Danny Jansen

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Daniel Robert Jansen

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Biographical Information[edit]

Catcher Danny Jansen was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 16th round of the 2013 amateur draft. He spent his first two pro seasons at the Rookie-class level, 2013 with the GCL Blue Jays and 2014 with the Bluefield Blue Jays, hitting .246 and .282 in 36 and 38 games respectively. 2015 was supposed to be his first season in full-year ball, but an injury limited him to 46 games with the Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League in a addition to a 7-game rehabilitation assignment back in the Gulf Coast League. He hit just .206 with 4 homers for Lansing. He had similar health issues in 2016, as he played 54 games for the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League and another 3 in the GCL. This time, he hit .218 with 1 homer and 23 RBIs in Dunedin.

He finally had a healthy season in 2017, and made it all the way to AAA that year. He started off with 31 games at Dunedin, where he hit a scorching.369, and was promoted to the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats. There he hit .291 in 52 games and finished up with the Buffalo Bisons, in the International League, where he hit .328 in 21 games. Between the three stops, he played 104 games and hit .323/.400/.484 with 25 doubles, 10 homers and 48 RBIs. That suddenly made him a top prospect, and he had a solid first half back with Buffalo in 2018, earning a spot as the starting catcher for the United States team in the 2018 Futures Game, played in Washington, DC on July 15th. He homered off Lewis Thorpe in one of his two at-bats in the game. He was called up to Toronto on August 13th, when 3B Yangervis Solarte went on the disabled list and C Russell Martin slid over to third base. In a very rare occurrence, both members of the Jays' battery that day, him and P Sean Reid-Foley were making their major league debut, something which had not occurred since April 14, 1967 when the Boston Red Sox had started the battery of Billy Rohr and Russ Gibson. The Blue Jays lost the game, 3-1, to the Kansas City Royals, but Danny went 2 for 3 while batting ninth. Danny hit his first career homer the next day, a solo shot off Heath Fillmyer that snapped a 3-3 tie and sent the Jays on their way to a 6-5 win. In all, he hit .247 in 31 games with 3 homers and 8 RBIs.

Jansen's performance in the final weeks of the 2018 season was enough to convince the Jays to let local hero Martin leave after the season, and he went to spring training in 2019 with the starting job his to lose. He continued to impress in spring training to claim the job, with veteran Luke Maile serving as his back-up. However, while he played good defense and handled a pitching staff whose members seemed to change on a daily basis, his hitting left something to be desired, as he finished at .207 in 107 games, with 13 homers and 43 RBIs. He tired as the season moved along, as he hit only 2 doubles and 5 homers in the second half, and saw another rookie, Reese McGuire, take some of the workload off him. In 2020, Maile was gone, and Jansen and McGuire were now sharing the work, but with Danny the clear number one. He started slowly with the bat, although his handling of the pitching staff was outstanding. After 30 games on September 6th, he was hitting just .148 with 3 homers and 9 RBIs, but McGuire was doing even worse. The two were normally hitting 9th and regularly giving up their spots for pinch-hitters late in ballgames, a strategy that worked as the Jays were in the thick of the hunt for a postseason slot. On September 7th, he did contribute with his bat in the first meeting of the year with the New York Yankees, as he connected for the first grand slam of his career off Adam Ottavino to cap a ten-run 6th inning in a 12-7 win; it was the team's biggest inning in a decade. On September 23rd, he had another memorable game against the Yankees, after his new understudy, 21-your-old wunderkind Alejandro Kirk, had begun to grab headlines with some hitting exploits in his first few big league games. In that game, Jansen homered off Masahiro Tanaka in the 4th and finished his night's work with another solo shot in the 8th, this one off position player Erik Kratz, as he went 4-for-4 with 3 runs and as many RBIs in a 14-1 win. It was the second multi-homer game of his career. He finished the season at .183, with 6 homers and 20 RBIs, his OPS+ improving from 70 to 85 over his rookie season thanks to a better walk rate. He had a great game in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, as he hit a pair of homers off Tyler Glasnow; unfortunately, this represented all of the Jays' offensive output as they lost the game and were swept by the Rays.

He was the Jays' opening day catcher again in 2021, this time with Kirk as his back-up. He got off to a terrible start with the bat, batting .045 with only one extra-base hit - a double - in 16 April games. On May 1st, he tied Ed Sprague for the longest hitless streak in team history, with 35 fruitless at-bats, then snapped the streak the next day with an RBI single off Ian Anderson of the Atlanta Braves in the 2nd inning. The RBI was his first of the season. He had managed to raise his average to .144 by the end of May and .157 on June 6th when he had to miss almost a full month with a hamstring strain. He came back on July 4th. However, after only two weeks, he went back on the injured list and did not return until August 31st. He was hitting just .176 at the time, but had a very good final month, batting .322 with 6 homers and 18 RBIs after his return, to finish the season at .223 with 11 homers and 28 RBIs in 70 games.

He got off to a very good start in 2022, going 4 for 7 with a double and two homers in his first three games, but was then placed on the injured list on April 11th with an oblique strain. After missing just over a month, he returned on May 14th and his his third homer that day, a two-run shot that was key to a 5-1 woin over the Tampa Bay Rays. He hit two homers and drove in a career-high 4 runs in an 8-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on May 24th, then added homer number 6 in the Jays' next game, a 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on May 26th. By then, his OPS was 1.240 and he had the highest sluggest percentage of any major league player since September 1st of the previous season. Unfortunately he was injured again on June 6th when he broke a metacarpal bone in his left hand when hit by a pitch. He returned to action on July 12th and ended up playing 72 games, during which he hit .260 with 15 homers and 44 RBIs, for an OPS+ of 143. The tandem he formed with Alejandro Kirk, who hit .285 with 14 homers and an OPS+ of 128, was the most productive of any team in the majors, and on top of this the Jays' best position player prospect, Gabriel Moreno, was also a catcher who made his debut that season. All three were on the postseason roster, with Danny going 3 for 8 with a double as the Jays were swept in two games by the Seattle Mariners in the Wild Card Series.

With three potential starting catchers on their hands after the season, and a number of other holes to fill, it was clear that the Blue Jays would trade one before the 2023 season - it just wasn't clear which of the three would be sacrificed. The Jays decided to send away the youngest of the trio, Moreno, who was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks along with LF Lourdes Gurriel to acquire OF Daulton Varsho. That meant that Jansen and Kirk were back sharing catching and occasional DH duties, with Jansen the starter behind the dish on Opening Day, March 30th. However he started the year very slowly, with only 1 hit in his first 8 games. He was still batting just .179 at the end of April, but in May he had two game-ending hits in the span of four days. First, on May 14th, he hit a single against closer Raisel Iglesias with two out in the 9th, turning a 5-4 deficit into a 6-5 win, and on May 17th, he hit a three-run walk-off homer off Wandy Peralta of the New York Yankees in the 10th inning, ending what had been a scoreless game until then. On September 1st, with the Blue Jays needing to turn on the jets in order to make the postseason, he hit his 17th homer of the season off Chris Flexen of the Colorado Rockies but two innings later was the victim of a freak injury when a foul tip off the bat of Nolan Jones fractured his right middle finger. It was the third significant injury to a Jays regular player in one week, following those to SS Bo Bichette and 3B Matt Chapman. That was the last time he played that season, as he finished the year at .228 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs, those latter two numbers being career highs, in 86 games. His OPS+ was at 115.

Jansen once gain got hit by the injury bug in spring training in 2024 when he broke a bone in his right hand on March 15th, forcing him to miss the start of the season.

Related Sites[edit]

  • Alex Brudnicki: "Jansen ready for first Opening Day: Top prospect is healthy and prepped for full season behind the plate", mlb.com, March 26, 2019. [1]

Related Sites[edit]