Fantasy season is getting closer and closer, as we are just a few weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training. To get you ready for fantasy baseball, let’s go over our top five catchers in fantasy entering 2020.
5. Wilson Ramos
Mets catcher Wilson Ramos cracks our top five after a fine 2019 season, his first in Queens. Last season with the Mets, Ramos led all catchers (min. 300 PA) in batting average (.288), and finished fourth among players at the position in RBI (73). And while Ramos may not have posted the gaudy power numbers that some of the catchers on our list did in 2019, he did hit 14 home runs and 33 extra base hits last season.
There are a couple of factors that do hurt Ramos’ fantasy stock. One is that the 32-year old plays half his games at Citi Field, a pitcher-friendly ballpark. Second, Ramos’ past injury history is a bit concerning. Ramos over the past couple of seasons has dealt with a torn ACL and hamstring issues. But with a talented Mets lineup hitting in front of him, Ramos, as long as he stays healthy, should have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs and once again become a productive fantasy catcher.
4. Mitch Garver
Last season was a breakout one for Twins catcher Mitch Garver. After hitting just seven home runs in 102 games in 2018, Garver smacked 31 home runs (second among catchers with min. of 300 PA) and 67 RBI (seventh among catchers) in just 93 games last season. Garver’s also recorded a .966 OPS, a number that was first among all catchers. The 29-year old split playing time with Jason Castro last season, but with Castro going to the Angels this past offseason, the path is clear for Garver to become the undisputed starting catcher for the Twins in 2020.
There is, though, a bit of concern that we have about Garver, particularly surrounding his track record. In the Minors (Garver played in MiLB from 2013-2017), Garver had three seasons where he hit 10 or more home runs, and his career high in a single season was 17 in 2017 at Rochester (AAA). Considering those numbers, it might be wise not to expect 30+ home runs once again from the 29-year old. 20 home runs, though, is a real possibility for Garver, and that figure is more than serviceable from a fantasy catcher.
The Phillies paid a steep price to pry J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins, giving up Jorge Alfaro along with top prospect Sixto Sanchez to acquire the 28-year old. Last season, Realmuto proved he was worth the price. Realmuto hit 25 home runs (fourth among catchers) last season, and led all catchers in runs batted in (83) and runs scored (92). In addition, Realmuto once again proved to be an unlikely source for stolen bases, as he stole nine bases (first among catchers) in 2019.
Last year was a strong season for Realmuto, and there’s no reason to expect a dropoff in performance this season. And considering he plays in a hitter-friendly ballpark, it’s safe to expect another 20+ home run and 70+ RBI season from Realmuto.
2. Gary Sanchez
Gary Sanchez’s defense may drive Yankees fans crazy, but his bat doesn’t. Sanchez launched 34 home runs last season, which led all catchers (min. 300 PA) in MLB, and drove in 77 runs (tied for second among all catchers). Those numbers were rather impressive, considering he missed time on two occasions last year due to calf and groin injuries. However, a concerning trend surrounding Sanchez was the amount of strikeouts and whiffs that the 27-year old had. Sanchez’s 28% K% rate was five percentage points than his strikeout rate in 2017, and his Whiff% rate also rose in 2019.
There’s no doubt that Sanchez is a terrific power hitter, and playing in Yankee Stadium does provide a nice boost for the Dominican Republic native. However, considering the higher K% he’s had over the past two seasons, increased pull rates, and low batting averages in 2018 and 2019, it’s fair to be concerned about Sanchez.
Yasmani Grandal took a one-year contract with the Brewers after the 2018 season, and shined with Milwaukee last year. With the Brewers in 2019, Grandal batted .246, while hitting 28 home runs, 56 extra-base hits and drove in 77 runs. Grandal finished last season third among catchers in home runs and tied for second in RBI. What was even more impressive, however, was that Grandal walked 109 times in 2019, which not only led all catchers, but was fourth among all players in MLB.
Grandal’s plus plate discipline and power are the two main reasons as to why the 31-year old is the top catcher on our list. The former Miami Hurricane has been quite consistent as well, hitting 20+ home runs in each of the last four seasons. And with Grandal heading to a hitter-friendly ballpark on the South Side in 2020, he should get at least 20 home runs for a fifth straight season, assuming he stays healthy.
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