My good friend Lloyd the Barber aka Drew at Ghostrunner has given us a great post on just how good the 2006 Blue Jays were and named them the Jays team of the decade (rightfully so) and in reading it I got the idea to fill the slow days of winter by marking the new year with an All-Decade team of the best individual performances for the Jays in the decade which closes tonight.
First Base: Carlos Delgado/2000
Delgado posted an OPS+ of 181 in 2000, just a few points shy of the best season as measure by that statistic in team history (that would be Olerud/1993 FYI). Delgado had an incredible 99 XBH that year and an OPS of 1.134 for easily the best hitting season of the decade.
Second Base: Aaron Hill/2009
Before Hill came along, you have to go back to soon-to-be Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar to find really impressive offensive work at second base. Hill posted a 117 OPS+ last year while setting a club record for homers at his position with 37. According to Fangraphs he was at 4.2 WAR last year.
Shortstop: Marco Scutaro/2009
Another position at which good hitting has been entirely absent, I trust I don't need to recount for loyal fans the litany of offensive failure that has been the shortstop position for the Jays over the last decade. True, there have been good to great fielders, but no one who brought much of a stick.
Third Base: Troy Glaus/2006
Glaus pounded out 38 homers in 2006 and combined with competent defense he posted 3.9 WAR in a mostly healthy season. Enough to barely edge Scott Rolen/2009 who totaled 3.8 between Toronto and Cincinnati. The edge of course goes to Glaus, since that was over a full season but Rolen's amazing glove and better than many assume offense (his OPS+ as a Jay in 2009 is actually slightly higher than Glaus' 2006 total) easily grab the reserve spot.
Left Field: Shannon Stewart/2000
Back in his prime, Stewart was fun to watch whenever he was doing anything besides throwing a baseball. He posted a 118 OPS+ in 2000 and complimented his bat with 20 steals. One could argue Adam Lind here but the DH position is needy too so I'll hold him in reserve.
Center Field: Vernon Wells/2003
Vernon had a season of almost identical offensive value in 2006, but his 132 OPS+ in 2003 edges out the win. Other than non stealing a lot of bases (which was the team philosophy at the time) Wells brought the total package in those days and his recent struggles perhaps cloud our memories of just how very good he was then.
Right Field: Alexis Rios/2007
Rios played an above average RF, despite the occasional attention lapse, for the Jays while posting a 122 OPS+ in the best season in right for the Jays in the past decade. To be fair, his WAR for 2008 is even higher than in 2007 (5.6 to 4.8) due to playing insanely good defense despite having a down year with the bat in 2008. But I'll go with the better hitting performance for the purposes of this exercise.
Catcher: Greg Meyers/2003
The old man on the field, Meyers came out of nowhere to post the best year of his career at age 37 when his OPS+ reached 125 for the Jays. The fun thing (for the purpose of this team) about Meyers is that this is yet another position where a player originally developed by the Jays holds forth.
DH: Adam Lind/2009
Only 4 players in the history of the franchise have posted better offensive seasons for the Jays than Lind had in 2009 (three of them are McGriff, Olerud, and Delgado - without looking it up, can you name the other?) when his OPS+ reached 144. Everything came together for the young lefty and he easily outdistanced his only real competitor, Frank Thomas.
Darrin Fletcher/2000 - a 115 OPS+ resulted from a season when he hit both for average and power.
Orlando Hudson/2004 - posted a 3.8 WAR despite just average offensive production.
John McDonald/2007 - Given that the alternative is Woodard, I'll take impeccable defense here.
Scott Rolen/2009 - His OPS+ while still with the Jays actually exceeded Glaus' 2006 figure, and his defense gave him a higher WAR on the year.
Jose Cruz/2001 - His best season as a Jay saw him post a 119 OPS+, while providing great speed and solid defense.
Doc's Cy Year was the more valuable because of his 266 IP. He was worth an astounding 8 WAR that year, though almost any season would have been a good choice. You could also make an argument for his shortened 2005 campaign - he was pitching even better that year than in 2003 before the broken leg.
Despite a somewhat elevated ERA, Burnett was worth 5.5 WAR in his last year as a Jay and posted a 125 OPS+. Both figures greatly enhanced by Burnett's staying healthy that year.
He posted a 125 ERA+ and that in only 25 starts.
A 123 ERA+ in his 20 win season in which everything clicked. I can't stand the guy but credit where due.
disrespected and unheralded, Litsch just goes out and pitches his big pink bum off in 2008 for a 118 ERA+ and 13 wins.
also worth noting - Josh Towers and Gus Chacin in 2005, Dave Bush in 2004 (in half a season), Ted Lilly in 2004 (virtually tied with Litsch above but since Litsch was almost as good in 2007 I used that to break the tie), Marc Rzepczynski in 2009 (a 118 ERA+ is nothing to sneeze at for 11 starts.
Say what you will about how his tenure here ended, his first year ranks among the best ever for a Jay reliever.
The very next year unheralded Accardo posted his own outstanding season.
Everything you could ask for in a set-up man.
The definition of "out of nowhere" - Carlson was masterful in 2008.
In and out of popularity with Jays managers, Frasor's new pitch led to his best season in 2009. If Frasor returns to the Jays next year he stands to reach fourth place on the games played list among Blue Jays pitchers.
Ask any Jays fan to name the best Jays relievers of the last decade and a lot of them will never consider Speier but he had three solid years here and 2005 was the best of those.
Also worth noting is Billy Koch in 2000, Casey Janssen in 2007, and Justin Speier in 2005.
Here are the traditional stats for this team-
(slash numbers, doubles, homers, RBI, SB)
Stewart - .319 - .363 - .518 - .882 - 43 - 21 - 69 - 20
Rios ----- .294 - .354 - .498 - .852 - 43 - 24 - 85 - 17
Delgado - .344 - .470 - .663 -1.134 - 57 - 41 - 137 - 0
Wells ---- .317 - .359 - .550 - .909 - 49 - 33 - 117 - 4
Lind ---- .305 - .370 - .562 - .932 - 46 - 35 - 114 - 1
Glaus --- .252 - .355 - .513 - .868 - 27 - 38 - 104 - 3
Hill ----- .286 - .330 - .499 - .829 - 37 - 36 - 108 - 6
Meyers - .307 - .374 - .502 - .876 - 19 - 15 - 52 - 0
Scutaro - .282 - .379 - .409 - .789 - 35 - 12 - 60 - 14
Halladay - 22-7, 3.25, 1.07
Burnett -- 18-10, 4.07, 1.34
Marcum - 9-7 , 3.39 , 1.16
Wells ---- 20-8, 4.11, 1.29
Litsch --- 13-9, 3.58, 1.23
Ryan ---- 2-2, 1.37, 0.86 (38)
Accardo - 4-4, 2.14, 1.11 (30)
Downs -- 0-3, 1.78, 1.15, (5)
Carlson - 7-2, 2.25, 1.03, (2)
Frasor -- 7-3, 2.50, 1.02 (11)
Speier -- 3-2, 2.56, 0.95
If you could put all those guys together that might be a 100 win team.
On an unrelated note, I understand some Hall of Fame voters actually voted for Jack Morris (at least one voted for Morris and NOT Blyleven) - about that I will only say, if you look at the stats which measure quality of work, Dave Stieb was easily a better pitcher than jack Morris. Anyone fool enough to vote Morris into the Hall ought to permanently lose his vote.