Toronto Blue Jays Nostalgia: Best Single Season Blue Jays
With the official introduction of the new Blue Jays uniform, naturally, it caused me to reflect on the franchise as a whole: great uniforms, great memories and great players. Many tremendously skilled athletes have donned some type of Jays uniform, whether it be the powder blue pullover jerseys of the late 70s, or the classic look that won the club two World Series championships, or the recent Black Jays design.
The following list consists of the best season performances of those who only spent a single season in a Blue Jays uniform. As you'll see from the list, sometimes only one season would be enough to leave an impact on the history of this great franchise.
10. Fred Lewis
Fred Lewis spent a single season patrolling the spacious outfield of the Rogers Centre. He hit .262, with eight home runs, 31 doubles (a career high), 38 RBIs and 17 steals in 110 games with Toronto.
Most memorable moment: August 2010–Lewis hit a walk off sacrifice fly to cap a four-run ninth that led the Jays to a come from behind 6-5 win over the Red Sox.
9. Bengie Molina
Bengie Molina is currently the Blue Jays all-time record holder for games played by a Molina. His brother, Jose, can eclipse that mark if he plays six games in a Toronto uniform in 2012.
In Bengie's only season in Toronto (2006) he set a new single season record for home runs by a Jays catcher (which would later be broken by another player on this list). He hit .284 and added 20 doubles and 57 RBIs.
Most memorable Jays moment: Of Molina's three career stolen bases, one came as a Blue Jay. the catcher he stole off of: Jose Molina. Ironically, Jose had one steal in 2006 as well. The catcher who couldn't nab Jose: none other than Bengie!
8. Kevin Gregg
Kevin Gregg spent 2010, his only campaign north of the 45th, as the Jays closer. He finished the year 2-6, with 37 saves and an ERA of 3.51.
To date, his 37 saves as a Blue Jay are his career high. Those 37 saves are actually fourth best all time for Toronto single season save records, behind Ryan, Escobar and Ward, respectively. If it wasn't for the six blown saves he had, he might even be as high as second on that list.
Most memorable Jays moment: In September 2010, Gregg earned his 33rd save, which set a new career high for him, against Boston. Also in that game, Jose Bautista hit his 49th home run of the season.
7. Corey Lidle
Corey Lidle was a member of the 2003 Blue Jays starting rotation. One of those men, Roy Halladay, would win the Cy Young Award that season.
Lidle finished the season third on the club with 12 wins and finished second on the club in innings pitched ans complete games. Unfortunately, he had an ERA well over 5.00 and finished with 15 losses (27 decisions in 31 starts).
Lidle tragically lost his life in an aviation accident in 2006.
Most memorable Jays moment: In May, Lidle pitched a complete game, three-hitter against the defending World Champion Angels at Rogers Centre.
6. Frank Castillo
Frank Castillo pitched the 2000 season as a part of the Jays starting rotation, having missed all of 1999 due to injury. Castillo finished second on the team with 10 wins, which would be his third-highest single season win total. Castillo had a string of 17 consecutive starts of five innings or more from May through August 2000.
Most memorable Jays moment: During a May loss to Atlanta, Castillo singled, becoming the first Blue Jays pitcher to record a hit in the new millennium. Only one other pitcher, David Wells, would get a hit that season. Ironically, his came off of Braves pitching as well.
5. John Buck
In John Buck's only season as a Blue Jay in 2010, he had arguably one of the best offensive seasons ever for a Toronto catcher. Buck played 118 games, hit 20 home runs, setting a new Jays record for catchers, 25 doubles, 66 RBIs, hit .281 and had an OPS of over .800.
All of those totals, to that point in his career, were career highs. He was also rock solid behind the plate, committing only five errors and having a fielding percentage of .994.
Most memorable Jays moment: Buck became the first Blue Jays catcher since Ernie Whitt in 1985 to be named to the American League All Star team. He collected one double in two PAs in a 3-1 loss.
4. Ron Fairly
Ron Fairly's only season in Toronto was the franchise's inaugural season of 1977. It was his 20th and penultimate big league season.
In Ron's rookie season, 1958, he played on the Dodgers in their first season in Los Angeles. He would also play for the Expos in 1969, their first season.
Fairly was the biggest bright spot on a Jays team that lost over 100 games. In his first season in the AL, Fairly hit .279 with 19 home runs and 64 RBIs. His 19 home runs and 213 total bases were both career highs for Fairly.
Having spent Opening Day in the cold, snowy conditions off of Lake Ontario in 1977, Fairly signed with the California Angels for the 1978 season, which would be his last.
Most memorable Jays moment: Fairly became the answer to the Jays trivia question "Who was the Blue Jays' first All-Star?" Fairly suited up for the Midsummer Classic in 1977, a 7-5 loss to the NL. Fairly struck out in his only plate appearance.
3. Pete Vukovich
Pete Vuckovich is the only player on this list that was drafted by the Blue Jays. Like Fairly, he played in the franchise's inaugural season. Vuckovich went 7-7 with eight saves and 123 strikeouts.
The numbers are decent, but to put them in context of that 1977 team, he was fourth in wins, had the highest winning percentage on the club, led the team in saves and had the second highest amount of strikeouts. His seven wins and eight saves meant that he factored into 26 percent of the teams total wins for the season.
Vuckovich would later lead the AL in wins in 1981 and win the Cy Young the following season, both with Milwaukee, both while sporting his famous handlebar 'stache.
Most memorable Jays moment: Because of his use in and out of the bullpen, Vuckovich achieved a rare statistical oddity for the club: he pitched their first ever save and first ever shutout.
2. Jose Canseco
I'm not going to discuss whether this season was steroid-fuelled. Let's just look at the numbers.
Canseco, even though he played for Toronto for a season, most Jays fans still think of the home run he hit at the Dome in the 1989 ALCS. Canseco played for Toronto in 1998, and in his only season with the Jays, was a single home run off from breaking the franchise's single season record.
Although he hit below .240, he did swat 26 doubles, 46 home runs, had 107 RBIs, had 302 total bases and stole 29 bases (his second highest total). It was arguably his best season since 1991, and would be his last great season in the bigs.
Why do people forget about this season? 1998 was the year that McGuire and Sosa chased Maris' single season record. So although 46 home runs is incredibly impressive, it wasn't anywhere close to 61, which is what most of the baseball world cared about that year.
Most memorable Jays moment: For his monstrous numbers, Canseco was awarded the AL Silver Slugger Award
1. Dave Winfield
In 1992, Winfield wanted noise from the blue bird faithful. In that season, Winfield provided a lot of noise of his own.
Starting the season at the ripe old age of 40, Winfield was given the task of improving the DH spot on a franchise that, well, didn't really have a DH in 1991. Winfield almost instantly became (and still is) a fan favorite in Toronto. He hit 26 home runs and had 108 RBIs batting behind Joe Carter. He had 169 hits, batted .290 and won the Silver Slugger and Babe Ruth awards.
Most memorable Jays moment: Winfield shed the moniker of Mr. May by ripping a two run double in the 11th inning of Game 6 of the 1992 World Series, plating the winning runs that would allow Toronto to win their first ever championship.