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MLB/ Astros: Best Catcher Rankings

The MLB Nerds current list out today and a history lesson


There was an interesting post on X (formerly known as Twitter) today from the @MLBNerds.


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Now let's continue.


The MLB Nerds post was about the top 10 catchers in the MLB. However, before I share THAT post with you, let's review what the guys at MLB Nerds have said about MLB best catchers and our Astros catchers for the 2022, 2023, and now the 2024 season.


Now surely these folks are not haters (like I am accused of being) and we will see Martin Maldonado in the top 10 of these lists in 2022, 2023, and 2024, right? The Maldy fans said he is the Astros MVP, so he should AT LEAST be in the top 20, RIGHT?


Disclaimer: This is going to be snarky. I can't help it. You will see why if you dare to read. I could post links to the TWENTY articles specifically about Maldy and the catching position and how the Astros should do something about catcher since the fall of 2021. You are welcome. I won't.


Just remember who tried to tell this fan base this message this entire period.


Well, let me share the MLB Nerds posts for the 2022 and 2023 seasons with you by the power of the twitter post search.


Here are MLB Nerds 2022 Top 10 Catchers


2022 Top 10

Where is Maldy in 2022? Maldy was so good in 2021, right? That 0.1 WAR. Well, he was still a decent defensive catcher in 2021, but objective observers knew he was not a top 20 catcher for the 2022 season.


2022 MLB Nerds Top 20

WHAT! This is an outrage! Maldy was a top.......31 catcher among catchers with more than 200 PA in 2022. Wait what? 31st folks with his 0.5 WAR.


Here is the problem. The fans- driven by propaganda THOUGHT Maldonado would be a top 10 Catcher in 2022. Want proof?


In March of 2022, that is what FANS thought per the MLB Network polling. You will see there are a ton of differences in the fan list from the nerd list. So, who was right- the nerds or the fans?


This is the 2022 Catchers list for all catchers with more than 200 PA and the two catchers that were in the top 10 lists for the nerds and the fans that missed the 200 PA threshold. There are 51 catchers on this list.




As we said before Maldonado, rated 7th by the fans, finished 31st in delivered WAR in 2022. As you can see, he is not the only one both groups missed on.


Remember that when you see these lists over the next two months.


Of the top 10 rated catchers in each group:

  • the fans' top 10 delivered 14.2 WAR or an average WAR of 1.4

  • the nerds' top 10 delivered 27.4 WAR or an average WAR of 2.7

  • the ACTUAL top 10 catchers by WAR delivered 42.7 WAR or an average WAR of 4.3


Of the two groups predicting, the nerds did much better.


Who did the fans miss and were there any themes here?

  • Rutschman was a rookie (but the top prospect)

  • Murphy was with the A's and unknown to most

  • Raleigh and Kirk were in their first full season

  • d'Arnaud, Trevino, and Heim had a down years in 2021


Most of this group were young and relatively unknown.


What about the group the fans overrated?

  • Maldonado was 35 and on the AL pennant winners and his reputation was fueled by constant media propaganda.

  • Perez was 32 and coming off a monster 2021 season.

  • McCann was 32 and had big years in 2019 and 2020 and most fans were unawake that he was going to share (and lose) PT to the younger Nido.

  • Garver was 31 and had a monster year for the Twins in 2021. Many were unaware he too would share (and lose) PT to the younger Heim.

  • Molina was 39 and a legend. Many refused to see he was truly barely hanging on performance wise at the plate until he didn't.

  • Grandal was 33 and had a HUGE year in 2021. He cratered in 2022.

  • Stallings was 32 and everything seemed to escape him in 2022- hitting and fielding.


All of this group was 31+ years old and their reputations as catchers often overshadowed their reality as catchers.


What about the same list for 2023?


Here are the MLB Nerds top catchers during last offseason before the 2023 season.



To the left is the fans list for 2023. Again, there were some differences.


This is the 2023 Catchers list for all catchers with more than 200 PA and the three catchers that were in the top 20 lists for the nerds and the fans that missed the 200 PA threshold. There are 49 catchers on this list.







Of the top 10 rated catchers in each group:

  • the fans' top 10 delivered 20.3 WAR or an average WAR of 2.0

  • the nerds' top 10 delivered 26.1 WAR or an average WAR of 2.6

  • the ACTUAL top 10 catchers by WAR delivered 28.1 WAR or an average WAR of 2.8


Of the two groups predicting, the nerds did better; and the fans were far better for the 2023 season than they were for the 2022 season.


Who did the fans miss and were there any themes here?

  • William Contreras did well in 2022 in 97 games for Atlanta. He sustained that performance over 141 games for the Brewers in 2023 at age 25. Wow!

  • Heim continued his development for the Rangers at age 28. Fans still haven't learned who he is apparently.

  • Bailey (24), Alvarez (21) were rookie

  • Jeffers (26) assumed a majority role at catcher

Most of this group were young catchers who were either rookies or assuming larger roles. The Guardians Naylor (23yo- 11th) and Astros' Diaz (24yo- 14th) would also fit this description.


Honestly, in 2023 young catchers all around the league started to take over the job from the old guard. Do fans know who they are when they do their poll for 2024?


What about the group the fans overrated?

  • Kirk finished 19th not 7th but still did fine for the Blue Jays.

  • Realmuto at age 32 had a down year finishing 21st in WAR. Perhaps the heavy usage for the last seven years is starting to take a toll.

  • d'Arnaud at age 34 fell back from a great 2022 in his timeshare role

  • Trevino at age 30 stopped hitting (like he did in 2021). Some Catchers seem to be like NFL kickers. You never know what you will get.

  • Perez at age 33 was overused for inexplicable reasons. He is not good defensively at catcher nor 1B. His 86 wRC+ does not justify the 140 games played. Was Dusty managing the Royals too?

Again, the overrated group tended to be older and have played a lot at catcher over the years.


We can monitor this going forward but it is safe to say that fans tend to:

  1. Value the veterans they know the most

  2. Be unaware of young catchers progressing to starting roles


I made you wait through all of that to get to the punchline. Here are the MLB Nerds top 20 catchers for 2024.


There he is Astros fans at number 10! Your new starting catcher- Yainer Diaz! Given what we learned about the 2022 and 2023 catchers, Diaz fits the mold of a top 10 catcher. Will FANS know this as well? Stay tuned. I doubt it.


I thought it might be fun to see how these rankings match the 2024 current WAR projections.


Here are the projections for the 54 catchers projected to have more than 200 PA.


Here, Yainer Diaz ranks 13th with a 2.5 WAR projection. I should also note that Victor Caratini ranks 25th at 1.5 WAR projected.


Diaz delivered 2.3 WAR in the 53 games and 187 PA he had WHILE PLAYING CATCHER. IF he gets the 378 PA at catcher projected by Fangraphs he COULD blow the 2.5 WAR projection away.


This table also reflects the youth movement in catching. the Catching position is being transitioned to a new set of catchers.

  • Seven of the top ten projected WAR catchers for 2024 will be 27 years old or younger.

  • Sixteen of the top 27 projected WAR catchers for 2024 will be 27 years old or younger.


Folks, the Astros' catching spot is in really good hands in 2024. Get excited to see what your catchers will do in 2024.


Data from Fangraphs.com, MLB Nerds Twitter account, MLB Network Twitter account.


Here is the summary of the Astros Catching WAR by recent years:

2021 0.9 WAR - 22nd rank

2022 -0.3 WAR - 26th rank

2023 0.8 WAR - 25th rank

2024 Proj 3.8 WAR - 9th rank


It was the worst of times. It is becoming the best of times.

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