges can run a little for a catcher, stealing four bags in five tries, but more importantly, he may be able to take advantage of putting the ball in play more often with a few infield hits. Hedges' glove will keep him in the lineup nearly every day, and with a draftable power floor, Hedges has a chance to be a top-15 option at the position, if he can reduce punchouts and hover near a .250 average. Still just 25 years old, Hedges wouldn't be the first defensive whiz to parlay excellent hand-eye coordination into a better hit tool.