Top catchers in MLB right now
There’s no question that MLB’s best catchers in 2023 are going to play a huge role in the upcoming season. They play such a key role offensively and defensively that the top catchers in MLB are typically on some of the best teams.
That means when it comes to player rankings for 2023, catcher is one of the most important positions.
Ranking MLB’s Best Catchers for the 2023 Season
But who are the best catchers in MLB currently? It’s not the easiest question as there has been something of a changing of the guard.
Yadier Molina, who will go down as one of the greatest catchers in MLB history, has retired, helping to make room for some younger players to be among the top catchers in MLB.
With well over a dozen viable candidates, let’s share our list of the 10 best catchers in 2023.
10. Tyler Stephenson
It’s perhaps taken a little longer than the Reds would have hoped, but Tyler Stephenson has finally worked his way among the best catchers in the majors. Keep in mind he was the 11th overall pick in the 2015 Draft, so the ceiling for him has always been high.
Even if his power is still lacking, Stephenson’s offensive numbers over the last two seasons have been impressive. He’s coming off a season in which he hit .319 with an OPS of .854.
Unfortunately, that came in just 50 games in between multiple stints on the IL. But if he can stay healthy in 2023, there’s no reason why Stephenson can’t continue to establish himself as one of the top young catchers in the majors.
9. Travis d’Arnaud
Unfortunately, injuries still tend to be a problem for Travis d’Arnaud. But when healthy, he’s one of the better hitting catchers in the majors. Behind the plate, d’Arnaud also excels at framing pitches, which is a skill that’s not to be overlooked.
Oddly enough, he’s still only the second-best catcher on his team. But that should help d’Arnaud to stay healthy at age 34 and build off of his first all-star selection last season.
8. William Contreras
Even though he was an all-star last year, the younger William Contreras brother still has a lot to prove in 2023. He’s playing with a new team and will be in line to be the primary catcher for the Brewers this season as opposed to a timeshare in Atlanta last season.
That being said, Contreras hit .278 with 20 homers and an OPS of .860 last season, and that was in a part-time role. If he can build on that this season, the 25-year-old could be much higher on this list at this time next year.
7. Sean Murphy
After trading William Contreras to get Sean Murphy during the offseason, the Braves still have two of the best catchers in 2023. Naturally, Murphy has been easy to miss while spending the first few seasons of his career in Oakland.
But he’s quietly become one of the most reliable backstops in the game. His power has started to come on strong, helping Murphy produce an OPS of .758 last season. Keep in mind it must have been hard for him to stay motivated while playing for the A’s.
Now that he’s in Atlanta and playing for a team with championship aspirations, Murphy could be set up to have the best season of his career.
6. Willson Contreras
A new team shouldn’t have a huge impact on Willson Contreras in 2023. His .815 OPS last season was the second-highest in his career and among the best among catchers in the majors.
We’re talking about a three-time all-star who’s hit at least 20 home runs in four of the last five full seasons. He’s an impact offensive player who belongs in the middle of the lineup and has no problem handling himself defensively. Granted, taking over for Yadier Molina in St. Louis gives him big shoes to fill and a lot of pressure on his back. But the older Contreras brother should be up for it.
5. Alejandro Kirk
A year ago, Alejandro Kirk may not have been on anyone’s radar. But he’s now the main man behind the plate in Toronto and a key part of what makes the Blue Jays such a powerful offensive team.
More importantly, the Mexican-born catcher was both an all-star and a Silver Slugger winner in 2022, so it’s impossible not to consider him among the top catchers in the big leagues right now.
He loses some points because he started less than half of Toronto’s games behind the plate last season, getting plenty of at-bats as a DH. But he also hit .285 with an OPS of .787, so he’s not going to fall too far.
4. Salvador Perez
Even at age 32, Salvador Perez is still expected to be one of the best catchers in 2023. He’s just two years removed from hitting 48 home runs in 2021, setting the all-time record for home runs by a catcher in a single season. Even if he only hit 23 home runs last year, Perez still has plenty of power in his bat.
He’s also a five-time Gold Glove winner, even if he hasn’t won that award since 2018. Since missing the entire 2019 season with Tommy John surgery, Perez has been even better than he was before the injury and still deserves to be considered among the best catchers in baseball.
3. Adley Rutschman
It’s been a rather quick transition for Adley Rutschman from being a top prospect to being one of the best catchers in 2023. The switch-hitting backstop made his MLB debut last May and proceeded to hit .254 with an OPS of .807 as a rookie with 13 homers and 35 doubles. Despite some early struggles, Rutschman hit his stride during the second half of 2022 and was a big reason why the Orioles were surprising playoff contenders until late in the season.
The scary thing is that Rutschman should be even better in 2023 now that he has some experience under his belt, which is why he ranks so high on our list compared to some of the other established catchers in the big leagues.
2. Will Smith
Will Smith showed plenty of promise as a part-time player early in his career, but even as the full-time catcher for the Dodgers over the past two seasons, he’s lived up to his great promise.
Keep in mind he had 25 homers in 2021 and 24 homers last season, showing remarkable consistency with his power. At the same time, Smith is able to manage the parade of aces the Dodgers call their starting rotation. He’s become such a well-balanced and versatile catcher that there’s only one catcher in the big leagues these days who is clearly superior to Smith.
1. J.T. Realmuto
While there are some good catchers in baseball, there is still no question that J.T. Realmuto still belongs at the top of the list of the top catchers in MLB heading into the 2023 season.
Realmuto’s contributions both offensively and defensively helped the Phillies get to the World Series last season. At age 32, he’s still very much in the prime of his career, as his 2022 numbers were equal to or better than his career numbers in most categories.
In fact, his 22 home runs last season were the second-highest of his career. Realmuto also set a new career-high with 21 stolen bases last season while getting caught just once. In addition to doing everything else that a catcher is supposed to do, Realmuto’s speed and base-running abilities continue to help him stand head and shoulders ahead of every other catcher in the big leagues.
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