A recent review of the Blue Jays’ stats from 1993 not only reminded me, but reinforced just how ridiculous the performance of ohn Olerud was that year.
It’s been fun to re-live the glory days of Blue Jays past lately while re-watching some of the games from the 90’s. I may have been a kid when it was all happening, but I vividly remember a lot of the details from the early 90’s, as I watched the vast majority of the games with my Dad on TV back then, at least whenever I wasn’t outside playing baseball myself.
And while I definitely remembered John Olerud’s dominance from 1993, and could even recite you his numbers from that season without looking (I played a lot video games as a kid too), it wasn’t until I actually sat down with his baseball reference page again that I truly appreciated just how insane his performance was that year. Even knowing what I was about to look at, my jaw still literally dropped.
During his batting title winning season in the American League, Olerud slashed a laughable .363/.473/.599, adding 24 home runs, 107 RBI, and 54 (!) doubles. His OPS was an astonishing 1.072 and he end up with 7.8 bWAR, finishing third in AL MVP voting that year.
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For those that remember watching that season as it was happening, you’ll likely remember that Olerud was making headlines because he was flirting with the .400 mark for a good portion of the season. It was an exciting time, and while his batting average tapered off in September, Olerud was still hitting .400 on August 2nd, keeping things interesting deep into the summer. Really, it’s pretty hilarious that his .324 batting average after the All-Star break dragged down his season totals so much.
It didn’t really matter what you threw at the Seattle native that year, or what situation he found himself in. He hit .363 with two out, .371 with runners in scoring position, and .389 while leading off an inning. I could throw numbers like that at you all day, but one in particular made me laugh out loud. Olerud hit .517/.527/.793 when he hit the first pitch of an at-bat, picking up 45 hits over 87 at-bats.
While 1993 was a breakout year for Olerud, it wasn’t a one-off by any means. He had several productive seasons in a Blue Jays uniform, and with the Mariners in 1998, he nearly meet the standards he set in ’93, slashing .354/.447/.551 and earned 7.6 bWAR. He finished his career with a slash line of .295/.398/.465 with 255 home runs and exactly 500 doubles over parts of 17 seasons, and will probably always be at least a little bit underrated.
Sporting one of the sweetest swings you’ll ever see, Olerud put on a nightly clinic for most of his career, but especially back in 1993. Even though I was more than familiar with his performance that year, it was still worth another look at the numbers, and they’re even more ridiculous than I remembered.