Catcher is (and most likely always will be) the weakest position in fantasy baseball. You have Salvador Perez coming off a historic year. J.T. Realmuto, the perennial stud. Will Smith, the newcomer who looks to become a mainstay at the top of the positional ranks. Then, you get a bunch of “meh.” Sure, you have upside at spots, a bit of veteran reliability, and prospects we all dream of being the next Buster Posey. All that being said, I’m shooting for upside in 2022 at catcher. Betting on high variance players who offer huge ceilings. Worst case, I can stream catcher like most people end up doing anyway.
Here are a few names I’m targeting in drafts at backstop.
Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks
My Rank: 4, ECR: 6, NFBC ADP: 98.19
Steamer projection: .253, 16 HR, 54 RBI, 49 R, 8 SB, 104 games
Playing time is king, especially in a time where most teams split catching duties up amongst multiple guys. Varsho is a rarity in that he will get additional at-bats in the outfield while remaining catcher-eligible. In fact, he saw more time last season as an outfielder than as a backstop. The other thing that makes Varsho a bit of a unicorn at catcher is his wheels. Varsho posted an 84th percentile sprint speed in 2021 and has the upside of 15-20 steals. That speed, coupled with the likelihood of 500+ plate appearances, makes Varsho a shoe-in top 5 option at such a weak position.
Keibert Ruiz, Washington Nationals
My rank: 7, ECR: 8, NFBC ADP: 153.85
Steamer projection: .270, 16 HR, 55 RBI, 45 R, 1 SB, 95 games
One of the key pieces the Nationals got in the Trea Turner/Max Scherzer trade, Ruiz should be the starting catcher for the Nationals and see the lion’s share of work behind the plate in 2022. Ruiz had 21 home runs and hit .310 over 72 games at Triple-A last season. Perhaps even more impressive was his eye at the plate. He struck out only 33 times, while drawing 30 walks. That kind of K/BB ratio is a thing of beauty, especially for a 23-year-old.
Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles
My Rank: 9, ECR: 21, NFBC ADP: 190.2
Steamer projection: .260, 15 HR, 48 RBI, 48 R, 3 SB, 95 games
Rutschman is perhaps the biggest wild card of not only the catcher position, but of all hitters this coming season. If we knew he was starting the season at the MLB level, he’d be an easy top 10 option. Most analysts are hedging their bets and ranking him in the mid to high teens at catcher. Not me, I’m all in! The catcher position is such a crapshoot, which makes it the one position a risk like this is worth it. The payoff is a top 5 catcher. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Rutschman hit .285 with a .397 OBP over 123 games last year. He did so by drawing 79 walks compared to just 90 strikeouts. This is Joey Votto at catcher! It all hinges on when the Orioles are ready to turn him loose. I’m thinking it will be early into 2022.
Max Stassi, Los Angeles Angels
My Rank: 16, ECR: 20, NFBC ADP: 306.23
Steamer projection: .223, 15 HR, 47 RBI, 44 R, 1 SB, 98 games
Stassi is definitely a two-catcher league target or someone to stream during the year. He can provides solid power and counting stats when hot. Roster Resource on Fangraphs has him hitting fifth in an Angels lineup led by Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Not a bad spot to pile up RBI. Stassi has hit .250 with 20 home runs over 118 games the past two seasons.