2016 Blue Jays Season Review: Josh Thole
By: Jay Blue and @JaysGirlEmily
Blue Jays From Away
Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.
Josh Thole completed his four-year term of service with the Toronto Blue Jays as the personal catcher of knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Aside from that, there’s probably not much that we can really say about Thole’s performance.
He had a career-worst wRC+ (or “weighted Runs Created Plus, click the link for a more in-depth explanation) of 29, meaning that he created runs at a rate 71% below league average. Thole hit .169/.254/.220 with one home run in 136 plate appearances. He had a solid 9.6% walk rate and a decent 20.6% strikeout rate but when you’re hitting a buck-sixty-nine with practically no power, walks are just not going to help you.
Thole did throw out 25% of runners trying to steal which was only four percent below the league average, but, by the end of the season, the Blue Jays had acquired Dioner Navarro in order to fill the offensive black hole in the backup catcher role.
Thole was a free agent following the season and signed a minor-league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Josh Thole hit a home run in the Jays’ second game of the year, April 4 in Tampa. He didn’t get another RBI until July 10th, when he had two. In 27 at-bats in April, he had five hits, for an average of .185. In May, he batted .067 in 15 at-bats, with just one hit for the entire month. He also walked thrice.
In June, he was 3-for-27 with four walks and five strikeouts. His monthly average was .111, while his OBP was .226. He did slightly better in July, with five hits (two of them doubles) and five RBI, with three walks and four strikeouts in 22 AB. He saw a little more playing time due to an injury to Russell Martin. In August, Thole had four hits in 23 AB with one double, hitting .174. He walked once, had another RBI and struck out six times.
In September, his playing time was reduced after the Blue Jays picked up Dioner Navarro. Thole only played in three games, and had two hits in four at-bats, both on the 16th in a 5-0 win over the Angels. He hit .169/.254/.220 over the course of the season, in 118 AB and appeared in 50 games (sometimes as a late-inning defensive replacement). He scored seven runs, drove in seven, hit three triples and one home run. He also walked 13 times and struck out 28.
He logged 343 innings behind the plate, almost three times his total from 2015. He allowed 17 passed balls, which was second-most in the American League. He threw out six base runners, and allowed 18 stolen bases. Thole did not make the postseason roster.
Regular Season Grades
Jay: D (but only because the bar for backup catchers is so low)