Ranking the best catchers in MLB ahead of the 2022 season

Jose Quintana Willson Contreras
Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The list of the best catchers 2022 isn’t as long as it used to be. And that’s not because there aren’t any good catchers in Major League Baseball but because just a handful of them actually stand out from the rest of the pack.

Best catchers 2022

Contending teams simply can’t get far without a top-notch defensive presence behind the plate. Ironically, though, some of the best catchers in MLB don’t make nearly half as much as other stars.

They may not be the flashiest, fastest, or even the best hitters. But their impact on a team’s success often goes way beyond their slash line. 

People don’t talk about them as often as they should. This is why today, we’re going to honor them by letting you know about the top catchers right now:

10. Omar Narvaez

Omar Narvaez is coming off the best season of his young career. He became an All-Star for the first time and was one of the best slugging catchers in all of baseball during the first half of the season. His numbers slightly dropped towards the final stretch of the year, but his pitch-framing skills were just a treat to watch. 

The Milwaukee Brewers are once again expected to be one of the top teams in the league this season. But beyond their top-notch rotation, Narvaez also deserves a lot of credit for the team’s success.

9. Max Stassi

Max Stassi’s tenure with the Los Angeles Angels got off to a disastrous start. He was one of the worst hitters in all of baseball when they acquired him from the Houston Astros in 2019. Fortunately for them, their patience paid off in the next campaign, as he broke out as an offensive standout in the 2020 season, getting the edge over Kurt Suzuki more often than not.

The Angels craved a lot of help to put an end to their playoff drought this season but one of the few areas that didn’t need an upgrade was the catcher position. He’s a powerful hitter and an above-average base runner for his position.


8. Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy was one of the most hyped and long-awaited catcher prospects in recent times. And even though it took him quite a while to finally emerge and reach The Big Show, he was still near the top of the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2021.

Murphy slashed .216/.306/.405 with an OPS+ of 98 last season, adding 17 home runs and driving in 59 runs across 119 games, also beating out both Salvador Perez and Martin Maldonado for the AL Gold Glove. He’s a quick riser in this list.

7. Willson Contreras

The Chicago Cubs struggled vastly last season. They went through a massive roster overhaul and let go of most of their veteran stars in Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Anthony Rizzo. At least, they managed to hold on to Willson Contreras, their lone bright spot as they head towards a rebuild.

While never the best pitch-framer in the league, Contreras made great strides in that regard last season, as well as in terms of defense. However, it’s his offense that makes him such a fan favorite in the Windy City, hitting 21 dingers and driving in 57 runs across 128 games last season.

6. Jacob Stallings

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been a disaster for quite a while. But other than their surging, up-and-coming pitching, Jacob Stallings was one of the few reasons why the fans would want to attend any of their games. 

While his offensive numbers (246/.335/.369 with eight home runs and 53 RBIs) aren’t exactly impressive, he continues to dominate as one of the top-tier defensive catchers in the league, running away with the National League Gold Glove. Miami will hope he can keep up those standards this season. 

5. Yasmani Grandal

The Chicago White Sox continue to be a couple of pieces away from being a legit contender, but Yasmani Grandal figures to be an integral part of their roster for years to come. He’s a master at drawing walks and getting on base, even though he’s not exactly a great hitter.

Grandal had more walks than hits last season, getting an absurd 23.2% walk rate. Also, he was one of the ultimate boom-or-bust players at the plate, hitting 23 home runs with 63 runs batted in throughout the season.

4. Will Smith

While most would give up offensive production as long as they have a top-notch defensive catcher, the Los Angeles Dodgers heavily relied on Will Smith’s bat over the season. Notably, he was one of the best sluggers on a team that’s loaded with firepower.

Smith had one of the highest OPS+ among all catchers (137) while hitting 25 home runs and driving in 76 runs. Obviously, he benefited from the Dodgers’ star-studded lineup but he also made the most of every single plate appearance.

3. J.T. Realmuto

The Philadelphia Phillies needed to go the extra mile to re-sign J.T. Realmuto, which is why they committed to a massive $115.5 million deal. Needless to say, he’s paid back every single penny with his offensive and defensive production ever since.

Realmuto swiped 13 bases in 16 tries last season. He’s a top-notch pitch-framer, even though the Phillies’ disastrous pitching corps failed to make the most of it. He hit 17 home runs, drove in 73 runs, and had a 263/.343/.439 for a 110 OPS+ in 2021.

Read more: Best MLB players under 25 in 2022

2. Mike Zunino

Mike Zunino was one of the worst hitting catchers in the league when he first joined the Tampa Bay Rays, and some predicted he would be out of the league by the end of his contract. Now, he’s one of the best backstops in all of baseball.

Zunino is coming off the first All-Star season of his career after raking 33 homers and driving in 62 runs across 109 games. He went from being an offensive liability to one of the most reliable hitters on a contending team.

1. Salvador Perez

Even despite the Kansas City Royals’ bad season, Salvador Perez was a legit MVP candidate in 2021. He set the mark for most home runs by a catcher in a single season (48), 27 of those during the final third of the season.

Perez’s durability and leadership were once again on full display, becoming one of just five catchers to play more than 1,000 innings. Despite his age and the team’s rebuilding status, Perez decided to stay put in Kansas and lead the way for their new era.

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