Toronto Blue Jays All-Time Tournament Team

Blue Jays All-Time Team
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The Toronto Blue Jays all-time team is something else. The Blue Jays endured years of misery including their inaugural season in 1977. As a matter of fact, in the mid-to-late eighties, it was a completely different story. Toronto won two division titles in 1985 and 1989, only to fall short in the playoffs on both occasions. That turned into the glory days of the early ’90s when the franchise won two of its only World Series titles. It was a long wait for the next postseason appearance, but the franchise is complete with power bats and one of the best pitchers of the 2000s. As we continue our all-time team tournament series, next up is the only Canadian team in MLB.

Blue Jays All-Time Team

Batters

Catcher: Ernie Whitt (1977-1989)

888 H, 424 R, 131 HR, 518 RBI, 22 SB, .253/.327/.420, 102 OPS+, 19.3 WAR

We’re going with the backstop from the early days of the Blue Jays. Ernie Whitt made his major league debut for the Boston Red Sox, but Toronto drafted him in the 1977 expansion draft. Whitt had eight consecutive seasons with double-digit home runs, hitting a career-high 24 twice. He possessed both a strong arm and presence behind the plate, helping the young Blue Jays pitching staff along the way. Whitt spent parts of 12 seasons with the club, earning an All-Star nod in 1985.

First Base: Carlos Delgado (1993-2004)

1,413 H, 889 R, 336 HR, 1058 RBI, 9 SB, .282/.392/.556, 142 OPS+, 36.8 WAR

First base has plenty of talent. But, Carlos Delgado stands out the most. After some up and down seasons, the Puerto Rican native established himself as a lethal bat in baseball. Delgado hit 30 or more home runs for eight seasons while driving in 100 or more runs. Despite strong MVP consideration and two All-Star appearances, he remains third in franchise history in position player WAR. He leads the franchise in slugging, OPS (.949), runs (889), total bases (2,786), doubles (343), home runs (336), RBI (1,058), and walks (827).

Second Base: Roberto Alomar (1991-1995)

832 H, 451 R, 55 HR, 342, RBI, 206 SB, .307/.382/.451, 123 OPS+, 22.3 WAR

Roberto Alomar’s longest stint was with the Blue Jays for five seasons. Alomar was an All-Star and Gold Glover in all five seasons he played for Toronto. In the top 10 in the AL MVP vote for three consecutive years, he won the Silver Slugger award in 1992. In that same season, Alomar was the hero in the Blue Jays championship run, winning the ALCS MVP award with a .432/.464/.692 slash line. His .307 batting average with the Blue Jays is first all-time. But, his 206 stolen bases are second to Lloyd Moseby, who has 255.

Third Base: Josh Donaldson (2015-2018)

492 H, 331 R, 116 HR, 316 RBI, 17 SB, .281/.383/.548, 148 OPS+, 19.5 WAR

Josh Donaldson was a juggernaut when the Blue Jays acquired the third baseman in 2014. Donaldson hit 41 home runs while leading the AL with 122 runs and 123 RBI, helping Toronto reach the postseason since 1993. The “Bringer of Rain” spent parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays. Donaldson is the third-best franchise WAR leader, but he also proved to be a solid defensive player.

Shortstop: Tony Fernández (1983-1990, 1993)

1,583 H, 704 R, 60 HR, 613 RBI, 172 SB, .297/.353/.412, 106 OPS+, 37.5 WAR

Tony Fernández spent 12 memorable seasons in Toronto. Signed by the Blue Jays in 1979, the Dominican infielder played 15 games for the team in 1983. Two seasons later, he became an everyday shortstop who helped the Blue Jays to their first-ever AL East division title. From there on, Fernández would lead the team in batting average twice, hits three times, and triples four times. The four-time Gold Glover spent time in the NL before being dealt back to the Blue Jays in 1993. In the 1993 World Series, Fernández hit .333 and drove in a series-leading nine runs.

Following stints with Cincinnati, New York, and Cleveland, Fernández returned to Toronto in 1998 and 1999. In 2001, he set a club record with 16 pinch hits in his final tenure with Toronto. The Blue Jays icon is the club’s all-time leader in hits (1,583), games played (1,450), and triples (72).

Left Field: George Bell (1981, 1983-1990)

1,294 H, 641 R, 202 HR, 740 RBI, 59 SB, .286/.325/.486, 119 OPS+, 21.2 WAR

No Blue Jay won the AL MVP award, but that all changed when George Bell came along. Bell emerged as a power-hitting outfielder taken from the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1980 Rule 5 draft. Bell hammered over 20 homers in six seasons while recording 85 RBIs or more seven times with the Blue Jays. In 1987, Bell gained more votes than Alan Trammel to win the AL MVP. He produced a .308 batting average with 47 home runs and a league-leading 134 RBI. Bell remains the only player to hit a major league record three home runs on Opening Day 1988. He ranks in the top five in most of the franchise’s all-time offensive categories, including RBI, total bases, extra-base hits, and home runs.

Center Field: Vernon Wells (1999-2010)

1,529 H, 789 R, 223 HR, 813 RBI, 90, .280/.329/.475, 108 OPS+, 28.7 WAR

Lloyd Moseby handled the eighties, Devon White the nineties, and Kevin Pillar for much of the 2010s. But, the mid-2000s belong to Vernon Wells. Altogether, his 12-year stint in Toronto came after the club’s early-1990 championships and its return to the playoffs in 2015. His numbers with the Blue Jays are respectable and impressive at the same time. Wells established himself as an everyday outfielder in 2002, hitting 20 or more home runs in seven of his next nine full seasons. He drove in over 100 runs during that span. Nevertheless, Wells was a staple in the lineup for a decade and had three Gold Glove Awards and three All-Star trips to his name. Not to mention, Wells only trails Delgado and Fernández in all-time games played with Toronto.

Right Field-: José Bautista (2008-2017)

1,103 H, 790 R, 288 HR, 766 RBI, 56 SB, .253/.372/.506, 136 OPS+, 38.3 WAR

Then 28-year old José Bautista was a journeyman who had some power in his bat. When he came to Toronto, all he needed to do was adjust to his swing. In 2010, he broke the franchise record for home runs with 54, making the first of six All-Star appearances with a Silver Slugger award to his name. Despite being loathed by opposing fans and alike, Bautista did his part. He was the face of the franchise who infamously etched his name in baseball history with the “Bat Flip.” Joey Bats will forever leave his mark as one of the feared sluggers in the game.

Designated Hitter: Edwin Encarnación (2009-2016)

977 H, 593 R, 238 HR, 679 RBI, 37 SB, .268/.355/.522, 136 OPS+, 25.2 WAR

Edwin Encarnación was the one who almost got away. In 2010, the Oakland Athletics had claimed him on waivers only to make him a free agent weeks later. He re-signed with Toronto and never looked back. Much like Bautista, Encarnacion needed to make adjustments to his swing, and boy did it pay off. From 2012-to 2016, the Dominican slugger hit 30-or more home runs, hitting a career 42 in 2012 and 2016. He led the majors with 127 RBI in his final season with Toronto. Encarnación earned three All-Star nods with some MVP votes along the way. Together, he and Bautista were a dangerous one-two punch in the lineup. Both made an impact and left their mark rightfully so in Toronto.

Pitchers

Starter

Roy Halladay (1998-2009)

148-76 (.661%) , 2,046 2/3 IP, 3.43 ERA, 1,495 SO, 1.17 WHIP, 133 ERA+ 40.4 WAR

Few pitchers were as dominant and consistent as Roy Halladay in the 2000s. “Doc” went up and down in the baseball world early in his career. He was selected 17th overall by the Blue Jays in the 1995 MLB Draft as a high schooler. Halladay found himself with Triple-A Syracuse by the 1997 season. The following year, Halladay was a late-season call-up who was within one out of a no-hitter in his second start. However, he was still trying to find his groove as a starter in late spring training 2001, only to lack consistency. Halladay found him back in the minors.

Halladay rebuilt his confidence along with his delivery and never looked back. By the end of the 2002 season, Halladay went 19-7 with a 2.93 ERA. Furthermore, he was the AL Cy Young Award winner the following season. He notably had a 22-7 campaign with 204 strikeouts against 36 walks. Aside from shoulder problems in 2004, Halladay was a primer ace from 2002-2012.

Relievers

Tom Henke, Duane Ward, Mark Eichhorn

Three of these relievers played a crucial role in the Blue Jays World Series titles. Tom Henke chalked up a pair of saves and pitched three of the Blue Jays’ four one-run victories against the Atlanta Braves in the 1992 World Series. Henke’s 217 saves rank him first all-time with the Blue Jays and are the 20th best in the major leagues. Duane Ward did two incredible things in his career. Firstly, he never made fewer than 64 appearances in relief. Secondly, he never pitched fewer than 100 innings in five consecutive seasons.

Ward registered a career-best 1.95 ERA in 79 appearances to help the Blue Jays in their championship runs. Beyond Henke and Ward, Mark Eichhorn threw with his sidearm, with not much velocity involved. In 1986, he owned one of the fascinating seasons a reliever could have. Eichhorn went 14-6 with a career-best 1.72 ERA in 157 innings. Like Ward, Eichhorn was valuable out of relief in the 1993 World Series.

Manager

Cito Gaston (1989-1997, 2008-2010)

1,731 G, 894-837 (.516%), Two pennants and World Series titles

Cito Gaston became the hitting coach for the Blue Jays in 1982. He remained in that position until 1989 when he took over managerial duties from Jimy Williams. Gaston was considered a player’s manager and an influence for a team looking to take the next step. Over the next four seasons, Gaston would lead the Blue Jays to three more division titles and two World Series championships. Gaston would manage until 1997 but was rehired as the club’s manager in June 2008, staying in the role until 2010.

Honorable Mentions

Dave Stieb, John Olerud, Devon White, Joe Carter

It was not easy leaving these players off the all-time roster. Altogether, all four of these players did enough to be considered for the honorable mentions. Or better yet, the bench players for the Blue Jays all-time team.

In all honesty, it was a tough call between Halladay and Dave Stieb as the starting pitcher. Halladay won the Cy Young, the best pitcher in his days. But, Stieb would also become one of the most successful pitchers in Blue Jays history. He threw the only no-hitter in franchise history in 1991 and won 140 games in the eighties, the second-highest total by a pitcher in that decade, behind ex-Blue Jay Jack Morris.

John Olerud was smooth both in the field and at the plate. Furthermore, Olerud was an everyday first baseman beginning in the 1991 season. He was a key player of three straight division titles and two World Series titles. Without a doubt, 1993 was his breakout campaign. Olerud, putting up MVP-like numbers, was hitting nearly .400 for much of the season but ended with a .363 batting title. He remains the only Blue Jays batter to win the AL batting title.

Devon White handled center field for five seasons in Toronto. His offensive numbers don’t stand out, but he did more than enough at the plate. White made effortless plays in the gaps without ever leaving his feet, most notably, his great running catchup against the wall on a fly ball from David Justice in Game 3 of the 1992 World Series. He won a Gold Glove Award in all five seasons with the Blue Jays.

Last but not least, Joe Carter is one of the most popular players in Blue Jays history. He will forever be known for his World Series-winning home run in 1993. In seven seasons with Toronto, Carter was named to five All-Star teams. His 203 home runs are the second-most of any Blue Jay, and his 736 RBI rank him third all-time.

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Players/Managers Mentioned:

Ernie Whitt, Carlos Delgado, Roberto Alomar, Josh Donaldson, Tony Fernández, George Bell, Vernon Wells, José Bautista, Edwin Encarnación, Roy Halladay, Tom Henke, Duane Ward, Mark Eichhorn, Dave Stieb, John Olerud, Devon White, Joe Carter, Cito Gaston