The Mount Rushmore of the Toronto Blue Jays

Jose Bautista / Presswire

Time for 1977’s other expansion team to get the Rushmore treatment.

Let’s get started.

First of all, can you guess which batter has the most career WAR for the Blue Jays? I bet you get it wrong.

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Tony Fernandez 35.3 1983 2001
2 Carlos Delgado 33.8 1993 2004
3 Jesse Barfield 27.9 1981 1989
4 Vernon Wells 26.1 1999 2010
5 Lloyd Moseby 23.7 1980 1989
6 Devon White 21.2 1991 1995
7 Roberto Alomar 21.0 1991 1995
8 John Olerud 20.7 1989 1996
9 George Bell 19.1 1981 1990
10 Alex Rios 19.0 2004 2009
11 Fred McGriff 18.4 1986 1990
12 Ernie Whitt 17.9 1977 1989
13 Shannon Stewart 17.3 1995 2008
14 Jose Bautista 17.0 2008 2012
15 Aaron Hill 15.1 2005 2011
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/18/2012.

Delving into Fernandez’s components of WAR, he has nearly as many fielding runs (41) as batting runs (55) and gets a huge boost from his position (61).

One interesting entry here is Jose Bautista. He’s got the 1st and 7th-best WAR seasons in Blue Jays’ history but ranks only 14th above due to his short tenure with the team.

As for pitchers:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Dave Stieb 53.9 1979 1998
2 Roy Halladay 45.6 1998 2009
3 Jimmy Key 27.8 1984 1992
4 Pat Hentgen 24.7 1991 2004
5 Jim Clancy 22.6 1977 1988
6 Juan Guzman 19.5 1991 1998
7 Roger Clemens 19.4 1997 1998
8 Tom Henke 16.2 1985 1992
9 David Wells 13.7 1987 2000
10 Doyle Alexander 12.7 1983 1986
11 Ricky Romero 11.5 2009 2012
12 Mark Eichhorn 10.9 1982 1993
13 Paul Quantrill 10.5 1996 2001
14 Duane Ward 9.8 1986 1995
15 Kelvim Escobar 9.6 1997 2003
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/18/2012.

Man, oh man. Lots of good candidates here. Aside from Stieb and Halladay (the two top players overall in Blue Jays’ WAR), there’s Jimmy Key and Pat Hentgen, who was a post-season hero.

When we think about the 1992 and 1993 championship teams, a few more players surface who don’t appear on the lists above: David Cone, Pat Borders, Paul Molitor, Al Leiter, Rickey Henderson, and Dave Stewart all deserve mention.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention Joe Carter. Notice that he wasn’t good enough to even make the top 15 in WAR. I’ve set up this post with a special internet browser cookie. Should you vote for Joe Carter in the poll below, your computer will blow up. Enough said.


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Jimbo
Jimbo
9 years ago

I like the top 4 in WAR here (Fernandez, Delgado, Stieb, and Halladay), even though most of those players weren’t contributors to the WS rings.

I give Alomar 5th, and Carter 6th (lets see if my computer survives)

Olerud in 7th, and McGriff in 8th, so that would be my back side of the wall.

Long time Jays fan.

Jimbo
Jimbo
9 years ago

Also, I expected Shawn Green to have more WAR. He always seemed like a good outfielder with a tremendous arm. So I was surprised to see the stats show he was a poor fielder.

Doug
Doug
9 years ago

What, no Otto Velez or Roy Howell? Those two were tops in WAR (at 8.4 and 8.3) for the Jays over their first 6 (awful) years (1977-82). For the next 6 years (1983-88), the top two in WAR were Barfield (26.3) and Moseby (22.8). Quite a change. After those first 6 sub-.500 seasons, Toronto ran off 11 straight years over .500 culminating in their two WS titles. Howeverm, in the full seasons since then (1996 to now), they have been consistently mediocre, finishing between 74-88 and 88-74 every year, except their 67-94 disaster in 2004 (they also had a stinker… Read more »

Ed
Ed
9 years ago

Andy – Now you know people are going to vote for Carter just to see what happens!!!

Hartvig
Hartvig
9 years ago

I went with Stieb, Doc, Fernandez & Carter because… well, just because.

Truth is that except for the pitchers it wasn’t the guys at the very top of the WAR list I like watching play for the Jays the most. It was more fun to watch and hope that Barfield would have a chance to unleash his cannon. White making center field look easy. Olerud’s picture perfect swing.

I just hope George Bell doesn’t get any more votes. I’m still pissed at him for stealing the MVP away from Alan Trammell.

Jimbo
Jimbo
9 years ago
Reply to  Hartvig

Carter couldn’t be that bad, he finished 5th and 3rd in the MVP voting his first 2 years with the Jays. And drove in 100+ runs in 10 of 12 years at one point!

Timmy Pea
Timmy Pea
9 years ago
Reply to  Jimbo

Carter hate runs deep here.

Michael Sullivan
Michael Sullivan
9 years ago
Reply to  Andy

this is a joke, right? or am I missing something?

Voomo Zanzibar
9 years ago

Joe Carter once drove in 100 with a 2/2/3 slash line and a 77 ops+.

And he did it on THE worst offensive team in the league:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/TOR/1997.shtml

So, yeah, he gets grief from saberites with good reason, but his singular ability to drive in 100 without hitting well or having runners to drive in is kind of miraculous.

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago

Voomo, do not, I repeat, do not, open the Pandora’s Box that is Joe Carter in any sabermetrical web site!! πŸ™‚

I am warning you. πŸ™‚

bstar
bstar
9 years ago

@28, it wasn’t so much a great ability to drive in runs that year as it was many RBI opportunities for Carter in ’87 (which is surprising considering how weak the Jays offense was that year). Here’s a table from Baseball Prospectus that shows Carter had 102 runners on third in his at-bats for 1987, tied for second best in the majors. He also appears to be near the bottom of the top 10 in overall runners on base in his at-bats:

R3 = baserunners on third
ROB = total # of baserunners on

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1101314

bstar
bstar
9 years ago

OOPS, Carter, of course, played for the Indians in 1987 not Toronto.

Voomo Zanzibar
9 years ago

’97, bstar, not 87

bstar
bstar
9 years ago

aaaarrghhh…two screw-ups in one post. The Carter Curse has caught me….hope my computer doesn’t blow up.

Jimbo
Jimbo
9 years ago

Devo was so smooth out there in CF.

brp
brp
9 years ago
Reply to  Jimbo

Have to admit that Devo was one of the first players that came to mind, though I voted chalk for Stieb/Doc/Fernandez/Delgado. I also thought of George Bell and his breathtaking jheri curl.

Luis Gomez
Luis Gomez
9 years ago

IΒ΄m curious to know what are the Blue Jays fansΒ΄ feelings towards Kelly Gruber. He was one of my favorite players when I was a kid.

Hartvig
Hartvig
9 years ago
Reply to  Luis Gomez

I’m afraid Gruber isn’t a favorite of mine just because I spent money on him in my Rotisserie League one year and he tanked on me big time.

You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Kelly Gruber.

And yes I know it wasn’t his fault that his back gave out and no I’m not really still mad about it

At least not much.

Phil
9 years ago

Alomar, Fernandez, Delgado, and Henke–with apologies to Key, Ernie, Stieb, Barfield, McGriff, Olerud, Devo, Bell, Moseby, Doc, and, yes, Joe. I’d never vote for just-passing-through Clemens myself, but I’m not sure why you’d leave him off while listing Stewart.

bstar
bstar
9 years ago

I’m kinda waiting for Neil to vote-cos I know he’s gonna shake his finger at me if I don’t give old school love to Moseby and Fernandez, so I am patiently waiting, Mr. Neil.

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago
Reply to  bstar

bstar….. contemplating, still contemplating. Gotta clean up the kitchen for my wife getting home from work. πŸ™‚

Seriously ….. more later, bstar, I will weigh in on the Blue Jays.

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  Neil L.

I like your sense of priorities, Neil. πŸ™‚

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago
Reply to  bstar

OK, bstar, I’ll come down off the fence and pick my four statues. Lloyd Moseby, Tony Fernandez, Carlos Delgado and Dave Steib.

I can’t give the nod to Halladay because he left and I am preferring players who were around in the fomrative years of the franchise.

Tony Fernandez became the everyday shortstop in 1985, taking over for Alfredo Griffin and propelling the Jays to their first post-season appearance.

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  bstar

Ok, I will put Halladay in place of Moseby and go with the top 4 WAR guys: Stieb, Halladay, Fernandez, Delgado.

Michael Sullivan
Michael Sullivan
9 years ago

top 4 WAR guys are good picks. Glad to see Dave Stieb at the top of the list. The toronto franchise debuted while I lived in Burlington, Ontario. The Blue Jays are the only major league team I’ve ever seen in person, and I’ve always rooted for them a bit. Stieb was a monster in the early years. Even though I know it’s probably wrong, I voted for Jimmy Key, partly because I always associate him with Stieb. They were a spectacular one-two pitching punch on a lot of teams that didn’t have much offensive firepower. Delgado was a rough… Read more »

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago

Michael, please be a regular in High Heat Stats. The wider baseball community will be the better if you contribute your perspective here.

Phil Gaskill
Phil Gaskill
9 years ago

> The Blue Jays are the only major league team I’ve ever seen in person

So obviously you’ve never seen them in a game? (because there would have been another team present at the time) πŸ˜‰

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago
Reply to  Phil Gaskill

Phil, cut Michael some slack. Yes, he might have gone to an autograph session and stood on line.

But he clearly meant attending a game or at the very least watching them on the tube.

Phil Gaskill
Phil Gaskill
9 years ago
Reply to  Neil L.

What, you didn’t notice my smiley face? I was just joshin’.

Michael Sullivan
Michael Sullivan
9 years ago
Reply to  Phil Gaskill

In fact, I meant the only team I’ve gone to see. It was a game, but I don’t actually remember the other team or anything about it, as it was years ago, and before I actually liked baseball. I was just going along with friends. But I did end up following them. It was kind of odd, I was born in the US, but lived in Canada for the years when one normally gets introduced to sports. My parents were both huge basketball fans, so I played and watched that even though it wasn’t very popular there. There were baseball… Read more »

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago

“Sometimes I feel a bit like an impostor on this site…” Not at all, Michael. Thank you for being so transparent about your baseball rooting history. It was your reference to Burlington, Ontario that caught my attention initially. “Even now, I am not a fan of any team so much as a fan of the game. I live in the borderlands of Red Sox and Yankee nations, and I am a fan of both teams.” So you live in upstate Vermont or the Lake Champlain area of NY state? Just kidding …. don’t answer that question. πŸ™‚ “…and the posts… Read more »

Nash Bruce
Nash Bruce
9 years ago

I forget, but does someone know whatever happened to Juan Guzman’s career? Injuries? I remember him as being totally unhittable at times.

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago
Reply to  Nash Bruce

Nash, some control problems, but he had devastating movement on his pitches.

Actually, I forget why the Jays allowed him to walk.

Nash Bruce
Nash Bruce
9 years ago
Reply to  Neil L.

Gotcha, thanks!

aweb
aweb
9 years ago
Reply to  Nash Bruce

Guzman either pitched great and hurt himself, or pitched poorly and didn’t hurt himself (as much). I think the splitter/slider he threw was hard on the arm, but entirely necessary to his success. Happens to a lot of guys.

Guzman was one of the most unhittable beasts I ever watched in his first few years. I remember being relatively content about losing game 6 in 1993 because he was ready to start game 7.

Nash Bruce
Nash Bruce
9 years ago
Reply to  aweb

nice……but I’m wondering, which series are you speaking of? Did you mean games 5 and 6 of the 93 Series? Or some other series? Can’t think off the top of my head, any 7-game series that those Jays teams were a part of.
But yeah, Guzman as a rookie, it almost seemed like he could be the next Dwight Gooden or something.

Doug
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  aweb

I suspect aweb means he felt content even if the Jays had lost game 6, because Guzman was ready to pitch a 7th game, if necessary. Although, for both the ALCS and the WS that year, Guzman would have worked on two days rest had he started a game 7.

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago

Ha, Joe Carter gets an asterisk in Andy’s ballot for the Blue Jays mountain sculptures.

I love it.

Joe Carter has a chequered past, statistically!!

Phil
9 years ago

Guzman was maddening. So much stuff when he came up, yet he’d fiddle around on the mound incessantly, taking forever between pitches, and eventually he seemed lost out there. I think he’d pretty much worn out his welcome when they traded him to Baltimore in ’98 (for nothing), and he didn’t do anything from that point forward.

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago
Reply to  Phil

Phil, you are right about the time between pitches for Juan Guzman and its effect on the defense. I had forgotten that.

Fireworks
Fireworks
9 years ago

Stieb, Halladay, Fernandez, Carter. Had to vote for Carter.

Not proud of myself though.

Adam Darowski
9 years ago

My first thoughts were Dave Stieb and Tony Fernandez. I then added Roy Halladay and Carlos Delgado. Turns out, those are the top 4 by WAR. I can’t strike WAR from my brain.

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

Adam, I didn’t even look at WAR. I didn’t want to be an automaton. πŸ™‚

Ya gotta go with your gut sometimes.

Adam Darowski
9 years ago
Reply to  Neil L.

My gut is actually a robot.

Neil L.
Neil L.
9 years ago

Andy, I don’t think you can put rent-a-player qualifiers on the ballot! πŸ™‚

Jason Z
9 years ago

Stieb, Fernandez, Delgado and Halladay.

Joe Carter could sell hot dogs and beer at the monument entrace.

He could also sweep up at the end of the day.

If there is time he could hit a WS winning homer for the franchise.

DaveR
DaveR
9 years ago

I voted for Stieb, Delgado, Bell, and Alomar.
Joe Carter is giving information in the lobby about this monument.

Tmckelv
Tmckelv
9 years ago

Steib, Carter, Halliday then it gets difficult.

Delgado gets the nod over several others due to the long HR off the Hotel Windows.

Bautista will probably replace him as the slugger eventually.

With only 1 spot left, I couldn’t choose from Bell, Moseby, Barfield…
also, Alomar, McGriff, Olerud fall into the “stars on other teams” category so they just don’t feel right on Mount Blue Jay.
I have never been a huge Tony Fernandez guy, so it is unbelievable I would leave off the #1 WAR batter, but here it is.

Bob Loblaw
Bob Loblaw
9 years ago

To me, the ‘Jays are forever stuck in those mid to late 80s teams, in my mind at least. WAR and WS’s be danged! Therefore:

Stieb
Barfield (where’s the love for the best arm cannon ever?)
George Bell
McGriff