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 three installments I looked at players ranked 86-100 and today I’ll look at the next five on the list.
Blue Jays Top 100 (81-85)
85. Tony Batista (1999-2001)
Tony Batista was acquired by the Blue Jays early in the 1999 season along with John Frascatore from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Dan Plesac. Batista is more known for his unique batting stance where he would stand almost completely facing the pitcher at the start of the pitch before swinging his body around. What he should be known for most, is that he had the best season by a third basemen in team history until Josh Donaldson came around.
In 2000, which was the only full season Batista had with the team he became an All-Star after he hit 41 home runs and 114 RBI which would end up being his career season. He struggled to replica his numbers the next season and after starting the season with a slash line of just .207/.251/.399 he was placed on waivers in late June 2001 which he was picked up by the Baltimore Orioles.
84. Otto Velez (1977-1982)
The Blue Jays selected Otto Velez from the New York Yankees in the expansion draft to lead the club into their first season. Fans couldn’t have asked for a better start from Puerto Rican hitter as he went 2 for 4 in his first game which helped propel him for the rest of April where all he did was hit five home runs and have a slash line of .442/.531/.865 that helped earn him AL Player of the Month.
Velez would go on and play six years in Toronto that saw his best season come in 1980 where in just 104 games he hit 20 home runs and 62 RBI while batting .269. Velez would finish playing in 522 games hitting 72 home runs while posting a slash line of .257/.372/.461. The Blue Jays would release him at the end of 1982 after he played in just 28 games and batted .192.
83. Manuel “Manny” Lee (1985-1992)
If you ask most fans who the starting shortstop was on the 1992 World Series team it might take a second to remember or others might not even know at all. That shortstop was career utility infielder Manny Lee who was a player the team had in their organization since they acquired him from the New York Mets as a 19-year old in 1984 during the Rule 5 Draft.
More from Jays Journal
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
Lee would play on four different playoff teams during his time in Toronto including as stated above being the starting shortstop for the World Series champs of 1992. Lee was a very light hitting defensive player that moved back and forth between second base and shortstop over his career.
He played 11 seasons in Toronto for a total of 753 games that saw him have a slugging percentage of just .323, but was dependable on defense. After the 1992 season Lee left in free agency where he would continue his career as a utility type player for two more seasons.
82. Wood Williams (1993-1998)
Drafted in the 28th round of the 1988 season by the Blue Jays, Woody Williams would pitch six seasons for Toronto and made his first jump during the 1993 season that saw him pitch in 30 games, however he was left off the playoff roster.
Williams spent the first part of his Blue Jays career pitching out of the bullpen, but in 1997 he moved into a full time role in the starting rotation. Williams missed out on the glory years in Toronto, but was part of a rotation in the late 90s that included Chris Carpenter, Roger Clemens and Pat Hentgen that should have brought the team back to glory.
In total, Williams pitched in 166 games in Toronto and posted a 28-34 record with a 4.30 ERA earning a total of a +9.6 WAR. After the 1998 season the Blue Jays would ship Williams, along with two prospects to San Diego for Joey Hamilton in a trade that Gord Ash lost as Hamilton did not amount to much and Williams would become an All-Star and a front of the rotation starter.
81. Al Leiter (1990-1995)
Early in the 1989 season, the Blue Jays traded at that time one of the most popular Blue Jays in team history Jesse Barfield to the New York Yankees in exchange for a Al Leiter who was at the time just 23-years old struggling in the starting rotation with the Yankees.
Leiter would make one start for Toronto shortly after the trade but had to go under the knife and injuries would derail the first part of his Blue Jays career as he lost almost the entirety of the 1989 and 1991 seasons. In 1992, Leiter was able to put in a full minor league season at AAA where he pitched 163 innings and would then make the 25 man roster for the 1993 season. Leiter would make five appearances during the 1993 playoff run, including three in the World Series.
He picked up the win in Game One of the series after he came in the sixth inning with the game tied at four. Leiter would throw 2.2 shutout innings while the Blue Jays could add to the lead. Leiter had a forgettable appearance in the famous game (Game Four) that saw the Blue Jays win 15-14, Leiter allowed six runs in 2.2 innings that game. In Game Six of the series Leiter was pitched well when he came in during the seventh inning with one out, the bases loaded and the game tied.
He did allow the go ahead run to come in on a sacrifice fly, however struck out Kevin Stocker to end the inning to limit the damage. He pitched an additional shutout inning that helped lead to Joe Carter’s legendary home run. In total, Leiter pitched in three of the four Blue Jays wins in the World Series.
Leiter would become a full time starting pitcher for the next two seasons with Toronto and he combined for a 17-18 record. In total, Leiter pitched in seven different seasons with the Blue Jays, but was only a full timer for three seasons. He finished his Blue Jays career with a 26-24 record with two saves, a 4.20 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. He would sign with the Florida Marlins for the 1996 season where he became an All-Star.
Do you remember these players? Who was your favorite?