To kill time until we get to the start of Spring Training, I thought it would be good to look at a list of Top 100 Blue Jays in franchise history. In the first two installments I looked at players ranked 91-100 and today I’ll look at the next five on the list.
Blue Jays Top 100 (86-90)
90. Scott Rolen (2008-2009)
The Blue Jays acquired Scott Rolen just over 13 years ago during the offseason of 2008 from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Troy Glaus. Both players were on the downward part of their careers fighting off injuries. Rolen came to Toronto with a reputation of a top defender as he had won five previous Gold Gloves, but the 30+ home run, 100+ RBI type hitter was no longer in him. He would join the club and play just one and a half seasons for a total of 203 career games where he hit a total of 19 home runs, but did have a slash line of .288/.358/.452.
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During Rolen’s second season, the Blue Jays found themselves seven games back of a playoff spot and shipped Rolen to Cincinnati at the trade deadline. The Reds were desperately looking for a player on the hot corner as their current third basemen was batting just .209 and had a bleak .941 fielding percentage. In exchange for Rolen the Blue Jays got a pair of pitching prospects Zach Stewart and Josh Roenicke, and that struggling infielder by the name of Edwin Encarnacion.
What I’ll remember most about Rolen is that he always baffled me that his 6’4”, 245 lbs framed body played so well defensively.
89. Troy Glaus (2006-2007)
When the Blue Jays acquired Troy Glaus just after Christmas 2005, I thought they had won the deal in a landslide. Along with Glaus, they acquired Sergio Santos for Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson. Hudson was an All-Star caliber second basemen with a Gold Glove, but Batista I felt was at best an average relief pitcher; Glaus was a superstar and I thought Santos was just on the brink of stardom.
During his first season in Toronto all Glaus did was hit 27 doubles and 38 home runs while driving in 104 runs and being named to the All-Star Game. His range wasn’t great and his glove wasn’t flashy but it was good enough that you could handle it for what he brought offensively. But then 2006 came and Glaus was missing a lot of games, including two weeks in April and another week in July. It came out that he was having a lot of foot problems and the ground in Rogers Center was making it worse. Glaus tried to grit through the season, but it came to an end in the middle of September.
Glaus would be traded that next offseason to the Cincinnati Reds for Scott Rolen. Glaus would play 268 games for the Blue Jays collecting 46 doubles and 58 home runs. Had he been able to stay healthy it would have been fun to see what he could have done in Toronto.
88. Roy Howell (1977-1980)
He may not be the most popular Roy H in team history, but Roy Howell had decent career with the Toronto Blue Jays. The club was only 30 games into their inaugural season when they traded Steve Hargan, Jim Mason and $200,000 for the light hitting third basemen from the Texas Rangers. After starting the season 0 for 17 with the Rangers, he finished year with the Blue Jays hitting 10 home runs to a slash line of .316/.386/.451.
Howell became the everyday third basemen for the Blue Jays for the first four years of their existence and was selected to the All-Star Game in 1978 which was his only appearance. During his four years in Toronto, Howell would hit 43 home runs and collect a batting average of .272 while posting at WAR of +2.1 or above in each season. Howell would leave after the 1980 season in free agency to the sign with the Milwaukee Brewers.
87. Aaron Loup (2012-2018)
Never have I seen a Blue Jays bullpen pitcher go through as much scrutiny like Aaron Loup did during his seven year career with the club. Loup was selected in the ninth round, signed for just $100,000 and wound up pitching in 369 career games for the Blue Jays posting a 3.47 ERA and a 1.2 WHIP.
In 2012, Loup jumped straight from AA New Hampshire to Toronto where he finished the season pitching in 33 games and posting a 2.64 ERA. Loup had a stronger first half of his career in Toronto, as his last four seasons saw him post an ERA above 4.46 three times, which is the reason for always been the brunt of negative comments. At the deadline in 2018, the Blue Jays sent Loup to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jacob Waguespack.
86. Jesse Litsch (2007-2011)
When you are drafted in the 24th round, not many are counting on you to make the major leagues, but when Jesse Litsch was taken by the Blue Jays in the 2004 draft he was determined to make it. Litsch strolled through the minor leagues and made a debut many dream of on May 15, 2007. In the first inning during his debut he allowed a run on a two out double to Miguel Tejada but from there he retired the next 15 batters.
He would pitch into the ninth inning, but with two out he allowed a walk to Tejada and was pulled by John Gibbons. Litsch would end up picking up the win in his first ever start, being just one out from a complete game.
He would struggle during his next three starts and be sent down for a month before returning. Litsch finished his rookie season with a 7-9 record and a 3.81 ERA and would follow that up with a 13-9 record with a 3.58 ERA in 2008, along sharing the league lead in shutouts (2).
The downfall to Litsch’s career was injuries as he was unable to stay healthy. He would start just 11 games over the next two seasons and move to the bullpen full time in 2011. Unfortunately injuries continued and he would retire shortly thereafter.
Litsch pitched his entire career with the Blue Jays and posted a career 27-27 record with a 4.16 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Had he not continually pitch through injuries his numbers would have easily been much higher.
Which one of these five players was your favorite?