Official K-Zone Ranking Mike’s Ranking Ian’s Ranking Mojo’s Ranking Guti’s Ranking
1. Gary Sanchez (NYY) Gary Sanchez (NYY) Gary Sanchez (NYY)  Gary Sanchez (NYY) Gary Sanchez (NYY)
2. Buster Posey (SF) Willson Contreras (CHC) Buster Posey (SF) Buster Posey (SF) Buster Poesy (SF)
3. Willson Contreras (CHC) Austin Barnes (LAD)  Willson Contreras (CHC) Austin Barnes (LAD) Willson Contreras (CHC)
4. Austin Barnes (LAD) Buster Posey (SF) Austin Barnes (LAD) Willson Contreras (CHC) Austin Barnes (LAD)
5. Yasmani Grandal (LAD) Yasmani Grandal (LAD) Yasmani Grandal (LAD) J.T. Realmuto (MIA) J.T. Realmuto (MIA)
6. J.T. Realmuto (MIA) Jorge Alfaro (PHI) Welington Castillo (CWS) Yasmani Grandal (LAD) Yasmani Grandal (LAD)
7. Tyler Flowers (ATL)  J. T. Realmuto (MIA) J.T. Realmuto (MIA) Mike Zunino (SEA) Mike Zunino (SEA)
8. Welington Castillo (CWS) Evan Gattis (HOU) Tyler Flowers (ATL) Tyler Flowers (ATL) Tyler Flowers (ATL)
9. Mike Zunino (SEA) Wilson Ramos (TB) Chris Iannetta (COL) Welington Castillo (CWS) Robinson Chirinos (TEX)
10. Jorge Alfaro (PHI) Salvador Perez (KC) Kurt Suzuki (ATL) Robinson Chirinos (TEX) Chris Iannetta (COL)
Sleeper Yadier Molina (STL) Wilson Ramos (TB) Kevin Plawecki (NYM)

Kurt Suzuki (ATL)

Alex Avila (ARI)

 

Catcher is by far the hardest position to rank. Not only , thanks to health-based platoons, did only four catchers play enough to qualify for the batting title last season, and not only does the position suffer from a general lack of depth at the top and down the middle, but one has to look at far more factors than usual, including framing, to evaluate the position accurate. Along with the usual Fangraphs and Baseball Reference, this article heavily cites Baseball Prospectus and Baseball Savant for their incredible, proprietary data and stats that have to do with pitch framing and “pop time,” respectively. This year, the 25-year-old Gary Sanchez unanimously captured the top spot on the list from the longtime incumbent Buster Posey. Sanchez followed up 20 home runs in 53 2016 games with 33 bombs in 122 2017 games. Sanchez is also known for his cannon of an arm; in fact, he threw the hardest of any catcher in baseball in 2017. Buster Posey remains fairly high on the weak list, number two, after slashing .320/.400/.462 with 128 wRC+. Posey ranked in the middle of the back for catcher defense last year. Buster is flanked by another youngster, Cubs’ backstop Willson Contreras. Contreras hit 21 home runs in 117 games last season while slashing a very respectable .276/.356/.499 and putting up solid defense. He looks to be part of the Cubs’ young core for years to come. The 28-year-old rising senior Austin Barnes led catchers with 142 wRC+ after putting up .408 OBP in 2017. He acted as a good, but not great, pitch framer for the Dodgers. Barnes’ biggest obstacle next year may be his fellow Dodger, Yasmani Grandal. That’s right, two Dodgers came in the top five catchers for the coming season – funny position, huh? Barnes’ platoon partner struggled to get on base but still showed strong power in 2017, belting 22 home runs in 482 PAs and going for a 17.7% HR/FB ratio. Pitch framing is perhaps Grandal’s strongest pursuit. BP tagged him for 22 runs saved as a framer, fourth best in the league. Marlins’ trade chip J.T. Realmuto makes the list as #6. One of the four qualifying catchers, Realmuto posted 3.6 WAR in 2017, and is one of the few catchers who can threaten to steal double digit bases in a season. Realmuto put up good pitch framing numbers (9th in the league) last season, and dominates the basepaths with his 1.90 pop time. Braves vet Tyler Flowers checks in at seventh overall, after hitting .281/.378/.445 in 370 plate appearances for Atlanta. Flowers has never been known for his arm, but recent metrics have shown that he’s actually quite a strong pitch framer – the second best in the league in 2017. White Sox signee Wellington Castillo ranks eighth because of his career year in Baltimore last season after being non-tendered by Arizona. Castillo hit 20 home runs in only 96 games while posting 2.7 WAR and contributing with both defensive tools. Castillo ranked eighth in pop time and seventh in pitch framing among catchers last season. Former Mariners prospect and current Mariners starting catcher Mike Zunino makes a close ninth, hitting for power and power only in 2017. Zunino smacked 25 homers in 435 PA’s last year while returning a 9.0% walk rate. Phillies’ current prospect Jorge Alfaro, who is expected to potentially start the year as their top catcher, closes out the top 10 list. While he has yet to prove himself, Alfaro certainly has the offensive (big power) and defensive (big arm) tools to justify his ranking through his play.

See the top 10 players at every other position here and follow us on Twitter to be the first to know whenever a new list comes out!

 

Sources:
Fangraphs
Baseball Reference
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Savant

Images Attributed to:
Getty Images
Photo File
Steven Ryan

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