Much has been made of Toronto’s fearsome offence this year, and rightly so, but how does this lineup compare historically? Is it one of the best all-time? Well, let’s quickly discount “best all-time”. It’s not even close really. Actually, even “one of the best all-time” is quite a stretch as well. What is roughly accurate, however, is “top 20 of the post-war era”. That doesn’t sound nearly as impressive but if you think about it, it’s still quite an achievement. Out of the roughly 2000 teams that have competed from 1946 on, these 2015 Blue Jays are in the top 1 percentile offensively. Here’s another statement that sounds more grand: Best Blue Jays offence ever.
The best all-time greatest offence would go to a team such as the 1875 Red Stockings (136 wRC+), the 1876 White Stockings (135 wRC+), the 1927 (126 wRC+), 1930 (124 wRC+) or 1931 (124 wRC+) Yankees , the 1884 Maroons (132 wRC+). It’s very difficult to compare teams from these eras since many rules had yet to take shape and various stats weren’t complied at all or carefully enough. Baserunning stats in particular complicate things. The further you go back in baseball history, the murkier they become (which is why wRC+ was used for these teams and not offensive runs).
One thing is clear, the 2015 Blue Jays don’t come close. Their 115 wRC+ ranks 45th all time (Although, consider again how many teams and seasons have been played since 1871. Pretty remarkable). One caveat is that, of course, the Jays season is not over yet and they are in a bit of an offensive slump currently. They won’t make the jump into 120 wRC+ territory but they could conceivably move up to 116 or 117. That would put them in the top 30. Of course, they could drop down a point or two as well. The point is, they’re not the best all time or in the top 20.
Don’t like advanced stats? Well, by simple runs scored, the Jays are at 833 runs. Supposing the Jays got up to 900 by season’s end (a stretch), that would rank them 107th all time(Starting to prefer wRC+? Here’s a primer on wRC+ explaining its numerous advantages). The 1894 Beaneaters lead the way in runs scored in a season with 1220. The post-deadball 1931 Yankees had 1067.
If the search is restricted to the post-deadball era (1920 and on), the 2015 Blue Jays enter the top 30 of wRC+. Post-war the Jays move up to 21st. Post-deadball era II, the 2015 Jays take 19th place. Post-deadball era II is 1969 and onwards (The mound was lowered and the strike zone made smaller. With the exception of the DH rule , the game is played the same way today. Record-keeping was much better by this point as well). By Offensive Runs (Off), the 2015 Blue Jays are at 107.2. If they maintain their current pace, they’ll end up with 114 roughly—good for about 17th post-1969 (I’m now using Off to compare since baserunning records had improved sufficiently). The Off leader post-1969 is the 2007 Yankees with 168.4.
The statement, “Best Blue Jays Offence” when applied to the 2015 team seems like sacrilege to many devoted fans (especially those longer in the tooth) but it’s accurate. The 2015 Jays have a 107.2 Off (and aren’t done yet). The 2nd ranked Jays team, 1993, has 88.1 Off. The 2003 Jays, who hold the club’s runs scored record (894 runs), have a 56.6 Off. 1st place in wRC+? 2015 at 115. 2nd? 1993 at 109.
Is this offence one of the MLB’s very best all time? Not quite, but among Blue Jays’ seasons, this is the best it has ever been.