Let's just get it out of the way -- Buster Posey isn't No. 1 in our 2017 catcher rankings. In fact, our pick for fantasy baseball's top catcher, Kyle Schwarber, might not even play one game behind the plate this season, and the No. 2 backstop on our cheat sheet, Gary Sanchez, has played just 53 games in his major league career. Don't blame us -- blame our projections.
Or blame us, your call. We're fine either way. The bottom line is Schwarber and Sanchez seem like locks for 25-plus homers. Posey has never hit that many and is coming off a season in which he clubbed just 14.
Homers aren't the only fantasy stat, of course, but they sure do matter a lot. Posey will always have an advantage onmost catchers becausehe plays virtually every day and is a consistent high-average hitter with a high OBP, but Schwarber and Jonathan Lucroy, our No. 3 catcher,are also high-average guys with more power potential, and if Sanchez's dynamic rookie season is any indication, he could easily lead the position in HRs.
Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Catcher
But regardless of how you order the top four (and it's tough to argue that Schwarber, Sanchez, Lucroy and Posey shouldn't be the top four unless Schwarber isn't C-eligible in yoru league), it's still tough to know when to draft them. A fully realized Schwarber is worth a pick around the fourth round because he should play almost every day, but he has just85 career games under his belt (counting the postseason), so it's tough to fully trust him.
Still, Schwarber, Sanchez, Lucroy and Posey will go relatively high because of position scarcity, though we'd caution against reaching for Lucroy and Posey in daily leagues (Posey brings a little more value in weekly leagues). Willson Contreras is a nice "consolation prize" if you don't get one of the top four, especially at what should be an early mid-round price.
After that, it's tough to make a compelling case for any backstop. J.T. Realmuto steals some bases, which is a nice bonus at this position, but he's not going to swing a league. Salvador Perez plays a lot, Welington Castillo, Russell Martin, and Yasmani Grandal are low-average sluggers, and the Astros feature a pair of catchers who could eachhit 25HRs if things break right, but they'll be competing for playing time.
Cameron Rupp is an interesting breakout candidate, and Wilson Ramos might be the best overall value if you're willing to wait six-to-eight weeks. Mike Zunino and Austin Hedgesare similar power-hitting lotto tickets who might break out or might hit .200.
The bottom line is there is really no need to reach. Sure, Perez looks a lot better than Tyler Flowers on draft day, but if you're taking Perez in the 10th round, the opportunity cost might be greater.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Catcher
11 Evan Gattis Astros --
*Eligible at another position