A New Number 1 at Catcher? 2023 MLB Top 10 Catchers

1. Adley Rutschman (Baltimore Orioles)

We’ve never seen a catcher burst onto the scene like Adley Rutschman has. Slashing .254/362/.445 with a 133 wRC+, these are numbers you don’t expect from the catcher position but here we are. The former 1st overall pick had a slow start after being called up but here we are today ranking him number 1 going into the 2023 MLB season. 5.3 WAR in 113 games is uncharted territory for a catcher. Not only does Rutschman know how to get on base being in the 96th percentile but he knows how to frame being in the 84th percentile. This kid is special and is a dark horse for MVP if the Orioles make the playoff run experts expect.

2023 Steamer Projection: 5.6 WAR, 130 wRC+, .256/.357/.437, 19 HR

2. J.T. Realmuto (Philadelphia Phillies)

The revolutionary, J.T. Realmuto has changed the position in terms of being the first 5-tool catcher. Contact, power, speed, arm strength and baserunning, Realmuto is truly a special talent. 6.5 WAR with a 128 wRC+ along with being in the 86th percentile. The consensus best catcher in baseball over the past couple of years will be helping the Phillies to a hopeful World Series run and it’s really hard to make a case for J.T. not to be in the top 2.

2023 Steamer Projection: 4.6 WAR, 112 wRC+, .255/.324/.438, 20 HR

3. Cal Raleigh (Seattle Mariners)

Now there’s controversy for having Mr.Cal here, but there’s a reason. Posting a slashline of .211/.284/.489 with a 4.2 WAR and 121 wRC+ the numbers won’t pop out the screen but here’s some that might. 96th percentile in Barrel%, 84th percentile in Avg Exit Velocity and 81st percentile in Framing. This shows that Cal rips the ball off the cover and tends to pull the ball a lot more and will benefit a bunch from the shift being banned and could see a jump in that .211 BA. Cal is gonna be in the middle of a Mariners lineup that has a lot of expectations in 2023 and the growth of this hitter could be a wild card.

2023 Steamer Projection: 3.2 WAR, 113 wRC+, .224/.290/.449, 23 HR

4. Sean Murphy (Atlanta Braves)

The empire keeps getting stronger, the Braves got themselves a player who can do it on both sides of the ball. Previously known for just being an ELITE defensive catcher being in the 96th percentile in Pop Time to 2nd and 84th percentile in framing. But in 2022, the offense caught up to the defense .250/.332/.426 with a 122 wRC+ all career highs in a full season. Murphy, Acuna, Albies, Riley and Olson are gonna be scary then, now and forever. 

2023 Steamer Projection: 4.1 WAR, 112 wRC+, .245/.327/.435, 21 HR

5. Will Smith (Los Angeles Dodgers)

The most consistent catcher in all of baseball is Will Smith, you know what you’re getting out of him which is .260/.343/.465 with a 127 wRC+. Smith at the age of 27 still has a lot to come but what is that ceiling? The Dodgers catcher has been a rock in the Dodgers lineup with his above average bat and above average catching. Not the most flashy player but consistency is the name of the game.

2023 Steamer Projection: 4.3 WAR, 129 wRC+, .252/.342/.472, 26 HR

6. Alejandro Kirk (Toronto Blue Jays)

Kirk is a young flash in a bottle type player in the box. You might not get most of the games behind the plate but he’s still an ELITE bat. 129 wRC+, 14 HR but that’s not all, Kirk has a knack for getting on base. 98th percentile in K%, 92nd percentile in BB% watching Kirk was very frustrating because he was such a hard out every single time and only being 24 years old it’s probably not gonna get any worse.

2023 Steamer Projection: 4.5 WAR, 141 wRC+, .285/.370/.466, 18 HR

7. Jose Trevino (New York Yankees)

Trevino has fallen back down to earth in terms of the bat but that was destiny. But that shouldn’t degrade what Jose Trevino CAN do and in which case is be the best defensive catcher in baseball. 21 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and in the 100th percentile in framing and this just proves he is the BEST defensive catcher. Obviously offense matters but the factor of defense with catchers and how they make a pitching staff better is underrated and Trevino connects with the Yankees pitching staff. Any offense with Trevino is a plus plus for the Yankees.

2023 Steamer Projection: 2.7 WAR, 89 wRC+, .245/.284/.386, 8 HR

Will MLB use the mic'd up pitcher and catcher in the regular season? - AS  USA

8. Willson Contreras (St.Louis Cardinals)

It’s weird to see Willson Contreras in a Cardinals jersey but you know won’t be weird? Willson having another outstanding year at the plate, in 2022 Contreras posted a line of .243/.349/.466 with 22 HR and a 132 wRC+. Yes Contreras isn’t a guru behind the dish but that bat outweighs that defense. Now Willson is 30 years old and that’s younger than what most people think so he’s still in his prime and could be the piece to help put the Cards past the Divisional Round.

2023 Steamer Projection: 3.2 WAR, 119 wRC+, .240/.332/.427, 21 HR

9. Francisco Alvarez (New York Mets)

This kid is here just for the upside he might bring to a Mets lineup that’s already stacked. Ending the 2022 season as the number 1 prospect in baseball has merit to it, 55 hit tool and 70 power grade could be another one of those rare cases of a catcher bursting onto a scene and making a difference with the bat as a catcher. .243 ISO in 2022 in the minors is no joke, that would have ranked in the top 10 in the MLB. 

2023 Steamer Projection: N/A

10. Jonah Heim (Texas Rangers)

The switch hitting catcher from Texas is a player who still has a bunch of potential as a hitter. Defensively, Heim has that covered being in the 98th percentile in framing and covered a 8 DRS. The bat is where you can see the vision, 99 wRC+ with 16 HR Heim could be so much more in a 6 ‘4 frame with above league average launch angle. The New York native sprays the ball around the ballpark and could really benefit from a new approach at the plate that could really change the trajectory of his young career. 

2023 Steamer Projection: 2.9 WAR, 99 wRC+, .234/.300/.400, 14 HR

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