Best Blue Jays Ever: Catchers


Mar. 9, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Canada manager Ernie Whitt against Mexico during the World Baseball Classic at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One of the great things about being a baseball fan is getting to talk shop with other baseball fans. There’s just something invigorating about two fans discussing differing points of view and trying to convince the other that they’re wrong. Be it the pros and cons of the Designated Hitter, or whether Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame, baseball is a never-ending fountain of possible topics to discuss and/or debate.  One of my favourite types of baseball conversation has always been the “Best of List”. It’s a conversation I’ve had hundreds of times and in many different incarnations, but it still excites me every time I talk about it (I’m kind of weird). Since Blue Jays news has been fairly slow this past week, I decided it might be fun to ask the question: Who were the best Blue Jays ever?

We’ll do this position by position and I think we’ll start with Catcher.  I am going to try to be objective about this and try to leave my personal feelings out of it. The criteria is as follows:

  • We are looking at only the player’s career with the Jays
  • Must have played at least 3 full seasons in Toronto (no one-year wonders here)
  • Must have been a fairly regular player (we’ll say average of 81 games/season)
  • Historical impact with the club will be considered as well as overall statistics (it can’t just be about numbers can it?)
  • WAR will not be considered (otherwise what’s the point? I could just list them in order of WAR, and that’s no fun)

Without further adieu here they are, counting down from three.

* Full disclosure, there were some very slim pickings here. This is not a position where the Jays have historically excelled in. So be forewarned, you may not like what you see.

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3.) Gregg Zaun – Sigh. This pains me a great deal because I really don’t like Zaun. I think he’s an obnoxious blow-hard with lamentable fashion sense, but this list isn’t about the best broadcaster in Jays’ history.  Zaun’s position on this list is primarily due to his offence. In the five years he spent with Toronto he slashed .255/.354/.399. Those numbers did surprise me a bit. Zaun was never really given an opportunity to start regualrly until the Jays picked him up. He showed that he was certainly capable of holding down a regular job. He wasn’t an offensive juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination and he was average at best defensively, but any time you can get a catcher to get on base 35% of the time I think you’re doing well.

2.) Darrin Fletcher – We move on from one of my least favourite Jays, to one of my favourites. Fletcher had five solid seasons in Toronto slashing .269/.318/.423. He also had probably one of the best offensive seasons ever for a Jays catcher in 2000 when he hit .320 and clubbed 20 home runs. Fletch also wasn’t know for his defensive wizardry. He was -5DRS for his time in Toronto and he only caught just over 25% of attempted base stealers. His position, though was earned with the bat and not the glove.

1.) Ernie Whitt – Was there ever any doubt about this one? Ernie Whitt was really the only choice in my mind. He may not be as good statistically as Zaun or Fletch, but his impact on the Blue Jays can’t be denied. His first year with the Jays was their inaugural year in 1977, but he really didn’t become a fixture in the lineup until the 1980 season. He was the backbone of those up and coming teams in the early to mid-eighties and really was one of the first “stars” of that fledgling ball club. All told he played 12 of his 15 seasons in Toronto where he hit .253/.327/.410. He still holds a number of records for Jays catchers including HR(131), RBI (518), 2B (164), Runs(424), Walks (403) and Games Played (1,218). So, here’s to Ernie Whitt ,the Best Blue Jays catcher ever!

That’s my list. What do you guys think? Did I leave someone out? Does someone not belong?  Sound off below.