I feel bad including the first-year catcher on this list, but putting him just after Sanchez and before what’s to come makes me feel a little better. I’ll start by saying he’s been a solid defender, rating at 0.6 dWAR according to baseballreference.com, but it’s been at the plate where he’s struggled to make a consistent contribution.
It’s common for catchers to struggle a bit with the bat when they are getting used to the demands of the big leagues and the increased focus on video and scouting reports, but Jansen won’t be able to use that excuse forever. He’s currently slashing .175/.257/.250 across 160 at-bats, chipping in two home runs, 14 RBI, and six doubles and an overall bWAR rating of -0.2.
We know that he’s capable of more, as he performed well at the various minor league stops before becoming a Blue Jay, and he also hit .247/.347/.432 in 95 plate appearances last year, and those are closer to the type of numbers the club would like to see from Jansen. He shouldn’t have to be an offensive star in the future with the likes of Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and more, but hitting below the Mendoza line isn’t going to cut it.
For now, it’s acceptable because he’s a rookie who is still adjusting to the league with a defence-first job, but if he can’t get things going by some time early in the second half then don’t be surprised to see someone like Reese McGuire get another opportunity at the highest level. I have confidence that Jansen will find his stroke, but so far he’s been having a lot tougher time standing at the dish than squatting behind it.