Toronto Blue Jays Canadian Content

Today the Toronto Blue Jays Canadian pride will be shown in full force. A giant Canada flag will drape across the outfield before this afternoon’s game, and the Jays will be sporting their red jerseys. Hockey may be Canada’s sport, but the Blue Jays continue to make the diamond just as much an enjoyable place to be as the rink.

Toronto Blue Jays Canadian Content

Joining the league back in 1977, the Rogers Center, more affectionately known as Skydome, has been a staple in downtown Toronto for forty years. The team found great success in the mid-nineties with back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. They managed to secured the AL East title five times between 1985 and 1993, and captured it again last season.

Home grown talents are always fan favorites, and the Blue Jays have two fantastic players on their team in Michael Saunders and Russell Martin who hail from the great white north. These two are key pieces to the team’s success this year, and continue to make Canada and it’s baseball fans extremely proud every time they take the field.

Michael Saunders (Victoria, British Columbia)

Drafted 333rd overall by the Seattle Mariners back in 2004, Saunders spent the first six seasons of his MLB career with Seattle (2009-2014) before being traded to Toronto on December 3, 2014 for LHP J.A. Happ. Although his first season with Toronto ended after a mere nine games because of a left knee injury, the Blue Jays were confident they had found a home grown talent that could produce for them.

His best season with the Mariners came back in 2012, when he hit nineteen home runs, with fifty-seven RBI, both career highs. Although his career .238 average won’t have anyone jumping out of their seats, the way he has played throughout 2016 certainly should.

He has come back from his knee injury with authority, and if his second half is anything like the first, he will become one of the most sought-after outfield free agents this off season. He has a .915 OPS with a .289 average, fifteen home runs, and thirty-four RBI, which is incredible production from a guy making $2.9 million this season. He’ll expect a pay raise and the Blue Jays should find a way to give it to him.

Russell Martin (East York, Ontario)

Drafted 511th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002, it did not take long for Martin to establish himself as one of the premier catchers in MLB. After five successful seasons with the Dodgers between 2006-2010, he then played two seasons with the New York Yankees (2011-2012) and two with the Pittsburgh Pirates (2013-2014). He signed a five-year, $82 million deal with the Blue Jays in 2015.

His best season came back in 2007, when he batted .293 with nineteen home runs and eighty-seven RBI. In 2015, baseball fans saw a resurgence from him as one of the most dominant catchers at the plate, as he hit a career high twenty-three home runs to go with seventy-seven RBI.

Although his power numbers may be down this season, his production at the plate should be viewed as a pure bonus for the Blue Jays. His ability to manage a game and maintain a starter’s composure is the value he brings to this team. When a team has two starters yet to pitch over 300 innings at the MLB level, as Toronto does, a veteran catcher like Martin is one way to ensure they continue to develop the right way.

Over his career, he has caught 327 of 684 possible base stealers and has a mere sixty-six passed balls in 1303 games behind the plate. He is signed with the Blue Jays through the 2019 season and, at 33 years old, may retire as a Blue Jay as well.

Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ontario)

Although currently playing with the Buffalo Bisons in Triple-A, the former draft pick of the Blue Jays, 486th overall in 2010, deserves to be mentioned. In forty-four games with the Bisons this season, he is batting .280 with fourteen RBI and ten stolen bases. He may not possess the power bat that Toronto fans have been familiar seeing with their outfielders, but his speed is a weapon that the team would welcome.

He is MLB ready and with two impending free agent outfielders in Toronto, it may not be long before fans see him in a Blue Jays jersey permanently. Expect him to be a September call up and to fight for a roster spot in spring training next season.

The Toronto Blue Jays currently sit 5.5 games back of the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East lead, and will look to finish the first half strong to cut the gap. However, they’re in for a tough final ten games before the break. They play game two of four against the Cleveland Indians, winners of thirteen straight, this afternoon.

After that, the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals come to town for three before a four games series with the Detroit Tigers. A 43-38 record is admirable, but a .500 team will not repeat as AL East Champs. They’ll need a strong second half to make the playoffs once more.

This team does not just play for or represent a city, they represent a nation. Canadians everywhere are proud to call the Blue Jays our team. Happy Canada Day, everyone, and Go Jays Go!

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