Toronto Blue Jays: Top 100 Players (#71-#75)

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 24: Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on from behind home plate on Players Weekend during MLB game action against the Philadelphia Phillies at Rogers Centre on August 24, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 24: Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on from behind home plate on Players Weekend during MLB game action against the Philadelphia Phillies at Rogers Centre on August 24, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

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 instalments so far, I looked at players ranked 76-100 and today I’ll look at the next five on the list.  This is opinion based off of career stats with the club, as well as their career accomplishments.

Top 100 (#71-#75)

#75 – Justin Smoak (2015-2019)
The Blue Jays picked up Justin Smoak shortly after the 2014 season ended off of waivers from the Seattle Mariners.  In his first two seasons on the club, Smoak was used as back-up first baseman and partial designated hitter before becoming a full-time player in his remaining three seasons.

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Smoak was known as a very good defensive first baseman who had a power at the plate but was prone to the strikeout.  During the first two years the Blue Jays made the postseason, Smoak received 10 at-bats and failed to register a hit, striking out five times.  However, in 2017 when he became a full-time player he not only had a career season, but was named an All-Star when he hit 38 home runs, 90 RBI while posting a slash line of .270/.355/.529.  In his remaining two seasons with the club he hit 22 and 25 home runs respectfully.

Smoak’s 114 home runs over his five seasons has him 14th on the Blue Jays All-Time List in that category.  Smoak left in free agency after the 2019 season and recently signed in Japan for the upcoming season.

#74 – Eric Hinske (2002-2006)
After the 2001 season, the Blue Jays traded away flame throwing closer Billy Koch to the Oakland Athletics for the late Justin Miller and prospect Eric Hinske.  Hinske would make the club out of spring training and would become the second Blue Jay (Alfredo Griffin) to win the AL Rookie of the Year.  That Rookie of the Year season would end up being Hinske’s career best as he hit 64 extra-base hits (24 home runs) and 84 RBI with 13 stolen bases.

Hinske would play third base for his first three seasons with the club before moving to first base in 2005, and then the outfield the following season. Hinske would be more of a doubles hitter during his tenure with the Blue Jays than a power hitter, and finished his Blue Jays career in 2006 with 146 doubles over four and a half seasons.  The Blue Jays would sell him to the Boston Red Sox shortly after the trade deadline in 2006 and he would go on to play for six more organizations over the next seven seasons.

#73 – Brett Cecil (2009-2016)
The Blue Jays drafted Brett Cecil in the supplemental first round of the 2007 MLB draft as compensation for losing Justin Speier to free agency.  Cecil came up through the organization as a starting pitcher and in 2010 he looked to be on the cusp of being an All-Star when he posted a 15-7 record, including going 11-2 against the AL East and 4-0 (2.67 ERA) against the New York Yankees.

Just two years later, Cecil would find himself sent down to the minor leagues to become a bullpen pitcher after starting the season 2-4 with a 5.72 ERA over nine starts.  This change turned Cecil’s career around as the next season he became an All-Star pitching in relief.  Cecil would become one of the most dependable arms out of the Blue Jays bullpen for the next four years, which earned him a four-year $30.5 million dollar deal in free agency from the St. Louis Cardinals.

#72 – Russell Martin (2015-2018)
Going into the 2015 season, GM Alex Anthoplous went after the top catching free agent on the market when he signed Russell Martin to a five year deal worth $82 million dollars.  While Martin had an All-Star caliber first two seasons on offence with the Blue Jays that saw him named to the Summer Classic in 2015, it was how he played defensively and managed the pitchers that he is most well known for.  Martin was the primary catcher for Mark Buehrle and Marco Estrada, which Buerhle would lead the league in both complete games and walks per nine innings.  Estrada would have his career best season that would see him receive votes for the Cy Young award and follow that season up with an All-Star selection.  Both pitchers get the bulk of the credit, however, Martin gets a good nod for what he did.

Those first two seasons with the Blue Jays, Martin would hit 20+ home runs to go with his defensive play.  His 66 career home runs with the Blue Jays sits him second All-Time among team catchers behind Ernie Whitt.  The Blue Jays would trade Martin along with some cash to cover the remaining year of his contract to the Los Angeles Dodger for a pair of prospects in 2019 to make room for Danny Jansen.

#71 – Reed Johnson (2003-2007)
The Blue Jays did very well in the 1999 draft when they selected Reed Johnson in the 17th round of the MLB Draft.  After starting the 2003 season in Syracuse (AAA) batting .327, Johnson was called up to Toronto and became a starting outfielder for four years that saw him play all three positions.

Johnson appears to be a forgotten player in team history, but was very dependable and was an on-base machine.  Over the five seasons with Toronto, Johnson posted a slash line of .281/.342/.405.  Johnson would end up being another one of J.P. Ricciardi’s failures as he released him in 2008 and he went on to sign with the Chicago Cubs, and then posted a batting average of .303 that season.  Johnson currently sits with the 12th highest BA in team history, tied with Josh Donaldson and Barry Bonnell.

Next. Top 100: #76 - #80. dark

In the next segment we will see a trio of pitchers and a couple middle infielders.