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Jansen's goal in '20? 'To win a Gold Glove'

Wisconsin native learned he can have an impact beyond his bat
@baseballexis
February 11, 2020

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- "I want to win a Gold Glove." As the end of the 2019 season neared and Danny Jansen took some time to think about his first full year in the big leagues, the 24-year-old catcher was not only proud of the ups and downs he endured, but

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- "I want to win a Gold Glove."

As the end of the 2019 season neared and Danny Jansen took some time to think about his first full year in the big leagues, the 24-year-old catcher was not only proud of the ups and downs he endured, but after making significant strides defensively, he offered a proclamation about what he hopes the future holds.

When Jansen spoke the words, he was still a month away from learning that he would be among the three American League finalists for the accolade honoring baseball's most elite defenders -- joining Boston's Christian Vázquez and the eventual winner, Cleveland catcher Roberto Pérez -- and it was the furthest thing from his mind.

"I know how it works -- you've got to put up offensive numbers as well, and Pérez and Vázquez, those guys are really good backstops, they're good at what they do and had good offensive years as well," Jansen said. "It took me by surprise, but I've put in so much work. That's the one individual thing I want to win. It's such an awesome and prestigious award. When I didn't win, it was still an honor to be there, to be one of the top three. It makes me hungry for this year and for more."

Offensively, Jansen struggled throughout last season, finishing the year with a .207/.279/.360 slash line with 13 home runs, 12 doubles, one triple and 43 RBIs in 107 games. But behind the dish, the Wisconsin native worked with 39 hurlers and learned that he can have an impact beyond his bat.

"I'm proud that I struggled and I got out of it," he said. "I hold myself to a very high standard, but when I wasn't playing well, I was still getting thrown in the lineup and I was able to learn. I've learned so much about myself, knowing I can be here, I can make a difference, I can make an impact, and I can be one of the best catchers in the game. I want to be."

As Jansen worked his way through grading himself using a report from the Major League Scouting Bureau using the 2-to-8 scouting scale, though wary of completely overhauling his mechanics at the plate, he mentioned that all of the hitting descriptors he was circling were going to be different in 2020.

"I know I can hit," he said. "I've always hit, and I've always had different stances where I felt comfortable. Last year -- obviously you want results -- and I closed my stance off, I got wider, I did a lot of things to make myself really comfortable, but I learned how my body works through the struggle. I want to perfect my stance and my approach. When you're comfortable, you're not thinking about stuff and trying to make an adjustment all the time. It makes it so much easier."

Another area Jansen wants to improve is his defense, despite the improvements he made in 2019. As he completed the report on himself, the young catcher took it back one final time to make changes on paper where he wants to see them on the field.

"I'm making my arm better," Jansen said. "Fielding, I want to be the best in the game. I'm going to be. Arm accuracy, right now I might be a seven. I'm Top 10 in the league with a lot of that stuff, among catchers, so the grades can probably be better. Seven, I want to be an eight. Arm strength, make it a seven. You can do so much arm strength, but a lot of it is God-given."

Looking forward to another season in the Majors, Jansen is excited to continue getting better and embrace his role with the club.

"Through everything I went through coming up, I made it here and I feel like I made an impact," Jansen said. "I know that I'm a team leader and I know that I can lead this team. There's a bright future here, and I'm proud of the adjustments I've made."

Alexis Brudnicki is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @baseballexis.