Best Blue Jays Ever: First Base


Hello boys and girls. It’s time for another edition of Best Blue Jays Ever! Last week’s edition was somewhat disheartening considering the dearth of good catchers in Blue Jays’ history. Today’s BBJE will be different though, because today we will be looking at first base. The Jays have had some pretty impressive players manning first over the years, so hopefully this will help cover up the stink from the catchers. We will use the same rules as last tim. In case you missed they are:

  • 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

One slight change from last week. My original intent was to do the top five catchers in Jays history, but that proved harder than I thought (it would have meant  J.P. Arencibia making the list and I couldn’t live with myself if that happened). We won’t have that issue today, so with no more preamble, here are the top five Blue Jays firstbasemen of all time:

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5.) John Mayberry – A lot of Blue Jays fans don’t remember Mayberry, shoot even I didn’t. My father had to remind me of him. He played 5 years for the Jays from 1978 to 1982. The Jays purchased him from Kansas City in April of 1978 to play first and provide power in the middle of the lineup. With the Jays he slashed .256/.352/.450, hit 92 HRs and had an OPS+ of 119. The number there that surprised me the most was the OBP, as in those early days the Jays were not a team that was know for taking the walk.  Though he was decent offensively and a solid power-threat for a you team, he was below average defensively. Still, his bat was good enough to get him #5 on our list.

4.) Willie Upshaw – Ah, Willie. I used to love Willie Upshaw as a kid. He was part of that core group along with Jesse Barfield, George Bell and Lloyd Moseby, who formed the heart of so many great Blue Jays teams in the early to mid-eighties. Willie played 10 years in the majors and all but one of them was with the Jays. He put up a line of .262/.335/.419, hit 112 HRs and had an OPS+ of 103. In his best year (1983) he hit .306 27 HRs 104 RBIs and scored 99 Runs. Like Mayberry he was know more for his bat than his glove, and you could argue that there isn’t a ton of difference between Upshaw and Mayberry. Willie takes number 4 on the list because such a big part of those teams that established the Blue Jays as a real threat in the American League.

3.) John Olerud – Good old Johnny O. What Blue Jays fan doesn’t remember the summer of 1993? The Jays were on their way to their second straight appearance in the World Series and Olerud had the season of his life. He captivated the country as we all rooted for him to be the first man since Ted Williams in 1941 to hit over .400 for the year. Sadly it was not meant to be, and John ended up hitting a paltry .363 for the season (which still stands a s a Blue Jays record). It wasn’t all just about ’93 with Olerud, though. In 8 years with the Jays Johnny O hit .293/.395/.471 with an OPS+ of 130. He also played pretty solid defence to boot. In the end it all comes down to that 1993 season. Olerud captured our hearts like no other sports figure had (outside of a hockey rink) and that alone is enough to cement his position at #3.

2.) Fred McGriff – Some of you may argue his position on this list ahead of Olerud, and you very well could be right. For me McGriff, narrowly, inches out Olerud because of his consistency. Yes, Olerud had a great year in ’93, but the Crime Dawg was year in year out one of the most consistent offensive performers in the AL during his tenure with the Jays. In five years he hit over 30 homeruns 3 times, leading the league once. He had a great eye and would take a walk. McGriff was a Moneyball player before that was even a thing. He hit 125 HRs in his career with the Jays and had an outstanding OPS+ of 153 (which is a higher OPS+ than the #1 player on this list). McGriff’s legacy with this club, though, really stems from the manner in which he left. Any Jays fan knows that he was part of the deal that brought back Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar and two World Series wins.

1.) Carlos Delgado – Honestly did anybody think it could be anybody else? Delgado is not just the best Blue Jays first basemen ever, it could be argued that he is the best Blue Jays period. Delgado’s name litter the Blue Jays’ all-time leader-boards. He holds the Jays record for Runs (889), Doubles (343), Homeruns (336), RBI (1058), Walks (827), Slugging (.556) and OPS (.949). If that weren’t enough he also places in the top 10 for Games played (2nd), Hits (3rd) and Batting Average (9th). Delgado was one of the most feared left-handed hitters in the American League passing 40 HRs three times. He’s a borderline Hall of Famer who, I believe, doesn’t get his due because of where he played and the era he played in.

So, there you have it. The best Blue Jays to man first base. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below.