2024 Best Ball Fantasy Baseball: 5 Busts at Catcher

These backstops are better left alone in favor of higher upside.

If you’re like me, then you almost always overdraft at the catcher position.

The instincts make sense: it’s a premium position where the drop off after the elite options is significant. The fear of missing out on a productive player who will fill an everyday roster spot creeps in and, before you know it, you’re drafting Mitch Garver within the first 10 rounds.

That FOMO comes from the undeniable fact that drafting the right catcher is key, particularly in best ball, a format that doesn’t allow for adding, dropping or trading during the season. The computer sets your lineup and depth, so durability and workload become paramount.

As with other formats, most best ball leagues will include one starting catcher position, but you’ll want to have at least one if not two solid backups. Avoiding busts at catcher is always important but in best ball, that means taking a close look at all options to be had at a given draft position.

For this article, let’s assume we are using Fantrax’s scoring system:

Fantrax Best Ball Scoring

Here are five catchers whose 2024 ADPs suggest managers might be better off avoiding them in favor of options with more upside later on in their drafts:


J.T. Realmuto, 71.70 ADP


J.T. Realmuto has been one of the most productive catchers in baseball for the better part of a decade, ranking behind only Buster Posey and Yasmani Grandal in WAR since he entered the bigs in 2014. As such, he’s likely to be the second catcher taken in your draft after Adley Rutschman.

But there’s reason to believe you’d be better off using an early draft pick on someone else, even in a format that rewards dependability and Realmuto’s unparalleled ability to steal bases.

After a career 2022 season, Realmuto dipped from spectacular to merely very good in 2023, with a 1.5 WAR that was his lowest since 2015 and a career-worst 25.6% strikeout rate. Writing for FanGraphs, Leo Morgenstern noted that a dramatic decline in Realmuto’s base running could portend the end of his famed durability — which would be bad news for best ball managers.

It’s also important to note the proliferation of solid options deeper into drafts compared to when Realmuto first entered the Show. In 2014, only six catchers had more than 20 homers. In 2023, 10 catchers hit 20 or more long balls — eight of them younger than Realmuto (who cracked the 10th spot) and the other being Salvador Perez.

Ultimately, Realmuto still projects to be one of the most productive catchers in 2024, particularly if you want to rack up stolen bases, which are at a premium in most best ball formats. But his dip in 2023 suggests he could be overvalued with a strong crop of emerging backstops to choose from later on.

J.T. Realmuto, Career Baserunning

Cal Raleigh, 134.64 ADP


When Raleigh makes contact, he has the kind of power potential that should make best ball managers take notice. But that potential is realized all too seldom to justify taking him as the seventh catcher off the board.

Picking the Big Dumper that high is a bet that he’s going to build on his 2023 .232/.306/.456 slash line, rather than regress back toward 2022’s .211/.284/.489, and that is not a bet I’m willing to take as several of his plate discipline numbers grew worse last season, including an increased chase percentage and decreased zone swing percentage.

As the Mariners project to be one of the deepest teams in baseball at the catcher position, with Mitch Garver serving as a second option and Harry Ford as a top-four catcher prospect in MLB, Raleigh might not see the same innings totals as other primary catchers, something best ball managers need to keep in mind.

Plus, there are cheaper options for managers willing to leverage small ball for power, including Logan O’Hoppe (159.48 ADP) and Danny Jansen (265.7 ADP).

Cal Raleigh, Logan O’Hoppe, Danny Jansen, ADP and Projected 2024 SLG

Gabriel Moreno, 148.92 ADP


After an emergent 2023 season, Gabriel Moreno proved that the stellar averages he put up in Toronto’s minor league system could be sustained against big-league pitching. Among all catchers with at least 200 player appearances last season, he had the third-best AVG+ and he had more total hits than Sean Murphy, Yasmani Grandal, or Francisco Alvarez.

Moreno hit for a 1.133 OPS in the NLWC and a 1.091 OPS in the NLDS, propelling him to the forefront of a surprising World Series run for the Diamondbacks.

That strong showing might make his ADP a bit too high, though. He is almost the polar opposite of Raleigh as his ability to put the ball in play has always been a calling card, but he projects to have worse power numbers than many cheaper options at catcher.

According to Steamer, there are 19 catchers expected to have better SLG numbers and 26 expected to hit more home runs — a major category for Fantrax’s best ball format. As such, Moreno offers good value as the 15th catcher off the board, but not as the 10th or 11th.


Connor Wong, 373.52 ADP


Wong emerged as the primary backstop for the Red Sox in 2023 and it’s a role he is set to maintain next season as well. In his first season with significant big-league volume at age 27, Wong slashed .235/.288/.385, striking out 134 times in 403 plate appearances.

While Wong stands to see plenty of opportunities at the plate in 2024, that strikeout rate might grow even worse against upgraded pitching across the AL East. And Wong has some new competition for starts with the Red Sox obtaining defense-first veteran Tyler Heineman from the Mets this offseason.

On the plus side, Wong is projected to hit 11 homers and swipe six bags, but is that really worth the expected 30.6% strikeout rate? At Wong’s .296 OBP projection for 2024, managers looking for a backup catcher in deeper best ball leagues could be better off waiting for comparable power from the likes of Yan Gomes (nine projected homers, 395.64 ADP) or even Jeferson Quero (11 projected homers, 730.64 ADP).

Connor Wong, Yan Gomes, Jeferson Quero ADP and Projected 2024 OBP


Freddy Fermin, 464.43 ADP


Like Wong, Freddy Fermin made his big-league debut as a 27-year-old last season and he seemed to answer the question of who would succeed the mighty Salvador Perez behind the dish for the Royals. In 235 plate appearances, he slashed .281/.321/.461 and caught 31% of steal attempts, a mark that was 10% above the league average.

That debut, along with conjecture that Perez may be shipped off before Opening Day, might be giving managers an overly optimistic outlook on Fermin. But the Royals don’t seem keen to trade Perez as they load up on veterans for 2024 and ZiPS projects Fermin to total nine home runs, 38 RBI, and no steals with a .317 OPS in 2024 — either the same or worse than his production in 2023 in each category.

At this point in the draft, best ball managers might find higher upside by selecting backups like Gary Sánchez (504.76 ADP), Sam Huff (704.30 ADP), or Luke Maile (744.01), all of whom have a higher projected oWAR than Fermin, per ZiPS.

*All ADP data per NFBC as of February 20, 2024.

Photos by Icon Sportswire | Designed by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter

Peter Chawaga

Peter Chawaga is a veteran journalist with more than a decade of experience as a reporter and editor for newsrooms and publications around the country. His baseball coverage and analysis has been featured in Heavy, Yardbarker, Last Word on Baseball and more.

2 responses to “2024 Best Ball Fantasy Baseball: 5 Busts at Catcher”

  1. Babbo B says:

    Wouldn’t worry all that much about Raleigh’s playing time relative to other catchers – M’s will do all they can to avoid using Garver behind the plate so he can stay healthy as primary DH, which is why Seby Zavala is on the roster as backup C. Ford is a year away and athletic and versatile enough that catching may not be his primary position, particularly if his defense doesn’t improve.

  2. David T says:

    Harry Ford is at least a year away and they stated Mitch Garver will be mainly utilized at DH to keep him healthy. Zavala will likely be the backup catcher. They can also use Cal at DH to give him a break from behind the plate. Harry Ford is a catcher but may also eventually end up playing 3B or outfield. Cal Raleigh’s job security should not be an issue.

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