Any time a player dons the Toronto Blue Jays hat and jersey, the pressure is on right away. They are the only MLB team based in Canada, and it's been that way since the Montreal Expos left to relocate to Washington, D.C.
Over the Jays' history, a number of players have built incredible legacies that have made them champions, Hall of Famers and cherished among Toronto sports fans. Their best years were spent in Toronto, and the city paved the way in creating memorable legacies for these players.
On the other hand, a number of MLB players struggled to find their footing in Toronto. Some started out well then declined down the stretch and made it clear that they didn't enjoy their time here. Some Jays players weren't able to handle the booing, heckling and criticism from fans, suggesting they wish they spent their entire careers in America.
Here's a look at 10 Blue Jays who loved playing in the Great White North...and 10 who hated it.
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20 Loved: Vernon Wells
The Toronto Blue Jays were never that great in Vernon Wells' tenure with the club, which lasted from 1999 to 2010. He was a three-time All-Star, won three Gold Gloves and took home the 2003 Silver Slugger Award after batting .317 with with 33 home runs and 117 RBIs. Wells obviously relished the city of Toronto; he spent most of his career there and signed a seven-year deal worth $126 million to stay with the team in 2006.
The Blue Jays didn't have many players to build around with during the 2000s, but Wells was among the American League's top hitters and he was as reliable as it came. Unfortunately, he started to decline as he approached his mid-30s. General manager Alex Anthopolous traded him to the Angels. But that doesn't mean Wells hated being a Jay; the money and longevity here shows he admired every moment of it.
19 Hated: Maicer Izturis
Maicier Izturis never spoke out against his time as a Blue Jay. But we're playing the assumption game here that if he could take a time machine back to Nov. 8, 2012 (when he signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the Blue Jays), he would take it back. Alex Anthopolous signed Izturis before the blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins, so Izturis was expected to be a regular in the lineup.
Now, Izturis did appear in 107 games during the 2013 season as opposed to the 100 a year before, but that was an extremely disappointing campaign for him. He only batted .236 and had a negative 1.0 WAR, meaning his overall production accounted for one loss.
Izturis appeared in just 11 games during the 2014 season and the Jays didn't pick up his option the following season. Not what Izturis had planned when he signed a three-year deal.
18 Loved: Paul Molitor
Paul Molitor was a slugger on the Milwaukee Brewers from 1978 to 1992, but the team didn't provide much support for their star player and they rarely competed for championships. The Toronto Blue Jays were coming off of a World Series championship victory in 1992, and looked for another superstar to help them defend their title.
Molitor joined them and hit .332 with 22 home runs and 111 RBIs, posting an incredible 5.5 WAR. He was also a crucial part of their playoff run, batting .447 with three home runs and 13 RBIs. The Blue Jays successfully defended their World Series championship, and Molitor was a huge part of that.
He would spend the 1994 and 1995 seasons with the Blue Jays as well. Unfortunately, the second half of '94 was lost due to the strike. Molitor would sign with the Minnesota Twins after the 1995 season, but not before some fond memories in Toronto.
17 Hated: Josh Johnson
Josh Johnson was a solid pitcher with the Florida/Miami Marlins, posting a 56-37 record from 2005-2012 with the team. He was then traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 that brought over Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio. Unfortunately for the Jays, Johnson wasn't anything close to the 2010 All-Star version we saw. He had the worst season of his career.
He went just 2-8 with a woeful 6.20 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. Johnson had reached double-digit wins in three different seasons and the Jays were expecting him to be a top-end starter. Not only was this a forgettable season for Johnson, but it was basically the undoing for his career.
He signed with the San Diego Padres after his tenure in Toronto, but he has yet to play in another MLB game. Perhaps he would have had success if he never came to the Great White North and could still be pitching.
16 Loved : Carlos Delgado
The Blue Jays weren't a relevant team after their World Series victory, but slugger Carlos Delgado was something to always cheer about. When your's truly started watching baseball at a young age, he felt like Delgado hit a home run every single game. Delgado also batted left. I'm a right-handed batter and I would try batting left with his stance, because Delgado inspired me.
Any who, this man was a bonafide star. From 1997 to 2004, he hit at least 30 home runs in each of those seasons. His 336 homers, 1,058 RBIs, walks are some of the many franchise records held by Delgado. In fact, he holds the franchise record for just about every meaningful batter's stat.
Even though the Jays never gave Delgado a chance to win championships, he spent his first 12 seasons with the team and did nothing but crush the ball. Delgado is among the most beloved Jays ever -- because he simply loved Toronto!
15 Hated: Dioner Navarro
The Blue Jays signed the veteran catcher to a two-year deal worth $8 million prior to the 2014 season. Without a reliable catcher, the expectation was that Navarro would be their answer at the position for more than a season. He had a respectable 2014 campaign, batting .274 with 12 home runs, 69 RBIs and a 2.3 WAR.
But the Blue Jays sort of blind sided him by signing Canadian star Russell Martin to a five-year contract to be their long-term answer at catcher. Navarro requested a trade before the 2015 season, but the Jays couldn't find any takers and he reluctantly stayed with them. Navarro batted just .246 and played in 54 games after appearing in 139 the season prior.
Navarro's trade request is enough to suggest he didn't have the desire to be a Jay much longer. His forgetful 2015 season also provides reason to believe he regrets joining them in the first place.
14 Loved: Tony Fernandez
One of the most dominant hitters in Blue Jays history, Tony Fernandez deserves plenty of credit for putting the Jays on the path to winning championships. He loved the Blue Jays so much that he spent four different stints with them. Fernandez was a three-time All-Star with the Blue Jays. He batted above .300 in two different seasons from 1983-89 with the Jays and posted a WAR at 4.0 or better in five campaigns.
Fernandez was part of a trade that brought Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar to Toronto; those two were key pieces of the 1992 World Series-winning team. He was traded back to Toronto for the 1993 season, finally getting his hands on a World Series championship. He would then leave after the championship victory, only to join the Blue Jays again in 1998.
Fernandez then came back to the Jays once again in 2001, where he finished out an illustrious and storied career. You have to love a team to play there in four different stints, and Fernandez was a legend in Toronto. Easy choice to be on this list.
13 Hated: Frank Thomas
'The Big Hurt' not only owns my favorite nickname in the history of sports, but the five-time All-Star also won the 1993 and 1994 AL MVP while smashing 521 home runs in a remarkable career. Toronto signed him to a two-year contract worth $18 million in 2006. In his first year as a Blue Jay, Franks Thomas batted .277 with 26 home runs and 95 RBIs. Thomas appeared poised to build off of 2007 with a strong campaign in 2008.
However, manager John Gibbons benched Thomas before an April game against the Detroit Tigers. Thomas felt disrespected by the decision and said he wouldn't let his storied career "end" that way. The Blue Jays wound up releasing Thomas the following day, ending a controversial tenure.
The Blue Jays simply didn't treat Thomas the way the legend would have liked it. It's easy to see Thomas' frustration, and there's no doubting he simply doesn't have many fond memories being a Jay.
12 Loved: George Bell
The Blue Jays were a young franchise when George Bell joined them in the 1981 season. He played in just 99 total games over his first two seasons, but then slowly developed into one of the league's top all-around players. Bell broke out in 1984, batting .292 with 26 home runs and 87 RBIs. Bell was a two-time All-Star with Toronto and won the 1987 AL MVP when he batted .308 with with 47 home runs and 134 RBIs.
Bell also took home the Silver Slugger Award every year from 1985 to 1987. He put the Blue Jays on the baseball map after years of misery and helped turn them into an American League juggernaut. Though he wasn't on any of the 1992 or 1993 championship teams (leaving after the 1990 season), Bell put the Jays on the path of winning their two titles. He's also in the Toronto Blue Jays Level of Excellence, meaning the beloved Jay will always be remembered among fans in the city.
11 Hated: Josh Towers
Josh Towers wasn't one to talk about his problems or distaste with the Blue Jays, but can we go ahead and assume he wishes he wasn't part of the organization? Towers simply never got it going with the Jays and is widely considered one of the most disappointing players in the franchise's history.
In his five seasons with the Blue Jays, Towers posted an ERA at 4.48 or worse in four different seasons. Towers was miserable in 2006 with a 2-10 record, a 1.77 WHIP and woeful and 8.42 ERA. Towers followed that season up with a 5-10 record and 5.38 ERA. The Blue Jays finally moved on from Towers, who would play one more year in the majors with the New York Yankees before finally hanging up the cleats.
10 Loved: Joe Carter
We really could just explain why Joe Carter loved his time as a Blue Jay, but allow me to give a more detailed description. He was part of the biggest trade in Toronto sports history, as Alomar and Carter came over to the Jays in exchange for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez -- who headed to the San Diego Padres.
In his first season with Toronto, Carter hit 33 home runs and 108 RBIs with an incredible 4.5 WAR. Carter was also a big part of their 1992 World Series championship team; hitting 34 home runs and 119 RBIs. But the greatest moment in franchise history? It was all Joe Carter.
In Game 6 of the 1993 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Carter's Jays trailed 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth. With Rickey Henderson on base, Carter hit a home run off Mitch Williams into left field, cementing the Jays their second-straight World Series. The moment of him jumping around the bases are by far the greatest seconds in Toronto sports history.
You think Carter hated being a Jay after that home run? Yeah right.
9 Hated: B.J. Ryan
Coming off of an All-Star season in 2005 with the Baltimore Orioles, B.J. Ryan was handed a handsome $47 million contract over five years from the Toronto Blue Jays. His first season in Canada was excellent -- 38 saves, a 0.86 WHIP and 1.37 ERA. Ryan earned a spot on the AL All-Star team for the second-straight season. But then Ryan failed to build off of two career years and left the Jays a ton to be desired.
He played just five games in 2007 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Ryan bounced back in 2008 with 32 saves, a 1.28 WHIP and 2.95 ERA. But in 2009, Ryan had a woeful campaign that would basically end his career early. Ryan blew four saves and posted a 6.53 ERA.
The Blue Jays basically had two strong seasons out of Ryan, who was released in the middle of the 2009 season. Ryan did get the money, but Toronto didn't end up being that great of a home for him. He surely wishes he took money elsewhere.
8 Loved: Pat Hentgen
Arguably the greatest pitcher in franchise history, Pat Hentgen was the backbone of the Blue Jays success in the '90s. He went 131-112 in his career with a 4.32 ERA while racking up 1,290 strikeouts. Hentgen played in three All-Star Games as a member of the Jays and won the 1996 AL Cy Young Award.
That year, he went 20-10 with a 1.25 WHIP, 3.22 batting average and insane 8.2 WAR. And yes, he was part of their 1992 and 1993 World Series-winning squads. From 1993 to 1999, Hentgen won double-digit games every single season.
Hentgen was central in the Jays winning the 1993 World Series. He went 19-9 with a 3.87 ERA. Without his superb arm and dominance, the Blue Jays wouldn't be two-time World Series Champions. Hentgen now works with the franchise as a special assistant, further showing just how strong the relationship was between him and the Jays.
7 Hated: A.J. Burnett
You would think that A.J. Burnett would enjoy being a Blue Jay after they signed him to a massive five-year deal worth $55 million in 2005. The Jays overpaid Burnett who was a second or third starter on the Florida Marlins. His first season with Toronto was successful, as he went 10-8 with 118 strikeouts and a 3.98 ERA.
2007 was another solid year for Burnett, as he went 10-8 with a 3.75 ERA. The following year was a career season for Burnett, who went 18-10 with 231 strikeouts and a 4.07 ERA. With that much success, you would think that Burnett would enjoy his time as a Blue Jay.
Instead, he opted out of his contract and signed a five-year contract worth $82.5 million. The Blue Jays fans booed him when he returned as a Yankee. Burnett's success with the Jays is now overshadowed by his betrayal of joining the Jays' long-time nemesis. Probably safe to say he regrets joining them in the first place, considering they also wasted three good seasons from him.
6 Loved: Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay joined the Blue Jays in 1998 and would spend 12 memorable seasons with the organization. As a member of Toronto, Halladay played in Seven All-Star Games and won the 2003 AL Cy Young Award. Though the Jays were never that great with Halladay, he was one of the league's few top-of-the-top pitchers.
As a starter, Halladay's ERA was below 3.00 in four seasons, and he won double-digit games in seven different seasons. What's more remarkable is the fact he was facing the powerhouse Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees numerous times each season, too.
After the 2009 season, the Jays dealt Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies so that he could finally earn a chance at a championship. That never happened, but 'Doc' was loyal to Toronto and spent his best days on a mediocre Jays team. That just goes to show how much he embraced the city and its fans.
5 Hated: Alex Rios
Alex Rios joined the Blue Jays in 2004 and played with them until 2009. He played in the 2006 and 2007 All-Star Games and became one of the best hitters in the entire American League while donning the Jays logo. Rios was called up during the 2004 season and batted .286 with a .721 OPS in 111 games.
He broke out in 2006 with a .302 batting average, to go along with 17 home runs and 82 RBIs. 2007 was a career-year for Rios, as he hit .297 with 24 home runs and 85 RBIs. Early in the 2008 campaign, Rios signed a seven-year extension worth just over $69 million, suggesting he would finish his career in Toronto.
The Jays had enough and placed him on waivers in the 2009 season, where he was claimed by the Chicago White Sox. Rios was booed heavily by Jays fans who chanted that he "sucked," in his return to Toronto. Rios expressed frustration. As a member of the Jays, Rios was caught swearing at a heckling fan, which made him more disliked in Toronto.
Safe to say, he probably wasn't happy being a Jay near the end of his tenure.
4 Loved: Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista appeared to be going nowhere in his MLB career, until Alex Anthopolous dealt a minor leaguer to the Pittsburgh Pirates for his services after the 2008 season. Bautista struggled in 2009, but became one of the most out-of-nowhere stories in sports history during the 2010 season.
He led the majors in home runs with 54 in 2010 -- adding 124 RBIs and 100 walks while posting a 6.6 WAR. He led the league in home runs again during the 2011 season with 43 home runs, plus 103 RBIs, 132 walks, a .302 batting average and career-high 7.7 WAR.
Bautista struggled with injures in 2012 and 2013, but managed 27 and 28 home runs, respectively, over those seasons. After another strong campaign in 2014, Bautista clubbed 40 home runs in 2015 to help the Jays reach the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. His infamous bat flip against the Texas Rangers in Game 5 of the ALDS ensured his place in Jays immortality.
Instead of cashing out on a big contract this offseason, Bautista settled on a one-year contract with the Jays -- further showing just how much he loves the city who has come around to love him.
3 Hated: Brett Cecil
Brett Cecil played with the Blue Jays from 2009 to 2016, and the long tenure would suggest that he enjoyed his time in Canada. Well, there's no reason to suggest that he wasn't satisfied in his first seven seasons with Toronto. But 2016 is more than enough evidence to show Cecil could not have enjoyed being a Blue Jay.
Cecil went 1-7 with four blown saves in 2016, so don't let the 0.3 WAR or 3.93 ERA deceive you. Cecil was incredibly unreliable for the Jays but strong showings in July and August bumped up his stats. In case you thought he enjoyed being a Blue Jay, he had this to say when being booed by his own fans, per The National Post:
“One thing I will say, if you’re going to boo me, don’t cheer me when I’m pitching good...“(But) no, they have no idea, and that’s kind of the part that angers me...they don’t know the hard work that we as a team and we as individuals put in and yet they still do stupid stuff.”"
Doesn't exactly sound like a guy who was happy to be a Jay in 2016. Cecil signed a four-year contract worth $30.5 million with the St. Louis Cardinals, so he won't have to worry about being a booed Jay again.
2 Loved: Roberto Alomar
The greatest Toronto Blue Jay of all-time shall never be forgotten for everything he did to the franchise. The Jays' trade for Roberto Alomar prior to the 1991 season was a franchise-changer and he paid them well for it. In just five seasons with the team, he played in five All-Star Games, won five Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger Award and was a part of their 1992 and 1993 Championship teams.
Alomar batted no less than .295 with the Jays. During their first World Series season, he hit 69 batters home, stole 49 bases, had an .832 OPS and 6.4 WAR. Alomar won the 1992 ALCS MVP and batted .320 in the postseason, helping Toronto win the Commissioner's Trophy.
In 1993, Alomar batted .326 with 17 home runs, 93 RBIs and 55 stolen bases with a 5.8 WAR. The Blue Jays retired his number 12 and put him in their Level of Excellence. Alomar is the greatest Jay ever, and he no doubt feels grateful for all the success they helped him achieve. What a legend he was.
1 Hated: J.P. Arencibia
J.P. Arencibia could hit home runs, but that's about it. In 2011, the second-year catcher hit 23 homers but hit just .219, struck out 133 times, had a terrible .282 OBP and was average at best defensively. With a chance to rebound in 2012, Arencibia hit 18 homers and raised his batting average to .233 and struck out 108 times. Things were looking up for the former Jay, until 2013 came along.
That year, Arencibia hit 21 homers (good), struck out 148 times (bad), hit .194 (awful), had a .227 OBP (woeful, and a 0.1 WAR (not very good for a full-time catcher). But the stats don't tell the story.
In the midst of a disappointing 2013 season for himself and the Jays, Arencibia shut down his Twitter and shared this statement, via The Globe and Mail:
“It’s unfortunate to see how words are twisted to make false stories. I give way too much of myself to have others try and make me out to (be) something/someone I’m not...Thanks to all the fans who support and praying for the others that hate. God bless.”
Doesn't sound like he enjoyed being a Jay all that much.
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