When Danny Jansen was on our prospect lists (he was #3 on our list in 2019), we considered him a good bat/ok glove catcher.
And then came his rookie season in 2019, and he didn’t hit (.207/.279/.360), but he did a great job behind the plate. He was a finalist for the Gold Glove and was near the top of the league in pitch framing. I figured Reese would be the guy with the great glove/poor bat, but 2019 didn’t turn out that way.
I gave the alibi that he was working with many pitchers. Learning how to work with each one took time away from working on his hitting.
It has been a long time since we had a homegrown catcher who stuck around and kept the number one catcher job for years. Pat Borders was the last one who came up with us and played behind the plate for years. Between him and Danny, there was:
- The Blue Jays drafted J.P. Arencibia but only stayed 3 years as our starting catcher (not that 3 years is something to be ashamed of, it is 3 more years than I’ve had).
- Greg Myers was homegrown, but again didn’t have a long career as our number one catcher. He had 3 Blue Jays seasons where he caught over 80 games (1990 and 1991) and in 2003 (121), when he was 37. In between Blue Jay stints, he played for 6 other teams.
- Sandy Martinez, who caught 138 games over two seasons (1995-96), got into 3 the next and then did a major league team tour.
I was hopeful that Danny would break the long dry spell. A good 2020 would have eased my mind. Now I’m wondering if it will be Danny or Kirk. Or maybe one of the several others who are on the way up our minor league ladder.
Baseball Reference has him at a 0.5 WAR. FanGraphs at 0.4.
He had a .300 wOBA and a 89 wRC+, much better than his .275 and 68 from last year.
Danny’s walk rate was 14.3% (way up from last year’s 8.1) and strikeout rate was 21.1% (up slightly from 20.6).
His line drive rate was 24.7% (up from 20.4), ground ball rate 36.0% (down from 38.7) and fly ball rate 39.3% (down slightly from 40.9). His fly balls were leaving the park 17.1% of the time (up from 11.8).
His hard contact rate was 21.5% (cut in half from last year’s 42.4%) and soft contact rate was 17.2% (about the same as last year 17.5). So it was all medium contact.
Danny’s BABIP was .190 (down from last year’s .230). I thought he was hitting in some bad luck last year, but maybe he’s just easy to defend.
Jansen didn’t hit left-handers at all (.103/.217/.205). He was better against RHP (.222/.357/.432). Last year he hit lefties better right-handers. I’m figuring this is a small sample size thing.
He hit much better at home (.255/.369/.527) than on the road (.123/.266/.215).
He was good with RISP hitting .259/.364/.481 for the second year in a row.
Danny was a little better in the first half (.211/.281/.380) than the second half (.201/.277/.328).
- July: .235/.381/.412 with 1 home run, 4 walks and 4 strikeouts in 5 games.
- August: .130/.284/.222 with 1 home run, 11 walks and 15 strikeouts in 20 games.
- September: .224/.321/.490 with 4 home runs, 6 walks and 12 strikeouts in 18 games.
On defense? He didn’t look as good as last year. He threw out 23% of base steals (31% last year). At the start of the season he was terrible at throwing out runners. I figured it was the lack of spring training. In a normal spring they work on throwing to second a ton. In the two weeks they had before this season started, it, most likely got the short shift.
FanGraphs has him at a -4 runs saved on defense, after being a +12 and second from the top of the league. And framing? He’s a 0 runs saved, after being a 8.1 runs saved last year.
Base running he was a -0.7.
In games he started he hit:
- 3rd: 1 time
- 5th: 1 time
- 6th: 1 time
- 7th: 8 times
- 8th: 9 times
- 9th: 20 times
The Jays were 23-17 in games he started.
Expo45 wrote about Danny’s missing hits here.
So it wasn’t a good season for Jansen. 2019 we could point to his glove and say, ‘when his bat comes around, we will have a great catcher.’ This bat wasn’t good, and his glove was, well, more like we expected it to be.
I’m willing to give a mulligan for this strange season....at least up to a certain point. But when you don’t hit and your glove doesn’t look good? He is a better catcher than we’ve seen. I’m sure of it. But he is going to have to show it to us. And soon.
Alejandro Kirk looked great in his short time up with the team. We hear a lot about Riley Adams. Gabriel Moreno has been added to the 40-man as well. And Reese McGuire is still there (I bet the front office is wishing they had found a trade for him last winter).
2021 will be an essential season for Jansen. If he isn’t good, there are too many other choices for him to get another chance. If he has a poor spring training/start to the season Kirk is right there. If it is a poor full season, Adams and Moreno are getting close.
Matt took a look at the dangers of having too many catching prospects just today. Or more the possibility that, no matter how many catching options a team has, sometimes none of them work out. It is a scary thought that we could have 5 young catchers on our 40-man roster and then have none of them turn out.
I’m hopeful that Danny will turn things around. I would think that at the very least, he could have a career as a backup.
For his 2020 season I would grade Danny Jansen a
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