Toronto Blue Jays: The Best One-Season Blue Jays

MILWAUKEE - 1992: Dave Winfield of the Toronto Blue Jays bats during an MLB game against the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the 1992 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE - 1992: Dave Winfield of the Toronto Blue Jays bats during an MLB game against the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the 1992 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

It is not unusual for a player to play one season for a team and then move onto another organization the next year. What former ballplayers are atop the list of best one-season Blue Jays?

The idea for this article came from, and I have used a similar approach to identify the top-five, one-season Blue Jay careers. I used FanGraphs as the source to find all players who played for the Blue Jays between 1977 and 2019. The metric employed to rank the best one-and-done seasons was fWAR.

Ron Fairly (1977 – 2.0 fWAR)

Ron Fairly’s one-season with the Toronto Blue Jays occurred in 1977, the inaugural campaign. He was a 38-year old first baseman/designated hitter who was playing in the second-last season of a 21-year career.

Fairly was a good hitter (0.768 OPS; 117 OPS+) during his career and spent 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. His next longest tenure with a ball club was with the Montreal Expos, which he joined partway through their first campaign in 1969. He produced a 119 wRC+ in 528 plate appearances for the 1977 Blue Jays. Fairly was traded by the Blue Jays in December 1977 to the California Angels.

Fun fact

The pitcher Fairly faced the most during his career was Bob Gibson. He had 179 plate appearances against Gibson and posted a 0.809 OPS. However, Fairly paid the price for his success and on-field chirping.

More from Toronto Blue Jays News

Orlando Merced (1997 – 2.2 fWAR)

Orlando Merced was a 13-year MLB veteran who made his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990. He played parts of seven seasons with the Pirates before being traded to the Blue Jays before the 1997 campaign. In his one-season Blue Jay career, Merced was a right fielder. Merced was an above-average defender: among American League right fielders in 1997, he was third in assists (10); second in double plays (4); and third in Range Factor (2.18). He signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Twins in 1998.

Fun fact

Merced was second in voting for the 1991 National League Rookie of the Year Award; Jeff Bagwell won the prize. Bagwell was the longtime teammate of Craig Biggio, father of Cavan Biggio.

Eric Sogard (2019 – 2.2 fWAR)

Way back in 2019, Eric Sogard joined the Blue Jays as a free agent. The Milwaukee Brewers released him after the 2018 campaign in which he recorded a 14 wRC+ and minus 0.8 fWAR in 55 games. In his one-season Blue Jay tenure, Sogard was a marginally below-average second baseman in terms of DRS but slightly above in Outs Above Average. However, he performed well at the plate (122 wRC+). The Tampa Bay Rays acquired Sogard just before the July 31, 2019 trade deadline.

Fun fact

Sogard’s nickname is Nerd Power. Never before or since has that moniker been used in baseball to describe a player or a fan. That’s a fact; you can look it up.

Alex Gonzalez (2010 – 2.5 fWAR)

Alex Gonzalez had a brief tenure with the Blue Jays. He was a November 2009 free-agent signing by the Blue Jays and was traded to the Atlanta Braves in July for a package that included Yunel Escobar. As the Blue Jays starting shortstop, Gonzalez was above-average defensively (12 DRS) and generated a 111 wRC+ in 348 plate appearances. After the 2011 season, Gonzalez signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Fun fact

The other Alex Gonzalez, known as Gonzo, also played for the Blue Jays (1994-2001). Gonzo was on the Expos roster in 2004, their final season before becoming the Washington Nationals. Therefore, a one-time Blue Jay was on the first Expos team (Ron Fairly) and also on the last Expos club (Gonzo).

Dave Winfield (1992 – 3.8 fWAR)

Dave Winfield’s one-season Blue Jay calling occurred in 1992. He was a free agent after his 1991 season with the California Angels and signed with Toronto on December 19, 1991. As a 40-year old Blue Jay, Winfield generated a 140 wRC+, which is excellent at any age. Except for 26 games in right field, he was a designated hitter for Toronto.

In addition to being a fan favourite, Winfield brought leadership and experience to the club. Winfield’s one-and-done season is the best in Toronto’s history, not only in terms of fWAR but also because he was an essential member of the Blue Jays 1992 World Series Championship team. It’s hard to beat that for a one-time turn as a Blue Jay. He departed after the 1992 season and joined the Minnesota Twins.

Fun fact

During his nine seasons with the New York Yankees, Winfield had a strained relationship with owner George Steinbrenner. Reggie Jackson was dubbed “Mr. October” for his postseason excellence with the Yankees and the Oakland Athletics. After Winfield struggled in the last month of the 1985 campaign, one where the Yankees lost a pennant to the Blue Jays, Steinbrenner called Winfield “Mr. May”. Blue Jays fans did not call Winfield “Mr. May” after he hit a two-run double that turned out to be the World Series-winning hit in 1992.

dark. Next. Bo Bichette with a shot at the MLB the Show title

The last word

There have been many one-and-done seasons by Blue Jays players. However, of the five seasons detailed above, Winfield’s is the best in terms of individual play and team success.