In recent years, Blue Jays baseball has become synonymous with good hitting. Thanks in large part to Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and eventually Josh Donaldson, Toronto has finished in the top five for home runs in the MLB every season since 2013. In particular, 2015 marked an offensive zenith in Blue Jays history, as they led all of baseball with 232 home runs and nearly had three players reach the 40-homer mark (Josh Donaldson, 41; Jose Bautista, 40; and Edwin Encarnacion, 39).
But as any longtime Jays fan will tell you, good offense hasn't always been the norm in Toronto, especially not early on in franchise history, when it wasn't uncommon to see several starting players with batting averages in the low .200s, or even below the Mendoza line.
Here are the 15 worst hitters in Blue Jays history.
Note: In order to be eligible for the list, a player had to have had at least 400 at bats with Toronto.
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15 Colby Rasmus
After he’d put together a few good seasons with the Cardinals, including a triple-slash line of .276/.361/.498 in 2010, the Jays had high hopes for outfielder Colby Rasmus. However, after coming over to Toronto in a mid-season trade, his offensive output would immediately drop off, finishing the 2011 season by batting .173 with three home runs and an on-base percentage of just .201 in 35 games.
Despite an increase in power and run production, his numbers wouldn’t improve much in his first full season with the team, batting just .223 with a sub-.300 OBP. In four injury-riddled seasons with the Jays, Rasmus averaged more than a strikeout per game and proved that he was unable to work a walk.
14 J.P. Arencibia
After a debut game that saw him go 4-5 with two home runs and a triple shy of the cycle, it looked as though J.P. Arencibia was on his way to joining the ranks of the greatest hitters in franchise history, not the worst. But it turned out that his big league debut was simply a case of beginner’s luck, because he would follow it up by going 1-30 for the rest of his first season in the big leagues.
And his struggles at the plate would continue for three more seasons in Toronto, compiling a batting average of just .212 with a microscopic on-base percentage, despite setting the franchise record for home runs by a catcher in a single season.
13 Buck Martinez
Anyone who’s watched a baseball game on Sportsnet in the past few years knows who Buck Martinez is. In fact, probably every Jays fan has his or her own impression of Buck’s unique, high-pitched, tonally schizophrenic voice (the impression works best when you say a name with a lot of vowels, like Dalton Pompey). But before he was the voice of the Jays, he was a player himself, with a career that spanned 17 seasons, six of which were with Toronto.
With a .222 batting average in 1,100 at bats with the Jays, Martinez himself is the first person to tell you that he wasn’t a great hitter. His best season with the team came in 1983, when he hit 10 home runs with 33 RBI and a respectable .253 batting average, but for the most part he hovered around the Mendoza line while seeing limited action as a backup catcher.
Buck’s bat might not have earned him too many accolades in Toronto, but his defensive work sure did, including the time he turned a 9-2-7-2 double play with a broken leg and a severely dislocated ankle, which has often been described as one of the best plays in franchise history.
12 Jacob Brumfield
Here’s a name you don’t hear too often in discussions about former Blue Jays players: Jacob Brumfield. That’s because his seven seasons in the big leagues were what Lou from Hot Tub Time Machine would call “wildly mediocre,” with a career .257 batting average and a slugging percentage of just .393.
But Brumfield fell short of mediocrity in his three seasons in Toronto, batting .238 in 652 AB over three seasons. His numbers can be somewhat deceiving, though. Despite showing signs of power, with 16 home runs and 32 doubles, his inability to consistently get on base (his .301 on-base percentage would have made him an average hitter in the dead-ball era, but in today’s on-base-centric game it would put him about 30-40 points lower than league average) made him a serious liability in the batting order.
11 Chris Woodward
With a career batting average of just .239 while having played every position except pitcher, Chris Woodward was pretty much the definition of a utility fielder. Aside from one uncharacteristically good season at the plate, where he put up career highs in home runs (13) and RBI (45) and even hit three home runs in a single game, he was never much of a threat offensively, batting just .245 in Toronto with minimal power, eventually leading to his outright release in 2004.
After bouncing around from team to team, including a few stints in the minors, Woodward re-signed with the Jays in 2011. He spent most of the season in AAA Las Vegas, seeing action in just 11 big league games and going 0-10 with 4 strikeouts.
10 Alfredo Griffin
Not only was Alfredo Griffin an All-Star with the Blue Jays, but he was also a Rookie of the Year. But the facts can be deceiving. First of all, he was only an All-Star on a technicality. After the Tigers' Alan Trammell injured his arm shortly before the game, manager Joe Altobelli named Griffin to the team, as Washington Post writer John Feinstein explained at the time, “partly because he’s a fine player, but mostly because he was here.” Griffin’s offensive stat line for the season (.241 BA/.248 OBP/.298 SLG) quite possibly makes him the worst All-Star of all time.
His career numbers with the Jays weren’t much better, either, compiling a batting average of .249 with just 13 home runs in 982 games. But his defense at shortstop, which won him a Gold Glove Award in 1985, was enough to keep him in the big leagues despite his offensive shortcomings.
9 Garth Iorg
Garth Iorg had one of the more unique batting stances in the game in the '80s. He would lean away from the pitcher while holding his bat nearly parallel to the ground, making it look as though he were caught in a windstorm and struggling to keep his balance. He didn’t have much success with his unconventional swing, either, batting a pedestrian .258 with an on-base percentage south of .300 in nine seasons with the Jays, while averaging just three home runs per 162 games.
Seemingly out of nowhere, however, in 1985 he set career highs in home runs (7), batting average (.313), and on-base percentage (.358), all of which were significantly higher than previous career bests. But he fell back down to Earth the following year and hit just .235 combined over the next two seasons, at which point he retired.
Iorg’s final season with Toronto was the disastrous 1987 collapse, which saw the Jays lose a 3 ½-game lead to the Detroit Tigers in the remaining week of the season. During the seven-game losing streak, Iorg, who was the final out of the season, went 0-9 with six strikeouts.
8 Pat Borders
While Pat Borders’s postseason performance at the plate in 1992 won him accolades, for the most part his regular season performance did not. In eight seasons with the Jays, he batted .256 with an on-base percentage of .290, which makes his .450 batting average in six games in the '92 World Series all the more impressive (he also batted .318 in the ALCS that year).
Despite being a below average hitter, Borders is still considered one of the greatest players in franchise history, having led the Jays to their only World Series championships. He was behind the plate for some of the greatest Toronto pitching performances, including Dave Stieb’s no-hitter on September 2, 1990.
In 2003, sportswriter Rob Neyer called Borders the second best catcher in Jays history, next only to Ernie Whitt, which goes to show that baseball is more than just hitting.
7 Josh Thole
As the specialty catcher for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, not much is expected of Josh Thole at the plate—and “not much” is about the extent of what he provides. Seeing limited playing time over four seasons, he’s compiled a batting average of exactly .200 with just 2 home runs and 24 RBI. In 50 games this season, he collected four extra base hits for a slugging percentage of .220.
Thole wasn’t always such a one-dimensional player. Before coming to Toronto, he hit .276 with a .350 OBP combined over his first three seasons in the big leagues with the Mets, and he has a career .286 batting average as a minor leaguer, which suggests that his offensive struggles are largely the result of his sporadic playing time.
6 Russ Adams
Russ Adams’s name often comes up in discussions about the worst Blue Jays in recent memory, and a big reason for that is his subpar bat. After getting off to a great start, batting .306 with 4 home runs in 22 games in his first big league season, it looked as though the Jays had a legitimate prospect on their hands, someone who could hold down the middle infield for years to come.
It’s not just that he was a bad hitter; it’s that, as a first-round draft pick who was selected over Joey Votto, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Jeff Franceour, Matt Cain, and Cole Hamels, the organization had high hopes for him, and he was therefore given plenty of chances to prove himself, which he never did, batting .247 with 17 home runs in nearly 300 games.
5 Manny Lee
Manny Lee’s season-by-season batting average with the Blue Jays resembles a bell graph: it starts off low (.230 over his first three seasons), then builds up to a peak right in the middle (a respectable .291 in his fourth of eight seasons), before gradually plummeting back down (.234 in his final season), averaging out for a .254 BA in total.
On top of being unable to consistently pick up base hits, Lee had virtually no power, going an entire season in 1991 without a single home run. You’d think he would compensate for his deficiencies by drawing a lot of walks and stealing a lot of bases, but he couldn’t even do that, as he regularly failed to reach the .300 mark for OBP and stole no more than seven bases in a season.
4 Dave McKay
Vancouver-born Dave McKay was the first Canadian to ever play for the Blue Jays. He started at third base in the first game in franchise history and collected two hits and an RBI in a 9-5 win over the Chicago White Sox. But things went downhill fast for McKay and the Jays that year, as he would go on to bat .197, the lowest batting average on the team for players with at least 100 AB, and the team would win just 54 games.
Because they were new to the league, Toronto put up with McKay's weak bat for three seasons, during which time he hit .223 with an OBP of .252. To be fair to Mr. McKay, he wasn’t a complete loss; not only could he play every position on the infield except for first base, but he could play every position well, with a career .967 fielding percentage.
3 Danny Ainge
As a high schooler, Danny Ainge equally excelled in three sports, receiving recognition as a first team All-American in basketball, football, and baseball, making him the only person ever to do so. As a result of his multi-talents, he earned a basketball scholarship to Brigham Young University and was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 15th round in the same year. While attending BYU, he played baseball in the summer and promptly earned a call up to the big club despite batting in the low .200s in the minors. He didn’t fair much better in the majors, either, batting .220 with 2 home runs in 721 plate appearances over three incomplete seasons.
Unsurprisingly, Ainge gave up on baseball in 1981 to focus on basketball, and he would go on to have a long and successful career in the NBA, scoring nearly 12,000 career points and leading the Boston Celtics to two championships.
2 Dick Schofield
The MLB is perhaps the toughest league to break into in all of North American professional sports. Even getting drafted in the first round is no guarantee of success, a hard reality that Dick Schofield learned firsthand. Selected third overall in 1981, one spot behind future Jays legend Joe Carter, Schofield was expected to be one of the league’s best middle infielders for years to come. Those expectations, however, were not fulfilled, as he would go on to become one of the biggest draft disappointments in Angels’ history.
In two brief seasons with the Jays, Schofield batted just .239, but his offensive troubles in Toronto were just the tip of the iceberg. Over his 14-year career, most of which was spent with California, he set the record for most seasons with fewer than 100 hits in at least 400 at bats, accomplishing the feat four times.
1 Luis Gomez
Luis Gomez isn’t just one of the worst hitters in Jays history; he’s arguably one of the worst hitters in MLB history. In 1,391 plate appearances, he failed to hit a single home run, leading to a career slugging percentage of .239. But it’s not just that he couldn’t hit for power; it’s that he couldn’t hit at all, with a career .210 BA to go along with a .261 OBP. To make matters worse, Gomez was also a terrible base runner, swiping only six bags in 28 career attempts.
Mario Mendoza is the player whose name is most commonly associated with poor hitting, but Gomez makes a strong case for being the pinnacle of awfulness. After all, Mendoza’s career batting average was five points higher than Gomez’s, and at least Mendoza had four home runs.
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