The next Major League Baseball season is set to highlight some of the best players in the catcher position. We’re looking at the top five catchers to keep an eye on in 2024, taking into account their recent performance, past achievements, defensive skills, and the influence they have on their teams. Each of these catchers contributes a distinct set of abilities to the sport, making them invaluable to their teams.
5. Jonah Heim
Kicking off our list at the fifth spot is Jonah Heim, the catcher from the Texas Rangers who helped his team win the World Series. In the 2023 season, Heim was a key player, with a commendable batting average of .258, 18 home runs, and 95 RBIs. What makes Heim stand out is not just his offensive skills but also his remarkable defensive abilities and leadership traits.
He showed his knack for managing a game and leading a team of pitchers, which was vital in the Rangers’ triumphant World Series campaign. Even when faced with injuries in the starting lineup, Heim’s expertise in directing the game was crucial in helping Arlington clinch its first-ever World Series championship.
Given his outstanding performance in 2023, Heim is definitely a catcher to watch out for in 2024.
4. Sean Murphy
Coming in at the fourth spot is Sean Murphy, who was a significant addition to the Atlanta Braves. Despite initial doubts about the trade that brought him to the Braves, Murphy has proven himself as one of the top catchers in baseball. In the 2023 season, he showed his batting skills with a .251 average, 21 home runs, and an OPS+ of 125. Murphy’s importance goes beyond his batting; he’s also excellent in defense, ending the year with a 1.3 defensive WAR and a total WAR of 3.9.
Being part of one of the strongest offenses in baseball, Murphy’s batting stats are expected to get even better in the next season. The Braves’ management can confidently say that the trades for Matt Olson and Sean Murphy were successful.
3. Will Smith
Will Smith, who has been one of the best catchers in baseball since he started in 2021, takes the third place on our list. He’s known for his strong hitting, averaging 23 home runs over the last three seasons and keeping a batting average of about .260. His defensive abilities are just as notable, with a 1.4 defensive WAR and a total WAR of 4.1 in the 2023 season.
Smith’s skill in hitting based on the situation, which led him to top the league in sacrifice flies in two of the last three seasons, brings a tactical aspect to his offensive game. Having the benefit of being part of a strong lineup, particularly with Shohei Ohtani, makes Smith a player to watch in 2024.
2. J.T. Realmuto
J.T. Realmuto has been a standout player among Major League Baseball (MLB) catchers for the last 5-7 years. He’s known for his consistent batting average of about .270 and hitting more than 20 home runs each season. Not only is he a strong hitter, but he also has a powerful arm and excellent defensive abilities. His speed is another notable attribute, as shown by his 16 stolen bases in 2023.
Despite his impressive skills, he’s not at the very top of the list because there’s another catcher who has performed even better.
1. Adley Rutschman
Adley Rutschman of the Baltimore Orioles is the top catcher to keep an eye on in 2024.
Since joining the team in 2022, he’s been a key player in the Orioles’ victories. He’s made a big impact in his first two seasons, earning nearly 10 WAR. Rutschman is a versatile player who can hit from both sides of the plate, call games well, and has a sharp eye when batting.
His offensive skills are as impressive as his defensive ones. In 2023, he had a batting average of .277 and hit 20 home runs, showing his range of skills and leadership. He played a remarkable 154 games as a catcher last year, proving his stamina and value to the Orioles. Rutschman has a promising future, and many believe he could be in the running for an MVP in the seasons to come, potentially making him one of the all-time greats.
To sum it up, the 2024 MLB season is set to be exciting with these top five catchers, each with their own special skills and strengths. Fans are eagerly waiting for the action on the field, and these catchers are sure to be in the spotlight, showing off their abilities and playing a big part in their teams doing well.