In order to avoid going crazy with MLB and all the other major sporting leagues closed during the coronavirus pandemic, I decided to take a look at the best of the best for each baseball franchise. We are going to have a 30 day streak creating an all time team for each MLB club. We’ll be teaming up one team per day throughout April, continuing today north of the border with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Like (hopefully?) A fun touch, I make a Baseball Stars team for everyone. True, the old school Nintendo video game “Baseball Stars”, which I still consider to be the best baseball video game of all time. This allowed you to build teams and I was queuing all the time for leading MLB franchises. There are eight position players with four starting throwers, one reliever, and five bench position players on each Baseball Stars team.
To the programming.
Hats off to Russell Martin, Pat Borders, Darrin Fletcher, Greg Myers and John Buck, but we are going with the venerable safety net from the early days of the franchise. He was actually drafted by the Jays in the expansion draft and spent 12 seasons with the club: Ernie Whitt.
It’s absolutely loaded here. Fred McGriff, Edwin Encarnacion, John Olerud, Carlos Delgado and many others are worth thinking about very early on. Fortunately, we have a DH position to fill, right? I am biased for Carlos Delgado, although. His averages of 162 games from 1996 to 2004: .286 / .397 / .565 (145 OPS +), 41 doubles, 40 HR, 124 RBI and 105 runs. He is third in franchise history as a WAR player while leading in slugging, OPS, runs, total bases, doubles, home runs, RBI, walks and is third in OPS +.
For being one of the best baseball players for much of his career, Roberto Alomar of course changed a lot of teams. His longest stint was with the Blue Jays, where he was All-Star and Gold Glover for five seasons while winning two rings and racking up the best three seasons at the position in club history. It is the easy choice.
Unfortunately the baseball world has lost Tony Fernandez in February. It is the easy choice here without feeling. Only Jose Bautista has more WAR in the history of the club. Fernandez is the leader of the franchise in tubes and triples. He missed the first championship, but was traded for the 1993 title. In this world series, Fernandez hit .333 with an OBP .423. He had nine points in six games.
He hasn’t had a ton of time in Toronto, but Josh Donaldson was there long enough to supplant Kelly Gruber. Donaldson’s first year in Toronto saw him win the MVP title while the Blue Jays qualified for the ALCS for the first time since 1993. His second season saw an MVP in fourth place and another trip at the ALCS.
I liked Shannon Stewart a little bit, but the choice here is George Bell. In nine seasons with the Jays, Bell finished fourth at the MVP by voting twice and winning the 1987 award with 47 circuits and 134 RBIs. Its 202 circuits are the sixth in franchise history.
Here we have a trio of strong candidates. Vernon Wells was excellent during his time in Toronto. Devon White is one of the best defensive midfielders in baseball history and has been a centerpiece in two World Series titles. Lloyd Moseby is also an excellent candidate. In WAR’s position players, Wells is fifth, Moseby sixth and White tied for ninth in club history. I will take Vernon Wells because of being the best hitter of the trio, because it’s a video game and everything.
My apologies to Jesse Barfield, Shawn Green, Alex Rios and, of course, Joe Carter here, but it’s Jose Bautista and not really that close.
My apologies to Olerud, Barfield and Encarnacion, but I have to go Fred McGriff. At 153, he is the franchise leader in OPS +.
Pitches of departure
Two guys are head and shoulders above everyone here. It’s ridiculously underestimated Dave Steib with the Hall of Famer Roy Halladay. We don’t even really need to discuss these two points.
For the last two spots, we have a decent group. Jimmy Key is third in WAR. Roger Clemens has probably had the best two individual seasons in Jays history. Jim Clancy and Juan Guzman were great. Pat Hentgen is fourth in WAR. I’m going with Pat hentgen, the winner of Cy Young in 1996, and Roger Clemens for the upside.
Tom henke takes it with ease here.
Baseball Stars uses six characters for each name. The following is the programming of the Baseball Stars.
- Alomar, 2B
- Josh D, 3B
- Bats, RF
- Carlos, 1B
- Fred, DH
- Bell, LF
- Wells, CF
- Whitt, C
- Tony F, SS
Fernandez was a better hitter than Whitt, obviously, but I like Fernandez’s speed at the top of the line when the lineup flips.
SP: Steib, Roy, Rocket, Pat
Bench: Jesse (Barfield), Lloyd (Moseby), Edwin (Encarnacion) and Joe (Carter). Screw it. I’m launching a backup sensor because it’s a video game. Also, I originally had John Olerud on Joe Carter, but Carter deserves a spot for one of the greatest circuits in baseball history. I would also be ready to accept Russell Martin’s arguments during the Whitt catcher.
Given the relative youth of this franchise, this is a pretty stellar list.
As always, feel free to contact me on Twitter with your own team (@MattSnyderCBS).