Posts Tagged ‘Top Five All-Time Toronto Blue Jays’

I decided to embark on a new five part series in which we will debate and argue the merits of the top five Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays as well as the top five overall athletes in Toronto sports history and finally as a contrast we will do the top ten athletes currently residing in the ‘Big Smoke’.  Feel free to comment and please post your own opinion on any of the top five lists, I am sure there will be seriously differing opinions across the board and people definitely place a different emphasis on things like winning, personal stats and overall impact on the city.

Part I – Top 5 Maple Leafs of all time

Part II – Top 5 Raptors of all time

Part III – Top 5 Blue Jays of all time

Part IV – Top 5 Toronto Sports Athletes of all time

Part V – Top 10 Current Toronto Athletes

Part IV – Top Five Athletes in Toronto History

I hope you have enjoyed the ‘Top Five’ series thus far and today we continue by looking at the Top Five Athletes in Toronto Sports History.  This list will not focus as much on tenure and longevity as some of the other lists have but purely on talent level and peak performance while in the city of Toronto, more than one or two seasons of greatness is preferred but this list will encapsulate the absolute best that has ever performed in the great city of Toronto.  A player that was as close to the top of his respective sport as possible for a 2+ season stretch, so just missing out were Hakeem Olajuwon, Erik Hanson and Vesa Toskala. 

On to the list.

#5 – QB Doug Flutie.  Two seasons with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, led the entire CFL in 1996 & 1997 in passing attempts, passing yards, passing completions, passing TDs and rushing yards by a QB.

A surprise name to see for some, he was a must inclusion for me.  Prior to Doug Flutie’s arrival in 1996, the 1995 Toronto Argonauts were pitiful, sporting a 4-14 record, in Flutie’s first season with the ‘Boatmen’ was in 1996 and he led them to a 15-3 record and a story book turnaround, they won the Grey Cup and Flutie was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player.

Next season Flutie led the team to back-to-back CFL Grey Cup’s and again won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player (1997) after leading the league in basically every major statistical category.  Toronto had a love affair with its diminutive QB and the popularity of the CFL in Toronto was at an all time high.  There are probably even some that are surprised to hear that Doug Flutie isn’t even Canadian.  Flutie went on to have a fairly successful NFL career and people in Toronto will always claim him as one of their own, anybody down for some Flutie Flakes?

In my opinion Doug Flutie for those two seasons in 1996 and 1997 was one of the top athlete’s in the history of Toronto sports.

#4 – 1B Carlos Delgado.  Hugely successful slugger basically his entire career with the Blue Jays and dominated for four straight seasons (2000-2003).

Carlos Delgado was one of the game’s best sluggers during his peak years with the Toronto Blue Jays and was absolutely robbed of deserved MVP Awards in 2000 and 2004 when a Canadian hating writer from Chicago neglected to even put Delgado on his MVP ballots.  Look at these stats and take into consideration that WAR heavily penalizes Delgado for playing first base (plus playing it relatively poorly), his bat was lethal:       

Year HR RBI OPS wOBA WAR
2000 41 134 1134 471 7.5
2001 39 102 948 398 4.0
2002 33 108 955 401 4.7
2003 32 145 1019 423 5.5

 

Delgado was the best offensive player in the history of the franchise and among the best in baseball for a good portion of his career in Toronto, without the ‘hack’ excluding him from his ballot he might have some impressive hardware to show for his handy work.  Imagine the 2010 Blue Jays had Delgado at 1B?

#3 – C Doug Gilmour.  Played parts of 6 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, his peak seasons in 92/93 and 93/94 and undeniably some of the best hockey ever played in Toronto and ‘Killer’ was considered among the NHL’s best all-around players.

Ah, 1992-1994, nothing warms the soul like a trip down memory lane and for Toronto Maple Leafs fans born basically anytime post 1970 the back to back playoff runs from our beloved Leafs in 1992/93 and 1993/94 will forever have a place in our hearts.  The thrilling OT Game Seven winner by Nikolai Borechevsky, or the wrap around goal by Doug Gilmour against Curtis Joseph and the St. Louis Blues or that high-stick by Mr. Gretzky that was missed by Mr. Fraser, that ******* high stick!  Not that I am still bitter or anything.

At the helm of those teams was the heart and soul and leader of leader’s the Assistant Captain Doug Gilmour, old #93.  He was in the prime of his career during both of those magical seasons and put up the best seasons a Leafs player has ever had in its illustrious history:

YEAR G A PTS +/- PIM PPG
1992/93 32 95 127 32 100 1.53
1993/94 27 84 111 25 105 1.26

 

Not only great regular seasons but simply brilliant postseasons as well:

YEAR G A PTS +/- PIM PPG
1992/93 10 25 35 16 30 1.66
1993/94 6 22 28 3 42 1.55

 

Taking the team to the Stanley Cup semi-finals two straight years and playing a huge role in the early 90s turnaround of the Maple Leafs, Gilmour was the talk of the town and will forever remains a folk hero for any true Leafs fan, they don’t make enough Dougie Gilmour’s.

#2 – SG Vince Carter.  V.C. put Toronto basketball on the map, totally dominated the NBA during the 1999/00 and 2000/01 seasons.

No player is more vilified however no player was more dynamic and electric than Vince Carter during his prime two year stretch with the Toronto Raptors.  Seemingly flawless and on the verge of joining the absolute elite of elite players, Carter had captivated the city and it was buzzing and energized for all things Raptors, basketball and of course Vince Carter.  

Easily the most polarizing figure in team history, during his peak Vince Carter put up ridiculous numbers in his two best years here:

YEAR PPG RPG APG SPG FG%
1999/00 25.7 5.8 3.9 1.3 .465
2000/01 27.6 5.5 3.9 1.5 .460

 

Those numbers stand up against almost any player in the NBA at the time and Carter even chipped in a block per game and was getting to the free-throw line nearly 7 times per game.  Carter’s production remained fairly steady up until his last season with Toronto however he struggled to play a full season and was exposed as a terrible defender and one-dimensional player soon after his peak years.  However, to say he wasn’t one of the most talented players to ever play in Toronto would be an outright lie, who knows how the franchise would have fared if Vince Carter and Chris Bosh attempted to play together for a few more years.

#1 – SP Roy Halladay.  Routinely called the best pitcher in baseball, Halladay has the numbers to back up those claims and was completely dominant during most his seasons with the Jays, and exceptionally great during the 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009 seasons.

The city of Toronto has had a lot of great players come and go in all of the major sports but I don’t think any of them could have or were ever considered the absolute best at their position in their respective sport, besides Roy Halladay.  On a pure talent and peak season(s), Roy Halladay is the greatest athlete to ever play in Toronto, and I don’t think it is particularly close either. 

One of the classiest players to boot, Halladay was a machine, a well prepared workaholic, Halladay took his craft very seriously and for these four seasons was one of the better pitchers in the history of baseball:

YEAR IP W-L ERA FIP K/BB BB/9 HR/9 BABIP WAR
2002 239.1 19-7 2.93 2.97 2.7 2.3 0.4 .296 7.8
2003 266.0 22-7 3.25 3.23 6.4* 1.1 0.9 .294 8.0*
2008 246.0 20-11 2.78 3.03 5.3* 1.4 0.6 .293 7.4
2009 239.0 17-10 2.79 3.06 5.9* 1.3 0.8 .313 7.3

*led baseball

These truly special four seasons in Halladay’s career were simply amazing, he pitched 990.1 IPs, was 78-35 (.690 win %) and accumulated an insane 30.5 WAR.  I included his BABIP totals each season to show his successful seasons were never ‘outliers’ and luck did not factor much in his overall success (obviously), Halladay even had a strong ground ball rate each season (normally top five in MLB) and suppressed HRs as well as anybody.  He won 78 ballgames in these four years while the team provided him an average of 4.5 runs per game, he also had a whopping 29 complete games and 9 complete game shutouts.

It was obviously a tough day for me to see him leave but I think I can speak for nearly all Blue Jays fans when I say I wish him all the best and I hope he goes on to much success and glory with his new team, maybe he could even return one day.

There you have it, the Top Five Athletes in Toronto History are 5) Doug Flutie, 4) Carlos Delgado, 3) Doug Gilmour, 2) Vince Carter and #1 Roy Halladay – the incomparable one.

Next up, the top ten current athlete’s in the city of Toronto…

Advertisements

All sports fans love to reminisce to the good old days, maybe it was a better period or span of time for their favourite or local team or quite possibly it was just a simpler and more carefree time in their own lives.  Whatever the reasons nothing gets the argumentative juices flowing like a good old fashioned ‘All-Time Top 5’ list – let’s get our own going.

I decided to embark on a new five part series in which we will debate and argue the merits of the top five Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays as well as the top five overall athletes in Toronto sports history and finally as a contrast we will do the top ten athletes currently residing in the ‘Big Smoke’.  Feel free to comment and please post your own opinion on any of the top five lists, I am sure there will be seriously differing opinions across the board and people definitely place a different emphasis on things like winning, personal stats and overall impact on the city.

Part I – Top 5 Maple Leafs of all time

Part II – Top 5 Raptors of all time

Part III – Top 5 Blue Jays of all time

Part IV – Top 5 Toronto Sports Athletes of all time

Part V – Top 10 Current Toronto Athletes

Part III – Top Five All-Time Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays have been around since 1977 and for a team in a sport with deep, rich history have had a pretty impressive 30+ years of tradition, winning and excellence.  Their record is currently 2654 wins and 2691 losses for a .497 winning percentage (ranking 15th in baseball history among current teams) and their back-to-back World Series titles give them as many championships as the storied franchises in Philadelphia, New York (Mets) and Chicago (Cubs).  In fact, there are currently eight teams in the MLB that have not even won a single championship, for a relatively junior franchise, the fan base of this team has been spoiled with the five AL East titles and two World Series championships.

Sure there have been numerous ups and downs just like any other franchise but the team has also had its lion’s share of impressive talent come and go over the years and of the three major sports teams (Maple Leafs, Raptors and Jays) this was by far the toughest list to not only compile but to ultimately finalize the overall rankings and I probably had about 3-4 change of heart moments before settling on the list I am about to unveil.  Let’s get to it.

#5 – CF Vernon Wells, born August December 8th, 1978 in Shreveport, LA.  Has played 12 seasons (and counting) with 1357 games, 1490 hits, 214 HRs, 785 RBIs, 771 runs.

Can you believe Vernon Wells is currently playing in his 12th major league season (all with the Toronto Blue Jays)?  Wells inclusion on a Top Five All-Time list might surprise a few people (myself included) but let me tell you (and show you) he deserves it.  The right handed centre-fielder currently ranks 4th in games played, 2nd in runs scored, 2nd in total hits, 2nd in homeruns, 2nd in RBIs and by season’s end will rank 1st in doubles.  Throw in 3 All-Star appearances, 3 gold gloves and a silver slugger and yeah, there you have it.

Drafted 5th overall by the Jays in the 1997 Amateur draft, Wells quickly rose up the Jays ladder and by the end of 2002 was the Blue Jays full-time centre-fielder and outside a few injury-riddled seasons has provided the Jays a ton of value with plus defense and good power from a premium position.  Since 2003 Wells has hit 23, 33, 23, 28, 32, 16, 20, 15, 22 HRs respectively and owns a very solid .472 SLG% for his career.  Outside of his massive contract extension, Vernon Wells has been one of the greatest Blue Jays to ever play.

#4 – SS Tony Fernandez, born June 30th, 1962 in San Pedro de Macoris, D.R.  Tony played 12 seasons (off and on) with 1450 games, 1583 hits, 704 runs, 613 RBIs and 172 SBs.

Not including the all-time Jays leader in hits would be a disgrace to one of the most loyal, hard working and beloved Blue Jays of all time in Tony Fernandez.  Fernandez ranks 1st in game played 1st in total hits, 4th in runs scored, 6th in RBIs, 4th in BBs, 4th in stolen bases and has a 297/353/412 triple slash line with the Jays.  Impressive statistics for a middle infielder in the late 1980s and early 1990s Fernandez was a 5 time All-star and 4 time gold glove winner and had three different (successful) stints with the team over his 17 year playing career.

Signed by the team in 1979 as a 17-year old out of the Dominican Republic Fernandez was the Jays fulltime starting shortstop by 1985 and one of the most consistent and steady contributors on and off the field before being dealt away in 1990 (with Fred McGriff for Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar) before the ‘Championship’ years, that deal was integral for the Jays two titles (obviously) that has to be worth a few extra brownie points. 

#3 – 1B Carlos Delgado, born June 25th, 1972 in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.  Delgado played 12 seasons with 1423 games, 1413 hits, 336 homeruns, 1058 RBIs and 889 runs scored.  Ranking 1st in homeruns, RBIs, extra-base hits, run scored, total bases, on-base & slugging percentage and base on balls over a span of 12 extremely productive seasons (including two MVP seasons in 2000 and 2003, damned the writers) with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Signed by the team out of Puerto Rico as a 16 year old Delgado came up through the system as a top catching prospect but was quickly moved full-time to first base as it became evident the bat was too valuable to waste on a player with borderline defensive capabilities as a backstop.  Delgado burst onto the Toronto sports scene as a 22 year old in 1994 with 9 HRs in the final month or so of the season and all signs pointed to him becoming the teams fulltime starting first basemen the next season in 1995 but Delgado struggled out of the gate and it was not until 1996 that he finally took over for good.

Delgado never looked back and was the Jays best hitter year after year and now in franchise history, since 1996 he has cranked 25, 30, 38, 44, 41, 39, 33, 43 and 32 homeruns respectively, all while drawing his fair share of free passes, playing adequate defense at first and managing to stay out of the whole steroids controversy. 

Delgado put together an MVP calibre season in the 2000 season batting 344/470/664 with 57 doubles, 41 HRs and 137 RBIs but finished 4th in voting (behind two admitted steroid users Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez).  In 2003 he hit a robust 302/426/593 with 42 HRs and 145 RBIs and finished 2nd in the MVP vote to, you guessed it, Alex Rodriguez (just more reasons for Jays’ fans to dislike him).

Delgado was a monster for the Blue Jays and the best hitter to ever play for the team, by a wide margin.  Delgado was not re-signed when his contract ran out and the Jays were experiencing severe budgetary limitations, however after his departure he still went on to have four more extremely productive power seasons (33, 38, 23 & 38 HRs) until chronic injuries eventually caught up with him though he recently signed with the Boston Red Sox on a tryout basis.

#2 – SP Roy Halladay, born May 14th, 1977 in Denver, Colorado.

#1 – SP Dave Stieb, born July 22nd, 1957 in Santa Ana, California.

Halladay or Stieb – was there any doubt in who would battle it out for the top spot in Blue Jays history?  These are the two preeminent players in franchise history who have now become the benchmark to which young Blue Jays hurlers are compared to.  Halladay was drafted in the 1st round in 1998 (15th overall) while Stieb was drafted in the 5th round in 1978.  Stieb found almost instant success, Halladay had to be remade.  Stieb was a fly ball pitcher; Halladay was a ground ball pitcher.  Stieb was more guts than stuff; Halladay is the model of pitching efficiency and mechanics. 

Though Dave Stieb was a poor man’s version of Jack Morris and Roy Halladay is on an almost certain path to Hall of Fame greatness, they were both great, for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Stieb was a 7-time All-Star, ditto Halladay however ‘Doc’ also took home a Cy Young Award and was close on several other occasions.

Take a look at some numbers and how the two stack up against each other:

  GS IP W-L WIN% ERA ERA+ FIP CG/SHO WHIP
Stieb 408 2873.0 175-134 .566 3.42 123 4.12 103/30 1.24
Halladay 287 2046.2 148-76 .661 3.43 133 3.45 49/15 1.19

 

Some of their other ratio’s compared:

  H/9 K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 K-BB
Stieb 8.0 5.2 3.2 1.6 0.70 2.0
Halladay 8.8 6.6 2.0 3.3 0.76 4.6

 

 This of course is not to argue who the best overall pitcher is, as that is a competition easily won by Roy Halladay, one of the best pitchers of the past 25 years, but more to argue which pitcher in fact contributed more to the Blue Jays organization during their respective tenure with the team.  For this list, considering that Stieb started 121 more games, pitched 826+ more innings (roughly 4 seasons worth of innings for Halladay based on his track record) and won 27 more ballgames than Roy Halladay I have to rank Dave Stieb as the best all-time Blue Jays pitcher (and player) in team history, though it was obviously not an easy selection.  Historical WAR numbers peg Stieb worth approx 50 wins above replacement while Halladay put up around 55 wins above replacement during his time with the Blue Jays.   

Roy Halladay’s overall excellence and superior statistics to Stieb all while pitching in the “steroid era” rank him an extremely close second.  Halladay pitched in an exceptionally more difficult offensive environment against far superior versions of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox and in an era where complete games have gone by the waist side threw a complete game 17% of his starts, Stieb was roughly 25% in an era that promoted the pitcher finishing what he started.  Halladay’s incomparable stats across the board almost tilted the ranking in his favour and Roy’s winning percentage of .661 alone was almost enough to give him the nod, almost.

So there you have it, my top five All-Time Toronto Blue Jays players are 5) Vernon Wells, 4) Tony Fernandez, 3) Carlos Delgado, 2) Roy Halladay and #1 was Dave Stieb.

Up next I will take a look at the Top Five Athletes in Toronto Sports history, with the list based around talent and overall greatness with less emphasis on tenure alone.