Best Blue Jays Ever: Left Field


Well boys and girls, it’s time for another edition of Best Blue Jays Ever. Last time out we got some good discussion about the shortstops, so let’s see if we can keep things going as we make our way into the outfield. The infield proved to be a bit of a disappointment overall so I’m hoping the outfield fares better. I know the Jays have had a ton of talent out there over the years, so lets get right down to it. Here are the rules for those of us joining in late:

  • 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

Now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s jump right in with…

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5.) Al Woods

Career with the Jays: .271/.326/.387, 2B: 98, HR: 35, RBI: 196, OPS+: 94

I’ll be honest here. The only reason why I even considered Woods was because I needed a fifth player. As you can see his offensive statistics are…well they aren’t good. Al had no real power, he wasn’t very fast and he was below average in the field. He was an original Blue Jay and was with the team for it’s first six years. One of the things I have noticed by doing this exercise is how rare it is to see players spend more than a few years in Toronto. It seems that a lot of players, especially the elite ones, tend to move on to greener pastures at some point. That’s why Woods is on this list, there really wasn’t a whole lot of choice. Don’t worry, though, it does get better.

4.) Reed Johnson

Career with the Jays: .281/.342/.410, 2B: 114, HR: 42, RBI: 234, OPS+: 95

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Not a lot is said about Reed Johnson when discussing Blue Jays of the past. He isn’t blessed with an abundance of gifts, but he makes the most of what he has. He was the type of player that fans in Toronto are drawn to. He is a throwback to an earlier time and goes all out on every play. He even wore the high-socks (which I think look awesome).  For some reason players from that mould always seem to endear themselves to Blue Jays fans. Johnson didn’t just get by on grit alone though. He was an above average fielder, and had a good arm. He also excelled at getting on base, and would do so by any means. He was often near the top of the league in getting hit by pitches, even leading the league with 21 in 2007 (ouch!).

3.) Frank Catalanotto

Career with the Jays: .299/.361/.445 2B: 118, HR: 29, RBI: 200, OPS+: 109

Another Blue Jay often lost to the mists of time. The “Cat” only spent 4 season in Toronto, so many fans often forget him. I’ll confess I often do. The fact that he played on some unremarkable teams didn’t really help. Catolanotto did one thing and one thing well, he hit the ball. In his four seasons with the Jays he posted averages of .293, .299, .301 and .300 and his OPS+ in those years was 112, 88, 115, and 111. The low mark being in 2004 when he only got into 75 games. Frank also holds a Blue Jays record for most hits in a single game with 6 on May 1st 2004. In that game he went 6 for 6 with a Double, 2 Runs, and 2 RBI. It was a pretty impressive line, but still he stays at #3.

2.) Shannon Stewart

Career with the Jays: .298/.365/.430, 2B: 315, 3B: 41, HR: 115, RBI 580, SB: 196, OPS+: 108

I was a bit surprised to learn that in our list of leftfielders Stewart was the longest serving Blue Jay. He played 10 excellent seasons in Toronto. Stewart was the leadoff hitter for most of his time with the Jays. Early in his career he showed terrific speed stealing 51 and 37 bases in his first two seasons. Sadly due to various injuries, and the stolen base falling out of favour in the early 2000s, he didn’t run as much as he did in those early years.  Nevertheless, he was still an excellent leadoff hitter with good on base skills and solid power. He was also a decent fielder due to his speed, although, he had a noodle for an arm. Ordinarily a player like this would be tops on the list, but he has to be runner up next to…

1.) George Bell 

Career with the Jays: .286/.325/.486, 2B: 237, HR: 202, RBI: 740, OPS+: 119

Once again the number one spot is kind of a no-brainer. Bell was the heart of the order on those upstart Blue Jays teams during the early to mid eighties. I know a lot of people reading this probably weren’t alive to see George play, but he was something else. Sure, he was a pylon in the field and probably should have been a DH, and yes he was curmudgeonly. For Jays fans my age, though, there is no more indelible memory than watching Bell drop to his knees after making the final out of a 5-1 win versus the Yankees on October 5th 1985. That win clinched the Jays’ first AL East title. Bell was more than just a fond memory for fans, though. During his tenure in Toronto he made 2 All-Star games, won 3 Silver Sluggers and won the MVP in 1987 with a line of .308/.352/.605, 47HR, OPS+ 146. To this day he is the only Blue Jay to win that coveted award.  Here’s to you George the best leftfielder in Blue Jays history.

So, there you have it. Another list is in the books. What do you guys think? Speak up in the comments.