Thursday, March 26, 2020

All-Time Teams: Blue Jays

Our last two franchises called Canada home for over 35 years. Today's team is still going strong in "the six". Here’s the All-Time roster for the Toronto Blue Jays:

Manager: Cito Gaston
Home:  SkyDome (Rogers Centre)

Leading off for the Blue Jays.. the Second Baseman.. Roberto Alomar

Roberto Alomar played for seven teams in his seventeen year career. An All-Star every season from 1990-2001, Alomar earned ten Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, ALCS MVP honors, and two World Series rings in that span. The first player with a Blue Jay on his Hall of Fame plaque and the first player to have his number retired by the team, Robbie ranks second in franchise history with a .307 batting average and second with 206 stolen bases. His 474 career steals are the fifth-most all-time among second basemen.

Batting second for Toronto.. the First Baseman.. John Olerud

John Olerud has the highest career on-base percentage in Blue Jays history, posting a .395 mark over his eight seasons with the club. The three-time Gold Glove recipient finished third in AL MVP voting in 1993, chasing .400 into August and ending with a league-high .363 average to go with major league-leading totals of 54 doubles and a .473 on-base mark. His career WAR of 58.1 is 21st all-time among first basemen and ranks ahead of Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg and George Sisler.

Batting third.. the Designated Hitter.. Carlos Delgado

The all-time leader in home runs by a Puerto Rican-born player, Carlos Delgado ranks 14th among all first basemen in history with 473 round-trippers. He's the Blue Jays career leader in home runs, runs batted in, runs scored, runs created, slugging, OPS, doubles, and total bases. Delgado received just two All-Star nods - in 2000, when he led the league with 57 doubles and 378 total bases, and in 2003, when he led the majors with 145 RBI and paced the AL with a 1.019 OPS. He finished runner-up to Alex Rodriguez in MVP voting and won his third Silver Slugger award after the '03 season.

Batting fourth.. the Third Baseman.. Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion became a breakout star for Toronto in 2012, blasting 42 home runs and beginning an eight-season streak of 30 or more. The three-time All-Star posted six seasons of 100+ RBI in that span, powering the Blue Jays to ALCS appearances in 2015 and 2016. Edwin took "Edwing" for a walk 239 times as a Blue Jay, the third-highest home run total in team history. His .522 slugging percentage is the fourth-highest ever for the franchise, and his .878 OPS is tied for fourth with the next player in this lineup.

Batting fifth.. the Right Fielder.. Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista was once discarded by five teams in the span of eight months. He arrived in Toronto in 2008 and became a superstar two years later, earning the first of six consecutive All-Star appearances and the first of three Silver Slugger awards with a breakout season for the ages. "Joey Bats" led the majors in home runs in 2010 and 2011, finishing top-4 in MVP voting both times. Over ten seasons in Toronto he accumulated 38.2 WAR - the highest total of any Blue Jays position player - and his 288 hone runs for the franchise are second only to Carlos Delgado.

Batting sixth.. the Left Fielder.. George Bell

Toronto's first league MVP award winner, George Bell also earned his third consecutive Silver Slugger award in 1987 after leading the majors with 369 total bases and smacking a career-high 47 home runs. Bell posted seven more seasons of 20 or more long balls, finishing fourth in MVP voting in 1986 and 1989. He ranks fourth on the Blue Jays' career list in total bases and RBI, fifth in hits and doubles, and sixth in home runs and runs scored. After signing with the Cubs before the 1991 season Bell was shipped to the White Sox in a 1992 trade that sent Sammy Sosa to the Cubs.

Batting seventh.. the Center Fielder.. Vernon Wells

The fifth overall pick in the 1997 draft, Vernon Wells posted the fifth-highest career WAR of his draft class and the fifth-highest among Blue Jays position players. A three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, Wells hit 30 or more home runs three times, collected 100 or more RBI three times, and batted .300 or better three times. In 2003 Wells led the AL with 49 doubles and 373 total bases, and his 215 hits led the majors. He ended his 15-year career with the Yankees in 2013 without participating in a single postseason game.

Batting eighth.. the Shortstop.. Tony Fernandez

Tony Fernandez was one of the top shortstops of the late 1980s, earning three All-Star appearances and four consecutive Gold Gloves from 1986-1989. Fernandez helped the Blue Jays win two division titles before being shipped to San Diego in a blockbuster trade. He returned in time to help Toronto repeat as World Champions in 1993. In all, Fernandez played twelve seasons in four separate stints with the team. His final full season at age 37 may have been his best, posting a .328/.427/.449 slash line with a career-high 75 RBI for the Jays in 1999. Tony has the highest defensive WAR and the second-highest total WAR of any position player in franchise history.

Batting ninth.. the Catcher.. Ernie Whitt

Ernie Whitt is sixth in Blue Jays' history with 1,218 games played - squatting behind the plate for all but eight of those contests. At the plate Whitt hit 131 home runs for Toronto, the tenth-highest total in team history. He smacked ten or more home runs each year from 1982-1989, including two seasons of 19 long balls. Whitt played a career-high 139 games in 1985, earning an All-Star selection and helping the Blue Jays reach the postseason for the first time in franchise history. 

The Starting Pitcher for the Blue Jays.. Roy Halladay

An exceptionally durable ace throughout his Hall of Fame career, Roy Halladay led the league in innings pitched four times and complete games seven times. "Doc" won Cy Young awards in both leagues, finished top-5 in voting five other times, and made eight All-Star squads. Halladay is second among Blue Jays in WAR, wins, shutouts, strikeouts, strikeout-to-walk ratio, and ERA+. In 2010 he pitched a no-hitter for the Phillies in his first playoff start, only the second such game in postseason history.

 Now let's take a look at the Blue Jays' bench and bullpen:

Catcher - Gregg Zaun
1st Base - Adam Lind
Infield - Rance Mulliniks
Outfield - Shannon Stewart
Outfield - Jesse Barfield

Zaun played 212 fewer games for Toronto than Pat Borders did, but his on-base percentage for the team is 64 points higher and hit nearly as many home runs. Lind won a Silver Slugger in 2009 after hitting 35 of his 146 home runs for the Jays. Mulliniks batted .300 or better three times; if Josh Donaldson had played one more season in T.O. the spot would have been his. Mulliniks and Stewart are tied for ninth on the Jays' career on-base percentage list. Stewart's .298 batting average ranks fourth for the franchise. Barfield has the second-highest defensive WAR and the fourth-highest overall WAR among Blue Jay position players.

#2 Starter - Dave Stieb
#3 Starter - Jimmy Key
#4 Starter - Pat Hentgen
#5 Starter - David Wells

Stieb made seven All-Star teams, led the league in ERA+ twice, and holds Blue Jays records for starts, wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts. His career WAR total is the highest of any player in franchise history. Key finished top-4 in Cy Young voting three times and his 1.196 WHIP is the lowest of any Toronto starter. Hentgen won 20 games and the Cy Young Award in 1996. Wells began his career in the Blue Jays' bullpen, then returned to Toronto in the Roger Clemens trade. "Boomer" finished third in AL Cy Young voting in 1998 and 2000. His longevity and low walk rate were enough to earn the fifth starter spot over Jim Clancy.

RH Reliever - Mark Eichhorn
RH Reliever - Jason Frasor
LH Reliever - Scott Downs
RH Reliever - Casey Janssen
RH Reliever - Duane Ward
RH Reliever - Tom Henke

Eichhorn finished sixth in AL Cy Young voting as a rookie long reliever in 1986, then led the league with 89 appearances in 1987. Frasor's 505 relief appearances are the most in Blue Jays history. Downs paced the AL with 81 relief appearances in 2007 and posted a 3.13 ERA over six seasons in Toronto. Janssen has the fifth-most saves and appearances in Jays' annals. Ward is second in both categories and earned a league-leading 45 saves for the World Champions in 1993. Henke is the Blue Jays' career leader in saves, WHIP, ERA, and strikeouts per 9 innings. He led the AL in saves and appearances in 1987.

The World Champion Washington Nationals will close out this All-Time Teams series. 

Thanks for reading!



  1. That's a fun team for a franchise that hasn't been around all that long!

  2. The first thing that jumps out to me, naturally, is that the first three players, and two other starters, also played for the Mets. Olerud is very near and dear to our hearts, and we have fond memories of Delgado. OTOH, Alomar was a major disappointment as a Met. Bautista and Fernández were also Mets, but not long enough to really make an impression.

    It's interesting to compare this team with the Mariners, since they came into the league together. This team is deeper, but the M's have Griffey and Ichiro, where the only player on that level here is Halladay, and he's not Griffey.

    1. I hadn't noticed all the Mets connections. Toronto definitely has depth at most positions, certainly more than Seattle. But the M's had that high-end talent from having the #1 pick in the right years.

  3. Hey, I guessed pretty much all of them. I guessed Donaldson at 3rd and Encarnacion at DH. I drew a blank on the third outfielder, and thought Stieb as the ace. The rest I guessed. Not too bad a job off the top of my head.

    1. I actually had forgotten about George Bell until writing this post. Edwin could have played 1B or DH, and normally I wouldn't have four first base-eligible players, but Totonto's middle infield depth was pretty weak. The starters are terrific though.

  4. Not bad. Glad to see Fernandez on the team. I guessed a lot of it, though there were some I didnt get.

    1. I knew Tony would make the team but I didn't realize he had such a strong season in '99 and a high quality career overall.

  5. For a team with only two Hall of Famers on it, this is an incredible team. Every guy here at his peak could take down any other team.

    1. That's how I've approached these roster decisions - if every player is at their very best, which one(s) do you want? Bell, Bautista, and Barfield had some monster years.

  6. I agree with the other posters... the depth and talent of this team compares favorably with other "younger" teams.
    Really awesome to see Olerud make the team. I remember his chase of 0.400 in 1993, and then Tony Gwynn's the next year. Those were the last two sustained chases of 0.400 if memory serves.

    1. I think you're right. My collecting friends ran right out and hoarded Olerud RCs that summer. IIRC, Alomar and Molitor made it a 1-2-3 finish for the batting title, too. Man, those Toronto teams were tough!

  7. Good power, good pitching, good defense up the middle. This team would put a lot of fans in the SkyDome seats, for sure.

    1. Definitely! And I can't bring myself to call it 'Rogers Centre' It was SkyDome when I grew up, it was SkyDome when I spent some time up there and went to a couple Jays games. It will always be SkyDome to me. Rogers Centre sounds like a hockey arena (or four!)

  8. Love the 80's Jays. That Bell, Moseby, and Barfield outfield trio was scary. And to top it off... they had Stieb (my all-time Jay) on the mound.

    1. I wish I could have seen that '80s team, they must have been a joy to watch. (I tried to get Moseby in there but he fell just short.)

  9. That's a solid lineup! Their championship teams had some pretty amazing short term players like Rickey and Molitor and Winfield, but they still have some surprising depth for being one of the most recent additions to the league.

    1. I wasn't expecting a lot of star power because as you said, those WS teams were build on short-term acquisitions. But they had more than enough guys who stuck around a few years.

  10. Definitely a great pick in all spots for the team.

  11. I'd have to say you hit the mark with the all time team, although my batting order would have been different (Alomar, Fernandez, Delgado, Bell, Bautista, Olerud, Encarnacion, Wells, Whitt). Would also like to have seen Devon White on the reserve squad.
    I would have also had Stieb #1 over Halladay, but that's personal preference.

    Great post!!

    1. That's a nice order, too. Cito could definitely move these guys around depending on the situation. Stieb is a good 1A, very underrated (but not on the blogs!)