Top 10 Blue Jays Relievers of All Time

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In compiling this top 10, I began with trying to define what makes a player worthy of being considered “top.” For me, that’s a blend of longevity, raw skill, context of the performance, result of the performance and value of the performance to the team. In an effort to be as objective as possible, I used 6 statistics to help quantify those components.

One way of doing a top 10 in baseball is to simply rank the players by WAR. The problem is since WAR is a counting stat, a good player who was around for long time would beat out an exceptional player who was around for less time. For example, Vernon Wells has more WAR with the Blue Jays than does Roberto Alomar but who would rank Vernon Wells higher than Roberto Alomar as a Jay? The other problem is that WAR doesn’t always tell the whole story. Joe Carter is 30th in WAR among Jays position players all time, behind the likes of Eric Hinske, Damaso Garcia and Roy Howell. I don’t think anyone would describe him as less great of a Jay than those three. 

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I did use WAR as one of the statistics but I adjusted it for innings pitched to get a better idea of how valuable a player was in the time they were with the Jays. Its a little hybrid stat that I like to call WARIP (WARPA being the position player equivalent). Simply divide a player’s WAR by the number of innings they pitched and then multiply it by 100 to get a manageable figure. For example Roger Clemens and David Wells have a nearly identical WAR with the Jays of 19.2 and 19.1 respectively. Apply the WARIP formula and you get 1.66 for Wells and 3.85 for Clemens. Clemens was 2.3 times more valuable than Wells if they had both played the same amount of time with the Jays. You could just eyeball WAR and how long they played with the Jays but this way is just more specific and exact.

I do believe that longevity is one indictor of how great a player was but not nearly to the extent that a raw WAR ranking would suggest. So instead I used WARIP and added a point for every 500 innings pitched with the Jays.

Only a reliever’s performance with the Jays is considered. How they fared in the rest of their careers elsewhere is ignored. Many relievers on this list also started for the Jays and so a relief appearance only split was used for all statistics. A minimum 100 IP for the Jays was the cutoff for inclusion in the top 10 (sorry Victor Cruz!).

The rankings the system produced both challenged and confirmed my expectations. Some relievers were right where I thought they’d be ranked and others were surprising inclusions or exclusions. Anyways, enough preamble. Let’s begin with number 10: