Top 5 catchers in Blue Jays franchise history by WAR

Toronto Blue Jays v Colorado Rockies
Toronto Blue Jays v Colorado Rockies / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages
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1. Ernie Whitt 19.4 WAR

Some fans may not know that Ernie Whitt was a charter member of the 1977 Blue Jays, and that’s because he didn’t get many opportunities to play. The coaching staff preferred to go with the tandem of Alan Ashby and Vic Cerrone, and Ernie got into just 25 games in 1977 and ‘78.

Manager Bobby Mattick made Whitt the starting catcher in 1980, and it was one of the few bright spots of a lousy 67-95 season. In 1982, Bobby Cox took over the managerial reigns, and the club took a significant step towards respectability with a 78-84 record. Whitt continued to show improvement, with a .261 average, 11 home runs, and a 0.9 WAR. 

The best was yet to come, and 1983 marked another big step forward for Ernie and the Blue Jays. Whitt enjoyed his best season yet with 17 homers, 56 RBI, a .805 OPS, and a 3.4 WAR while throwing out 38% of base-runners. The team shook off its expansion-era ineptitude and finished 89-73, their first winning season. 

Durability, toughness, and power were the staples of Whitt’s game, and he played in over 100 games in nine of his ten seasons (he played 74 of 108 games in the strike-shortened 1981 campaign) with the Jays and reached double-digits in home runs every year from 1989 to 1989. The high mark for power production came in 1985 and 1987 with 19 homers. Whitt was named an All-Star in ‘85 and drove in 1 career-high 75 runs in ‘87. 

Ernie Whitt remains one of the most beloved alumni in Blue Jays history. He is, by far, the leader in home runs by a catcher and catcher WAR. As well as Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk have done to work towards those gaudy totals, catching Whitt's totals would take years of steady production to get close. Put Jansen's upcoming free agency into substantial historical perspective.