Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
3. John Olerud
The Blue Jays drafted John Olerud in 1989. Olerud didn’t spend any time in the minors and made his debut with 8 PAs as a 20 year old later that season. Olerud quickly became a regular with 421 PAs the next year. He was a mainstay at first for the Jays until 1996.
Olerud, like Overbay, was atypical for the position. He was a doubles and walks machine but averaged about 18 home runs a year. He was also notable for wearing a batting helmet while fielding because of a brain aneurysm.
Olerud’s best season as a Jay came in 1993. He led the league in OPS (1.072), average (.363), OBP (.473) and doubles (54). He walked nearly twice as much as he struck out. He famously challenged for a .400 average and was still above the mark on August 24. He posted a 7.7 WAR that year. It was perhaps the best offensive season by a Jays’ first baseman.
He wouldn’t come close to those gaudy numbers over the rest of his Jays’ career but still put up very solid numbers from 1994 to 1996.
As Gob Bluth would say, the Blue Jays made a huge mistake prior to the 1997 season. With the emergence of Carlos Delgado, there was only room for one of Joe Carter or Olerud as the other 1B/DH. Blue Jays’ management preferred the severely declining Carter to the “not aggressive enough” Olerud. Olerud was shipped off to the Mets for Robert Person. The Jays even paid the Mets $5 million to rid themselves of Olerud.
The trade was a disaster. Person put up a -1.8 WAR for the Jays, Carter had a terrible season and Olerud went on to post 37.5 WAR from 1997 to 2005 with the Mets, Mariners, Yankees and Red Sox. He retired after the 2005 season. Some believe that Olerud belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Among Blue Jays’ first basemen all-time he ranks 2nd in WAR, 3rd in PAs, 3rd in RBI, 2nd in BB%, 3rd in wRC+, 2nd in Fielding Percentage and 1st on this list in defensive runs.
Next: At No.2 on the list, The Canine Criminal