With the baseball season winding to a close, as a blue Jays fan I am forced to lament another lost season. A year that started out with so much hype and promise has turned into one of the worst year the Jays have had in a long time. With only 13 games remaining, Toronto is 23 games behind the division leading Boston Red Sox and dead last in the American league East. It’s been almost a decade since that last happened.
Since this year was a total bust and I haven’t done very much baseball writing as of yet I’ve decided to look into the past and talk about my favorite Blue Jays of all-time. There are plenty of guys I loved to watch play when I was a kid so this list might be quite lengthy but before I get to my favorites I have to explain why I am a die-hard Blue Jays guy.
I have been asked on more than one occasion, how can you live in Utah and be a Blue Jays fan? That just doesn’t make any sense. I always just chuckle and explain that I grew up about 40 minutes from Toronto and was born the same year the Blue Jays were. It’s actually a perfect match for me. Then of course I get asked why in the world did I move to Utah but that is a different story for another day.
Living so far away from my favorite baseball team, I don’t get to see them play nearly as often as I would like but thanks to technology I am able to listen to them on a pretty regular basis. It was different as a kid though. I could watch or listen to as many Blue Jay games as I could so I became very familiar with the teams from the 80’s and early 90’s. That was a great time to be a Toronto fan because they were one of the best teams in the game. They had power, great defense and some pretty impressive arms back in those days and always meshed well. Most of the guys who make the cut are guys from that generation since I know it the best.
Shawn Green – Green played for the Blue Jays for seven seasons before he left for the Dodgers. He really blossomed in his last couple seasons in Toronto and became an all-star caliber player. He had one of the smoothest swings I have ever seen. Green wasn’t a big guy but could jack bombs with the best of them in the late 90’s and early 2000’s
Carlos Delgado – Delgado came to the Blue Jays at the end of their great run and was a mainstay for a long, long time. Delgado was one of the main reasons why I never jumped ship as a fan. He had ridiculous power and produced better than just about any other Jay.
Roy Halladay – Halladay is a story of perseverance that turned into dominance. The Jays sent him down early in his career to rework how he pitched and I thought we would never hear from him again but boy was I wrong. Eight all-star games, two Cy Young awards and seven top five finishes in the Cy Young race prove that “Doc” was able to figure it out. I’m still disappointed that Toronto let him walk because he should have ended his career as a lifetime Blue Jay.
Pat Hentgen – Hentgen was massive in the Blue Jays second World Series back in 93 and proved it was no fluke by winning the Cy Young three years later. Although he wasn’t an overpowering pitcher he sure knew what it took to get it done on the mound, especially as a Blue Jay.
Dave Stieb – my earliest recollections as a Blue jay fan always seem to have Dave Stieb on the mound. Even though his record didn’t always show it, he was a dominating pitcher for a long time. That’s reflected in the fact that he made seven all-star games. He was also a workhorse in his early years and that always impressed me. The Jays hardly ever had to go to the bullpen when Stieb was on the bump.
Jesse Barfield – Barfield is quite possibly my favorite baseball player of all-time. He had a cannon of an arm in the outfield and was a monster at the plate. I remember the year he put it all together and just dominated. That was 1986 and I was just nine years old but he left an indelible mark on me and is one of the reasons I am such a huge sports fan today.
Jose Bautista – I don’t know what happened when Bautista got to Toronto but one thing is for sure, he loves playing in the Rogers Center. He hits the ball so hard that baseballs fear him. Most of his home runs look like the ball just jumps right of the bat.
Ernie Whitt – Whitt was a solid batter who had some pop but is one of my favorites because he is the best catcher the Jays have ever had. He really knew how to call a game from behind the plate.
Roberto Alomar – Alomar is the best second baseman I have ever seen and it’s not even close. He was ridiculous in the field and could really swing the bat too. He won the Gold Glove and was an all-star in each of his four seasons in Toronto and was a huge piece of both World Series teams. It was no shock that he made the Hall of Fame because he was something special.
Joe Carter – Carter is the only guy in baseball that can compete with Jesse Barfield on my favorites list. He was just a beast when he played for the Blue Jays. He could absolutely just crush the ball and produced runs like there was no tomorrow. Carter also has the biggest hit in Blue Jays history and that just adds to his legend.
John McDonald – McDonald hardly ever started when he played in Toronto and is by all accounts a journey man but what he can do on defense is one of the most impressive things I have ever seen out of a shortstop. McDonald had crazy range and never seemed to miss a ball. If he could swing the bat even just a little bit he would have been an all-star because of his defense.
Devon White – White was one of the best defensive center fielders I have ever seen. He covered so much ground and never seemed to let a ball get by him. White wasn’t bad with the stick either. He spent five years as a Jay and won the Gold Glove every year and was a huge part of the Jays winning to World Series rings.
Lloyd Moseby – Moseby had speed and power and was the perfect center fielder playing in between Barfield and George Bell. He was a triples machine and one of the best base stealers the Jays had in the 80’s.
Tom Henke – The Terminator was the Blue Jays closer for eight years and is one of the best relief pitchers they have ever had. Every time Henke stepped on the mound I figured the lead was safe. He was that good.
Juan Guzman – Guzman came out of nowhere in the early 90s and made a huge splash at the right time. He was especially dominant during the Blue Jays playoff runs during 92 and 93 when he won four of five decisions including four LCS games. Not bad for a guy in his first three seasons.