Catcher Shuffle Up: Now what, Kyle Schwarber?

Are things finally looking up for Kyle Schwarber? (AP)

Catchers are a mess in 2017, the one position that’s not crushing the ball. But we still rank them. We rank everything.

What’s happened to this point is merely an audition. We’re trying to calibrate 5×5 value from here on out. Players at the same price are considered even. And if two guys are a buck apart, it’s not that big a difference, kids.

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I reserve the right to tweak this list in the first day of release. Comments will be added later Thursday. Game on.

$23 Gary Sanchez
$21 Buster Posey
$17 Salvador Perez
$14 JT Realmuto
$13 Mike Zunino
$13 Yadier Molina
$13 Willson Contreras
$13 Yasmani Grandal
$12 Wilson Ramos

I would suspect a lot of catchers wear down in the second halves of seasons, given the physical demands of the position. Perez is always a guy I worry about specifically, because Ned Yost runs him into the ground. Perez has a career .283/.313/.470 slash before the break, .263/.293/.410 after. Granted, his durability and pop make him fantasy gold to anyone rostering him, so I’m not getting rash about this. Just remember the Yost factor.

$11 Tyler Flowers
$11 Alex Avila
$11 Evan Gattis
$11 Brian McCann
$11 Jonathan Lucroy
$11 Kyle Schwarber
$10 Russell Martin

Schwarber is back in the majors after tearing up Triple-A, which we expected. But we’re still asking the same questions about him in the majors. He’s a .207 career hitter, albeit with reasonable OBP skills (.325 OBP) and 28 homers in 539 at-bats. Can the Cubs find a reasonable position for him? Will he figure out left-handed pitching, or even get exposed to them?

I can’t chase Schwarber into the single digits because he’s still just 24, the pop is always present, and this position is a collection of radioactive waste. But he’s not on any of my rosters, and I’m not looking to trade for him. If that sounds wishy-washy to you, I’ll frame it another way: while I can’t bury him in these rankings, I remain out on Schwarber. I look forward to his future as an American League DH.

Avila and Flowers are veterans who have blossomed at a strange time. But look at the OBPs, and watch the at-bats. Maybe there’s something to a player at this position turning into a plate-discipline maestro. Avila’s been my favorite Tiger to watch all year; every at-bat is a work of art. He’s not used against lefties, and the team knows he probably can’t play every day, but he’s definitely productive enough to be a starter in a start-one format.

$8 Matt Wieters
$6 Manny Pina
$5 Stephen Vogt
$5 Austin Hedges
$4 Martin Maldonado
$4 Jason Castro
$4 Travis d’Arnaud
$4 Welington Castillo
$3 Bruce Maxwell
$3 Tony Wolters

It’s interesting to see Maxwell come up to Oakland at 26 and at least get on base, because when you think late bloomer, you think Athletics. But his career slugging percentage in the minors is a meager .375. He’s a reasonable second catcher in a deeper pool, or an OBP fill-in, but that’s likely it . . . I can’t go higher on Vogt because Pina has been pretty good, too; this is going to be a time-share. Vogt at least gets a boost at Miller Park, a noted haven for left-handed hitters.

$2 Austin Barnes
$2 Robinson Chirinos
$2 Chris Iannetta
$2 Kevan Smith
$2 *Devin Mesoraco
$2 James McCann
$2 Tucker Barnhart
$2 Francisco Cervelli
$2 Yan Gomes
$1 Elias Diaz
$1 Andrew Knapp
$1 Christian Vazquez
$1 Sandy Leon
$1 Kurt Suzuki
$1 Cameron Rupp