Angels report cards: Grading Matt Thaiss' opportunistic 2023 season

Matt Thaiss was a pleasant surprise for much of the season.
Los Angeles Angels v Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels v Texas Rangers / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Angels had a choice to make with Matt Thaiss at different points this season. They had to either decide to DFA him when it looked like he didn't belong at the MLB level, or keep him around and hope he'd prove to be valuable. They chose the latter, and for a while, Thaiss really took advantage of the opportunity they gave him.

Thaiss being out of options was a huge reason why he made the Opening Day roster as Logan O'Hoppe's backup catcher. The Angels have always hoped he could hit, but Thaiss defensively was nowhere near as good as a guy like Chad Wallach.

The Angels had Thaiss begin the year as the team's backup, but he started more games at catcher than anyone this season following O'Hoppe's injury. There were some good times and some bad.

Matt Thaiss deserves a C grade for his 2023 season

Thaiss couldn't have begun his season any worse. He was hitless in his first 12 at-bats and looked awful behind the plate as well. His two catcher's interferences in Boston cost the Angels a game they should've won against the Red Sox early on. When O'Hoppe went down in late April, it felt like the Angels were doomed behind the dish. Thaiss (and Chad Wallach) made sure that wasn't the case as he got on the good side of Angels fans.

From when he took over as the regular starter in late April until the end of June, Thaiss was one of the best offensive catchers in baseball. He slashed .290/.385/.420 with four home runs and 21 RBI in 161 plate appearances. He wasn't hitting for much power but was an on-base machine and was even hitting as high as fifth in the order. He was finally showing that first round promise he had failed to show in any of his other stints.

That two and a half month stretch was awesome, but Thaiss really slowed down as the season progressed. From July 1 through the end of the season, he'd slash .143/.246/.277 with five home runs and 10 RBI. The last month of the season was really a wash due to injury as he played just five games and all five were at DH, but Thaiss was still awful in July and August as the team collapsed.

The 28-year-old didn't finish strongly, but I do believe he did enough to earn the backup spot to O'Hoppe once again in 2024. We've seen what he can do in a prolonged stretch when he's swinging a hot bat, and that kind of upside isn't something you just throw away. Hopefully he continues to improve defensively as well.