When I got the Open Mic email today I got excited. I had never participated in one but this one definitely peaked my interest.
The Toronto Blue Jays have had many great players in their 31 year history. Throughout the late 80's and early 90's they were a major force in the MLB and they became the first victorious team north of the border, actually winning twice in 1992 and 1993
Unfortunately, the success could not be maintained as the Jays would get cheap, deciding not to spend money to keep their current and future stars. All that is left is a distant memory of those days.
It was believed that the 2008 Jays might bring the franchise back some of the respect they lost during the late 90's and early 2000's but in a year consumed with poor hitting and untimely injuries, that has yet to be seen.
Without further adu, here is the best and brightest players to ever put on a Toronto Blue Jays uniform:
Designated Hitter: Paul Molitor- Even though he only played three seasons with the franchise, Molitor proved to be a valuable piece in the 1993 World Series victory. He had averages of .332, .341 and .270 while with the Jays and hit a combined 51 home runs and an amazing 246 RBI's during his tenure.
First Base: Carlos Delgado- I was thinking of putting John Olerud here, but if you look at their statistics, Delgado was clearly way more valuable during his time with the Jays. Yes, Olerud did win two world series but Delgado did not even come close to having the same roster around him as Olerud did. While Delgado is behind Olerud in both batting average and On-Base Percentage, Delgado leads in slugging, OPS, runs, home runs and RBI's. Delgado left Toronto with 336 homers and a couple of silver sluggers.
Second Base: Roberto Alomar- He may have had his ups and downs in Toronto, but their is no doubt that Alomar is one of the greatest Jays of all-time. It was the trade for Alomar that finally put the Jays over the hump and made them World Series champions. In his five season with the Jays, he won five gold gloves at second, one silver slugger and participated in five all star games. He was an integral part in both World Series and hit the second most important Home Run in Jays history.
Third Base: Kelly Gruber- When you think about this guy, you think about what could have been. After a monster season in 1990 Gruber signed a huge deal to remain in Toronto but he would be out of the league just three short seasons later. Rance Mulliniks was a close second but Grubers power and and skill put him on top. Gruber did manage to win the World Series while a Jay in 1992 despite his enormous struggles in the play-offs.
Short Stop: Tony Fernandez- Fernandez is the all-time leader in games played with the Jays and is one of the greatest to wear the uniform as well. Fernandez spent 11 years in Toronto that included four different stints! While Fernandez was never a big power hitter, he consistently hit for a high average, a lot of RBI's and showed a ton of speed on the base paths. He won four gold gloves early on in his career in Toronto and managed to come back to Toronto just in time to win a world series in 1993 despite having been traded just a couple of years earlier.
Left Field: George Bell- Big bad George Bell was well known for his temper but many people remember him for his immense power. He hit over 20 homers in six of his seven full season with the Jays and remains the only player in franchise history to ever win the MVP award when he won it back in 1987. He also won three Silver Sluggers as a Jay and was one-third of the great Jays outfield of the 80's (Barfield, Moseby).
Center Field: Vernon Wells- He is already the best center fielder to ever play for the Jays and he still have six years remaining on his contract after this season. If not for two major injuries this year, Wells would likely have put up another 20 homer season and possibly would have reached 100 RBI's. He has shown great hitting skills throughout his career and is expected to have a monster season next year barring injury. Wells can not only hit with the best of them but he is a three time gold glover so far in his career.
Right Field: Joe Carter- It was hard to place Carter because he played a similar amount of games in both left field (389) and right field (440). It is hard to keep Barfield off here but Carter definitely deserves recognition. He hit the most important home run in franchise history back in 1992, a home run that won the world series at home in the bottom of the ninth. In his seven seasons in Toronto he put up six 100 RBI season (76 in a lockout shortened season screwed him over), won two world series and was the lone consistent bright spot for the Jays as we reached further into the 1990's.
Catcher: Ernie Whitt- Mr. Blue Jay Ernie Whitt was the first catcher the Jays ever had and he was a good one. He had some pop in his bat and he was good at throwing out runners during the prime of his career. It was a sad day when they announced that Whitt was fired earlier this year, 30 years after his last game as a Jay!
Starting Pitchers (I'm going to go with three here): Dave Stieb- One of the first superstars to put on a Jays uniform, Stieb was a converted outfielder. He was known as a hard luck pitcher because he would have a few games where he would go 8.2 innings without giving up a hit and then a dinky hit would ruin his no-hit bid! Fortunately, Stieb would get his no-hitter against the Indians. He pitched all but four of his games with the Jays and is most definitely the best pitcher in Jays history. He retired with a career 3.44 ERA and managed to hang around long enough to win the 1992 World Series.
Roy Halladay- This guy is the true definition of consistency. He always goes out there expecting to shut down the opposition and hopefully he continues to do so with the Jays for many more years. Halladay won the Cy Young in 2003 and is well on his way to another one this year. Halladay is a career 124-63 (very good considering his lack of run support year-after-year) and sports a career 3.54 ERA.
Jimmy Key- An integral part of the Toronto Blue Jays best years, Key bolted after the 1992 World Series win but he will always be considered one of the best ever Jays pitcher. He would consistently put up low ERA's and despite low run support he has a great win-loss record while with the Jays.
Relief Pitcher: Tom Henke- I was seriously considering putting Ward here as he consistently pitched more innings then Henke and got quite a few saves himself but Henke does deserve this spot. There is no doubt that the Henke/Ward tandem is one of the best ever, if you were losing to the Jays after six you may as well have packed your bags because you were not going to win with those two coming in. They both combined for a World Series win in 1992 while Ward won the 1993 World Series while Henke was in Texas. Henke finished with 217 career saves as a Jay.
Honorable Mentions: Rance Mulliniks, Duane Ward, Jesse Barfield, John Olerud, Lloyd Moseby, Pat Hentgen