The Blue Jays have had some talented hitters in their 35 seasons. But who’s had the best seasons at the plate in the Blue Jays uniform? Here’s my Top 10 seasons by Blue Jays hitters, but let’s set some rules first.
No. 1 – Only one season allowed per player. If we didn’t include this rule more than half the list would be taken up by Jose Bautista and Carlos Delgado. Seriously, look at their stats.
No. 2 Only full-seasons in Jays uniforms count. No one traded at some point during the season, or shortened seasons (ie. 1994 strike season) count. Got it? Let’s go then.
Hill won the AL Comeback Player of the Year award and the Silver Slugger in 2009 after blasting 36 home runs and driving in 108 runs. Hill was never able to match that production again, never reaching the 30 home run plateau again and never getting his AVG over .250 while in Toronto.
He was sent to Arizona along with John MacDonald for Kelly Johnson near the trade deadline in 2011.
Barfield must have been locked in at the plate in 1986 as it was by far his best season, not only with Toronto, but in his career. He launched a career-high 40 home runs.
Known just as much for his rifle of an arm as for his bat Barfield would never hit more than 28 home runs in a season and he also never reached 100 RBI again. In 1989 the Jays traded Barfield to the Yankees for Al Leiter.
Drafted in the first round in 1991, the sweet swinging Green took a few years to reach his potential but when he did he took off at the plate surpassing expectations in the power department.
Green set career highs in home runs and RBI in 1999. He also set a franchise record for runs scored with 134 hitting in front of Carlos Delgado. Green went on to surpass both his HR and RBI totals two years later, but by then he was a Dodger after being traded for Raul Mondesi and Pedro Borbon.
As good as Alomar was in his first two seasons in Toronto he really hit his stride at the plate in 1993 when he hit .326 with 17 home runs and a career-high 55 stolen bases. Robbie was the definition of clutch in ’93 hitting .320 with runners in scoring position and in the World Series he hit .480 with six RBI and five runs scored.
Injuries took their toll on Alomar in his final two years in Toronto, so it is possible he could have put up even better numbers in his final two years in Toronto, but Jays fans had to watch Robbie top his ’93 stats in Baltimore and Cleveland instead.
Wells took a lot of flack from the media and fans at times during his years in Toronto, but when he stayed healthy he had some solid seasons at the plate. The best was 2003 when he led the Majors in hits with 215 which set a new franchise record. He also hit a career high 33 home runs and 117 RBI.
Those numbers earned Wells his first All-Sar game appearance and his lone Silver Slugger award. That in part earned him his huge contract a few years later that he could never live up to.
Wells came close to hitting his 2003 heights again in 2006 and 2010, but fans seem to remember the down years more thanks to the big contract. Well bat (and the contract) were sent to the Angels before the 2011 for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.
The only MVP season on the list belongs to Bell, who terrorized pitchers during the 1987 season. Bell set career highs in home runs, RBI, slugging % and runs scored that season.
It would be interesting to see what Bell’s numbers would have looked like if he didn’t have to play home games at Exhibiton Stadium. Bell hit 28 homers with a .325 average on the road compared to 19 homers and a .291 at home.
Unfortunately for Bell he’d never hit those heights again, never hitting more than 25 home runs and driving in more than 100 runs only two more times in six seasons. He left Toronto as a free agent in 1991 to sign with the Cubs before being traded for Sammy Sosa a year later.
Olerud never played a single game in the minor leagues before debuting in Toronto and in 1993 we found out why. Sweet-swinging Olerud flirted with .400 in 1993, keeping his average above or at .400 as late as August 24.
Olerud obviously won the batting title in 1993, but he also led the AL in OPS and in doubles too with what was then a franchise record 54. Olerud also recorded a 1.072 OPS in 1993, one of only three Jays to record an OPS of 1.000 or higher.
Johnny O was never able to match his ’93 success in Toronto, failing to hit over .300 the next three season before being dealt to the Mets in 1996 for Robert Person.
Molitior finished second in MVP voting in 1993 after delivering one of the best seasons of his career at age 37. Molitor finished second in AVG, but first in hits. Yes, interestingly Molitor had more hits than batting champion John Olerud in 1993.
Molitor set a new career-high for home runs and drove in more than 100 runs for the first time in his career in 1993. Molitor spent two more season in Toronto and might have been able to surpass his ’93 in 94 if not for the strike shortening the season.
When the season was halted Molitor was hitting .341 with 14 home runs and 75 RBI in 115 games. Even more astounding is that Molitor would drive in 113 runs and hit .341 with career-high 225 hits and 113 RBI in 1996 with Minnesota.
Toronto’s proverbial diamond in the rough. I had trouble deciding between Bautista’s 2010 and 2011 season, but I went with 2010 because it was so unexpected.
Prior to 2010 Bautista had hit 74 home runs total in his career before setting a new Blue Jays record with 54. He surpassed his previous season best home run total of 16 by June 4. He proved that power was no fluke by bashing 43 home runs the following season.
Not bad for someone who has bounced around four different organizations before finally getting his shot in Toronto.
When the critics talk about Delgado’s best season in Toronto they usually either go with 2000 or 2003. I go with 2000 and I believe overall it’s the best season any Blue Jays has ever had at the plate.
In 2003 Delgado hit more home runs (42) and had more RBI (145), but all his other stats in 2000 are better. In 2000 Delgado posted the best average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS of his career. Delgado hit .344 in 2000. He only hit above .300 in two other season, .302 in 2003 and .301 in 2005 while with Florida.
Delgado also hit a career-high 57 doubles in 2000 which led the Majors. Nomar Garciaparra was second with 51. Delgado played during some lean years in Toronto, but consistently still put up some of the best numbers ever seen in Toronto.
For his 2000 season and his overall career in Toronto he should be the next name installed in the Level of Excellence.
Damaso Garcia 1982
Kelly Gruber 1990
Fred McGriff 1990
Tony Fernandez 1999
Tony Batista 2000
Shannon Stewart 2000
Adam Lind 2009