Major League Baseball is loaded with talent at the catcher position heading into the 2023 season.
Combine that elite talent with some of the changes that were made over the offseason, and it should be an exciting year behind the dish. Multiple top catchers -- including Willson Contreras and Sean Murphy will don new uniforms in 2023.
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Then there's the young talent. Baltimore Orioles backstop Adley Rutschman has the chance to become not just the best catcher in the game, but also a perennial MVP candidate.
So how do those big names stack up against one another in our latest positional rankings? Here are the top five catchers in baseball ahead of the new season.
5. Willson Contreras, St. Louis Cardinals
2022 stats: .243/.349/.466, 22 HR, 55 RBI (with Chicago Cubs)
Contreras will replace the great Yadier Molina behind the plate in St. Louis after signing a five-year, $87.5 million contract in free agency. It's a defensive downgrade, but the 30-year-old makes the Cardinals lineup even scarier. He's among the best offensive backstops in the game and as long as he stays healthy in 2023, he should add a fourth All-Star selection to his résumé.
4. Sean Murphy, Atlanta Braves
2022 stats: .250/.332/.426, 18 HR, 66 RBI (with Oakland Athletics)
The A's continued their fire sale by sending Murphy to Atlanta during the offseason. It was a major addition for the Braves, who now boast arguably the best catching tandem in the league with Murphy and Travis d'Arnaud. Murphy is a Gold Glove backstop who took a significant step forward at the plate last season. His 5.1 WAR ranked 11th in the American League and third among all catchers.
3. Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers
2022 stats: .260/.343/.465, 24 HR, 87 RBI
Smith has established himself as arguably the best offensive catcher in the game. The soon-to-be 28-year-old led all NL catchers in homers and RBI last season and that still was a step back from his stellar 2021 campaign. Smith's defense isn't up to par with some of the other top catchers, but he isn't a liability. And even if he was, the bat would make up for those shortcomings.
2. Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles
2022 stats: .254/.362/.445, 13 HR, 42 RBI
Rutschman, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, quickly made his presence felt as a rookie last year. The 25-year-old finished as the runner-up in AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Mariners star Julio Rodriguez. He posted a 5.3 WAR despite only playing in 113 games. No one should be surprised if Rutschman is in the MVP conversation this season, though he'll need to prove himself over the course of a 162-game campaign before taking over the No. 1 spot on this list.
1. J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies
2022 stats: .276/.342/.478, 22 HR, 84 RBI
Realmuto has been the best catcher in the sport for the last five years. While you can make the argument for Rutschman, Realmuto has an undeniable track record that gives him the edge for now. The 32-year-old is a three-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger award winner, and two-time Gold Glover. He finished seventh in NL MVP voting last season and is showing no signs of slowing down.