Ladies and Gentlemen: 30 days, 30 MLB position rankings. Nine positions and the top starting pitcher ranked from each team in three parts each. Each player on the list is based on who the projected starter is for a team for the 2020 season by position. On day three of this series, we’ll look at the top ten catchers in the MLB.
Check out my previous rankings from this series:
10. Omar Narvaez, Milwaukee Brewers
2019: 132 games, .278/.353/.460 splits, .813 OPS, 22 Home Runs, 55 RBIs
After spending the first three seasons of his career with the White Sox, Omar Narvaez had a breakout season with Seattle in 2019. After Yasmani Grandal signed with the White Sox, Milwaukee traded for Narvaez in December. His arm is his biggest weakness as he only threw out 18% of runners last season. It will be interesting to see if he can put up good numbers at the plate again in 2020.
9. Roberto Perez, Cleveland Indians
2019: 119 games, .239/.321/.452 splits, .774 OPS, 24 Home Runs, 63 RBIs
Once seen as a pure defense, no offense catcher, Roberto Perez put up career numbers across the board as a hitter in 2019. Coming into 2019, Perez’s career-high in home runs had been eight in 2017. He destroyed that number by hitting 24 last season. However, what makes Perez great is his arm on defense. He threw out 41% of runners last season, which led the AL.
8. Wilson Ramos, New York Mets
2019: 141 games, .288/.351/.416 splits, .768 OPS, 14 Home Runs, 73 RBIs
A ten-year MLB veteran and two-time all-star, Wilson Ramos had an excellent season with the Mets in 2019. Ramos has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but was able to avoid the IL and play a career-high 141 games last season. Ramos is a solid contact hitter but struggles at times on defense. He enters 2020 in the second year of a two year contract and is hoping to continue making a big impact for New York.
7. Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers
2019: 54 games, .253/.337/.571 splits, .907 OPS, 15 Home Runs, 54 RBIs
Will Smith only has 54 games under his belt but had an enormous impact on the Dodgers last season. In 54 games, he mashed 15 home runs, a .907 OPS, and a 134 OPS+. Defensively, there’s room for improvement, but Smith is still only 25 years old. It will be interesting to see how well he can perform as the Dodgers’ everyday catcher in 2020.
6. Christian Vazquez, Boston Red Sox
2019: 138 games, .276/.320/.477 splits, .798 OPS, 23 Home Runs, 72 RBIs
On an underwhelming Red Sox team in 2019, Christian Vazquez quietly had a breakout season. Vazquez hit 23 home runs in 2019, cruising past his previous season-high of five in 2017. Defensively, Vazquez is at an elite level and threw out 38% of runners last season. Sandy Leon struggled mightily last season, but Vazquez was able to fill in for him completely and provide a spark for Boston.
5. Gary Sánchez, New York Yankees
2019: 106 games, .232/.316/.525 splits, .841 OPS, 34 Home Runs, 77 RBIs
Placing Gary Sánchez below Mitch Garver may anger some people, but looking at the numbers clearly shows that’s the right answer. While much improved from 2018, Sánchez is still a well below-average defender, having allowed 41 passed balls since 2017. At the plate, Sánchez has great power but does strike out at a high rate. After hitting a career-high in home runs last season, Sánchez will hope to build on that success next season.
4. Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins
2019: 93 games, .273/.365/.630 splits, .995 OPS, 31 Home Runs, 67 RBIs
Mitch Garver is still very unknown around the league, despite putting up elite numbers in 93 games for Minnesota last season. After beating out Jason Castro for the starting catcher spot, Garver had a breakout year and earned a Silver Slugger award. Defensively, Garver struggles at times with blocking. His arm isn’t great either as he only threw out only 16% of runners last season. However, he put up elite numbers at the plate last season and deserves more respect around the league.
3. Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs
2019: 105 games, .272/.355/.533 splits, .888 OPS, 24 Home Runs, 64 RBIs
2019 was another great season for Willson Contreras, who earned his second consecutive all-star appearance. Despite missing a significant amount of time due to injury, Contreras still launched 24 home runs. Defensively, Contreras is an elite pitch framer and has a solid arm. He threw out 29% of runners in 2019. At age 28, Contreras should remain at the top of the MLB among catchers for the foreseeable future.
2. Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox
2019: 153 games, .246/.380/.468 splits, .848 OPS, 28 Home Runs, 77 RBIs
Yasmani Grandal and J.T. Realmuto each have a case at being top catcher, but I’m giving Realmuto a slight edge due to his defense. Grandal displayed elite power last season, hitting 28 home runs with Milwaukee. After having a great 2019 campaign, Grandal signed a 4 yr 73M deal with the White Sox in December. He’s an elite pitch-framer, and is a great blocker. However, he doesn’t have the best arm as he threw out 27% of runners last season, barely above the league average.
1. J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies
2019: 145 games, .275/.328/.493 splits, .820 OPS, 25 Home Runs, 83 RBIs
J.T. Realmuto earns the top catcher nod as he’s easily the best two-way catcher in the MLB. It’s tough to argue against Realmuto’s being the best defensive catcher in the game. He threw out 47% of runners last season, easily the best mark in the MLB, and is an elite pitch-framer. Offensively, Realmuto can rake as well, hitting 25 home runs en route to a Silver Slugger nod in 2019. Hopefully, the Phillies can lock this guy up to a long-term extension, so they don’t lose him this offseason.
Come back tomorrow for the first part of my first base ranking!
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