What’s a one-and-done? It’s easy. Any player that spent only one season, or maybe even less than a whole season, in Toronto before packing up and moving on. Maybe they were a free agent signed to only a one year deal? Or, perhaps they were acquired in a trade sometime during the season and didn’t resign to come back another. There’s also the option that they were so awful in their time with Toronto the Blue Jays cut them loose midseason or didn’t want them back for another year. How ever they fit the mould that’s what a one-and-done player is.
If you’re here one minute and gone the next you’ve got to make quite an impact to even be remembered as a Blue Jay. So, you may have forgotten about some of the Top 5 best one-and-dones and you’d probably like to forget about the Top 5 worst. We’ll get the list started with the Top 5 Worst one-and-done before brightening your day back up with the Top 5 best. Here we go…
Top 5 Worst One-and-Done Blue Jays
Kerry Ligtenberg came into the big leagues with the Braves in the late nineties. In 1998 he was the Braves closer and successfully saved 30 games while registering a solid 2.71 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. After six years with the Braves and one year in Baltimore he joined the Blue Jays as a free agent prior to the 2004 season.
The signing did not go well. In his lone season with the Jays Ligtenberg appeared in 57 games out of the bullpen. He posted a losing record of 1-6 with a horrendous 6.38 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP. His ratios were also ghastly. He allowed 11.9 hits per nine innings, one home run per nine and walked 4.1 batters per nine. His WAR that season was -0.6.
If you look at some of Ligtenberg’s single game performances it’s a wonder he stuck with the club the entire season. In an outing in mid-May Ligtenberg allowed five earned runs on four hits and a hit batter without recording a single out. A few months later in July he did it again. This time he allowed five runs, again all earned, on four hits and a pair of walks without recording a single out. In total Ligtenberg was charged with five earned runs in a single outing three times that season and he also allowed three runs on three separate occasions.
After the departure of Candy Maldonado following the 1992 season the Blue Jays needed another outfielder as they attempted to repeat as World Series champs. Derek Bell had worn out his welcome in Toronto and near the end of spring training he was dealt to the Padres along with Stoney Briggs for Darrin Jackson. Problem solved right? Not really.
Jackson hit only hit .250 with a .292 OBP and a .703 OPS in four seasons with San Diego, but he had clubbed 21 home runs in 1991 and had 70 RBI in 1992. With the big bats Toronto had hitting in front of him Jackson looked like he could be a solid addition in the middle of the lineup.
He started out all right, hitting. 270 over the first month with a pair of home runs and 10 RBI. It was all down hill fast from there though. Jackson hit a paltry .182 in May with a equally bad .213 OBP. When the calendar turned over to June Jackson was batting .225 with a .259 OBP and a .617 OPS on the season.
The arrival of June did nothing to heat up Jackson’s ice-cold bat. In six games in the month he went 4-25 and his average fell to .216, while his OBP tumbled to .250 and his OPS bottomed out at .597. That was the end of Jackson in Toronto and on June 11 he was traded to the Mets for Tony Fernandez. What a steal that trade turned out to be.
Jackson’s final slash line in 46 games for the Blue Jays was .216/.250/347 with five home runs, 19 RBI and 15 runs scored. He posted a OPS+ of only 58 and a -1.0 WAR.
During the 1991 season Mookie Wilson was on his last legs and the Blue Jays were desperately looking for another outfielder. Toronto didn’t have much faith in Mark Whiten and Glenallen Hill longterm and that was confirmed near the end of June when both were dealt to Cleveland. A few weeks after that trade the Jays took a shot on Cory Snyder, acquiring him from the White Sox on July 14 for Shawn Jeter and Steve Wapnick.
Snyder was putting up pretty bad numbers in Chicago, but he was a former first round draft pick (fourth overall by Cleveland in 1984) and had some pretty good seasons with the Indians in the past. This included hitting 33 home runs in 1987 and hitting .272 with 26 long balls in 1989.
The Blue Jays gave Snyder a chance to be a meaningful part of the starting lineup but he wasn’t able to do anything with it. By early August Toronto went another route and acquired Candy Maldonado hoping he would be the answer to the open spot in the outfield. He was easily better than Snyder.
In 21 games with the Jays in 1991, a lot of them off the bench as a pinch hitter or defensive replacement, Snyder hit a lame .143 with a .189 OBP and a .372 OPS. His OPS+ was 2 and his WAR -0.7. That power he was supposed to bring over from Chicago never arrived. Maybe he left it in the Windy City, as he didn’t hit a single home run as a Blue Jay. After the season he was released by the Blue Jays and hung on for a few more underwhelming seasons with San Francisco and the Dodgers.
2. Carlos Garcia – 1997
The Blue Jays acquired Garcia from the Pirates following the 1996 season in a deal that also netted Orlando Merced and Dan Plesac. At the time of the trade Garcia was being pegged as the Blue Jays second baseman of the future and finally the man to replace Roberto Alomar at second. That was probably the first big mistake. Comparing someone to Alomar is setting them up for failure for the start.
Garcia’s first (and only) season with Toronto started out miserably at the plate. At the end of April he was hitting only .163 with a .196 OBP with a .431 OPS. He didn’t get his average over the Mendoza Line until May 23 and even then it dipped back down again, falling as low as .184 by June 14. A short hot streak at the end of the month bumped him back up to .209 and a 4-6 game on July 2 got Garcia up to .220, his highest average of the season so far. His OBP was still only .253 and his OPS a lowly .556.
Garcia basically peaked at .220 which is sad in itself. By the end of the season he had appeared in 103 games, hitting .220 with a .253 OBP an a .562 OPS. He hit three home runs, had 23 RBI, 29 runs scored and 11 steals. His OPS+ was only 27 and he posted the worst WAR of any positional player in Blue Jays history at -2.2. Not surprisingly the Blue Jays let Garcia walk as a free agent at the end of the season.
1. Danny Darwin – 1995
Oh, Danny Darwin, how much I hated whenever you started for the Jays when I was a teenager. Thankfully, those starts were few and his time with the Jays was short. It had to be after his disastrous 1995 season.
The 1995 season didn’t start very badly for Darwin. In his first start he pitched five innings and allowed only one run on two hits in a no-decision against the Angels. He delivered another good outing in his second start, again allowing a single run over five innings, but after that it all fell apart quick.
In his next start Darwin was ripped for seven runs in 6 1-3 innings, followed by another blowout in which he surrendered nine runs in only 2 1-3 innings. After those two start Darwin’s ERA ballooned from 1.80 to 8.68.
It was still early on in the season so Darwin had plenty of time to get that ERA back down to a respectable level though right? Nope. After collecting a win in his second start of the season Darwin lost eight straight decisions. He allowed at least five earned runs in five of those starts, but did lower his ERA to a cool 7.44.
Darwin’s eight-game losing streak finally ended on June 27 with a no-decision, but he was still blasted for five earned runs. In his final two starts for Blue Jays in early June Darwin lasted only 1 1-3 innings and still allowed two earned runs.
After those two starts Darwin’s days in Toronto were done. Thank God! On July 18 the Blue Jays released Darwin and surprisingly he signed on with the Rangers a few weeks later. Despite that monumentally bad season with Toronto Darwin still pitched in the Majors for three more season with stops in Texas, Pittsburgh, Houston, with the White Sox and San Francisco.
His final numbers with the Blue Jay were a 1-8 record, a 7.62 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP in 13 games. He allowed 12.6 hits per nine innings, nearly two home runs per nine and posted a WAR of -1.0.
That’s concludes the Top 5 Worst one-and-done Blue Jays. Now, on to the good players!
Top 5 Best One-and-Done Blue Jays
5. Alex Gonzalez – 2010
When the Blue Jays signed Alex Gonzalez to be their starting shortstop for the 2010 season he was coming off a disappointing year split between Cincinnati and Boston. His combined numbers with both clubs were a pedestrian .238.279/.355 slash line with eight home runs, 41 RBI and an OPS+ of 65. His combined WAR with the two clubs was -1.1. It’s safe to say the Blue Jays and their fans weren’t expecting huge production at the plate from Gonzalez.
However, Gonzalez surprised everyone by posting some of the best offensive numbers of his career in his short time in Toronto. In 85 games with the club Gonzalez hit .259 with a .296 OBP and a .793 OPS. All were big improvements on the previous year. He also showed power that had been absent from his game for a number of years with 17 home runs and 50 RBI. His OPS+ that season jumped to 110 and his WAR was a solid 3.3. He was also a more than adequate fielder with a 1.9 defensive WAR.
Alex Anthopoulos was able to capitalize on Gonzalez big jump in production by trading him in a package deal to Atlanta for young shortstop Yunel Escobar. Since arriving in Toronto Escobar has had his own ups and downs, but the trade still looks like a win for Toronto in the long run.
4. Tom Candiotti – 1991
In an attempt to improve their rotation the Blue Jays acquired Tom Candiotti from the Cleveland Indians on June 27, 1991 for Denis Boucher, Glenallen Hill, Mark Whiten and some cash. Turner Ward also came to Toronto in the deal.
At the time of the trade Candiotti was 7-6with a 2.24 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP for the Indians. In his first start for the Jays Candiotti took the loss after giving up three runs on eight hits over six innings. He delivered back-to-back gems in his next two starts, pitching seven shutout innings against Minnesota and eight shutout inning against Texas. He struck out 17 combined in the two wins.
This was really the norm for Candiotti during his short tenure with the Jays. He’d be really good, or the exact opposite and get hammered. That seems to be the way with most knuckle ball pitchers. If the knuckler is dancing they can be nearly unhittable, but if it’s flat they get destroyed.
In 19 starts with Toronto Candiotti allowed two earned runs or less 11 times. This included a dominating seven shutout innings against the Tigers in which he struck out 12 batters and eight masterful shutout innings against Baltimore in which he surrendered only one hit.
Candiotti also had one horrific game against the Angels late in the season. The knuckle ball must have been flat and the size of a beach ball that day, as California pummeled him for seven runs on six hits in only 2-3 of an inning.
In the postseason Candiotti pitched Game 1 and Game 5 of the ALCS against the Minnesota Twins. In the series opener Candiotti was tagged early and often, giving up a pair of runs in the first, two more in the second and another in fifth before being pulled. In Game 5 he lasted five innings, allowing four runs, two were earned on nine hits, which included a solo home run by Kirby Puckett.
In his lone half season with the Jays Candiotti posted a 6-7 record, but he probably deserved better having to settle for a no-decision in four starts in which he allowed two earned runs or less. He also posted a 2.98 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and a 3.3 WAR with the Jays.
3. Jose Canseco – 1998
Nobody likely wants him on this list, but you can’t deny Jose Canseco had a monster season for the Jays at the plate in 1998.
After a few years in Texas and Boston and a short reunion with Oakland in 1997 Canseco signed with the Blue Jays prior to the ’98 season for just over $2 million. As Toronto’s new everyday DH Canseco was being paid to do basically one thing. To hit home runs. He definitely earned his money then.
In the month of April Canseco flashed the power that had once made his a superstar with eight home runs in the first month of the season. He followed that up with nine more home runs in May and seven more long balls in June. By the All-Star break Canseco was only hitting .236 with a .324 OBP, but he had 24 home runs and 54 RBI.
His power numbers didn’t curtail in the second half. In August he found the seats seven more times and in the final month of the season he crushed nine more homers. At the end of the season Canseco finished with 46 home runs, 107 RBI and a surprising 29 steals. His slash line was .237/.318/.518 with an OPS of .836, an OPS+ of 114 and a WAR of 1.2.
Canseco finished third in the AL in home runs that season behind Ken Griffey Jr. and Albert Belle. He was also first in strikeouts with 159. That’s a Blue Jays record for a single season, but if Kelly Johnson keeps it up it may be broken this season. At the time Canseco’s 46 home runs were also second most in a single season by a Blue Jay, one off of George Bell’s single season record of 47.
2. Frank Castillo – 2000
After missing the entire 1999 season due to injury Frank Castillo signed with the Blue Jays as a free agent on December, 2000. With a cheap $375,000 contract it’s likely safe to say the Jays weren’t expecting great things from Castillo that season. It’s also probably safe to say he surprised a lot of people with the season he turned in.
Castillo’s season actually started quite poorly. In his season debut he was roughed up by the Texas Rangers for five runs in only three innings. In the first two months of the season Castillo either didn’t have his best stuff or he didn’t have any luck at all. In one start he was tattooed for five runs in three innings while in another he allowed two unearned runs on one hit over seven strong only to take the loss in a 2-1 Blue Jays defeat.
On June 1 Castillo took the loss after the Blue Jays fell to the Minnesota Twins 5-1. The dropped his season record to 1-5 with a 4.82 ERA After the game Castillo wouldn’t post another loss all season.
In his next eight starts Castillo was 6-0 with a 3.25 ERA, while holding opposing batters to a .221 average. During that streak he pitched seven shutout innings in a win over the Red Sox and limited the Orioles to one run on four hits over 5 2-3 innings in another victory.
Castillo was rolling in August before an injury to his pitching arm sidelined him for a month. In his first two starts of the month Castillo has nearly identical pitching lines, limiting both Texas and Kansas City to one run on four hits over seven innings.
When Castillo finally returned in late September he made his debut out of the bullpen with a shutout inning against the White Sox. In first his start back he held the Devil Rays to one run on five hits over five innings. In his final start of the season, and his final start in a Blue Jays uniform, he was masterful against the Orioles. In a 4-0 Blue Jays win Castillo tossed six shutout innings, allowing only one hit while striking out six.
At season’s end Castillo was 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 25 appearances. That was the best ERA and best WHIP in the rotation and he tied for second in wins on the team despite his horrendous start and missing a month of the season. He also had a 3.8 WAR, second best on the staff behind only David Wells.
1. Dave Winfield – 1992
After getting very little production from the DH position in 1991 the Blue Jays upgraded by signing free agent Dave Winfield heading into the 1992 season. Even though he 40 years old Winfield was still a productive hitter.
Winfield started the season red-hot at the plate, batting .375 with a .424 OBP and a .970 OPS in the month of April. He hit four home runs, had 12 RBI and scored 12 runs in 23 games. He kept mashing in May and produced a memorable moment on May 7 against the Mariners.
In that game Seattle jumped out to 2-0 lead in the first inning and was up 6-0 after the third. The Jays got on the board with a single run in the top of the fifth, but the Mariners got it back in the bottom of the inning, taking a 7-1 lead. Toronto cut into the lead with two runs in the seventh and tacked on another run to start the ninth after a double by Greg Myers and a single by Manuel Lee. After a pair of walks loaded the bases Winfield stepped on up the plate with the Jays down 7-4. With Mike Schooler on the mound Winfield crushed a 2-2 pitch for a game-winning grand slam.
Winfield’s bat cooled a bit in July, but heated up again fast in August when he hit .303 with a .372 OBP and a .941 OPS, with seven home runs, 32 RBI and 18 runs scored. After a solid final month of the season Winfield finished ’92 with a slash line of .290/.377/.491 and a .867 OPS. He hit 26 home runs, had 108 RBI and scored 92 runs. He posted a 138 OPS+ and a 3.8 WAR.
In the postseason Winfield hit a pair of home runs against Oakland in the ALCS. He had three RBI in the series and scored seven runs while hitting .250 with a .357 OBP and a .899 OPS.
In the World Series Winfield didn’t make much of an impact through the first five games, going 4-14 with an RBI and zero runs scored. He made up for a light series in Game 6. The game went into extra innings tied at 2-2. In the Top of the 11th with Roberto Alomar on first and Devon White on second Winfield came to bat with two out. Facing Charlie Leibrandt Winfield ripped a double just inside third base down the left field line. Ron Gant misplayed the ball allowing both White and Alomar to score to give Toronto a 4-3 lead. The Braves got one back in the bottom of the inning before Otis Nixon’s bunt to Mike Timlin finished the game and the series for Toronto.
A few other notable Blue Jays that were one-and-done. Good and Bad.