Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: Ranking the top five catchers in franchise history

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 29: Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays makes the play and throws out the baserunner in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre on April 29, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 29: Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays makes the play and throws out the baserunner in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre on April 29, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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ATLANTA, GA – JULY 10: Russell Martin #55 and Tyler Clippard #36 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrate after the game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on June 26, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – JULY 10: Russell Martin #55 and Tyler Clippard #36 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrate after the game against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on June 26, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

2- Russell Martin

I’ll admit that when I started out to write today, I was going to make an argument that Russell Martin was the greatest catcher in Blue Jays history. However, after doing more research and having my memory jogged, I can’t make that argument any longer.

That said, being the second best in the history of a 41 year franchise is nothing to sneeze at, and Martin has been very good during his time playing in his home country. He’s absolutely had his struggles in 2018, but even if he continues in this way through the end of his contract (which finishes up at the end of the 2019 season), I’d still argue that signing him as a free agent before the 2015 season was an excellent move. I don’t think the Blue Jays make the playoffs in 2015-16 without him, and despite the disappointing finish to both seasons it was still a highlight in franchise history.

The Canadian backstop was outstanding in his first season in Toronto, earning 3.0 bWAR, an All-Star berth, and even an MVP vote. He slashed .240/.329/.458 with 23 home runs and 77 RBI, and brought his signature defence and handling of the pitching staff, which was a welcome addition to the Blue Jays. He followed that up with another excellent year in 2016 before spending half of last season on the disabled list.

In total he’s been worth 8.2 bWAR so far during his three plus seasons north of the border, and there’s a good chance he’ll get to double digits before his tenure is over. He may have to split some catching duties with the young and talented Danny Jansen, but Martin has shown that he’s capable of handling third base, and has also appeared at second, shortstop, and even left field. While he’s not an ideal utility-type, he’s been serviceable during times when other regulars have been on the disabled list, such as right now with Brandon Drury, Yangervis Solarte, and Josh Donaldson.

The “Manalyst” might have a higher WAR total than Martin as of right now, but when you add up the leadership qualities and all of the other intangibles, I would go with Martin 10 times out of 10.

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