Sep 18, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (55) throws to first base to force out Boston Red Sox third baseman Brock Holt (not pictured) in the eighth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Blue Jays enjoyed a great first lap with Russell Martin in 2015, but their catching position hasn’t always been a strength. As the MLB Hot Stove season continues to creep towards a boil, it’s time for us to continue our all-time Blue Jays lists by looking back at the top-10 catchers in Toronto history.
More from Blue Jays All-Time Lists
- Blue Jays: All-Time Roster, Outfield, DH and Coaching Staff
- Blue Jays All-Time Roster, Part Three: The Bullpen
- Blue Jays: All-Time Roster Part Two, Battery and Infield
- Blue Jays: Top 5 All-Time Funkiest Pitching Motions/Deliveries
- Blue Jays: All-time ERA leaders list has some surprises
Before we get to the list, here are some caveats and explanations:
We don’t have framing data for catchers before the mid 2000’s. Since, most of the catchers in contention for this list played before that time, the ranking does not include framing as a factor.
Defensive/Catching stats in general get spottier the further back you go in baseball history.
Yes, catcher has not been a strong position historically for the Jays.
For a note on how I used WAR and what WARPA means see the preamble of this top ten.
Only a catcher’s performance while with the Jays is considered. How they fared in the rest of their careers elsewhere is ignored. A minimum 400 PA with the Jays was the cutoff for inclusion in the top 10 and for stat rankings.
10. Alan Ashby
Alan Ashby was drafted by the Indians in 1969. He was traded to the newly minted Blue Jays in 1976 for Al Fitzmorris. Ashby had seen part time duty with the Indians but was thrust into a starting role with the Blue Jays.
He played 124 games in 1977. His offence suffered with the heavy load and he managed just a .210/.301/.280 slash line. His work behind the plate made up for the offensive struggles. He threw out nearly half of potential base stealers (48%) and posted a 1.5 dWAR.
In 1978, Ashby split playing time with Rick Cerone and saw a large improvement in his offensive statistics. He played 81 games and his slash line that year was .261/.333/.420. He also remained strong on the defensive side of things. After the 1978 season, he was dealt to the Astros for Joe Cannon, Pedro Hernandez and Mark Lemongello in what quickly turned out to be a very poor deal. Ashby was worth 7.9 WAR over 11 seasons with the Astros while Cannon, Hernandez and Lemongello were collectively worth -3.6 WAR in their brief Jays careers.
Blue Jays fans will remember Ashby’s post-retirement stint as colour commentator alongside Jerry Howarth on the radio. Ashby is currently the colour man on Astros’ TV broadcasts.
Among Jays’ catchers all-time he ranks 11th in WAR, 4th in BB% and 8th in defensive WAR.
Next: No. 9: A not-so-distant old friend