gary sanchez
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As you prepare for your 2021 fantasy baseball draft, here are our rankings of the best backstops in the game. 

Today we begin our position-by-position 2021 fantasy baseball preview series.

Fantasy baseball has been around for decades, but those who enjoy creating their own roster of stars have never dealt with a season like we did in 2020. A broken year for every sport, trying to build a fantasy baseball lineup was harder than ever.

While the players and owners haven’t agreed on everything in advance of the 2021 season, hopes are that we’ll be able to enjoy watching a full regular season.

Some players emerged last year as potential stars, others took a step back offensively. Some of the restrictions put on players because of COVID protocols last year will still be in place but a full season should help veterans get back into their full season routine.

So who are the best bets for your fantasy rosters in the coming season? Let’s get into our top 20 rankings for catchers entering the 2021 season.

1. JT Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies

Now the owner of the highest average salary of any catcher in major league history, Realmuto is the complete package. He’ll once again be a centerpiece in the Phillies’ lineup this season and should have plenty of opportunities to score and drive in runs.

2. Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox

When James McCann left for more money in New York, Grandal was handed the principle catching duties in Chicago. The switch-hitting catcher will have tremendous bats surrounding him in an impressive Sox lineup.

3. Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs

Contreras might be on his way to the top of this list, but the shifting lineup in Chicago will mean he’ll need to be a bigger part of the offense. The Cubs also traded away Victor Caratini, so Austin Romine will serve as Contreras’ backup this season.

4. Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers

Smith was a breakout star in the postseason last year and has emerged as a legitimate major league catcher. As is the case with the names ahead of him on this list, he’s part of a potent offensive group and should have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs.

5. Salvador Pérez, Kansas City Royals

The rebuilding Royals will look to Pérez to be the heart of their batting order. Thankfully, he’ll have a couple stars in front of him in Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi. There’s a pretty big dropoff from the top three on this list to the rest, but Pérez is a solid option in fantasy this year.

6. Travis d’Arnaud, Atlanta Braves

Have you looked at the Braves’ lineup? What the Mets had hoped d’Arnaud would become is what the Braves have seen during his time in Atlanta. He has the potential to be a run producer in a lineup that’s going to do a lot of damage.

yankees mets james mccann
(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

7. James McCann, New York Mets

McCann’s signing with the Mets may have become overlooked since the acquisition of Francisco Lindor, but he was a Silver Slugger finalist in the American League last year splitting duties with Grandal.

8. Gary Sánchez, New York Yankees

It’s a make or break season for Sánchez. His offense could put him as high as four on this list… or he could be an underwhelming source of aggravation for fantasy owners this year. It will be fascinating to see what his ADP is this year.

9. Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins

Garver has been undervalued nationally but Twins fans know that he’s a terrific backstop. With Nelson Cruz headed back to Minnesota he could be a really nice add to a fantasy roster this year.

10. Austin Nola, San Diego Padres

If you haven’t heard, the Padres’ lineup is loaded. Nola was acquired last season and will be the lead catcher for a team that’s clearly all-in this year. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to drive in runs in a really good order in San Diego.

11. Christian Vázquez, Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox are a bit of an off roster to pick this year. Vázquez is a nice backstop who will get plenty of plate appearances this year.

Jorge Alfaro
(Courtesy: IG @marlins)

12. Jorge Alfaro, Miami Marlins

Alfaro was part of the trade that sent Realmuto to Philly and continues to improve behind the plate. He might be a good candidate for a break-out season in Miami.

13. Sean Murphy, Oakland A’s

A young catcher with a lot of potential, he’ll be asked to play an important role in the Oakland offense this year.

14. Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks

A highly regarded prospect, Varsho will look to establish himself as an almost-everyday catcher in the Arizona lineup this season. He’s got a high ceiling but will go through rookie ups and downs.

15. Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto, like San Diego, has a loaded lineup and Jansen will have a lot of opportunities to produce this year.

16. Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants

Bart will likely lose some games to Buster Posey but he’s the future behind the plate in San Francisco. Because he’ll be splitting reps you’ll have to watch when he’ll get starts.

17. Pedro Severino, Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles aren’t a great roster but Severino is a really nice catcher. He’ll be a solid backup option in deeper leagues.

18. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

We still don’t know when Posey will hang up his catching gear, but he’s still a strong leader. He doesn’t have the offensive upside of Bart but will still be an important part of the Giants’ lineup.

19. Sam Huff, Texas Rangers

Another young catcher to watch this season, Huff jumps into a rebuilding lineup with a lot of potential.

20. Roberto Perez, Cleveland Indians

The Tribe’s lineup will look different without Francisco Lindor this season. Perez is their primary catcher but doesn’t provide enough offense to be a consideration for a starting spot on your fantasy roster.

Click here to see our entire 2021 MLB preseason preview coverage.

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.