If the Blue Jays had an internal Rookie of the Year award, it would most likely have Alek Manoah’s name engraved on the trophy. After a strong start down in AAA to begin the season, the right-hander would be called up to the big league squad in late May and would finish the season with a 3.22 ERA through 20 starts and 111.2 innings, finishing the year with 40 walks, 127 strikeouts, and a 1.048 WHIP.
He was dynamite for the Blue Jays when the club was hit by the injury bug as well and became one of the club’s most dependable pitchers by the end of the season.
In part two in the series comparing Alek Manoah’s rookie numbers to former Blue Jays pitchers (part one can be found here), this crop of pitchers is more on the veteran side, featuring those who were staples during the early years in Blue Jays history as well as some pitchers who had a hand in securing the two World Series championship trophies for the club back in 1992 and 1993.
*In accordance with part one, a pitchers rookie season is defined as when he exceeded rookie limits according to Baseball Reference*
Rookie Season: 23 starts; 138.2 IP; 2.99 ERA; 123 strikeouts; 1.183 WHIP
Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Juan Guzman originally signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1985 as an amateur free agent but would be traded to the Blue Jays in 1987. The right-hander would make his debut with the Jays in 1991, pitching alongside a pretty stacked rotation featuring Todd Stottlemyre, Jimmy Key, and David Wells, adding to the firepower by throwing to an incredible 2.99 ERA through 138.2 innings, pitching 6.0+ or more innings 15 times during his rookie season. He would finish second in Rookie of the Year voting that year, losing out to Chuck Knoblauch on the Minnesota Twins while also starting one game in the ALCS, going 5.2 innings with two earned runs and two strikeouts with four walks but would be tagged with the loss.
Guzman would spend eight years with the organization, finishing with a 4.07 ERA and two championship rings with the 1992 and 1993 squads. He would be traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 1998 but would be out of baseball by the end of 2020.
Crunching the Numbers
Guzman has an edge over Manoah in quite a few categories, starting with games started (23 vs. 20), innings pitched (138.2 vs. 111.2), ERA (2.99 vs. 3.22), and HR/9 (0.4 vs. 1.0) but Manoah is ahead when it comes to strikeouts (127 vs. 123), WHIP (1.048 vs. 1.183), H/9 (6.2 vs. 6.4), and BB/9 (3.2 vs. 4.3).
Both players had great rookie seasons for the Blue Jays, but Guzman does have the added pleasure of also playing postseason ball, with the club eventually losing in the ALCS to the Minnesota Twins, the eventual World Series Champions. Guzman also finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting, and while the verdict is still out on where Manoah will place, it might be within the top five but most likely not within the one or two spots given how late he started this year.