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With super-prospect Vladimir Guerrero charging through the system and kids like Danny Jansen getting here and doing well we should review some of the Jays past top prospects.

Using Baseball-America's top 100 list from before each season for 1990 to 2010 we get...
Many here weren't around for the early 90's when the Jays were the juggernaut of MLB.  Gillick could do no wrong (after he shed the 'Stand Pat' nickname in 1989 with the Barfield trade, then buried it forever in the 90/91 offseason with the White, Alomar/Carter trades).  The farm was producing (see above) the 1993 minors had 4 guys who made the BA top 100 who'd get over 10 WAR in their careers.  By 2008 the system was barren with just 1 guy in the top 100 and he'd never reach 5 WAR (Donaldson has had more than that in a season 4 times and had 4.8 in another year).  2010's was even worse with 3 guys in the top 100, just one who had positive WAR and not much of it.

Over those 21 years we saw in the top 100...
  • 2 at 1B
  • 1 at 1B/LHP (John Olerud - he had a 15-0 season pitching in college with a sub 3 ERA thus why people wondered if he might pitch)
  • 2 at 2B
  • 1 at 3B
  • 1 at 3B/1B (Brett Wallace)
  • 11 at CA (3 are Carlos Delgado, 2 Guillermo Quiroz, plus non-catchers in the majors Joe Lawrence, Josh Phelps, Jayson Werth)
  • 22 OF
  • 1 OF/CA (Jayson Werth)
  • 12 SS
  • 27 RHP
  • 3 LHP
Clearly despite having many top catching prospects the Jays have had a nightmare making them into anything valuable outside of trading them.  I was surprised to see so few LHP

Didn't see much point in digging into 2011 to 2018 as many are still in the minors or early in their careers.

Bottom line?  Many prospects did become very good, but many also flopped.  The highest number in the top 100 during this stretch was 6 in each of 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995 and 2004.  2004's crew had 2 with over 10 WAR, 1995 4, 1994 3, 1992 3, 1991 3.  So I'd say 1995 was the best of that group with Green, Carpenter, Stewart, and Gonzalez (Halladay would be drafted that season) - geez did Ash screw up having that much talent but never reaching the playoffs.

This year the Jays currently have 5 in the top 100 for's rankings - Vlad (#1), Bo (#9), Jansen (#73), Pearson (#89), and Alford (#91 and dropping fast).  So even with that 'wow' group it is still short by 1 from those 5 other years and is just tied with 1993, 1997, and 2002. 1997 had 4 over 20 WAR plus a 5er in Koch who was a good closer for a few years.  That is the best case for the current crew, although we are all hoping Vlad is a HOF'er - with his hype anything less than a few MVP's and a HOF career will be a disappointment.
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ISLAND BOY - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 06:16 AM EDT (#363935) #
I was surprised to see Mark Whiten with a career 14.1 WAR. I just remember him having power and a strong arm. Thanks for this, John.
Glevin - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 09:22 AM EDT (#363942) #
Cal Stevenson now has a .507 OBP over 203 PAs including a 21% BB rate. He'll be 22 soon so he's a bit old for the league but another one of the many interesting lower level minor leaguers to watch.
whiterasta80 - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 09:56 AM EDT (#363944) #
I'm not sure I knew that Olerud had a higher career WAR than Delgado.

hypobole - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 10:42 AM EDT (#363948) #
Johnny O had about 400 more PA's than Carlos, but Carlos was the better offensive player. However both FG and Bbref dock Carlos big-time for his defence compared to Olerud.
John Northey - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 10:57 AM EDT (#363950) #
Back in the 80's/90's the Jays 1B situation was nutty.   Nutty good.

1977: Ault  - not much 0.2 WAR lifetime, 0.2 as a Jay plus 9 games in Texas.
1978-1981: Mayberry 24.9 WAR lifetime, 3.5 as a Jay
1982-1987 - Upshaw  13.0 WAR lifetime, 12.7 as a Jay

Big transition year 1987 - Upshaw, McGriff, and Fielder on the team leading to weird choices by Jimy WIlliams like Fielder at 2B and 3B.  Yes, it was as crazy to watch live as you can imagine.

1988-1990: McGriff 52.6 WAR lifetime, 19.4 as a Jay by far his best for anyone (11.1 in Atlanta)
1991-1996: Delgado 44.4 WAR lifetime, 36.8 as a Jay
2005: Hinske - massive drop in quality.7.8 lifetime, 7.3 as a Jay
2006-2010: Overbay 16.8 lifetime 12.4 as a Jay
2011-2014: Encarnacion 31.0 lifetime, 24.3 as a Jay (09-16)
2015-now: Smoak  6.9 lifetime, 6.4 as a Jay so far, 2.4 this year.

So a lot of very good, constantly improving at 1B from 1977 to 2004 although Delgado was a slight drop from Olerud...damn you Gord Ash.  Delgado should've been a DH with time at 1B while Olerud played 1B with some time at DH in the 90's.  Then the Jays got cheap in the mid-00's so we got Hinske at 1B for a year followed by 'meh' in Overbay who still wasn't terrible, then EE came and we were happy, and Smoak started poor but now is decent.  Lets hope he is the Mayberry to the next set of good firstbasemen.

I'd say 1B has been the most stacked position here.  Funny that DH has never had someone last more than 5 years as the #1 guy (Adam Lind).
ComebyDeanChance - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 01:09 PM EDT (#363952) #
John, I think you typed in Delgado a bit early. And maybe there was an Olerud guy at some point.
whiterasta80 - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 01:19 PM EDT (#363953) #
John I'm not sure the short lifespan of DHs is a problem unique to the Jays.

Here's a list of DHs with a run of 3 consecutive opening day starts since 1985.

Angels: Chili Davis (4), Brian Downing (3, and 5/6)

Texas: Mickey Tettleton (3), Larry Parish (3)

Seattle: Edgar Martinez (10)

Oakland: Erubial Durazo (3, why...), Geronimo Berroa (3)

Chicago: Adam Dunn (4), Jim Thome (4), Frank Thomas (4)

Cleveland: Travis Hafner (9)

Detroit: V-Mart (3, also 5/6, and 6/8), Dmitri Young (3)

KC: Billy Butler (4, also 6/7)

Minnesota: Jason Kubel (3), Paul Molitor (3)

Baltimore: Harold Baines (3), Sam Horn (3)

Boston: David Ortiz (9, also 11/12)

Tampa: none

Toronto: Molitor (3)

For posterity

Houston: none

Milwaukee: none

Interesting that the White Sox are the only team that has really shown a consistent commitment to stability at the position. There are a handful of teams that got lucky (i.e. with Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz), but the vast majority of names on that list are middling ballplayers that I, for one, am glad the Jays have resisted trotting out there over and over again.

John Northey - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 02:43 PM EDT (#363955) #
Crap - had Olerud listed but the (@&^*! line got erased somehow. 
1991-1996: Olerud - 58.2 WAR 22.6 as a Jay vs 17.3 as a Met, 17.1 as a Mariner.
1997-2004 was Delgado.
John Northey - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 02:50 PM EDT (#363956) #
Good point whiterasta.  The Jays had a great opportunity twice to make use of the DH well but blew it both times.
1988 - McGriff and Fielder both ready for full time jobs, gave 1B to McGriff but platooned Fielder with Rance Mulliniks so Kelly Gruber could take over at 3B.  Following year they sent Fielder to Japan.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  Really they should've taken it over in 1987.
1995 - Delgado ready to play, Olerud already at 1B.  As others mentioned Delgado was a born DH (for some idiotic reason the Jays kept trying to make him a catcher, then a LFer).  Olerud was a gold glover.  So naturally the Jays dumped Olerud (even paid his salary) instead of making Delgado a DH and Olerud at 1B which would've been a killer combo for 1996 and beyond.

Both cases could've given the Jays an amazing offence (or more amazing) but instead the GMs at the time (Gillick and Ash) decided to dump one guy for virtually nothing.  FYI: Fielder 17.2 WAR lifetime, 0.3 as a Jay, never getting 200 PA in a season while being made to play 3B, 2B, 1B, as well as his natural DH.
cybercavalier - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 07:05 PM EDT (#363966) #
Question to Mr. John N.:
How do you calculate WARs for players in the Mexican League and the indy leagues? For recent Jays prospects and players, about 10 play in indy and the Mexican leagues.1) Kyle Drabek in the Mexican League and Southern Maryland, Atlantic League, age 30
2) Travis Snider with Long Island, Atlantic League (on suspended list?) age 30
3) K.C. Hobson 1B L/L with Richmond Double-A, Lancaster, Atlantic League age 27
4) John Anderson P L/L with Lancaster, age 29
5) Dustin Antolin P R/R with Somerset, Atlantic League age 28-29
6) Gustavo Pierre LF/SS with Road Warriors, Atlantic League age 26
7) Balbino Fuenmayor R/R with Nuevo Laredo, Mexican League, age 28
8) Henderson Alvarez R/R with Quintana Roo, Mexican League, age 28

memorable mention:
9) Dioner Navarro C S/R with Long Island10) Adam Loewen P L/L with New Britain Bees, Atlantic League
John Northey - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 07:24 PM EDT (#363967) #
WAR is via formulas at Baseball-Reference.  There is a different version at FanGraphs but I find BR easier to use most of the time.  While they don't always agree, they generally are close.  When evaluating a career they can be useful but the variability is high for defense thus limiting the value.  Thanks for the updates on various ex-Jays, I know I wonder 'whatever happened to' now and then.  Remember when Travis Snider looked like a future All-Star?  Or we all were pulling for Balbino Fuenmayor?
cybercavalier - Monday, August 20 2018 @ 10:23 PM EDT (#363974) #
Thanks for the thumps up and tip. So shall I believe BR hasn't an available WAR calculator?
About ex-Jays, going into 2019, Solarte may not be back and expectation on Donaldson would be much less due to injury. There may be slim chances for Balbino and Drabek as insurance in Triple-A? Fuenmayor hit a combined .935 in the Mexican League 2018 which is his best OPS in Triple-A level. Given that Mexican League favoring hitting performance and Fuenmayor's own peaking, his 2019 in Buffalo could potentially resemble this 2018 season. On the flip side,  Danny Jansen who hit .863 is already promoted. If that is the case for Fuenmayor, signing Fuenmayor to Buffalo 2019 could be a blessing in disguise.
Kyle Drabek? His father held 2.0 WAA and was an All-Star at age 31 which will be Kyle next 2019 season. Doug were also contributing two more season after with about 83 ERA+. In other words, if Kyle pans out like his father, the Jays can hold a lottery tickets for 3 seasons of quality starting pitching.
Just my imagination.
Parker - Tuesday, August 21 2018 @ 04:14 PM EDT (#364007) #
In other words, if Kyle pans out like his father, the Jays can hold a lottery tickets for 3 seasons of quality starting pitching.

Kyle has already NOT panned out like his father, though. Before age 31, Doug Drabek had accumulated 24.5 bWAR and won a Cy Young award. Before age 31, Kyle Drabek has accumulated -0.1 bWAR and is now out of affiliated baseball.
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