Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
The Blue Jays are currently full of options at first base with Justin Smoak, Chris Colabello and Edwin Encarnacion in the fold. The position has been strong for the team historically: some of the best Blue Jays ever played first base. Jays Journal continues its all-time Blue Jays positional lists with a look at the top 5 first basemen in Toronto history.
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- Blue Jays: All-Time Roster Part Two, Battery and Infield
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Before we get to the list, here are some caveats and explanations:
This list is only a top 5 because very few Blue Jays (with enough PAs) spent the plurality of their time as a first baseman. There weren’t enough names to populate an adequate top 10. To give you some contect, if this was a top 10, David Cooper would have been #10. Names like Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind will appear on the top DH list.
For a note on how I used WAR and what WARPA means see the preamble of this previous top ten.
Only a first baseman’s performance while with the Jays is considered. How they fared in the rest of their careers elsewhere is ignored. A minimum 200 PA with the Jays was the cutoff for inclusion in the top 10 and for stat rankings. The PA cutoff is so low because of the lack of true first basemen.
Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
#5: Lyle Overbay
Lyle Overbay, a 1999 18th round pick of the Diamondbacks, made his debut in 2001 with Arizona. He was a Diamondback and a Brewer before he was traded to the Blue Jays prior to the 2005 season.
Overbay played 5 seasons with the Blue Jays and was quite valuable even though his contributions often flew under the radar. He was the Jays’ primary first baseman over that span—averaging 571 ABs per season with Toronto. Overbay was atypical for a first baseman. In relation to the position, he didn’t hit for much power. He made up for it with a penchant for doubles and walks. He was also a solid defender at first.
Overbay’s best season in Toronto was also his first. In 2006, he slashed .312/.372/.508, hit 46 doubles, a career high 22 home runs and posted a 3.2 bWAR.
The Jays signed Lyle to a 4 year extension but he had a down year in 2007 after breaking bones in his hand. He rebounded nicely and over the next three years had a bWAR’s of 2.6, 2.8 and 2.5 respectively. Defensively, Overbay put up 34 DRS as a Jay.
Overbay left to sign with Pittsburgh prior to the 2011 season and played for the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Braves, Yankees and Brewers before retiring after the 2014 season.
Among Blue Jays’ first basemen all-time he ranks 5th in WAR, 4th in RBI, 5th in Offensive runs, 3rd in UZR, and 1st in DRS.
Next: Coming in at No. 4, Willie the Kid!