Since their inception in 1977, the Blue Jays have been an up and down franchise. Four division titles, one wild card game victory, two ALDS series victories, two ALCS series victories, and the '92 and '93 World Series victories are enough to show that this is a franchise that knows how to win. It's just that they don't always do it.
From 1977 to 1981, the Jays did about as well as any new expansion team was expected to do at the time, which is to say they did not do very well. Bobby Cox took over as manager in the early 80s and things started to creep towards respectability, and beyond. They won their first division title in 1985, but Cox would leave for Atlanta the following season.
The Jays would be back in the playoffs in 1989, and 1991, losing in the ALCS each time. Finally in 1992 and 1993, the World Series championships which had seemed just out of the team's grasp, were finally obtained.
What followed, however, was a long and painful drought. From 1993 to 2015 the team failed to make the playoffs. The last two seasons the Jays have been working furiously to make fans forget about the drought, however. Two straight births in the ALCS will do that.
Out of all the players to ever suit up for the Jays, here are the ten best, and the ten worst. It should be noted, that those in the "worst" category, aren't necessarily the worst players, but they are the ones who had the worst impact on the franchise. This could mean they were a draft bust, the lesser side of a lopsided trade, or someone the franchise simply put too much faith in.
20 Worst: Kyle Drabek
Kyle Drabek was supposed to be the can't miss prospect the Blue Jays received in exchange for Roy Halladay. He didn't exactly pan out as the organization had hoped.
Drabek was with the team from 2010 to 2014, but spent most of his time in the minors. His career 5.26 ERA and 8-15 record leaves a lot to be desired. He was placed on waivers in 2015 and picked up by the White Sox that year. He signed with the Sugar Land Skeeters in March of this year, but they released him a couple of months later.
The Jays also picked up Travis D'Arnaud in the deal, who they would later trade to the Mets in exchange for R.A Dickey. While Dickey underwhelmed as a Blue Jay, the years he spent in Toronto were successful ones for the franchise, culminating in two straight American League Championship Series.
19 Best: Carlos Delgado
Carlos Delgado was a great player during a somewhat bleak period for the Blue Jays. While the team did finish above .500 in four of Delgado's 11 seasons with the club, they never were a credible threat to make the playoffs. It also didn't help that Delgado's era with the club came on the heels of two straight World Series wins, followed by a players strike.
Delgado got in a couple of games in 1993 as a 21-year old, but he wouldn't play a full season in the big leagues until 1996. He hit 30 homeruns in 1997, and continued to stay over that mark for all but one of his remaining years in the league. In 2003, Delgado led the league with 145 RBIs.
Since retiring in 2009, Delgado has returned to Puerto Rico, where he's involved with their national baseball program.
18 Worst: Josh Johnson
Josh Johnson was one of several Miami Marlins players the Jays traded for on November 19th 2012. The landmark deal included Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio. The Jays gave up Adeiny Hechavarria, Yunel Escobar, Jeff Mathis and several others. The deal was heavily criticized in Miami, but praised by Jays fans. Johnson didn't quite pan out as hoped however.
The landmark deal with the Marlins had Jays fans thinking the playoffs were a realistic goal heading into 2013. Instead the team only won 74 games and finished fifth in the division.
After having led the NL in ERA in 2010, Johnson racked up a 6.20 ERA in 16 starts with the Jays. He had a 2-8 record and battled injuries all season. While he attempted to comeback from his various injuries, he never played for another team, and announced his retirement in 2017.
17 Best: Dave Stieb
Throughout the 1980s, Dave Stieb was the ace of the Blue Jays pitching staff. In 1982, when the Jays only won 78 games, Stieb went 17-14 with a 3.25 ERA. He also led the league that year with 19 complete games, and five shutouts. In 1985, the year the Blue Jays finally made the playoffs for the first time, Stieb led the league with a 2.48 ERA over 36 starts. In 1989, the Jays would again make the playoffs, thanks in part to Stieb's 17 wins and 3.35 ERA.
Stieb would start to deteriorate with injuries during the 1990s and into his 30s. He was with the team in 1992 when they won their first World Series, but didn't play in the playoffs. It was his last year with the team.
16 Worst: Josh Towers
Why did the Jays keep putting Josh Towers on the mound? At no point did he demonstrate he had what it took to be a major league starter, yet they kept putting him at the position anyway. It's as if the Jays spent four years completely forgetting they had a giant whole in their rotation.
Towers broke into the league with Baltimore in 2001, where they tried him out as a starter but smartly gave up on him after 29 starts over a season and a half. Afterwards, the Jays somehow decided to give him 89 starts over the next five seasons. He lost 42 games and had an ERA of 4.93.
In 2006, Towers had one of the worst seasons in Blue Jays' starter history. He went 2-10 and racked up an ERA of 8.42. Then, they somehow gave him 15 more starts the next year...
15 Best: Paul Molitor
He only played three seasons with the Jays, but for what he did in 1993 there is no way Paul Molitor should be left off any article such as this one.
As the "M" in WAMCO (White, Alomar, Molitor, Carter, Olerud), Molitor led the league in plate appearances and hits in 1993. Not only that, but Molitor would win World Series MVP that year.
He was 36 when he joined the Jays in '93, but he would still have six full seasons left in the majors, three with Toronto and three to end his career in Minnesota. His second season with the Jays was shortened by the Major League Baseball strike, but he would return for the '95 season. The magic seemed to be gone from his bat that year however. His .270 average in '95, was well below his lifetime .306 average.
14 Worst: Gustavo Chacin
The greatest thing Gustavo Chacin ever did for the Toronto Blue Jays were those mock-cologne commercials.
He smelt great his first season with the Jays, but after that, his cologne seemed to annoy more people than it impressed. In 2005, his first full year with the team, Chacin put together a nice season. He went 13-9 and had a 3.72 ERA. Chacin would finish fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Possibly because he felt he was going to make a fortune by advertising various colognes, Chacin's pitching fell off a cliff after his first season. The next year he would go 9-4, but his ERA was 5.26 over his 17 starts. He started only five games in the majors the following year, going 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA.
He never did crack an MLB roster after 2007, though he played minor league ball until 2011.
13 Best: Josh Donaldson
Hopefully Josh Donaldson will continue to be a Toronto Blue Jay for the rest of his career. Though for that to be the case, Blue Jays ownership will have to break the bank to pay him.
Donaldson was traded from Oakland to the Jays in the fall of 2014 in exchange for Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin, and Franklin Barreto. Some fans were upset to see the Canadian Lawrie leave town, but nobody could argue the Jays got the better end of the deal. The 31 year old promptly won the AL MVP in his first season in Toronto.
Donaldson's year in 2015 helped end the Jays long playoff drought, dating back to 1993. Fans had begun to feel as though it was no longer possible for them to make the playoffs.
12 Worst: Russ Adams
Russ Adams forgot how to throw the ball to first base. Considering he spent most of his career as an infielder, this became something of an issue. At first Jays fans and media were confident in Adams' fielding ability, but concerned about his bat. In 2005, his first full season in the MLB, he played in 139 games at second base. His .256 batting average that year wasn't too worrying. The following year however, he really struggled at the plate going .219. As a result, he ended up splitting his time between AAA ball and the big leagues.
Things continued to fall apart for him in 2007, only now he was struggling in the field as well. After clearing waivers in 2009, Adams elected to be a free agent. He'd never play in the MLB again.
11 Best: George Bell
George Bell was the first Toronto Blue Jays' to ever win AL MVP, having done so in 1987. It would take until 2015 for another Jay to win the honors when Josh Donaldson did so in his first year with the club.
Bell was one of the reasons why the Jays started to take off in the mid-80s. His first full season with the club was in 1984, when he cracked 26 homers and drove in 87 runs. The following year he would help the Jays win their first division title. In 1987, the year the Jays collapsed in the final days of the season to lose the division title, Bell led the league in RBIs and hit 47 homer runs.
Bell would go to the playoffs with the Jays once more in 1989, but was gone from the team by the '91 season.
10 Worst: Danny Ainge
Danny Ainge was a considerably better pro basketball player than he was a baseball player. The Jays drafted Ainge in 1977, and he found himself on the big club by 1979. He would play three mediocre seasons with the team from '79 to '81, before he decided that maybe he should try basketball instead.
In 1981, his final year in pro baseball, Ainge played in 86 games for the Jays and sported a stellar .187 batting average. In other words, he fit right in with how the Jays were doing at the time.
He played college basketball for Brigham Young while his pro baseball career was going on. In 1981, he was drafted by the Boston Celtics, who had to work out a deal with the Jays in order to sign him.
9 Best: Jose Bautista
He's not very popular outside of Toronto, but Jose Bautista is one of the main reasons the Jays ended their long playoff drought in 2015. He's also a huge reason that team was able to comeback from a 2-0 deficit and defeat the Texas Rangers in the ALDS that year. His grand slam in the bottom of the 7th inning in Game 5, and the resulting bat flip, is one of the most iconic moments in the franchises' history.
Bautista arrived in Toronto near the end of the 2007 season. Not much fan fare was made over him at the time, as he had only been a utility guy in Pittsburgh. Seemingly out of nowhere however, Bautista exploded for 54 home runs in 2010, and another 43 the next year to lead the league both seasons. He hit another 40 in 2015, the year the drought was finally broken.
8 Worst: Cecil Fielder
Cecil Fielder had some tremendous years in the big leagues, it's just that none of them took place while he was with the Blue Jays.
As a 21 year old, Fielder first cracked the big leagues with the Jays in 1985. He would only get into 30 games that year, and another 34 the year after. In 1987, the Jays thought they might have something with the big guy, when he cracked 14 home runs in 197 plate appearances. In 1988 however, his batting average fell to .230 and he hit nine homers in 190 plate appearances. The Jays let the Hamshin Tigers of Japan sign him in the off season.
After spending the 89 season in Japan, Fielder signed with the Tigers. He hit 51 homers his first season in Detroit, and 245 over his seven years with the club.
7 Best: Roger Clemens
Some people won't be happy to see Roger Clemens' name included on this list, but there is no other way around it. Sadly, Clemens' inclusion knocks off many much more beloved former Jays.
What Clemens did during his brief time as a Toronto Blue Jay can't be overlooked however. In 1997, Roger won 21 games and had a 2.05 ERA, each of which led the league. He also led the league in innings pitched, complete games and shutouts. Unsurprisingly, he won the Cy Young that year.
In his second and last year with the Jays in 1998, Clemens won 20 games, had a 2.65 ERA and again was awarded the Cy Young.
While his tenure was brief and controversial, he was better during those two seasons than any Jays pitcher has ever been over the same amount of time.
6 Worst: Frank Thomas
Thomas was 39 years old when he arrived in Toronto, but had hit 39 homers and 114 RBIs the year before with Oakland. Injuries had hampered his last two seasons with the White Sox however, so there was concern Thomas was playing on borrowed time. That concern turned out to be incredibly accurate.
"The Big Hurt" started slow in 2007, but managed to get his numbers up into decent range by the end of the year. Unfortunately, many of his 26 home runs and 95 RBIs that season came when the Jays were already too far out of the playoff race.
The following season, Thomas made public statements implying the Jays were going to bench him to prevent him from getting bonuses written into his contract. Shortly after, Thomas was unloaded back to Oakland, with the Jays paying most of his salary for the remainder of the year.
5 Best: Joe Carter
Anytime Joe Carter is introduced to someone new, he must expect them to ask him about his World Series clinching home run in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Unfortunately, a similar question is probably asked to Mitch Williams frequently.
Carter joined the team in 1991 as part of a blockbuster deal with the San Diego Padres. His ability to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 RBIs consistently helped give the Jays what was needed to make the playoffs from '91 to '93.
He was on first base when Mike Timlin fielded Otis Nixon's bunt to clinch the 1992 World Series, but his big highlight would happen a year later. Carter's blast off Mitch Williams has been immortalized with the Rogers Centre's "Touch Em All Joe" bar, and Carter's name on the Level of Excellence.
4 Worst: J.P. Arencibia
Arencibia is one of those guys who was able to hide behind decent home run totals for a couple of years before people started to notice just how rarely he gets on base. Then they began to notice how rarely he did anything to help the team.
In 2011, Arencibia hit .219 with 23 homers and 78 RBIs. For a catcher, that's not bad. The next year he hit .233 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs. Still not great, but not mindbogglingly terrible. Then 2013 hit, and Arencibia set a new bar for horrible.
His "Wins Above Replacement" (WAR) for 2013 was actually a minus. That means advanced statistics said the Jays would have been better off playing an average MLB back-up catcher in place of him. He led the league in passed balls, and batted .194 with a .227 OBP. He was run out of town after that.
3 Best: Roy Halladay
During the long drought from 1993 to 2015, there were a few bright spots Jays fans could focus on. One of them was Roy Halladay. From 1998 till 2009 Halladay was a Blue Jay, only leaving in 2010 as a 33 year old. He was so well-liked by Jays fans that many of them ended up cheering for the Phillies in the 2010 post-season, in the hopes that Halladay would get a ring.
Halladay won the Cy Young with the Jays in 2003, leading the league with 22 wins that season. While the Jays had some good seasons with Halladay, the top of the AL East was just too strong during this pre-second Wild Card team era, and the Jays could never make the playoffs.
He goes on the Hall of Fame ballot next year, and could become the second player ever to be inducted as a Blue Jay.
2 Worst: B.J. Ryan
This article is about Toronto Blue Jays players, and not executives. If it were, then J.P. Ricciardi would top this list. The next best thing is to include B.J. Ryan.
Ricciardi broke the bank for a closer who was heading into his 30s. Obviously, Ricciardi has never played MLB: The Show"in franchise mode, because then he would know spending the kind of money he did on a pitcher who is getting older, is not wise.
Ryan had a decent 2006 season, but would miss most of 2007 after having Tommy John surgery. His velocity never came back fully, and neither did he. He spent much of 2009 on the injured list as well before finally being released that summer. The Jays had to pay the $15 million still owed to him for the remainder of his contract.
1 Best: Roberto Alomar
Currently the only MLB Hall of Famer to be inducted as a Toronto Blue Jay, there can be no doubt that Roberto Alomar is the greatest player in franchise history.
His ten gold gloves is the most of any second basemen in history. He was an All-Star twelve times over, and was the ALCS MVP in 1992. His home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 4 of the 1992 ALCS was, at the time, the biggest home run in Jays history, and is still one of the most iconic moments ever for the franchise.
Nowadays, Alomar lives in Toronto and works as an ambassador and special advisor for the team. In 2011, Alomar was inducted to the Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility. He and his wife, Kim Perks, welcomed their first daughter to the world in 2014.