As the Toronto Blue Jays entered the 2023 season, the team was set at the catcher position as they intended to use the platoon combo of Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk. After all, Jansen just had a breakout season in 2022 in which he posted his best career numbers with a .260 average, .855 OPS, 15 home runs and 44 RBI in just 72 games played, whereas Kirk had done even better, hitting .285 with 59 runs scored, 14 home runs, 63 RBI to go along with an All-Star nod and a Silver Slugger award. As a result, the Jays can’t go wrong with either player, and with each providing strong production, it would be hard to garner more playing time for one over the other.
Now halfway into the 2023 season, it appears as though Jansen is finally pulling away from his teammate. Having split almost evenly the starting time behind the plate for the season, Jansen has been consistently outproducing Kirk by a large margin and has been more important to the Blue Jays’ success so far this year.
Taking a look at the stats comparison between the two catchers, despite Kirk having played more games than Jansen, Jansen has been by far the more productive of the two, with almost double the number of runs scored, doubles and RBI, along with displaying greater power with 11 home runs as opposed to Kirk’s three.
Most importantly, Jansen has come through for the Jays many times this season when the game mattered most in the clutch. Almost half of Jansen’s RBI total has resulted from the Jays tying a game or taking the lead. Not only that, with the Jays struggles with hitting with runners in scoring position all year, Jansen has actually done quite a solid job, hitting .264 and an OPS of .813 with RISP with three home runs and 23 RBI, and even better with RISP with two outs with a .333 batting average under such circumstances. On the other hand, Kirk has struggled a bit more in those situations, hitting only .237 and an OPS of .646 with only one home run and 20 RBI, and with RISP with two outs down to a .219 batting average.
In addition, if we take a look at the Fangraphs Win Probability advanced metrics, Jansen’s Clutch numbers has increased to 0.38 this year, as opposed to Kirk’s that has been constantly in the negative for the past three years, averaging close to -0.5. On top of that, Jansen’s WPA of 0.78 way outperforms Kirk’s WPA of -1.04, so Jansen has definitely been helping the Jays to more wins than expected as well.
With every game being important for the Jays down the stretch, it may be about time to anoint Jansen at their starting catcher for the majority of their remaining games, with Kirk serving as the backup catcher to play as needed instead of an even platoon, if the Jays intend to be serious contenders for the playoffs.