The Toronto Blue Jays have been a Major League franchise since 1977. They’ve had some great players and memorable moments in their history and have two World Series championships on their resume. Let’s take a look at which players make it on the Toronto Blue Jays Mount Rushmore.
Be sure to check out all of our Mount Rushmore articles here.
Stieb was drafted in the fifth round of the 1978 MLB Amateur Draft out of Southern Illinois University. It wouldn’t be long before he’d make his debut the following season. After completing seven of his 18 starts in 1979, Stieb was looked at as a workhorse. He didn’t disappoint in his time with the Blue Jays. From 1980-1985, Stieb averaged 254 IP while starting 202 games and finishing 77 of them. It wasn’t just volume either as in that same time frame he posted a 3.07 ERA allowing 7.6 H/9.
After a rough season in 1986, Stieb bounced back to record four more years of solid pitching culminating in 1990 with an 18-6 record, 2.93 ERA, and a top-5 finish in the Cy Young race. On September 2, 1990, Stieb threw the Blue Jays only no-hitter in their history. Going back two years prior, Stieb almost did the impossible (except for Johnny Vander Meer), On September 24 and 30 of 1988, The Blue Jays right-hander lost no-hitters with two outs and two strikes in back to back games.
The Legacy lives on
Back issues started to hurt Stieb. After starting only 23 games over the next two seasons the Blue Jays released him. He pitched in 1993 for the Chicago White Sox but only lasted four games. After retiring from baseball, Stieb made a brief comeback with Toronto in 1998 and was actually serviceable out of the bullpen mostly.
Stieb had the second-most wins in the 1980s at 140 (Jack Morris 162). He also has the most rWAR of any player in franchise history at 56.4. He was a seven-time All-Star, finished top-7 in CYA voting four times, and leads the Blue Jays in most categories for pitchers. Stieb gave the fledgling franchise something to cheer about and was about as consistent as they come for a solid decade. For that alone, although there is more, he deserves a spot on the Toronto Blue Jays Mount Rushmore.
We all remember Joe Carter hitting the World Series-winning home run off of Mitch Williams in 1993. That moment just by itself is probably enough for many to put Joe on this monument. But because that iconic home run is etched in our memories so indelibly, some may forget that Carter was a damn good player for seven years with the Jays. He came to Toronto in 1991 along with Roberto Alomar in what was a blockbuster deal that also sent Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff to San Diego.
More than just one HR
Carter didn’t let down the Blue Jay faithful. He played in all 162 games that season, blasted 33 HRs, and drove in 108. He also chipped in 20 SBs and finished fifth in AL MVP voting. After losing in five games to the eventual champion Minnesota Twins, Carter and the Blue Jays wouldn’t lose another playoff series over the next two years. He followed up his debut with Toronto by hitting 34 HRs and driving in 119 in 1992 to finish third in the AL MVP race.
Mr. Consistency did it again in 1993 with 33 HRs and tied a career-high with 121 RBI. He finally capped off Toronto’s back to back championships with that storied HR off Williams in Game Six. Carter was 7-25 with two HRs and eight RBI in that series. He spent four more seasons with the Blue Jays and hit 103 HRs and drove in 388 runs in that time. In those seven years in Canada, Carter averaged 29 HRs, 105 RBI, and 11 SBs. He also hit one of the most memorable homers in World Series history.
The Blue Jays drafted Doc out of Arvada West High School in Colorado. He was the 17th pick in the 1995 MLB Amateur Draft. In his second start in the majors, Halladay had a no-hitter going with two outs in the ninth inning when Bobby Higginson took him deep for a solo HR. The only other player to reach base that day was Tony Clark, yes that Tony Clark, on an error by Felipe Crespo in the fifth inning. That performance was foreshadowing great things for the big righty, but not right away.
The next two seasons weren’t kind to Halladay and he had control problems walking 121 in 217 innings in 1999-2000. Back in the minors to start the 2001 season, Doc worked on his mechanics, changed his arm angle, and embraced movement and deception rather than pure strength. Toronto called up Halladay before the All-Star break in July. While his first two starts didn’t go particularly well, the Blue Jays stuck with him. He rewarded them by finishing with a 3.16 ERA and a promising 96/25 K/BB rate.
Doc figures it out
In 2002, Halladay started to dominate. He led the league in IP with 239.1 and pitched to an impressive 19-7 record with a 2.93 ERA. From 2002-2009 Doc was 130-59 with a 3.13 ERA, 1.131 WHIP, and a great 1,260/307 K/BB rate. He won the first of his two Cy Young awards in 2003 and finished in the top-5 four other times before moving on to Philadelphia in 2010 where he would win his second CYA and pitch a perfect game on May 29, 2010.
Sadly, Halladay died on November 7, 2017, when his plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. His number 32 was retired by the Blue Jays on March 29, 2018. Halladay was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019. The Phillies were supposed to retire his number 34 on May 29, 2020, on the 10th anniversary of his perfect game.
The classic “late bloomer” Bautista bounced around immediately after making his debut in 2004. He played a total of 41 games in the AL that year with three different teams before finally settling back in with the Pittsburgh Pirates who originally drafted him in 2000. After a few nondescript seasons in Pittsburgh, the Pirates sent Bautista to Toronto for a player to be named later (Robinzon Diaz) in August 2008. Bautista had a so-so year in 2009 with Toronto but showed a good eye and settled in the outfield (he played mostly third base before that).
In 2010, he became a one-man wrecking crew. He led the league with 54 HRs and 351 TB. Bautista chipped in 124 RBI along with 109 runs and 100 walks finishing fourth in the AL MVP race. 2011 was an even better season for Joey Bats. He led the league in HRs again (43), walks (132), and OPS (1.056). He finished third that season in AL MVP voting in a very close race with winner Justin Verlander, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Curtis Granderson.
After more productive seasons, Joey Bats reached the 40-HR plateau again in 2015 and led the league with 110 walks. That season the Blue Jays made it to the Division Series to face off against the Texas Rangers. In Game Five with the score tied 3-3 in the seventh inning, Joey Bats gave us one of the all-time classic bat flips after a three-run homer off of Sam Dyson. Bautista is the franchise all-time leader in rWAR with 38.6 and is second in HRs with 288. While Carlos Delgado was a valid choice here, Bautista made a memorable impact on this franchise and owns the bat flip that started a trend. Not to mention being the recipient of a great right hook from Rougned Odor.
Questions and comments?
Hit us up on the Socials:
Check out our Facebook Group where you can read and post articles at The Scorecrow
Reddit Group where everyone can post without fear of being banned at The Scorecrow
Follow John Lepore on Twitter @jball0202
Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images