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Now that we are deep into the offseason and dreaming of the future, lets see how the Jays have done at various positions in the past and who has had the most amazing season by various measures.  Also do any of our new players have a shot at breaking these records?

There are a variety of ways to do this. Some do career value, but for this I'm going by the best individual seasons with at least 81 games at the position, plus 502 PA in Jays history (ie: nothing from 1981/1994 or via platoon guys) or 81 games, 400 PA for catchers. I don't care if the guy played here for 1 year (IE: Jose Canseco) or most of his career (IE: George Bell), if he did it over one season it counts. Now, some methods (like OPS+) are rate stats so to use those I'll make a minimum of 300 PA so strike years and guys who came up late or platooned could qualify, just for fun. To qualify for a position at least 50%+1 of his games played had to be at that position.

Catcher...19 qualified seasons (JPA was just shy in 2012)
OPS: Darrin Fletcher 2000 at 869, #2 is his 1999 season then Ernie Whitt in 1983 and John Buck 2010 covers all 800+ seasons
OPS+: Darrin Fletcher 2000 115
bWAR: Whitt 1983 3.2
fWAR: Whitt 1983 3.8 (6 times over 3)

Note: cutting to a 300 PA cut off adds a few more 800 OPS seasons - Myers 2003, Zaun 2006, Borders 1990 (blind squirrel).

OPS: Alan Ashby 1977 574, then Darrin Fletcher 2001 (yes, the year following his setting the record) 627.  Rick Cerone, Pat Borders (twice) and Rod Barajas all had sub-700 OPS seasons too
OPS+: Darrin Fletcher 2001 63,
bWAR: Borders 1993 -0.3 (Ashby was positive in 1977)
fWAR: No negatives, worst I could find was Fletcher 2001 0.5 (among qualifiers - there are negatives in short stays such as JPA's first callup).

Note: with 300 PA you can add in Rick Cerone 1978 579 OPS and a few Pat Borders seasons in the low 600's (1991/1994 with 92/93 also sub 700).  There are worse seasons by WAR (both versions) but with sub-400 PA

First base...29 qualifying seasons, 8 players
OPS: Carlos Delgado 2000 1.134 - other 1000 OPS seasons were Olerud 1993, Delgado 2003.  6 of top 7 are Delgado, next 3 are McGriff, Willie Upshaw at #12 is highest non-Delgado/Olerud/McGriff
OPS+: Olerud 1993 186, Delgado 2000 181
bWAR: Olerud 1993 7.4, Delgado 2000 6.9
fWAR: Olerud 1993 8.4 (in 98 he did that again...stupid stupid Ash creature), Delgado 2000 7.5, McGriff '88 7.2

OPS: Willie Upshaw 1986 707, with Upshaw 87, Lind 2011, and John Mayberry 1978 sub 750 as well.
OPS+: Upshaw 87 in 87
bWAR: Mayberry 78 -0.8, Lind 2011 -0.2, Upshaw always positive as a regular.
fWAR: Mayberry 78 0.3, Lind 2011 0.5.  Upshaw's worst was 1987 1.7

Second base...19 seasons, 8 players (4 one year guys)
OPS: Roberto Alomar 1993 898, also over 800: Tony Fernandez '98, Aaron Hill '09, Alomar '92.
OPS+: Alomar '93 141
bWAR: Alomar '92 6.4
fWAR: Alomar '92 6.6

OPS: Dave McKay 1978 614, with Hill 2010, Damaso Garcia 3 times sub 700.
OPS+: McKay '78 73
bWAR: McKay '78 -0.3 (Hill was -1.0 when traded in 2011 with 429 PA at the time, +1.5 post trade, Garcia also -1.0 in '86 in 446 PA then was traded).
fWAR: McKay '78 -0.1 (Bush in 2000 in 325 PA was at -1.5, yet stayed here for another season and a half)

Third Base... 18 seasons, 9 players, 5 of which are single season players
OPS: Tony Fernandez 1999 877, also Troy Glaus 2006, Eric Hinske 2002, Kelly Gruber 1990, Tony Batista 2000, and Ed Sprague 1996 were over 800.
OPS+: Gruber '90 127, Fernandez '99 125
bWAR: Gruber '88 4.9, '89 4.7 (over 4 all 3 years he qualifies), Lawrie 2012 4.1
fWAR: Gruber '88 5.8 (over 4 all 3 years he qualifies)

OPS: Eric Hinske 2004 688, with Ed Sprague '97/93 and Roy Howell 1978 below 700.
OPS+: Hinske '04 76, Sprague '97 80, Howell '79 92 (Gruber had a 72 in '92 but only 481 PA, Sprague '94 also 72 but strike kept him in the 400's)
bWAR: Hinske '04 -0.9, Sprague ''97 0.1 (-0.8 in '94, Gruber -0.2 in '92)
fWAR: Howell '78 -0.1, Sprague '97 0.0

Trivia: Only 1 guy (with 500+ PA) at 3B has stolen 20+ bases in a season, who was it?  Also the lowest HR total for a qualifier was Fernandez '99 even though he set the bar for OPS at the position.

Shortstop...19 seasons, 6 players, just one played a single qualifying season - who is it?
OPS: Tony Fernandez 1987 803, Scutaro '09, Escobar '11, and Fernandez '86 all were 750+ with the next 3 highest also Fernandez years.
OPS+: Fernandez '87 112,
bWAR: Fernadez 86 & 87 4.8
fWAR: Fernandez '90 5.2, with 86/87/88 also 5+

OPS: Alfredo Griffin 1982 577, with 2 more Griffin years and A-Gon the 1st '98 also sub 650.
OPS+: Griffin '82 54 (over 400 PA with OPS+ of 48 and 49, 102 PA his last year '93 with a 28 OPS+)
bWAR: Griffin '82 -0.4, Griffin '83 -0.3, Griffin '80 -0.2 plus his 400+ PA years had -1.7 (1984) and -2.2 (1981) values
fWAR: Griffin '82 -0.2 (his 81 and 84 efforts were -1.5 but too few PA), Alex Gonzalez 2001 -0.2

Trivia: 17 HR is the record among qualifiers but Tony Batista had 26 in '99 over just 409 PA.  32 is the stolen base record (Fernandez), 100 runs scored happened just once with Scutaro while RBI's is held by Batista in '99 (79) with top qualifying PA guy being Gonzo in '01 with 74.  A few of these records could fall with Reyes this year (SB, Runs, OPS).  1984 was the year Griffin was an accidental All-Star (someone was sick at the last minute so they put Griffin in since he was the only ML SS who was there who wasn't part of the game already).

Left Field... 14 seasons, 4 players - many in the high 400's for PA but shy of 502.
OPS: George Bell 1987 957, Bell 86 and Stewart 2000 also over 850
OPS+: Bell '87 146
bWAR: Stewart 2000 4.8, Bell '87 4.6, Carter '91 4.5
fWAR: Bell '87 5.5, Carter '91 5.1, Stewart 2000 5.0

OPS: George Bell 1990 724, Carter 95 728, Bell 88 was 751
OPS+: Carter '95 88, Bell '90 96
bWAR: Carter '96 -0.8, Carter '95 -0.5
fWAR: Carter '96 -0.3, Carter '95 -0.2

Note: Guys like Davis last year (86 OPS+, 687 OPS) did worse, but didn't get 500+ PA.  Surprisingly there is just one 'one season' guy in Candy Maldonado with Carter in 2 seasons with 5/6 years for Stewart/Bell.  Stewart's OPS+ as a Jay ranged from 100 to 118 - very consistent (3 years of 200 or fewer PA with much worse OPS+ though).
Trivia: Only one LF got 200+ hits.  The record for SB in a qualified season is 51 but in non-qualified is 60 (in the 400's for PA) - who are these guys?

Center Field...25 seasons, 7 players, Moseby & White have 8 each, 2 guys are single season
OPS: Vernon Wells 2003 909, Wells '06 899, Lloyd Moseby 1983 873, Jose Cruz 2001 856
OPS+: Moseby '83 134, Wells '03 132
bWAR: Moseby '84 7.0, White '91 6.1, White '92 6.0, White '93 6.0, Wells 2006 6.0
fWAR: Moseby '84 7.5, White '91 6.9, White '92 6.4

OPS: Rick Bosetti 1978 643, Bosetti '79 645, Moseby '89 651, Mookie Wilson '90 653
OPS+: Bosetti '79 74, Moseby '82 75, Mookie '90 79, Bosetti '78 81
bWAR: Bosetti '79 0.2 (-0.8 in 1980 in just 207 PA), Moseby had a -0.8 in '80 but just 430 PA
fWAR: Wells '09 0..2

Right Field...  18 seasons, 9 players (4 single season guys)
OPS: Jose Bautista 2011 1.056, Bautista '10 .995, Green '99 .972, Barfield also cracked 900 twice.
OPS+: Bautista 2011 182, Bautista '10 164, Barfield '86 146, Green '99 144
bWAR: Bautista '11 7.7, Barfield '86 7.3, Bautista '10 6.6, Barfield '85 6.6, Green '99 6.1
fWAR: Bautista '11 8.3, Barfield '86 7.9, Barfield '85 7.5, Bautista '10 6.8, Green '99 6.0

OPS: Bob Bailor '78 644, Alexis Rios 2005 703, Jesse Barfield 1988 725
OPS+: Bailor '78 82, Rios '05 84
bWAR: Rios '05 0.9
fWAR: Rios '05 1.0, Bailor '78 1.0

Trivia: 3 different guys stole 30 bases once each while playing RF, while 3 guys hit 40+ HR (Bautista twice of course). Bob Bailor is the only one to have under 10 HR though, hitting just one in '78.  Only 6 of the 18 seasons had a sac bunt, 3 with more than 1, Bailor the record holder with 9 in '78.
For WAR this is clearly the WOW position with Bautista & Barfield, comparable to 1B with Delgado/Olerud/McGriff.

DH... 11 seasons, 7 players
OPS: Encarnacion '12 941, Lind '09 932, Paul Molitor '94 927, Molitor '93 911, Brad Fullmer '00 .898
OPS+: Encarnacion '12 152, Molitor '93 143, Lind '09 141, Winfield '92 138
bWAR: Molitor '93 5.8
fWAR: Molitor '93 5.2

OPS: Adam Lind '10 712, Rico Carty '79 713, Molitor '95 771, Fullmer '01 771
OPS+: Lind '10 90, Rico Carty '79 92
bWAR: Lind '10 -1.3, Carty '79 -0.5
fWAR: Lind '10 -0.8, Carty '79 -0.1 (his final season)

Note: funny to have the same guy in consecutive seasons set the high and low for OPS at the same position (high broken this year).  Only once did a DH score 100+ runs, have 180+ hits, or steal more than 20 bases - all done in the same season too - bet most can guess who.

So in summary the best we've seen...
PositionOPSOPS+bWARfWAR2013 with best OPS/OPS+
CA 869: Darrin Fletcher '00 115: Darrin Fletcher '00 3.2: Ernie Whitt '83 3.8: Ernie Whitt '83 J.P. Arencibia 720/91
1B 1.134: Carlos Delgado '00 186: John Olerud '93 7.4: John Olerud '93 8.4: John Olerud '93 Edwin Encarnación 941/152
2B 898: Roberto Alomar '93 141: Roberto Alomar '93 6.4: Roberto Alomar '92 6.6: Roberto Alomar '92 Maicer Izturis 794/109 (sub 500 PA)
3B 877: Tony Fernandez '99 127: Kelly Gruber '90 4.9: Kelly Gruber '88 5.8: Kelly Gruber '88 Brett Lawrie 729/97
SS 803: Tony Fernandez '87 112: Tony Fernandez '87 4.8: Tony Fernandez '86/87 5.2: Tony Fernandez '90 José Reyes 877/144
LF 957: George Bell '87 146: George Bell '87 4.8: Shannon Stewart '00 5.5: George Bell '87 Melky Cabrera 906/158
CF 909: Vernon Wells '03 134: Lloyd Moseby '83 7.0: Lloyd Moseby '84 7.5: Lloyd Moseby '84 Colby Rasmus 859/132
RF 1.056: Jose Bautista '11 182: Jose Bautista '11 7.7: Jose Bautista '11 8.3: Jose Bautista '11 Jose Bautista 1.056/182
DH 941: Edwin Encarnación '12 152: Edwin Encarnación '12 5.8: Paul Molitor '93 5.2: Paul Molitor '93 Adam Lind 932/141

And the worst...
PositionOPSOPS+bWARfWAR2013 with worst OPS/OPS+
CA 574: Alan Ashby '77 63: Darrin Fletcher '01 -0.3: Pat Borders '93 1.0: Darrin Fletcher '01 J.P. Arencibia 720/91
1B 707: Willie Upshaw '86 87: Willie Upshaw '87 -0.8: John Mayberry '78 0.3: John Mayberry '78 Edwin Encarnación 794/202
2B 614: Dave McKay '78 73: Dave McKay '78 -0.3: Dave McKay '78 -0.1: Dave McKay '78 Maicer Izturis 634/82 (300+ PA)
3B 688: Eric Hinske '04 76: Eric Hinske '04 -0.9: Eric Hinske '04 -0.1: Roy Howell '78 Brett Lawrie 729/97
SS 577: Alfredo Griffin '82 54: Alfredo Griffin '82 -0.4: Alfredo Griffin '82 -0.2: Alfredo Griffin '82 José Reyes 687/81
LF 724: George Bell '90 88: Joe Carter '95 -0.8: Joe Carter '96 -0.3: Joe Carter '96 Melky Cabrera 671/83
CF 643: Rick Bosetti '78 74: Rick Bosetti '79 0.2: Rick Bosetti '79 0.2: Vernon Wells '09 Colby Rasmus 689/85
RF 644: Bob Bailor '78 82: Bob Bailor '78 0.9: Alexis Rios '05 1.0: Rios '05 and Bailor '78 Jose Bautista 753/96
DH 712: Adam Lind '10 90: Adam Lind '10 -1.3: Adam Lind '10 -0.8: Adam Lind '10 Adam Lind 712/90

So we have the best ever DH (now at 1B) & RF on the team, but also the worst DH. Our new SS has hit better than anyone here ever has, but our new LF has had a worse season than any full-time Jay ever has at that position. Should be an interesting year.
Top Seasons In Jays History | 40 comments | Create New Account
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bpoz - Friday, December 28 2012 @ 01:23 PM EST (#267539) #
So 92 & 93 were good years. The average players like Boarders & Manny Lee were covered by a large enough quantity of good offensive players. I call this a strong line up.
Then there is a line up that is made strong by a super 1,2 punch. Manny & Ortiz.

One man shows like G Brett or Ricky Henderson.

The guy hitting before G Brett must have been pitched easy I guess.
Mike Green - Friday, December 28 2012 @ 02:20 PM EST (#267540) #
Notice how comparable Barfield 85-86 and Bautista 10-11 are in total whether one uses BBRef or Fangraphs.  Baserunner kills!
greenfrog - Friday, December 28 2012 @ 02:27 PM EST (#267541) #
So, the two best ever WAR seasons by Jays position players were Olerud '93 and Bautista '11. Two dream seasons, achieved in very different ways (one with a very high BA, plenty of walks, and ton of doubles; the other with a solid BA, an even higher walk rate and lots of long balls).
AWeb - Friday, December 28 2012 @ 09:54 PM EST (#267545) #
So this year, who has a realistic shot at any of the "best of", looking at bWAR for simplicity?

Catcher - Arencibia - possible, but only with a career hitting year. Needs to add 2 WAR to last year, which would mean a .330/.480 type line, I would think. Hey, if Pat Borders could do it...
First base - Encarnacion would have to follow Bautista's career year path, by following a career year with an even better, almost unbelievable year. I'd be thrilled with a rough duplicate of last year.
Second Base - Izturis career high of 3.4 bWAR. Not gonna' happen. Just average (~1.5-2WAR) would be nice.
Third Base - best shot, I would think. It would be disappointing if Lawrie never holds the top spot on these lists.
Shortstop - stunning Fernandez never had a borderline MVP year, to me. But Reyes has been close to Fernandez's peak 4 times in his career, decent shot at it if healthy.
LF - Who knows about Cabrera...if he maintains his 2011/12 levels, he's got an outside shot.
CF - No chance for Rasmus, barring a Bautista/Encarnacion type breakout. Just reproducing his 2010 results would be nice.
RF - If healthy, who knows?
DH - HA! with platooning and pinch-hitting, maybe they can squeeze out a decent year here.
Easy to see why this team excites so many of us. Performance levels near franchise best is possible at C, SS, 3B, LF. This should be a good team, if health is reasonable. It's a fragile team though...

joeblow - Saturday, December 29 2012 @ 10:44 AM EST (#267547) #
It's comforting to see how well the best seasons of Barfield and Moseby stack up using modern stats. At the time all I knew was BA, SB, R, HR, RBI plus whatever Tony Kubek was rambling on about on tv.
John Northey - Saturday, December 29 2012 @ 03:20 PM EST (#267548) #
Back in the mid-80's I was a big Barfield fan even though my dad always got on how he struck out too much (he hated strikeouts.  I was very surprised that Barfield's best 2 years though came in with the big 2 of Bautista though - that fWAR has both '85 and '86 ahead of Bautista's first big year and '86 in eyeshot of 2011. 

For those too young to remember (or were not born yet) Barfield had a cannon that might have been the best arm ever in RF, viewed by many as better than Roberto Clemente's.  During games you'd hope for a runner on third with less than 2 out for the opposition just to see it in action.  He reached 8 double plays in both 85 and 86 and I think most if not all of them were fly out/toss out at the plate.  Runners knew of his arm and would be careful yet still got thrown out often.  Just an amazing sight.  Mix in how good Tony Fernandez was at shortstop then and you can see how the '85 team won 99 games.  Lots of fun to watch.  I've yet to understand what the Gold Glove voters were thinking not giving him one every year.

It is surprising how fast Barfield's career ended.  But back then walks were not valued (he took a lot) and defense was undervalued.  I'm sure nowadays he'd have been able to keep playing past 32, and that his slow start that year wouldn't have ended his career.
Dewey - Saturday, December 29 2012 @ 05:54 PM EST (#267549) #
I used to have seats on the first-base side at the Ex.   A runner on third and less than two outs always caused a buzz.  Fans were excited about what might be about to transpire, hoping for a fly ball to right.  If it came we'd sit up on our seats, and the crowd on the third base side would let you know that the runner was going--or you could sometimes catch a glimpse of him in your peripheral vision.  Then Barfield would come in on the ball, take it and in one motion rifle it home on a line.  A thing of beauty.  The runner was almost always D.O.A.  And the crowd would erupt,  and continue buzzing for a good while afterwards.  One of the best experiences to be had at Exhibition Stadium.

There must be some good video somewhere of Jesse nailing a runner at home.  Certainly if you witnessed it once at the ballpark, you didn’t forget it.
John Northey - Saturday, December 29 2012 @ 06:55 PM EST (#267550) #
No luck finding video yet, but I'll keep looking. In the meantime Magpie had a nice article a few years ago - BaseRunner Kills - which helps one understand just how good Barfield was.  #2 all time (since 1920) for throwing out runners on the bases per 1000 innings played, just behind Chuck Klein who had the Baker Bowl as an advantage (270 down the line with a wall that was bigger than the Green Monster).
perlhack - Sunday, December 30 2012 @ 09:34 AM EST (#267554) #
John, the link to the article was messed up. The article is BaseRunner Kills by Magpie, from 10 September 2008.
Dewey - Sunday, December 30 2012 @ 01:28 PM EST (#267555) #
Thanks John (and perlhack) for the link to Magpie’s fine piece.  I don’t remember reading it before, and I’m a devoted Magpie-reader.  (One of the “compensations” of aging is that you can re-read with pleasure something that you might well have read before, but which has now slipped your memory.  Kind of nice:  you get to enjoy something all over again.   Don’t think that works as well with films though.)
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, January 01 2013 @ 03:47 PM EST (#267578) #
How much of what Toronto did in 1992 and 1993 had a bearing on what happened in 1994?   The '92 and '93 wins made Toronto a viable market for players, which made the Union happy.
John Northey - Tuesday, January 01 2013 @ 10:17 PM EST (#267590) #
Not sure I understand what you are saying Richard.  Are you suggesting the Jays success in 92/93 helped lead to the strike?  Hard to say exactly what led to that 94 killer strike, but the Jays succeeding with the highest payroll (around $50 mil) I doubt was a major factor.  The money the Jays were pulling in helped players for certain but it also showed owners what was possible - the Jays selling out every game was a very odd sight.

For example, regular sellouts now include teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs but back in 1989 (when SkyDome opened)...
Red Sox: just shy of 31k per game, their 3rd year in the 30-31k range, now hits 37k (more seats, but not that many more I think)
Cubs: 30k a game, hit 40k in 2007 (more seats, but not that many more)
Yankees: just shy of 27k a game, peak was just shy of 33k the year before. Best was hitting 53k in 2008

After the SkyDome opened we saw full new parks in Baltimore and Cleveland where the team became good just as the new park opened.  Teams learned that if you have a good team and a new park it was possible to do (near) sellouts for 81 games.  More recently Pittsburgh and others learned that a new park and a crappy team = 1/2 filled park - you get a bump but not as much. 

Richard S.S. - Wednesday, January 02 2013 @ 09:32 AM EST (#267593) #
Thanks John.   I just put that up there because I never understood the 1994 strike.   Using the "grassy knoll" theory of occurrences, it was suspicious, after '92 and '93, especially with the Expos playoff-bound.  
John Northey - Wednesday, January 02 2013 @ 10:14 AM EST (#267596) #
The 1994 strike was a mess.  Both sides underestimated the other I think.  The owners thought they could break the union ala the NFL but it flopped big time.  In 1995 they started spring with replacement players and that went nowhere fast.  In 1994 they pushed for a salary cap and other stuff that the players union would never agree to (I think drug testing was there but as an easy to dump item).  IIRC the players offered full free agency after 3 years to remove arbitration (a headache for owners) and make the system simpler but the owners wouldn't go for it.  The Yankees offered to do a charity World Series against the Expos (one game or a full series) but agreements couldn't be made sadly enough.

1994 was a test for the union and owners, and in the end the owners blinked but not until a World Series was lost. 

Richard S.S. - Wednesday, January 02 2013 @ 03:20 PM EST (#267608) #

Without the stupid strike, it's possible Montreal makes the Post-Season.  Toronto started poorly to say the least, but to my recollection they had been playing better and had been gaining ground.   My question is, as the Toronto G.M. and without the strike, what do you do to make the team good enough?

I would go after a Starter, Closer and an Outfielder.

John Northey - Wednesday, January 02 2013 @ 04:05 PM EST (#267610) #
Good call on the '94 Jays - forgot they got hot in July (630) and were 500 in August (6-6) when the strike hit.  Their May/June was a disaster (18-34) after a good April (14-10). 

What was killing that team?  By decending sOPS+ (OPS+ vs league average for that position factoring in park)
LF: 71 - Huff & Delgado both played well there, with sOPS+ over 100, but Darnell Coles had 83 horrid PA (13 sOPS+) as did Rob Butler (-2 over 39 PA) and Shawn Green (-33 over 31 PA).  The solution was there but in the process of finding Huff the other guys killed the team.  Huff had an OPS over 1000 from July 31st to the end playing everyday after recovering from an injury.

3B: 79 - Ed Sprague was that bad, but wasn't about to be replaced sadly enough until 2008.

CA: 79 - Pat Borders was terrible with the bat (sOPS+ of 70) while Knorr was good at 102 but didn't keep it up later on. 

SS: 81 - Dick Schofield after Tony Fernandez' agent did a bonehead move and told him not to sign for $1.5 mil so he got $500k instead to play 3B in Cincinnati.  Sigh.

LF was solvable and pretty much solved.  CA and 3B the team wasn't going to touch.  SS though could've been improved by simply calling Cincinnati and getting Fernandez back.  Sigh.

bpoz - Wednesday, January 02 2013 @ 07:00 PM EST (#267615) #
Richard & John, If you are playing GM for a back to back WS winner, well that sure is worth a lot of discussion.

Personally I would not have the guts to trade off the team and rebuild. But I can see that as a great strategy to maximize trade value. I think the Florida Marlins have the patent on that.

You do not have dynasties like the Reds of the 70s, which was before my time & the birth of the Jays. Same with some NYY or B Dodger teams.

So 1994 maybe was the year to rebuild a WS winner, I don't know. If so then I will grumble if AA rebuilds the 2013 Jays if they win the WS. At this moment I cannot see a WS favorite except Detroit because their division IMO is easy. So their path to the WS should be the easiest.

Richard S.S. - Wednesday, January 02 2013 @ 08:14 PM EST (#267617) #

I fully expected the Blue Jays to 3-peat in 1994, I had no doubts about it.   Here are just two of the bad decisions made by the 1992 -1994 Teams, affecting the '94 Team:

1) Not keeping David Cone.   Besides having a continuing career into his mid-late 30's, he was a very good and very effective pitcher in 1993 and 1994, besides the 1995 he was here.

2) Dwayne Ward had the type of surgery after '93 that is hard to return from.   And all they could do was Darren Hall - saves 17 while league leaders were saving 30 or more.

I was disappointed with the '94 Team before '94, too many questionable choices were made.   Everyone thought the '94 Jays were out of it by the time the Strike hit, and remember it that way.   While I remembered they were getting back into it.   In very early August, I remember discussion on TV about an all-Canadian World Series, which is why I was sure the Strike started then.

John and I remember that time well, just a little bit differently - I still think the pitching needed more help, but I remember the hitting problem John mentioned, just not as well.  I enjoys dissecting "theories" and will enjoy dissecting the current Team just as much. 

John Northey - Wednesday, January 02 2013 @ 09:06 PM EST (#267618) #
I was looking back at the team as my memories were more of the Expos that year - I've been a big Jays fan for a long time (first game was in '78 where the Yankees slaughtered them 11-3 iirc) but in 1994 the Expos were the magic and the Jays seemed to be falling apart.  Losing Fernandez for no reason in the winter, Ward getting hurt, Stewart getting old, Guzman ineffective.  

Looking at the rotation, they used just 7 starting pitchers that season, one for 1 start (Paul Spoljaric), one for 4 starts (Brad Cornett) and the big 5 - Pat Hentgen (19 game winner as a near rookie the previous year), Juan Guzman (best winning % in '93) , Dave Stewart (playoff warrior but just a league average pitcher the year before), Todd Stottlemyre (great pedigree, but in final Toronto season), and Al Leiter (injury prone, having 1st of 2 healthy seasons as a Jay).  In truth I don't see the Jays dumping any of those starters mid-season in 1994 as the worst of them by ERA+ (sub 90) were Stewart (playoff vet) and Guzman (just 27 and viewed as a near ace on an off year). 

A solid closer would've been nice.  Hall, Castillo, and Woody Williams had good ERA+'s but all were walking 3.7 per 9 or more.  Mike Timlin also was wild with an ERA over 5, and the other 2 with over 20 IP had ERA's in the 5.8+ area with over 5 BB/9.  Danny Cox had a good ERA but 3.4 BB/9 and Dave Righetti was almost on his last legs (1 more season in him) with 6.8 BB/9 (ugh). 

Remember, 1994 was the year Gillick was handing the team over to Gord Ash (ugh) thus Ash was being given more and more responsibility as the year wore on.  Looking at the transactions you sure can tell.  From the end of 1993 to the end of the regular season in 1994 here are the transactions other than 'granted free agency', 'lost in Rule 5 draft' (2 guys), amateur draft and free agents...
Do you see much of value there?  Huff was a nice pickup, but everyone else was a discard from other teams or nothing special.  Pre-1993 you saw Paul Molitor, Dave Stewart, Dick Schofield, all brought in and they released David Wells (an extremely dumb move as he'd have an ERA+ over 100 13 of the next 14 years, the one missing he had a 97, over 100 IP for the next 13 seasons) and traded Derek Bell to the San Diego Padres for Darrin Jackson.  During the year they flipped Jackson for Tony Fernandez and Steve Karsay to Oakland for Rickey Henderson.  Now that was a busy winter (not to mention letting Jimmy Key, Tom Henke, Dave Stieb, Mark Eichhorn, Rance Mulliniks, Alfredo Griffin,David Cone, Candy Maldonado, David Winfield, and Manny Lee leave via free agency).

I suspect Ash had a lot to do with that '94 team given his many poor moves later, or at least helped in the paralysis of the team.  1994 was a 'cruise control' year, just floating along trying to keep it together.  The next year the David Cone deals were really the only ones of note as was holding onto Paul Molitor, Roberto Alomar, Devon White, Al Leiter and others who would leave after the season as free agents back when draft picks were not valued like they are  today - the only picks the Jays got were via Alomar and White, none of the 4 would be of any real consequence (negative WAR for 3, 4th never made it).  To not trade Molitor and Leiter was just dumb as both had value - I suspect Ash didn't even offer arbitration.  It appears, in retrospect, that the Jays were told to cut the budget (Labatts was sold to Interbrew around this time) but still, better to trade those names for prospects ala the Marlins than to lose them for nothing.  Alomar it was said Ash played hardball with pre-1995 thinking salaries would go down after the big strike.  Sigh.

If you ever wonder how to take a great team and let them fall, there is how.  Just sit on what you have and wait for players to leave as free agents.
Richard S.S. - Wednesday, January 02 2013 @ 11:26 PM EST (#267619) #

Little did Gillick and others know how poor a G.M. Gord Ash would be.   Another quality G.M. wouldn't return to this Team until A.A.   Solid ownership came early, saving the Team from being lost to another city, but spending much less than 50% value for the Team.   They were trying to build the brand, some gamemanship, and unify their holdings at best possible price.   One piece was acquiring the "Skydome" for pennies on the dollar.  Everything came together, late in 2012.   Only one slight problem.

The time for another top G.M., another top Ownership and more top Dollars weren't supposed to be 20 bloody years apart.

John Northey - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 12:28 AM EST (#267620) #
Well, better than the KC Royals - 1989 was their last good year (92 wins, 2nd in AL West) and 1985 was their last playoff appearance.  That was their 7th appearance in the playoffs (pre-wild card so only 2 AL teams)  over a 10 year period.  Over the 11 years ending in 1985 they were 1st or 2nd in 10 of those years while making the playoffs the year they were 4th (1981 when they split the season into 2 - they won the 2nd half but had a sub-500 record overall, the only MLB playoff team to be sub-500).  Just one 500+ season since the end of the 1994 strike.

Or if you prefer the Pittsburgh Pirates - 3 years in a row in the playoffs in 90-91-92 then sub 500 ever since with last years 79 wins the high point (also reached in 1997).

Those 2 really make the Jays look successful.  Of course, every other team in MLB has been in the playoffs since 1993 so that is a very, very low bar. 

Others with long records of frustration that are still going...
Seattle: 2001 last playoff appearance, have never made it to the World Series, 3 years sub 500 in a row
Miami: 2003 last playoff appearance, won WS both times in playoffs, over 500 just 6 times in franchise history with 2009 the last.
Cubs: in playoffs regularly but last WS was 1945 and last win was 1908 with Three-Finger Brown their ace pitcher and DP combo of Tinkers to Evers to Chance.

So just 4 teams with 10+ years of no playoff appearances, with a 5th likely to join in 2013.  I list the Cubs just due to that loooong stretch without a WS appearance or win - much worse than the Red Sox streak.

FYI: that 1908 team is interesting, no starters had more than 35 starts, clearly going with a 5 man rotation.  Difference is their ace, Brown, also had 13 relief appearances with 5 saves and gave up just 1 home run over 312 innings while making $3,500 (about $86k in 2011 dollars).
John Northey - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 11:57 AM EST (#267622) #
Just fooling around on Baseball Reference when I saw that they are now tracking pitch calling by catchers as part of their stats for WAR.  Given the debates we were having about JPA it is interesting to see the big selection of stats they have and see what it might mean.

  • All are runs saved/cost (negative = cost the team runs)
  • Rctch = via it measures baserunner advances and kills by the catcher
  • Rdp = double plays made/failed to make
  • Rbnt = value of how he handled bunts
  • RerC = pitch calling (I'm guessing framing is here - they say they include it somewhere)
  • RsbC = via Baseball Info Solutions it measures baserunner advances and kills by the catcher (alternate to Rctch)
So how did JPA do? 
Rctch - 2011: -8, 2012: +4 : big time improvement
Rdp: 2011 0, 2012 na
Rbnt: 2011 1, 2012 0 : just 11 bunts attempted against him in 2011 (9 resulted in outs) and 4 in 2012 (all resulted in outs).
RerC: 2011 1, 2012 1 : pitch calling didn't hurt him, but just 1 run saved so it isn't a big strength either
RsbC: 2011 -5, 2012 -3 : an improvement but not as much as Rctch says.

So all areas show improvement or stability, with bunts going down in runs saved mainly due to how few were attempted.  His defense overall was rated at -8 runs in 2011, +4 in 2012 from the one source, shifting from -5 to +3 via the other source B-R uses.  Both see improvement equal to around a win a year based on JPA's defense.

Whats odd is the methods listed show Jose Molina as just a +1 for runs in pitch calling in 2011 and -1 in 2012, a +3 in 2010 here and peaking at +5 in 2008.  Quite different from what Baseball Prosepectus was saying (worth up to 3 wins a season iirc vs no more than 1/2 a win here).  I wonder if pitch calling is not factoring in framing but what pitches they actually call (no idea how you'd measure that).  If someone else can find pitch framing let me know as B-R says they have it in there.

greenfrog - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 12:16 PM EST (#267623) #
Ricciardi left a lot to be desired as a GM, but at least he left the Jays some productive or tradeable talent in Bautista, EE, Halladay, Marcum, Hill, Janssen, League. I have been a big fan of AA from the start, but having some pieces left over from the JPR era certainly helped him kickstart the rebuild. In hindsight, it was probably a good thing that Ricciardi was unable to trade Doc, leaving the job to AA to salvage.
bpoz - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 12:59 PM EST (#267624) #
Thanks Richard & John. On Gillick's watch Key, Henke etc... left via FA. Let us just say that was because the team was going to be sold & a high payroll was bad for this transaction. Gillick & Beeston jumped ship too. Ash further cut payroll. Even some of his draft picks were talked about in terms of affordability.

It sure seemed to me that that the 92 rotation was great & that the 93 WAMCO + T Fernandez & Rickey Henderson was incredible. I see that as the key factors in our success those 2 years.

We loaded up with Winfield, Morris & Cone in 92.Great strategy. We lost a lot of players from 92 but got lucky for 93. Molitor replacing Winfield would not have happened if Winfield had not played hardball. Stewart was a smart move, but he would not have come to a non contender. Getting Fernandez was lucky, his love for Toronto rejuvenated him. He was available IMO because he was not a key part of his previous team. Kelly Gruber left but was on his last legs (injury)but Ed Sprague stepped in.
D Bell & S Karsay were good prospecd that turned out to be decent ML players IMO, so we gave up quality to get great players who were made available for some reason. They were deemed expendable probably because of looming FA.

Sorry for the long story but I am enjoying the reliving.

I have some conclusions. 3 possibilities.

1) The 92 team needed to go over the top for a championship.
2) Staying on top is tricky. Your good players will eventually get old & expensive.
3) An obviously weak team like the 77-79 Jays have to build everything. ML team + farm. But the Jays 2004, 09 & 12 were weak IMO because they lost a lot of games due to injuries.

Injuries & non performance will kill you.

Richardi knew that he was gone before the 2009 season started IMO. Only 2009 success would have saved his job or maybe not. So I do not know who was running the team in 2009.

AA did a complete rebuild, Farm + ML team from 2010-12. How the decision was made to go for it in 2013 is not quite clear to me. The farm has been greatly depleted but the ML team is much more talented & expensive. Enough of the experts (non fan) are rating them highly.

John Northey - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 01:25 PM EST (#267625) #
I suspect 2013 became the year to go for it due to a variety of reasons. 
1) Red Sox had a very weak 2012 and clearly are rebuilding
2) Tampa lost 2 key players from 2012
3) Yankees looking weaker with A-Rod out for 1/2 the year and budget limits for the first time in a long time
4) Baltimore unlikely to repeat
5) Florida willing to trade star quality players (2 starters and a shortstop) as well as a solid role player at a price AA (and Rogers) was willing to pay
6) Melky Cabrera available at a bargain price

I think it took the first 5 to convince AA to go for it with the 6th a valuable addition.  Everyone else in the division is likely to have a weak 2013.  Florida was an opportunity that few expected.  Before that the Jays had 9 waiver claims made, one free agent (Izturis) to fill an obvious hole cheaply, traded a couple of guys for a decent reliever/spot starter (Esmil Rogers) and signed a few AAA free agents.   The Mets trade a month later for Dickey was again an opportunity that he couldn't resist.
bpoz - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 01:27 PM EST (#267626) #
I suppose that Richardi came in because ASh could not take us over the top. The only good FA that signed in the Ash era was R Clemens.

I think Richardi got to spend more money than Ash. He signed some good FAs. But IMO got the ones left over after the NYY & Boston.
grjas - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 02:06 PM EST (#267627) #
Well actually it was Beeston rather than Ash that got the Clemens deal done.

I Continue to be surprised at how little Box writers attribute Beeston's involvement In turning this team around. It's not coincidental in my mind that the team fortunes began to change not long after his retaking the reins. His ability to work with the GM, ownership, players and other CEO's i think is no longer well recognized, even though he was highly respected in the 90's. At least the "he's a liar" drivel of last year has died a way.

Suspect AA would have had a lot more trouble selling the big deals up the chain this fall without Beeston by his side.
Dave Till - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 02:33 PM EST (#267628) #
It is surprising how fast Barfield's career ended.  But back then walks were not valued (he took a lot) and defense was undervalued.  I'm sure nowadays he'd have been able to keep playing past 32, and that his slow start that year wouldn't have ended his career.

I seem to recall that he started having trouble hitting the low outside breaking pitch. I think this did in Joe Carter too (though it took longer), and Vernon Wells has had trouble with that pitch all his life. Being a right-handed power hitter isn't all rainbows and ice cream.

A runner on third and less than two outs always caused a buzz.  Fans were excited about what might be about to transpire, hoping for a fly ball to right.  If it came we'd sit up on our seats, and the crowd on the third base side would let you know that the runner was going--or you could sometimes catch a glimpse of him in your peripheral vision.  Then Barfield would come in on the ball, take it and in one motion rifle it home on a line.  A thing of beauty.

I still remember the time I was sitting in the North Grandstand when Barfield came in on the ball, took it, and in one motion... and then the person in front of me stood up to go get a beverage. I missed the play. Aaaargh.
John Northey - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 03:42 PM EST (#267629) #
That is a good point grjas - Beeston has amazing contacts in MLB as he was high up for awhile iirc and his knowledge and skill is extremely high end.  I was surprised he was willing to come back given he already won 2 titles here, but I guess he thought it'd be fun to try to do it again.  I suspect the budget was due to the Jays (and AA and Beeston) seeing a tough battle in 2010/2011/2012 with Boston, NYY and Tampa all looking strong.  Still think it is a shame they didn't go for Darvish or get Aroldis Chapman (AA has said he regrets that one).  Boy imagine the staff if they did get those 2?  Of course, then they probably don't go for Dickey.
vw_fan17 - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 03:47 PM EST (#267630) #
Lacking a "current" thread..

Per MLBTR, Jason Frasor (Jays' all-time appearances leader) has signed with the Rangers for $1.5M. IIRC, the Rangers already have a pretty solid bullpen (i.e. no chance for him to close there either). Given that we paid him significantly more last year ($3.75M per BR), knows Toronto inside-and-out by now and has never pitched for Texas, why couldn't we talk him into a pay cut? At $1.75M, say, he would have been good bullpen depth, IMHO. Maybe you won't get an ERA+ of > 140 out of him again, but, if a few guys arms fall off, you should still be able to count on him for 110-120 ERA+ (i.e. average relief).

Also, while double-checking that JF is indeed the all-time appearances leader, I found that Casey Janssen, with 31 saves, is tied for 11th all time in Jays saves (tied with Joey McLaughlin). Not that unusual. But, with just 28 more saves this year to get to 59, he would rocket past Accardo, Frasor, Batista, Gregg, Timlin and Escobar all the way to 5th all-time, behind only BJ Ryan, Billy Koch, Duane Ward and Tom Henke. 122 saves would put him second all-time (i.e. 3 more seasons of 31 saves).

MatO - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 04:40 PM EST (#267632) #

I think Richardi got to spend more money than Ash.

No, Ricciardi was immediately required by ownership to cut payroll to $50M from about $80 when he took the job.  A few years later Rogers increased the payroll back to about $80M again but due to salary inflation that amount of money wasn't worth what it was during Ash's time.  In fact, due to the strengthening of the $CDN, Rogers wasn't shelling out nearly as much money as before in $CDN.

Dave Till - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 04:59 PM EST (#267634) #
I don't think Frasor would get many appearances in Toronto, assuming all goes well. He'd be fourth on the food chain behind Janssen, a presumably healthy Santos, and Delabar (or fifth if Oliver retires). Given that the Jays have a wondrous new starting rotation, had he re-signed here, he might have wound up spending his days sitting in the bullpen doing nothing.

Dave Till - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 05:01 PM EST (#267635) #
That parenthetical comment should read "fifth if Oliver doesn't retire". Thag not proofread gud.
John Northey - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 05:43 PM EST (#267636) #
Sad to lose Frasor, but he really doesn't fit this years pen I think.  His BB/9 reached 4.5 last year while his HR/9 was up to 1.2 - the HR isn't up to danger level but getting close while those walks are in the danger zone.  His 10.9 K/9 was a career high but he just isn't any better than what is already here.  Checking 2012 stats (overall for guys who played on multiple teams)

Janssen: 1.6 BB/9 9.5 K/9 1.0 HR/9 - clearly better
J.A. Happ: 3.5 BB/9 9.0 K/9 1.2 HR/9 - able to start (where most of his stats are from) thus more valuable
Aaron Loup: LH 0.6 BB/9 0 HR given up in 30 2/3 IP - I'd want him to get a shot
Steve Delabar: 4.6 BB/9 14.1 K/9 0.9 HR/9 again, rather see him than Frasor
Brad Lincoln: 2.5 BB/9 9.0 K/9 1.4 HR/9 - better again
Sergio Santos: barely pitched last year, lifetime 4.4 BB/9 11.4 K/9 0.7 HR/9 and signed for 5 more years so not about to be dumped
Esmil Rogers: 3.4 BB/9 9.5 K/9, 0.8 HR/9

So I'm up to 7 guys I'd pick over Frasor for 2013.  Mix in Cecil (out of options) and I'm sure others I'm forgetting (including Oliver if he returns) and there is no reason to spend anything on Frasor.

JohnL - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 05:52 PM EST (#267638) #
Comments about 2 years:

I always wondered if one reason the Jays did nothing (in terms of acquiring talent and thus on the field), especially compared to the 92-93 off season was the strike.

If I remember, there was a real anticipation that there would be a strike or lockout (there had been every single time the agreement was up for renewal), and it could be serious. MLB owners were looing agressive and insistent (as they indeed were).

Would it have been worthwhile to trade young talent, or sign aging veterans for short-term success as the Jays often had, when there might not be a short-term?

John listed some factors. Another one that Anthopolous has cited is the Bautista-Encarnaction factor. It's a rare opportunity to potentially have 2 40-home run guys near their prime. By the time most of the Jays' star prospects were ready to contribute, those 2 would be well past that prime (if they were still with the team).

Load up now.
John Northey - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 06:00 PM EST (#267639) #
JohnL- good point about 1994.  Given Ash was about to be given full control and he went on record ages ago saying he thought salaries would go down post-strike I can see why the Jays minimized what they did pre-strike.  Doesn't excuse the lack of activity in 1995 of course, but does help one understand what happened in 1994.  Wouldn't be shocked if the Jays felt their prospects might help more than they did too.

For 2013 it does make sense to be thinking about how there are 2 big assets in Bautista and Encarnacion who are declining in value by the year.  Other factors are knowing that Lawrie is likely to improve and that the only other kid likely to help is Gose (now that d'Arnaud is gone) and that few of the other kids would be ready before the big 2 run out of contract.    Thus it is now or 5 years again.

Richard S.S. - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 07:03 PM EST (#267640) #
Why does A.A. go for it in 2013? He was going hard after two Free Agents. (IMO, Starters were his priority. He'd spent enough fixing the Bullpen mid-season. He'd always said he thought the Offense was good.) I suspect Sanchez was an A.A. target. (The Rotation would be New, Morrow, New or Morrow, New, New.)
Just asking about Josh Johnson changed the Baseball World out of recognition. After that, everything was easier.
(The monies received in the Miami trade made the Cabrera signing easy. And the NY trade was a net gain for Toronto.)
China fan - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 07:05 PM EST (#267641) #
".....So I'm up to 7 guys I'd pick over Frasor for 2013...."

I agree with John's point here. Even if Frasor cost a bargain $1.75-million, Anthopoulos probably decided that it wasn't worth the money, since the bullpen is already full. I think this is also a sign that AA is pretty confident in Santos bouncing back.
Dewey - Thursday, January 03 2013 @ 08:02 PM EST (#267644) #
We should remember what was going on with the Jays’ ownership just around the time of the two World Series.  Labatts was in turmoil.  Takeover rumours had begun in earnest in the early Spring of 1991.  By August 1992 Labatts announced it was cutting 200 jobs; and new management took over the company just around the time of the first WS win  (how galling that must have been for the old guard.)  The Jays had been big spenders in 1992 and 1993; but the company had begun investing heavily in Europe, Mexico, the U.S.   And just then Mexico’s currency went badly sour, and Labatt lost big time.   Things--lots of things-- had to be sold .  It was truly a mess.  The new CEO couldn't right the ship.  Things were not at all like the good old days; and Interbrew finally took it all over in 1995.  So the budget constrictions and the apparent aimlessness of the organization that went before that has as much to do with ownership and money as it does with  General Managers.  Things are almost always more complicated than they seem.  Sound, stable ownership matters.

As bpoz commented, just after the 1992 WS Winfield attempted to winkle a fat contract out of Gillick, who was having none of it (or more likely, Labatts was having none of it.  I also think Gillick might have already seen an open channel to Molitor).  In any case, Winfield was toast with the Jays -- and he was shocked by that.  Really jolted.
Mike Green - Monday, January 07 2013 @ 10:58 AM EST (#267764) #
Frasor is pretty much the same pitcher he has been.  I don't know that Delabar or Lincoln or Rogers or Santos will be any better than him in 2013, but that isn't a ringing endorsement. 

What I am hoping is that this means that the club is intending to go with a six man pen, in light of the strength of the rotation.  Otherwise, it seems like $1.75 million wouldn't be too much to pay for some depth, in case Santos isn't ready and Oliver retires. 

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