With Spring Training and Grapefruit League games well underway, we continue our look at the Top 100 Blue Jays in team history. In the first instalments so far, I looked at players ranked 31-100 and this time I’ll look at the next five on the list. This is opinion based off of career stats with the club and accomplishments.
(Top Players 26-30)
30. Pat Borders (1988-1994, 1999)
The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Pat Borders out of Lake Wales High School (Florida) in the sixth round of the 1982 MLB Draft. Being a high school draft pick, Borders would take time maturing through the minor league system and wouldn’t make his debut until 1988.
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Borders was the back-up for Ernie Whitt over his first two seasons before becoming the number one catcher during the 1990 season, and would backstop the team to three consecutive playoff appearances from 1991-1993. The Highlight of his career was during the 1992 World Series against the Atlanta Braves. During that series, Borders went 9 for 20 (.450) with four extra base hits to earn the World Series MVP award.
During his regular season career, Borders had a respectful slash line of .256/.290/.388 for a catcher, but it was during the postseason that he performed at his best. Borders would play in a total of six playoff series and go 35 for 109 (.321) while striking out just 10 times.
After the 1994 strike ended Borders would leave in free agency, but come back one more time in September 1999 for a brief stint. Borders currently sits second on the team in games played by a catcher.
29. Doyle Alexander (1983-1986)
In early 1983 the New York Yankees released Doyle Alexander and the Blue Jays scooped him up by signing him to a deal. Alexander fit into the rotation nicely as he would pick up seven wins in 15 starts to finish out that season, but it was the next two seasons that made him a star in Toronto.
In 1984, Alexander led the American League in winning percentage when he finished the season with a 17-6 record to go with a 3.13 ERA, which led to him receiving AL MVP votes. The following year he put up another 17 win season and he finished sixth in Cy Young Voting. Midway through the 1986 campaign, the Blue Jays traded him to the Atlanta Braves for a guy named Duane Ward.
In only 106 games that Alexander pitched in as a Blue Jay, he recorded a WAR of 13.5 and currently sits 16th in wins in club history.
28. Shawn Green (1993-1999)
The Blue Jays selected Shawn Green 16th overall in the 1991 MLB Draft and he became arguably the second best player taken in the first round (Manny Ramirez) that year. Green was one of the first players the Blue Jays drafted, developed and that became a superstar in Toronto.
Green became a regular in Toronto in 1995 and continually improved year after year. In his first three seasons Green would average 14 home runs per year. He exploded in 1998 becoming the Blue Jays first 30-30 player (30 home runs and 30 stolen bases), which has been matched just one other time in team history. Green followed that season up with an even better 1999 campaign when he led the league in doubles with 45, and added 42 home runs with 123 RBI while posting a slash line of .309/.384/.588. That season he was named to the All-Star Game, while receiving the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award for Right Field.
Unfortunately for Blue Jays fans, that offseason Green was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Raul Mondesi. Green currently sits 13th in club history in home runs with 119.
27. Alex Rios (2004-2009)
Alex Rios had a very similar rise through the Blue Jays organization that Shawn Green had. Although the power took a little longer to come for Rios, he also played right field, was a first round pick that had speed. As stated, the power did not come immediately, as he hit just one home run during his rookie season, but it increased to 10 in his sophomore season and then 17 in his third season. By that third year, Rios hit 33 doubles to go with the 17 home runs, along with 82 RBI and 15 stolen bases while posting a slash line of .302/.349/.516 and was named an All-Star.
Like Green, Rios continued to get better and the next season his doubles increased to 43 and home runs to 24. After being named an All-Star for the second straight season, Rios signed a seven year deal just shy of $70 million. However, over the next couple of seasons his home run totals dropped down to averaging just 16 a season.
In 2009, the Blue Jays put Rios on revocable waivers after the trade deadline and the Chicago White Sox claimed him. The teams had a chance to work out a trade or the Blue Jays could remove him from waivers or let the White Sox have him for free. When a trade could not be worked out, J.P. Ricciardi decided it would be better to get out from behind his contract and let the White Sox have Rios and his five remaining years at $59.7 million for no return.
Rios currently sits 13th all time in Blue Jays doubles with 195 and 10th in batting average at .285.
26. Devon White (1991-1995)
When you look back at the two World Series victories, the player that is probably the most underrated was centerfielder Devon White. The Blue Jays acquired White from the California Angels for Junior Felix and Luis Sojo in the offseason leading into the 1991 season.
White would go on to win the Gold Glove in all five seasons as a Blue Jay, as well as being named to the All-Star Game in 1993. During his five seasons, White would typically be found in the leadoff position and averaged 31 doubles, 14 home runs, 25 stolen bases and a .270 batting average.
In the postseason, White got even better as he would hit .336 over five playoff series, including during the 1993 ALDS when he went 12 for 27 (.444). White currently sits sixth all-time in stolen bases, and is known for making one of the greatest catches in World Series history.
In the next segment we see a lot of World Series Champions.