There is still time to kill until we get to the start of Spring Training, so I thought it would be good to look at a list of Top 100 Blue Jays in franchise history. In the first four instalments I looked at players ranked 81-100 and today I’ll look at the next five on the list. This is opinion based off of career stats with the club and accomplishments.
Blue Jays Top 100 (76-80)
80. Justin Speier (2004-2006)
Justin Speier was just a bullpen pitcher and only on the club for three seasons, but he was a very dependable arm for his duration with the team. Speier was acquired on December 14, 2003 in a three team deal from Colorado that saw the Blue Jays send Mark Hendrickson to Tampa Bay and prospect Sandy Nin to the Rockies.
Speier did have a bit of a rough start to his Blue Jays career in 2004, however, from mid-August that season to the end of his career he was as steady of a pitcher as the team had out of the bullpen. Speier went through one stretch in 2005 where he allowed just two runs over 24 appearances. Through three seasons, Speier appeared in 185 games (187 IP) posting a 3.18 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. Those numbers translated into a +3.8 WAR, which isn’t bad for a bullpen arm.
79. Brandon Morrow (2010-2014)
The Blue Jays acquired Brandon Morrow from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Brandon League and prospect Johermyn Chavez. Morrow was one of those pitchers that seemed to always be on the brink of figuring it out and becoming a top of the rotation fixture
Morrow put it all together on August 8, 2010, when he pitched arguably the best game in Blue Jays history when he threw a one-hit, 17 strikeout complete game shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays to win 1-0. In 2011, Morrow led the American League with a 10.2 strikeout per nine inning rate, and in 2012 had he not been injured midseason for two and half months, he may have made the All-Star Team. That season, Morrow finished up with a 10-7 record with a 2.96 ERA.
After the 2014 season Morrow left the team in free agency and when healthy he became a top bullpen arm as he travelled around the league.
78. A.J. Burnett (2006-2008)
When A.J. Burnett signed with the Blue Jays for the 2006 season, the team had the makings of one of the best starting rotations across all of Major League Baseball. Burnett would join Roy Halladay and Ted Lilly at the top of the rotation in Toronto. Burnett proved to be a good signing and helped the Blue Jays finish 12 games above .500, but they finished second in the division in 2008 behind the New York Yankees.
In his time in Toronto, Burnett led the league in both strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings in 2008. In 81 career games (80 starts), he finished with a 38-26 record, while posting a 3.94 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, Burnett had an opt-out clause in his contract after year three and he exercised it. Burnett would sign with the New York Yankees and win the World Series the next year.
77. Aaron Sanchez (2014-2019)
It finally happened, the Blue Jays had drafted a group of pitchers that looked like they were the real deal and Aaron Sanchez was one of them. Toronto selected Sanchez in the supplemental first round of the 2010 MLB Draft for compensation when they lost Marco Scutaro in free agency.
Sanchez flew through the minor league system with ease for the most part. He was called up in 2014, and after having his heaviest workload that season in the minor leagues the club placed him in the bullpen. Sanchez was almost un-hittable and that is not an exaggeration, as he allowed just 14 hits over 33 innings, giving up only one home run. In his first stint, Sanchez posted a 1.09 ERA and 0.69 WHIP.
Sanchez would start the 2015 season in the rotation, but after an injury came midseason he was put back to the bullpen on his return. That playoff year, Sanchez would make nine appearances for a total of 7.1 IP and did not allowed an earned run. The following year, Sanchez became a full-time starter and won the AL ERA title, along with a having the highest winning percentage when he posted a 15-2 record and became an All-Star. That would be the peak of his career as he would constantly battle injuries, most commonly a blister injury on his pitching hand.
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Sanchez would be unreliable for the remainder of his tenure in Toronto. He finished his Blue Jays career with a 32-33 record and 3.96 ERA. In 2019, he was packaged in a trade to Houston where he made just four starts before he was shutdown with an injury. He is currently a free agent and some team would be wise to take a flyer on this one-time All-Star.
76. Dave Winfield (1992)
“Winfield Wants Noise!” That was once of the slogans for the Toronto Blue Jays during their 1992 World Series run when Dave Winfield called out fans to be louder. Yes, Winfield played just one year in Toronto, but I’d argue that no player rated lower on this list had a bigger impact on the organization than this Hall of Famer.
Winfield had been playing in the Major Leagues since 1973, but had yet to win a World Series. He felt Toronto gave him the best opportunity after the team lost out in the ALCS the year prior. He would sign a one-year deal worth $2.3 million to be the everyday Designated Hitter as he would start 130 games in that hitting position. Winfield brought experience, talent and determination to the team. He would finish the season with 33 doubles, 26 home runs and 108 RBI while having a slash line of .290/.377/.491.
His biggest impact came in his last game and seems to be a forgotten memory when you talk about the greatest hits in Blue Jays history. In the eleventh inning of Game 6 with the teams tied, Winfield stepped up with two out, Devon White on second base and Roberto Alomar on first base. He would hit a double down the left field line to give Toronto a 4-2 win and the Blue Jays were able to hold the lead and win their first World Series.
Next up on the list is a pair of corner infielders, a pitcher, and two others.