The Toronto Blue Jays recently held a rally for season ticket holders and vowed publicly that this is a do or die year for the team, promising that if the franchise doesn’t play baseball in the fall of 2015 and make the postseason, big changes lie ahead. The team made that known even before said rally, by trading away young talent in favor of signing more proven commodities this winter. To say the least, the team seems a century removed from its days as a perennial contender in the American League East and defending World Series champion. Then again, a 22-year championship drought isn’t too long considering some pro sports franchises have gone a whole century without winning a title (Chicago Cubs anyone?). No matter what the situation is now, it’s nevertheless important to look back upon some of the good times.
It is in honor of looking back at said good times that we acknowledge the 10 best Blue Jays of all time. Some of these guys were consistent over a long period of time and earned their keep because of it, while others only stayed for a essentially, a cup of coffee and yet experienced some of their best days in Toronto. Included in this list is one of baseball’s all-time flamethrowers, a hitter who won the World Series with one swing of the bat, and a second baseman that helped redefine the position, both in the field and at the plate.
While most of these legends are retired today, there is one man who still has time to move up on this list, and he’s already pretty awesome considering he was drafted in the 20th round, yes the 20th round. Read the list and find out where he fits in now…
10 Roger Clemens
Rogers Clemens only spent two out of 24 career MLB seasons with the Blue Jays, but he did enough in those two years to get himself on this list. He won the American League Cy Young Award in both seasons, thus locking down his spot in both corresponding All-Star games. Winning 20 games on a team that was mediocre at best in the late 90s is no small accomplishment. Just ask the hitters who struck out an average of 10.2 times per 9 innings while The Rocket was on the mound for Toronto. Say what you will about his steroid problem, Clemens was unstoppable in a blue and white uniform. A few more seasons in Toronto and he may have crept to the top of this list.
9 Dave Stieb
Dave Stieb was the Blue Jays' ace during the 80s. He spent all but one of his 16 seasons with the team. Stieb tossed the only no-hitter in Blue Jays history with a 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians on September 2, 1990. A couple years earlier he had come as close to one strike from a no-hitter on two occasions, within the span of six days, on September 24 and 30th in 1988.
He took a no-hitter into the ninth on an additional two occasions, one being broken up after 24 outs, and one on the final out, in 1985 and 1989 respectively.
He was a seven-time All-Star and although he never reached 20 wins in a season, he did win at least 16 games in a season a remarkable seven times over his best 10 seasons. Stieb is probably the best Blue Jay ever to have never won a Cy Young award.
8 George Bell
George Bell is the only Blue Jay ever to win the American League MVP Award, which he did in 1987. That season, he hit a franchise record 47 home runs. Bell also batted in 134 runs that year and finished his Jays career with a healthy .286 batting average. Bell was also a member of the Jays’ first ever playoff team, which played an integral role in the team’s history and undoubtedly laid the foundation for the team’s first World Series run. The 1985 Blue Jays lost in seven games to the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. They would lose the ALCS in five games to Oakland in 1989.
Unfortunately for Bell, he left the Blue Jays for the Cubs in 1991, just before the Blue Jays rattled off two straight World Series wins in 1992 and 1993. That doesn't change the fact that he was the first true franchise player the Jays ever had.
7 Pat Hentgen
Former Jays’ ace Pat Hentgen spent his prime years wearing a Toronto uniform for a whole decade. He made his only three all-star appearances with the team. Hentgen became a Cy Young Award winner in 1996, a season that saw him win 20 games. He also helped lead the team to the 1993 World Series title. In the five seasons after he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000, Hentgen only managed to win a total of 26 games, making it clear that his best years were in T.O.
6 Carlos Delgado
Carlos Delgado was a tour de force in his 12 seasons with the Jays. Even outside of his career with Toronto, Delgado averaged 120 RBIs and 38 home runs in his career. That’s impressive and given those numbers, it’s easy to see why he became a perennial All-Star in his prime. Delgado just missed the team’s World Series years, but he’s the best pure hitter the club has ever had. He notched 16 club records while standing in the batter’s box with the team, which easily lands him on this list.
5 Tony Fernandez
Shortstop Tony Fernandez spent 12 out of 17 seasons with Toronto, and accumulated those years of service in three separate stints with the team. He hit the ball extremely well from both sides of the plate and although he never won a Gold Glove, Fernandez was solid defensively. His career .297 batting average acts as proof of how hard it was to strike the guy out, and he played a key factor in helping the team win the World Series in 1993. Jays fans undoubtedly loved, and still love, Fernandez.
4 Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay made six of his eight career all-star appearances with the Jays and won his first Cy Young Award with the team. Unlike Roger Clemens, Halladay’s development was a product of the team’s minor league system and coaching, which adored him to fans just by the fact he was a homegrown talent, whereas Clemens was already in the middle of his career when he came to Toronto. Though his post-season no-hitter and regular season perfect game came with the Philadelphia Phillies, the fact Halladay retired as a Blue Jay by signing a one-day contract with the team demonstrates the impact the organization made in his life. The stats and wins he put together with the team are what get him on this list.
3 Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista was drafted in the 20th round and was a throw in player when he was acquired by the team from Pittsburgh back in the day, so to know that he’s an All-Star in this day and age is pretty wild. Joey Bats is the only Blue Jays player in history to lead all players in all-star voting, which he did in 2011. He also smashed a franchise record 54 home runs in 2010. Now in his mid 30s, Bautista’s prime years are slowly but surely passing him by, but because baseball players can often times play into their 40s, he could yet work himself up to the number one spot on this list when all is said and done.
2 Joe Carter
Playing seven seasons for the Blue Jays, Joe Carter has to be considered one of two superstars who played together at the same time that also stand as the best players in team history (we’ll get to the other player with the number one spot). Carter of course created the most memorable moment in team history when he smashed a 3-run home run in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series walk-off style clinching the franchise’s second straight title. He represented the team in five midseason classics and hit at least 30 home runs in four of those years. Those feats make Carter the second greatest blue bird of all time.
1 Roberto Alomar
The best Blue Jay of all time is second basemen Roberto Alomar. A switch hitter who was seemingly impossible to strikeout from either side of the plate, Alomar could also flag down almost any ground ball hit in his way, which made him a regular Gold Glove Award winner throughout his career. He only played in Toronto for 5 years, but Alomar was as big a part of the Jays’ championship seasons as any other player on the team. He also represented the team in the All Star Game in every single one of those seasons. Alomar wasn’t just the typical contact hitter we’re used to second basemen being…he won a Silver Slugger Award in Toronto too. He’s the only Blue Jays player in the Hall Of Fame wearing the team’s hat in his picture and it will take a generational talent to knock him off of this top spot.