At Razzball, we eschew paying for catchers. As Grey so eloquently wrote in his Top 20 catchers, the numero uno catcher was “The cream of the crap.” They are more susceptible to injury, take days off, and the best are not even top 50 hitters for fantasy. With that said, leagues require you to roster one, while some are sadomasochistic and dedicate two roster spots to the position. Sure, you can say F it and leave those spots empty if you so choose, but then you’d be the modern day T-Rex, whose arms and hands shrunk due to hubris. At least that’s my non-scientific conclusion. If there are any paleontolgists in the house, comment below. Anyways, over the past seven days, Danny Jansen of the Toronto Blue Jays has been the #5 hitter and added in 6.4% of ESPN leagues. Trash or treasure?

From the start of the season to June 22nd, Jansen had a .166 batting average and hit 2 home runs with an ISO of .071. Since June 23rd, he’s clubbed 6 homers with a .386 batting average and a whopping .545 ISO! Has anyone checked the hat size on Jansen lately?

Let’s dig into the numbers. The walk rate has been 2.2% and he hasn’t struck out in 45 plate appearances. 911, what’s your emergency? There’s been evidence of some suspicious activity in the neighborhood. On the year, Jansen has struck out 19.5% of the time. In addition, he posted a .169 ISO and has topped the .200 mark just twice in the minors. <insert red flags here> Let’s dig further.

The ground ball rate has plummeted 12%, while he’s hitting 9% more fly balls. The line drive rate has also ticked up 3%. He’s pulling the ball more (7% increase) and the hard hit rate has increased 8%. Hmmm, maybe it’s not fluky after all. When I look at the plate discipline numbers, the chase rate has remained the same, but he’s swinging at way more pitches, especially in the strike zone (67.2% vs 80%). The contact rates have all sky rocketed: 10% increase in the zone, 18% increase in general, and 22% out of the strike zone. Damn. In addition, the swinging strike rate has plummeted from 9.7% to 2.2%. That’s just silly.

These are obviously unsustainable numbers, but how can we explain these improvements?

The first thing I found was that pitchers were being more aggressive with Jansen. The fastball usage went up 3%, but more importantly, they were challenging him more in the zone. Six of the nine zones showed an increase, with a couple by more than 4%. That makes sense, as Jansen was so putrid to start the season that there was no fear to challenge him. Now, the sample size is super small, so we won’t know if the changes are real until that gets larger. With that said, I did run across something else that could be the piece that cracks this puzzle.

Ben Palmer of PitcherList.com wrote a really good article on Jansen. The part I want to highlight is the changed batting stance, as he referenced an interview that Jansen had with John Lott of The Athletic, that he copied from Eric Sogard. “Getting wider and lower helps me stay in my legs, helps my head stay still.”

So we have something concrete to pinpoint for the reason why Jansen has suddenly morphed into Barry Bonds. Now the question is can it continue? Simple answer is no. Jansen is not going to post an ISO above .500 and not strike out forever ever. At the same time, I don’t think he returns to the abyss from where he came from. Jansen is a good hitter who exhibits control of the strike zone. Let’s also not forget that this is his first full season with the big club. Pitchers will no doubt make adjustments, with the likely scenario being that they stop pounding the strike zone. Jansen should be able to adjust to those adjustments fine, as he’s not a hacker at the plate, but the production will more than likely fall off as he gets fewer good pitches to hit.

TRASH

 

 

  1. RicoSuave says:
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    Great write up Son!

    Please rank ROS… 16 team points league

    James McCann, Alfaro, Kelly, Barnes, Cisco, Perez, Maldonado

    Thanks

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Thanks Rico!

      McCann, Kelly, Perez, Alfaro, Barnes, Sisco, Maldonado.

  2. Kruk_Ain't_An_Athlete says:
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    I am in one of those sadomasochistic 2-Catcher leagues. We are a 14-team 5×5 OBP roto.

    I have Garvin and Sisco.

    Available guys CBS has ranked highly for ROS are Iannetta, Herrmann, Casali, Flowers, Zunino, B.McCann, Barnhart, Barnes, K.Smith, and Plawecki.

    Can I hold?

    • Son

      Son says:
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      William Wallace approves, as does Son…..for now

  3. krazyivan says:
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    There is no denying just how bad Danny Jansen was for most of this season. But as a whole, I have been super impressed by how well he has done in his professional baseball career so far.

    At 20 he broke his left hand and at 21 he broke the hamate bone in his left wrist. To be a catcher and recover from those injuries to become such a valuable prospect is remarkable.

    I expect to see the iso drop down to around .200. That number is the hardest to predict with the juiced ball in play and the fact the Rogers Centre has become a launching pad this year.

    His babip. Should rise considerably. He is too good a contact hitter with too much hard contact for it to remain as low as it is.

    Great write up, thanks for including a catcher. In my H2H league they are a bit of a cheat code this year. 4 of the top 5 teams have Sanchez, Contreras, Grandal and McCann as their catcher.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      For sure. I also think he’s a good hitter, which prohibits me from giving up on him.

      I’m interested in the cheat code comment. Are those teams good because they have a catcher or because they are just good teams?

      • krazyivan says:
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        Both. But we have a lot of counting categories for the weekly H2H and it seems these teams have won a fair number of close ones and that having a catcher add to slugg%, HRs, and RBIs is a definite advantage.

        Two of my best weeks offensively have correlated when I streamed Carson Kelly one week and Danny Jansen the other. I lost both weeks because of crappy pitching.

        Those teams I mentioned are good because they have good teams with good pitching. It just seems that the added “cheat code” of having one of the best catchers helps them out in a lot of close contests.

        • Son

          Son says:
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          Got it. You know your league better than me. The discrepancy between the top catchers and the field is wide

    • Curious George says:
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      In response to the cheat code: in our 10 team h2h cats league the top 4 teams which have a large lead over the bottom half of the league don’t have any top tier catchers. They have James McCann, Vazquez, and two don’t have catchers.

  4. Dumb as a Rockie says:
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    Trash or Treasure?
    O. Narvaez-
    A.Riley-
    Y.Chirinos-
    G.Cooper-

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Narvaez – Treasure
      Riley – Trash
      Chirinos – Trashure
      Cooper – Trash

      • NiceMarmot says:
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        Austin Riley – Trash? Can you expound?

        • Son

          Son says:
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          I wrote him up last month: https://razzball.com/one-mans-trash-austin-riley-has-powers/

          Since that post, he’s hit 7 home runs with a slash of .216/.278/.457. The walk rate has been 4.8% while the strikeout rate has been 34.9%. He’s chasing 46.8% of pitches outside the zone and the swinging strike rate is 20.7%.

          • NiceMarmot says:
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            Thanks. I’m a Braves fan and I haven’t had a lot of time to read recently and I guess I was just confused due to the fact that he’s been clutch for the Braves a few times and I do not own in in any leagues. I hadn’t researched him so I appreciate the insight. Seems like a great real life spark plug for Los Bravos but a fantasy dud for the time being.

            • Son

              Son says:
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              He’s a good player. Just won’t see too many at-bats against left-handed pitching.

      • NiceMarmot says:
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        Also, I drafted Jansen, dropped Jansen. Scooped up McCann from the wire when someone dropped him and recently made the “mistake” of adding a second catcher in a 1 Catcher league by snagging Jansen (we have large rosters). Now I’m torn between the two in this short week. Which to start? We only play Thur-Sun this week.

        • Son

          Son says:
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          Jansen for me. The Braves could conceivably face three lefties this weekend if Lauer, Lucchesi, and Strahm pitch

          • NiceMarmot says:
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            I’m sorry for the confusion. The McCann in question was James, not Bmac. Would you still choose Jansen for the 3 day week?

            • Son

              Son says:
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              My fault. McCann

  5. Curious George says:
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    I love/hate Danny Jansens recent production. I drafted him expecting this and promptly dropped him.

    Question:
    Is sonny gray, laureano, and Brendan mckay fair for Blackmon?

    • Curious George says:
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      If not is it over or under pay? Also: McKay can be kept in the 24th round next year

      • Son

        Son says:
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        Keeper aspect changes things. A lot depends on the other team’s roster and situation. In a vaccum without knowing league context, I’d say slight overpay.

        • Curious George says:
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          Makes sense. Is it closer to even if it’s just laureano (who I failed to mention is also keepable in the 23rd) and McKay for Blackmon (not keepable)?

          • Son

            Son says:
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            I’m not a Gray fan, so….

            I think that’s fine

              • Son

                Son says:
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                Ha!

                E before A,as Son is a Grey Stan, but not a Sonny one.

                • Grey

                  Grey says:
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                  Ah… okay, we good!

    • Son

      Son says:
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      I feel your pain. We’ve all been there. Woo sah. Wooooo saaaaaah.

      Answer:
      No

      • Curious George says:
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        I’m assuming it’s not enough for Blackmon?

  6. Harley Earl says:
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    Wow. I’m really surprised you went with Trash on this piece. I fully expected you to go with Treasure. I agree with all your points. Un. Sustain. Able.

    Good work. Look forward to the next piece!

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Thanks Harley!

  7. RicoSuave says:
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    Hey Son,

    16 team H2H points league… redraft

    I got offered D. Price for Ed. Rodriguez and Darvish

    What do you think?

    • Son

      Son says:
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      I’m good with that

      • RicoSuave says:
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        thanks… is it fair? am I giving too much?

        • Son

          Son says:
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          You good

  8. Chucky says:
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    Having a real quandry for my # 4 and 5 SPs in a ten day week. None of them have great matchups and they’re all streamers anyway, Archer and his horrific road numbers at ChC and StL, Ray and his awful road numbers at StL and Tex (DH), Gallen v Mets and @ LAD, Luchessi v Atl and @ Chc, ERod home v LAD and Tor. Which 2 trainwrecks make it into my lineup?

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Man, that is tough. I’m going with Ray and ERod

      • Chucky says:
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        Ive got Lucchesi over Ray. Robbie Root Canal Ray, has awful road numbers and I don’t like him facing Texas’ DH. Just one more batter with which to throw that many more pitches, that much sooner. If he gets thru 5, I’ll eat my hat. The guy I like is Archer but his road numbers are worse than 4 Ray’s. And who’s got the marbles to two road start him anyway. I’ll play it safe with Lucchesi at home albeit v Atlanta and maybe a wind blowing in day at Wrigley. Agree with ERod. Thanks for all your help.

        • Son

          Son says:
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          I don’t hate it. It comes down to a matter of preference. The reasons why I chose Ray over Lucchesi were:

          1) Braves are tough against lefties
          2) Don’t know what the weather will be like in Chicago
          3) Rangers are not good against lefties. Highest strikeout rate against them

          That’s just me, though. Go with your gut! It usually knows.

  9. John Wertz says:
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    Definitely a fine article, although I am a bit confused on him being considered Trash in the end. You basically said he’s a good hitter, and nobody can deny that he won’t keep up his current pace as it’s pretty much impossible, but I’m not sure why he would become Trash when it’s entirely possible he has actually figured things out and he’s becoming the player we expected him to.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Yeah, I can go in many different directions with either designation. In this instance, I chose trash because I don’t think he continues his current heater. That’s all. So, it’s a short term designation.

  10. Diti51 says:
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    great write up! in a H2H weekly lineups points league with one catcher would you hold Jansen and pick up Garver, or ride the wave with Jansen until falls off wagon? Thanks

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Danny boy

  11. Harley Earl says:
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    Just curious, how much do you like Chance Sisco moving forward? He’s been fantastic since getting called up. Too small a sample size or has he adjusted?

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Seems like he hits a homer every day!

      Sample size is too small, though. He still strikes out a lot and the BABIP is elevated.

      He is walking more, elevating the ball at a higher rate, and barreling balls at an insane rate, so there’s a lot to like. Plus, the swinging strike rate is manageable and he doesn’t chase many pitches outside the zone.

      I do like him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a cold streak comes.

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