As I’ve already mentioned, we’re going to use a four-man bench for the purposes of this piece. In theory some MLB teams may go to a five-man group this year, but my guess is the extra roster spot will primarily be used on an additional reliever anyway.
Getting back to the bench for this fictional Blue Jays team, we’re going to need at least one infielder, one outfielder, a back-up catcher, and then an extra player, and we’ll say that last spot is for the “best available” at any position.
I’ll start with Ernie Whitt as the back-up catcher, who arguably could have been the starter on this team. He ended up slashing .256/.346/.459 in 1983 while earning 3.4 bWAR, so he’ll back up Martin here. I also mentioned Devon White as well, and to me he’s the obvious choice as a back-up outfielder and late-inning defensive replacement/pinch runner. In my opinion his best season came in 1991 (although he was excellent in 1992-93 as well). That season he slashed .282/.342/.455 with 17 home runs, 40 doubles, 33 stolen bases, and 6.3 bWAR.
I’m going to cheat a little (okay, maybe more than a little) and use Paul Molitor as the back-up infielder. He was primarily used as a DH in Toronto, but he spent time at every position but catcher throughout his career. He was a remarkable replacement for Dave Winfield in 1993 when he slashed .332/.402/.509 with 22 home runs, 111 RBI, 22 stolen bases, and 5.6 vWAR as a 36 year old.
Last but not least, I decided to give the final roster spot to Shawn Green, slightly edging out a big pool of contenders Edwin Encarnacion, Lloyd Moseby, Joe Carter, and Jesse Barfield. This is likely the easiest spot to debate, but I went with Green’s 1999 season when he slashed .309/.384/.588 with 42 home runs, 45 doubles, 123 RBI, and 6.4 bWAR. His presence would give this fictional team one more big bopper off the bench, not that they’d really need it.
So, how did I do? I’m sure there are some of you nodding along right now, while others are cracking their knuckles and getting ready to tell me what’s what. By all means, feel free to let the debate continue below.