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The season that was: Danny Jansen

A look at Danny’s 2019 season.

Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Danny Jansen came into season as the number 3 prospect on our top 40 prospect list. I wrote:

Behind the plate, he looked ok to me. Most scouts seem to think he’ll be more or less average. With his bat, average will work. In Toronto teams ran on him quite a bit. He had 28 steals against with the Blue Jays, only throwing out 5 (15%). In Buffalo he threw out 23.1% of base stealers.

There is some concern about his ability to stay healthy. He’s had a string of injuries, in the minors, but then find a catcher who hasn’t have some injuries in the minors. It kind of comes with the position. The catcher position has changed over the past few years. Not many catch the 140+ games that catchers would back a few years ago. It seems like starting catchers tend to get into the 110-120 games and leave the rest to the backup. Jansen hasn’t caught 120 in any season so far, so he’ll have to prove is durability.

PECOTA sees him hitting .237/.333/.412 with 14 home runs in 409 PA. I’d like to take the over on the batting line.

PECOTA was overly optimistic about his bat, but then the concerns about his glove were over stated too. He was a finalist for the Gold Glove and was near the top of the league in pitch framing stats. And he stayed healthy all season.

It has been a long time since we’ve had a home grown catcher stick with the team. You really have to go back to Pat Borders to find one who had a good career with the Jays.

Standard Batting
107 384 41 72 12 1 13 43 0 1 31 79 .207 .279 .360 .640 70 8 4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/4/2019.

Baseball Reference has him at a 1.0 WAR. Fangraphs 1.4 WAR giving him a value of $11.1 million to the Jays.

He had a .275 wOBA anda 68 wRC+.

Danny’s walk rate was 8.1% (team average: 8.4%) and strikeout rate was 20.6% (team average: 24.9%).

His line drive rate was 20.4% (team average 21.0%), ground ball rate 38.7% (team average 39.8%) and fly ball rate 40.9% (team average 39.2%). His fly balls were leaving the park 11.8% of the time (team average 15.8%).

His hard contact rate was 42.4% (team average 37.9%) and soft contact rate was 17.5% (team average 17.9).

His BABIP was .230 (team average: .280). There was some bad luck there.

Jansen hit left-handers (.224/.297/.431) much better than right-handers (.199/.271/.325).

He hit about the same at home (.196/.261/.381) than on the road (.218/.296/.341).

With runners in scoring position he hit .223/.283/.447.

He was good with RISP hitting .243/.329/.432.

Danny was a little better in the first half (.211/.281/.380) than the second half (.201/.277/.328).

Jansen by month:

  • April: .182/.267/.242 with 0 home runs, 7 walks and 21 strikeouts in 21 games.
  • May: .143/.217/.238 with 2 home runs, 6 walks and 16 strikeouts in 21 games.
  • June: .246/.328/.404 with 2 home runs, 7 walks and 9 strikeouts in 18 games.
  • July: .240/.296/.480 with 4 home runs, 3 walks and 16 strikeouts in 23 games.
  • August: .245/.310/.491 with 4 home runs, 5 walks and 10 strikeouts in 15 games.
  • September: .182/.250/.273 with 1 home run, 3 walks and 7 strikeouts in 9 games.

June, July and August were pretty good, the rest of the season wasn’t.

Defense? It looked pretty good to me. He threw out 31% of base stealers. FanGraphs has him at 12 defensive runs saved good for second in the AL among catchers. And they have him at 8.1 framing runs above average, third in the AL.

FanGraphs has him at -0.6 runs below average on the base paths. He’s a pretty ok runner for a catcher.

In games he started, Danny hit:

1st: 1 game.

5th: 8 games.

6th: 3 games.

7th: 14 games.

8th: 31 games.

9th: 41 games.

The Jays were 44-54 in games Danny started. His longest hitting streak was 5 games. Longest on base streak 8 games. Longest without a home run was 30 games.

His favorite team to face? He hit .323/.417/.645 with 3 home runs in 10 games. Best way to become favorite of mine? Hit well against the Yankees.

Least favorite? He hit just .065/.216/.097 in 10 games against the Rays.

The season didn’t go the way we thought it would for Danny. I expected a bat first catcher, with maybe an averageish ability with the glove. We got a glove first catcher, who didn’t hit much. Not what we expected, but still ok.

I alibied his bat by thinking it was hard for a catcher to hit well when he’s dealing with a new pitcher every day or two. That’s a lot of learning to do, so it makes some sense that he hitting would be put on the back burner.

He was swinging the bat pretty well for three months in the middle of the season. From June 1st to August 31st he hit .243/.310/.459, roughly what we hoped he’d do for the season. I’m hoping that will be about where he comes in next year.

It is going to be interesting to see how things shake out next year. Reese McGuire hit great in 30 games, after doing the same in 14 games in call up in 2018, so he may push Danny for playing time. I could see them sharing the position 50/50 next year. I’m hoping Danny hits more like we expected next year, and that he earns the lion’s share of playing time (not that I’m cheering against Reese).

I wonder if the Jays have considered one of their two catchers. I’d imagine they both have a pretty decent trade value. And backup catchers are cheap to pickup.

But then I’m sure both will have the same trade value next year.


For his 2019 season I would grade Danny Jansen a

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