Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Season Preview: C Danny Jansen

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two
Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles - Game Two / G Fiume/GettyImages

Up next in our Toronto Blue Jays 2023 season preview series, we've got catcher Danny Jansen.


Addison Barger, Anthony Bass, Chris Bassitt, Brandon Belt, José Berríos, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Matt Chapman, Adam Cimber, Hagen Danner, Santiago Espinal, Matt Gage, Yimi García, Kevin Gausman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Thomas Hatch, Spencer Horwitz

Before we get into this, here's a quick refresher on the projection models we'll be looking at.

STEAMER: 89 H, 21 HR, 59 RBI, .238 / .316 / .454, 119 wRC+

ZiPS: 62 H, 14 HR, 47 RBI, .235 / .315 / .443, 109 OPS+

2022 stats: 56 H, 15 HR, 44 RBI, .260 / .339 / .516, 141 OPS+

Despite being the topic of trade rumors early in the offseason, Danny Jansen will return as the Blue Jays' backstop in 2023 and is now the team's longest-tenured batter. Although he only played 72 games due to injury, 2022 was a breakout year for Jansen with the bat and expectations should be high as the season approaches.

The first thing that's clear in these projections is that they both expect offensive regression from Jansen in 2023, which is unsurprising. Jansen had a combined 86 OPS+ through his first four seasons in the Majors, but put up a 141 OPS+ last season. As previously mentioned, this is in a very small sample size of 72 games, so to expect a player who's been a below-average hitter throughout most of his career until last season to repeat that performance might be ridiculous. That being said, they both expect him to be an above-average hitter, which is more than reasonable.

Last season, Jansen posted a .516 slugging percentage, which was eighth in the American League among players with at least 200 plate appearances, and was first among all major league catchers. Rate stats like these though can often be prone to regression and aren't as predictive of future success. What can be predictive of future success are Statcast metrics that track things like barrel rate, launch angle, swing/take rate, and hard hit percentage, all of which Jansen had career highs in last year. With such a small sample size it can be hard to figure out what's real and what's a fluke, but Jansen's approach at the plate has completely changed since the halfway point of the 2021 season, and it's led to success so far, so expect another solid year at the plate like STEAMER projects.

Although his newfound success at the dish can be a nice addition, the part of Jansen's game that may be the most important is what he does behind the plate. While basic metrics like pop time and framing paint the picture of an average defender, Jansen's biggest strength lies in his game-calling. Last season, Blue Jays pitchers had a 3.74 ERA while he was behind the plate, which may not sound particularly great, and is actually higher than when Alejandro Kirk was catching, but Kirk was Alek Manoah's personal backstop, which significantly boosts his numbers. Last season, Blue Jays pitchers not named Alek Manoah has a combined 4.13 ERA, which would rank 22nd in the Majors. To put that in perspective, the 3.74 ERA from when Jansen caught would have ranked eighth. The way that Jansen is able to elevate the Blue Jays' pitching is invaluable and paired with his recent success with the bat, makes him one of the most important players on the team.

While it's not completely out of the question, it's hard to imagine Jansen will put up the same offensive number in 2023 as he did in 2022, but still expect a solid year at the plate from him. Aside from his offense, Jansen is incredibly important for the Blue Jays' pitching staff so he should play a huge role in the success of the team this upcoming season.

Next. Blue Jays have just one prospect in MLB's new top-100. dark