The Blue Jays Level of Excellence is awarded to players and management that had tremendous individual achievements throughout their tenure in Toronto.
Roy Halladay joined Roberto Alomar, Paul Beeston, George Bell, Joe Carter, Tom Cheek, Carlos Delgado, Tony Fernandez, Cito Gaston, Pat Gillick and Dave Stieb on the Blue jays “Level of Excellence” in 2018. The question I want to look at is whether or not there is another player that deserves to join that club.
The first player that comes to mind is Jose Bautista. Bautista played 10 seasons in Toronto, sits second in Offensive WAR (39.4), fourth in OPS (.878) and fifth in games played (1,235). His power numbers are one of the best as he sits seventh in doubles (219) and second in home runs (288). He also holds the single season record in home runs with 54 (seven better than the next best). During his 10 year stay in Toronto he was an All-Star for six straight seasons and won the Silver Slugger Award as the top hitter at his position three times. Bautista’s seventh inning home run in the 2015 ALDS against the Texas Rangers has given a generation of Blue Jays fans similar memories to famous home runs during the 1992 run to the World Series.
I don’t think there is a question of if he will get on the Level of Excellence, but when. It is rumoured that Bautista, who will be 40 years old in the fall, wants to try and stay in baseball as a pitcher, so his time on the Level will have to wait a bit longer.
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The second player that could see his name lifted to the Level of Excellence is Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion had an interesting start to his career in Toronto as he was a bench player for the first year and a half, placed on waivers, claimed by the Oakland Athletics only to be granted free agency a month later and signed back with Toronto. Encarnacion responded by raising his batting average by 30 points and within two years he became a consistent 30+ home run, 100+ RBI hitter.
Encarnacion would play eight seasons in Toronto hitting 42 home runs twice in that time and was a three time All-Star. He sits third in career home runs, sixth in RBI and fifth in Offensive WAR. The veteran is still active and is currently signed on with the Chicago White Sox, so his career isn’t quite over yet.
Although Vernon Wells stay in Toronto did not end on a high note, which I think the blame should go elsewhere for that, but that is for another story. Wells was a drafted and developed All-Star centre fielder that spent 14 years in the organization. Wells trails just Delgado, Bautista and Fernandez in career Offensive WAR, while sitting fourth All-Time in home runs. Wells was also a three time Gold Glove winner and one time Silver Slugger.
Is there another player that should be on Level of Excellence? Did Josh Donaldson do enough in his short time frame to receive the acknowledgement? Did the Blue Jays miss out on some of the World Series players like Tom Henke and Jimmy Key?