2021 MLB Rankings: 30 days of MLB rankings! In this series, we will be ranking every projected starting player for the 2021 season at each in position, each in three parts. On day three of this series, we’ll look at the top 10 MLB catchers for this season.
Check out the previous rankings from this series:
2021 MLB Rankings: 10-6
10. Austin Nola, San Diego Padres 2020: NR
2020: 48 games, .273/.353/.472 splits, .825 OPS, 7 Home Runs, 28 RBIs
Starting off the year with Seattle, Austin Nola had his breakout campaign at age 30 in 2020. He later got traded to San Diego, where his numbers went down a bit, but he is still projected to be the Padres’ everyday catcher in 2021. He has a cannon of an arm and is much improved at pitch framing as well. He could be in line for a huge year in 2021.
9. Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees 2020: 5
2020: 49 games, .147/.253/.365 splits, .618 OPS, 10 Home Runs, 24 RBIs
Gary Sanchez struggled at the plate in 2020 but still provided his usual power with ten home runs. His defensive struggles have been documented throughout his career, and even though he made marginal improvements, he is still a below-average defender. In a full season, Sanchez should be better in 2021, but he could fall down the ranking next year if he struggles.
8. James McCann, New York Mets 2020: NR
2020: 31 games, .289/.360/.536 splits, .896 OPS, 7 Home Runs, 15 RBIs
In a weird spot last year, James McCann was the backup to Yasmani Grandal, despite being a top-tier catcher. Now with the Mets, McCann will play every day in 2021 and could be in line for a huge season at the plate, where he provides a ton of power. Not to mention, he has a cannon with a 36% career caught stealing rate.
7. Christian Vazquez, Boston Red Sox 2020: 6
2020: 47 games, .283/.344/.457 splits, .801 OPS, 7 Home Runs, 23 RBIs
Christian Vazquez continues to fly under the radar but remains one of the best catchers in baseball. After a breakout season in 2019, Vazquez followed that up by improving his batting average and OPS in 2020. His OPS+ of 114 is well above league-average as well. Like McCann, he has a cannon, and has thrown out 39% of runners throughout his career.
6. Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves 2020: 15
2020: 44 games, .321/.386/.533 splits, .919 OPS, 9 Home Runs, 34 RBIs
It’s always been known that Travis d’Arnaud had the talent. The question around d’Arnaud has always been whether he can stay on the field. Avoiding injury for most of 2020, he had the best year of his career, with his OPS over .900 to go along with nine home runs. Defensively, he struggles at times, but he’s a near-elite catcher if he can stay healthy.
2021 MLB Rankings: 5-1
5. Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs 2020: 3
2020: 57 games, .243/.356/.407 splits, .763 OPS, 7 Home Runs, 24 RBI
While his numbers dipped slightly from usual in the shortened season, Willson Contreras remains one of the best catchers in baseball. He has a ton of power at the plate and can hit over .270 in a full season. Defensively, he’s nothing special but has a solid arm. Not to mention, Contreras is very durable and led all catchers by playing 57 games in 2020.
4. Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers 2020: 7
2020: 37 games, .289/.401/.579 splits, .980 OPS, 8 Home Runs, 25 RBIs
Heading into his age 26 season, Will Smith has already established himself as one of the league’s best catchers. It’s crazy that he’s done so without playing at the major league level for a whole 162 game season. He has a ton of pop at the plate, with his OPS just under 1.000 in 2020. His defense is a work in progress but should improve as he ages.
3. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals 2020: 11
2020: 37 games .333/.353/.633 splits, .986 OPS, 11 Home Runs, 32 RBIs
After missing all of 2019, it was unclear if Salvador Perez would ever return to his prior form. In 2020, Perez quieted all of those critics as he finished in the top 20 in the AL MVP voting and earned a silver slugger. While no longer a Gold Glove winner, his defense is still elite as well. It’s crazy that Perez is only 31 and should continue to get better in 2021.
2. Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox 2020: 2
2020: 46 games, .230/.351/.422 splits, .773 OPS, 8 Home Runs, 27 RBIs
After signing a big deal to join the White Sox in 2020, Yasmani Grandal was relatively disappointing in his first year. Regardless, his ability to hit for power keeps him at the number two spot for 2021. Defensively, he has an absolute cannon and threw out 46% of runners in 2020. He could be in line for a bigger season in his first full year with Chicago this season.
1. J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies 2020: 1
2020: 47 games, .266/.349/.491 splits, .840 OPS, 11 Home Runs, 32 RBIs
For the second straight season, J.T. Realmuto earns the top spot after earning a 5 yr 115.5M extension with Philadelphia. Realmuto’s combination of hitting for power and all-around defense is the reason he earns the top spot. He might not be the best in MLB at any one skill among catchers, but he’s top five in practically every category, both offensively and defensively.
Come back tomorrow for the first part of my first baseman ranking!
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