There have been several hundred players in the Toronto Blue Jays organization since the franchise was born in 1977 and unfortunately, some of them struggled while there. Baseball’s a simple game, you need to score runs to win and you need to hit to score runs. If you can’t produce with the bat then you better be a hell of a defensive player or base stealer. This list consists of players who mainly failed to become complete all-round performers because they lacked any hitting prowess, although some of them lacked skills in other areas too.
Just keep in mind that a lot of the outfielders spent time at both right and left field and may have even played all three outfield positions during their time in Toronto. Also, before getting bombarded with abuse, these players listed weren’t necessarily bad players. However, they all played below par or expectations while suiting up with the Blue Jays. They’ve been placed on this list due to their performances in Toronto only, not the rest of their careers.
Some of them came to town with high expectations because of how good they were, such as Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. But the majority of them played about 100 to 200 games with the Blue Jays before being either released or traded and there’s obviously a reason for that. They either didn’t fit in as hoped or simply didn’t produce. The Jays realized that and that’s why most of them were quickly moved on.
30 Pitcher: Robert Person
Looking back on his career with Toronto, many fans become more disenchanted with pitcher Robert Person once they realize the club gave up John Olerud to acquire him. Person arrived in Toronto in 1996 from the New York Mets with Olerud going the other way. Olerud was a fan favourite who had helped the Jays win two consecutive World Series a few years earlier. He would retire as a two-time All-Star with three Gold Gloves and an AL batting championship to his name. Person hung around Toronto until they traded him to Philadelphia for fellow pitcher Paul Spoljaric. Person’s ERA in Toronto was 5.61 the first season, 7.04 the second and was 9.82 when they finally gave up on him. He also had an 8-13 record and it was his worst two-and-a-half years in the Majors.
29 Catcher: Josh Thole
Josh Thole came to Toronto to be R.A. Dickey’s personal catcher and the team didn’t really get much else out of him. With Dickey joining Atlanta in the offseason it’s no surprise the Jays didn’t keep Thole and he’s now with Arizona. Toronto acquired Thole from the Mets along with Dickey in a late 2012 trade. He batted just .175 in 2013, but improved to .252 the next year. Once the Jays acquired catcher Russell Martin in 2015 the writing was on the wall for Thole. He spent much of the year in the minors, batting .204 with Toronto with a pair of RBI. Toronto re-signed him after Dioner Navarro left the club, but once Navarro returned in 2016 Thole was the odd man out. He hit .169 in 2016 and cleared waivers after the season.
28 First Base: Kevin Millar
Kevin Millar had been in the Majors for 11 years when he joined the Blue Jays in February in 2009 as a free agent. He lasted just nine months before being released and Toronto ended up being the final stop of his MLB career. He was a pretty good first baseman, but was top-10 in errors for the position three times in his career. Millar played 78 games with the Jays and fell a bit short of expectations by batting .223 with seven homers. He was a three-time 20-homer man in the past, was a .274 career hitter, and twice cracked the .300 barrier. His short stint in Toronto was the worst in his career statistically, which otherwise was quite good indeed. Millar’s now a host on the MLB Network.
27 Second Base: Danny Ainge
There’s no doubt Danny Ainge was a fine athlete. He was an above average baseball, basketball and football player as a teenager. However, it turned out he was best at basketball even though he as an All American in all three sports. The Blue Jays drafted him though and Ainge figured he’d give baseball a shot after concentrating on it in college. Ainge somehow made it to the Majors after struggling in the Minors and ended up playing 211 games with Toronto from 1979 to 1981. By then, Ainge realized baseball wasn’t his calling and switched to basketball where he became a star with the Boston Celtics. He hit .220 with Toronto with two home runs and 120 strikeouts in 695 at bats. Needless to say, Ainge made the right career decision by joining the NBA.
26 Third Base: Juan Francisco
The hot corner belonged to Juan Francisco for most of 2014 as he played 106 games for Toronto that season with a few at DH and first base. Francisco didn’t have much of a bat as his .236 career average would attest to. But he hit below that for Toronto at .220 with 116 strikeouts in 287 at bats as he had a problem hitting a breaking ball. Granted, Francisco has some power though by cracking 16 home runs and 43 RBI that summer, but he was too unreliable at bat. The Jays had signed him as a free agent in April of 2014 and released him just seven months later. Francisco played in Japan in 2015 and then sat out the 2016 season. He recently signed a minor league contract with Baltimore.
25 Shortstop: Dick Schofield
Most scouts believed shortstop Dick Schofield would have an all-star career after being taken with the third overall pick in the 1981 draft by California. Things didn’t quite work out that way though, especially during his time in Toronto from 1993 to 1994 after they signed him as a free agent. Schofield hit just .239 with the Jays which shouldn’t have been mush of a surprise since his best season with the Angels was .255 in 10 years there. Schofield played just 131 games with Toronto, but did raise his average to.255 in his second season after batting a buck ninety one in his first campaign. He was a decent fielder with good range at shortstop, but just didn’t work out in the Big Smoke and the Jays granted him free agency after the 1994 season. Ward had an inconsistent career, but he still managed to play until 2001.
24 Left Field: Turner Ward
Switch hitter Turner Ward played two games shy of 100 for the Blue Jays between 1991 and 1993 with below-average results. Ward played a dozen years in the majors with a career .251 batting average, but hit just .220 in Toronto. He was acquired along with pitcher Tom Candiotti by Toronto from Cleveland in a June, 1992 trade which sent Glenallen Hill, Mark Whiten and Denis Boucher the other way. Ward could play all three outfield positions, but he simply couldn’t contribute enough with his bat and didn’t see any postseason action when the Jays won a pair of World Series. He was then placed on waivers in November of 1993 and was taken by Milwaukee. Ward may have had an inconsistent career, but still managed to play until 2001.
23 Center Field: DeWayne Wise
When your batting average is .198 and on-base percentage is .228 it’s hard to see how you play 142 games for a Major League team, let alone have four stints with them. DeWayne Wise managed to pull it off with Toronto though. He played 28 games in 2000 and 42 more in 2002 with batting averages of .136 and .179 respectively. He then bounced around before Toronto reacquired the free agent in June, 2010. Wise was better with a .250 average in 52 games, but Toronto released him after the season. Florida signed him in January of 2011 and released him in March. For some reason the Jays signed Wise in April of 2011, released him by June and then claimed him on waivers in August. They released him shortly later after he batted .125 in 20 games.
22 Right Field: Brad Wilkerson
Brad Wilkerson was another Blue Jays’ outfielder who couldn’t hang onto his job because he didn’t have any pop in his bat. Wilkerson was in his eighth year in the Majors when the Jays signed the free agent early on in the 2008 campaign about a month after Seattle released him. This was his second Canadian team as he’d played four seasons with the Montreal Expos. Wilkerson was a .247 career hitter, but managed to bat just .216 in 85 games with the Jays and also struck out 53 times in 208 at bats. Toronto released the 31-year-old Wilkerson when the season ended and he signed on with a couple of teams after that as a free agent. However, Wilkerson never played another Major League game even though he had a good career .350 OBP.
21 Designated Hitter: Willie Aikens
By all definitions, the term designated hitter would lead one to think that the player should be quite handy with the bat. Former first baseman-turned DH Willie Aikens played 105 games with Toronto from 1984 to 1985 after coming over from Kansas in a trade for Jorge Orta. He was quite disappointing with just 52 total hits and a .205 batting average. Thankfully 12 of those hits were home runs. Aikens was a career .271 hitter and cracked 20 homers on three occasions after some fine seasons with California and the Royals, but appeared to lose it overnight by the time he joined the Blue Jays. After hitting well below his weight in Toronto, Aikens, who was drafted second overall in 1975, decided it was time to hang up his glove.
20 Pitcher: Bill Caudill
Bill Caudill was one of the best relievers from 1982 to 1985. Unfortunately he played 40 of his 107 games with Toronto after that. They acquired the big-name closer in a trade with Oakland for Alfredo Griffin and Dave Collins. A lot was expected from Caudill, but the general consensus is that he didn’t live up to the hype. Thankfully, the Jays had Tom Henke in to take over as the closer in 1985 and made the playoffs. The Jays lost to Kansas in seven games in the ALCS and Caudill wasn’t used once. He went 4-6 that season with 14 saves and five blown saves. In 1986, Caudill had a 6.19 ERA with just two saves and two blown saves. The fourth-highest player in the AL was then released during spring training the next year.
19 Catcher: Kevin Cash
Kevin Cash appeared in 101 games for the Blue Jays between 2002 and 2004 as a backup and defensive replacement and caught 60 contests in 2004. Cash wasn’t bad behind the plate, but he didn’t contribute anything with his bat. His career batting average in Toronto was just .173 while his on-base percentage was only .222 and his slugging percentage was .262. He did manage to hit five home runs and knock in 29 RBI while coming up to bat 329 times. Cash didn’t have much luck at bat with five other MLB teams either, but he went from bullpen coach with Cleveland to being named the Tampa Bay Ray’s manager in 2014, so he’s doing just fine for himself working in his hometown even though his record heading into 2017 is 148-176.
18 First Base: Justin Smoak
The only reason current first baseman Justin Smoak is on the list is because he’s capable of so much more and is reportedly making just over $4 million a year. Smoak has good power and has hit some important home runs for the team, but he’s often left them in a lurch with a .222 batting average in his two seasons in town not to mention 198 strikeouts in 595 at bats. Smoak has hit 32 homers and added 93 RBI, but when needed the most, like in the playoffs, he’s hitless in 11 postseason games with five strikeouts in 10 at bats. Still Smoak was a good waiver pickup from Seattle in October of 2014 as he still has some time to play his way off this list even though he is a career .223 hitter.
17 Second Base: Carlos Garcia
The Jays went with Carlos Garcia at second base for the 1997 campaign after coming over in a trade with Pittsburgh. The native of Venezuela also played some shortstop and third base during his time in Toronto. The season in Toronto was basically his last and worst as a full-time player in the Majors. The Jays expected a lot out of Garcia since he batted .294 two summers earlier and played in the 1994 All Star Game. But he disappointed them by going .220 at the plate while being paid more than $2.5 million and being a career.266 hitter. Garcia played 103 games with the Blue Jays and struck out 60 times in 350 at bats, but did manage to steal 11 bases. He was released at the end of the season.
16 Third Base: Joe Lawrence
Finding below-par third basemen with Toronto isn’t easy unless we look for players who were around for about half a season or less. One of those was Joe Lawrence whose Major League career lasted just 55 games with Toronto in 2002. He was a first round draft pick by the Jays in 1996, but didn’t make his MLB debut until six years later. Lawrence was released by the club shortly after the 2002 season and he signed with Milwaukee a few months later. However, the Brewers released him just six months later. Lawrence hit just .180 in Toronto with a .262 on-base percentage and he struck out 38 times in his 150 at bats. He at least got to say he hit two home runs, batted in 15 and stole two bases in the Majors.
15 Shortstop: Luis Gomez
After 212 games as a Blue Jay, shortstop Luis Gomez hadn’t really made a great impression. He could also play second and third base, but this was a guy who didn’t just finish his Blue Jays’ career with no home runs, he had 1391 plate appearances in the Majors without connecting on a dinger. His batting average in Toronto from 1978 to 1979 was .227 with a .276 on-base percentage. Believe it or not, these were better than his career marks of .210 and .261. Gomez tried to help the cause by stealing bases, but didn’t have much success there either as he swiped three bags with Toronto and was caught stealing 10 times. Gomez wasn’t that bad defensively, but the Jays traded him to Atlanta two years after signing him as a free agent.
14 Left Field: Hosken Powell
Hosken Powell was another former Blue Jay who hit below his career batting average while in Toronto. He hit .259 for his career, which consisted of four years in Minnesota before joining the Jays for two years in 1982. Powell played 152 games in Toronto with his first season of 112 games being decent enough with a .275 batting average and .304 on-base percentage. However, he was caught on half of his eight base-stealing attempts. The wheels fell off the bus the next season though as Powell went just .169 at the plate with a .213 OBP. Powell came over in a December, 1981 trade with Minnesota for Greg Powell and the Jays released him in July of 1983. That was the end of his Major League career and he ended up playing in the Mexican League.
13 Center Field: Anthony Gose
Outfielder Anthony Gose is a more recent Jay as he played 202 games from 2012 to 2014 before heading to Detroit. The Jays acquired him from Houston in a July, 2010 trade for Brett Wallace and then made a great deal by shipping him to Detroit for Devon Travis late in 2014. Gose had speed with 34 stolen bases in Toronto, but was caught 11 times. Where Gose lacks the most is in batting skills and power. He hit just .234 in Toronto with five homers in 616 plate appearances. He also whiffed 170 times as a Blue Jay. The change of scenery did him good in 2015 as Gose batted .254 with five homers and 23 stolen sacks, but he hit just .209 last year with no steals in 30 games.
12 Right Field: Jacob Brumfield
Jacob Brumfield patrolled the outfield from 1996 to 1999 and appeared in 212 games with Toronto. They acquired him in a trade with Pittsburgh even though he was top-five in 1995 in caught-stealing and errors for an outfielder. He played two years in Toronto, but played in the minors with the Florida organization in 1998. The Jays had re-signed him as a free agent in January, but released him after spring training. However, Toronto reacquired Brumfield in May, 1999 on waivers from the Dodgers. It’s all a little complicated for a guy who hit .238 for the team with 16 homers and 128 strikeouts. He chipped in with 17 stolen bases, but was also caught nine times and was released late in 1999. That signaled an end of Brumfield’s Major League career.
11 Designated Hitter: Frank Thomas
Although he’s a deserved Hall of Famer with a .301 batting average and 521 career homers, Frank Thomas didn’t really live up to his past when he played with the Jays in 2007 and 2008. He had a fine first season with the Jays by slamming home runs and adding RBI even though his batting average was just However, things went downhill after that as he struggled at the plate to start the 2008 campaign and the Big Hurt found himself on the bench even though he was making $18 million over two years including bonuses. Thomas wasn’t very happy with the situation or with manager John Gibbons and let the media know it. He was released just a day later and in less than a week had signed a contract with Oakland. When the season ended, Thomas’ career ended with it.
10 Pitcher: Al Leiter
Al Leiter (Pictured Right) was a good pitcher and Toronto gave up outfielder Jessie Barfield to the Yankees for him. The problem with Leiter was he basically sat around for four years from 1989 to 1992 with injuries and under 20 innings in nine games. He suffered from a pinched elbow nerve and tendinitis and also underwent arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder, but missed dozens of games with a blister on his throwing hand. Leiter hung around until leaving as a free agent in 1995 and the Jays won two World Series during his stint. He went 26-24 with a 4.20 earned-run average, but led the AL in walks and wild pitches in 1995. Leiter was compared to hypochondriac Felix Unger and he’s on this list because he didn’t appear interested in pitching until five years after joining Toronto.
9 Catcher: Bob Davis
Bob Davis was a backup catcher with San Diego when the Jays acquired him December of 1978 in the Rule 5 Draft. He was gone just two Decembers later though when Toronto released him. Davis played just one more Major League game after that with the California Angels in 1981. Now, ball clubs often look the other way with catchers since they’re notorious for their low batting averages, but Davis was testing management’s patience by hitting just .189 in 123 games with a .239 on-base percentage. Some teams don’t mind a low batting average if the catcher can crank a few homers, but Davis lacked power too with a .280 slugging percentage. Davis didn’t just struggle in Toronto though as he hit .197 in his career with a .249 OBP and .262 slugging percentage.
8 First Base: Brian Lesher
The Blue Jays have been pretty strong at first base since they joined the league, so we’ve got to go with somebody who played just 24 games complete this list. Unfortunately, it means Brian Lesher is going to be immortalized here. Lesher played his games in 2002 and didn’t make much of an impression. He batted .132 with a .209 on-base percentage and a .158 slugging percentage. He also struck out 15 times in 38 at bats and that was the end of Lesher’s MLB career. He was drafted by Oakland in 1992 and made his debut four years later. The Jays signed him as a free agent in December of 2001 and he was granted free agency 10 months later. Lesher later signed with Tampa and St. Louis, but was released by both clubs.
7 Second Base: Mike McCoy
Over at second base between 2010 and 2012 Jays’ fans could find Mike McCoy for a total of 158 games, although, he could play anywhere needed and managed to pitch once in a blow-out loss to Boston. McCoy had just 12 games of MLB experience with Colorado when the Blue Jays grabbed him on waivers in November of 2009. He was let go in November of 2013 and signed with Boston and then San Diego, but hasn’t played another game in the Majors since Toronto cut him loose. McCoy was another underachiever at the plate as he batted .193 with Toronto and had a .291 on-base percentage with 67 strikeouts and three homeruns in 331 at bats. He did have decent speed though with 21 stolen bases while being caught four times.
6 Third Base: Doug Rader
It feels wrong listing Doug Rader since he was an original Jay in 1977, his last season in the Majors. He appeared in 96 games in Toronto’s inaugural MLB campaign. Rader had spent nine years in Houston and a couple more in San Diego when the Jays bought him. Rader was a pretty good player, but struck out and grounded into double plays too often. In fact, he was top-10 in the league in those categories four and three times respectively. He was also error-prone and was top-10 for committing errors for a third baseman seven times, leading the NL twice. Ironically, he also led the league twice in fielding percentage and double plays for the position and won five straight gold gloves before Toronto. Rader hit just .240 in Toronto though with 65 strikeouts in 313 at bats.
5 Shortstop: Tomas Perez
Switch-hitter Tomas Perez got into 178 games with the Blue Jays between 1995 and 1998 to kick start his 12-year MLB career. The Jays bought him from the Angels in December of 1994 after he was originally signed by the Montreal Expos and then taken by California in the Rule 5 Draft. The Jays ended up trading him back to the Angels in March of 1999. He was the sixth-youngest second baseman in the AL in his rookie season at 21, but then committed the fifth-most errors in the league the next season. Perez batted just .234 with Toronto with two home runs and 36 RBI. He struck out 78 times in 525 at bats and was caught stealing on four of his six stolen base attempts. Perez was a versatile player who improved after leaving Toronto.
4 Left Field: Darnell Coles
Darnell Coles broke into the Majors in 1983 and had played with five teams by the time he joined Toronto a decade later. He played 112 games with the Jays from 1993 to 1994 after they signed him as a free agent in November of 1992. He ended up being granted free agency two years later and played a couple of more years in MLB and in Japan. Coles had a pretty good arm in the field and ended up there after struggling earlier in his career at third base due to too many errors. Coles hit 20 homers and 86 RBI with Detroit in 1986 and batted .292 with Seattle two years later. He hit just .234 in Toronto though with eight homers. Coles entered coaching after playing and is the hitting coach with Milwaukee.
3 Center Field: Joe Cannon
Toronto picked up fielder Joe Cannon in a November, 1978 trade with the Houston Astros along with Pete Hernandez and Mark Lemongello while popular catcher Alan Ashby went the other way. Cannon had just 17 games of experience under his belt when he arrived, but then played 131 times with Toronto from 1979 to 1980. Cannon couldn’t hit Major League pitching though and it became quite evident pretty quickly. His .211 batting average in his first season dropped right down to .080 in his second year. Meanwhile, his on-base average wasn’t much better at 0.98 and his slugging percentage also stood at 0.80. Cannon managed to hit a home run and nine RBI with the Blue Jays and then got into coaching after his playing career quickly came to an end.
2 Right Field: Steve Bowling
Fielder Steve Bowling was another one of the original Blue Jays back in 1977. It was just his second year in the Majors and would also be his last. He played just 14 games with Milwaukee the previous season after being drafted in 1974. Toronto then drafted him 23rd overall in the expansion draft in November of 1976 as he was left unprotected. Bowling had a good arm and was second in the AL in assists for an outfielder in 1977, but wasn’t as successful at the plate. He hit only .206 that year, had one home run and 13 RBI and was caught on three of his five base-stealing attempts. Bowling played a couple of years in the minors after his stint in Toronto and then retired after the 1979 season.
1 Designated Hitter: Jorge Orta
Jorge Orta was a Jays’ designated hitter who could also play second base and the outfield. He was an 11-year veteran when he joined Toronto in 1983 and played 103 games for the club. Orta had made a name for himself with the White Sox before short stints with Cleveland and the Dodgers. The Jays got him in an offseason trade with the Mets though and he arrived with two All-Star Games under his belt and several batting achievements. He struggled in Toronto though and was traded to Kansas for Willie Aikens, another DH who struggled with the Jays. Orta managed 10 homers with Toronto, but hit just .237 with a .287 on-base percentage. This was disappointing for a .278 career hitter with a .334 OBP and somebody who batted. 316 in 1974.
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